The only thing that matters is your attitude. Internet dating, speed dating, blind dating, meet-in-a-bar dating. There are endless ways to meet people, yet for many Denver singles the search for Mr. or Ms. Right can be incredibly frustrating and exhausting. It’s no wonder so many singles simply throw in the towel, vowing never to subject themselves to one more bad date. But we all know the saying: “You have to kiss a lot of frogs â€¦” Here, we speak with four dynamic singles who relish their lifestyles and prove that being single can – and surely does – have its rewards.
There may not be a more qualified judge of the singles scene than Denver’s own entertainment columnist for The Denver Post. Bill Husted’s career has been spent checking out the hottest bars, dining at the finest restaurants, suiting up for the best galas – making sure he’s present at all the hot spots where Denver singles hook up. But when it comes to his own dating scene, he pleads the fifth. “I don’t have any wisdom about dating. I’m not an expert, and I don’t even know if I’m good at it,” Husted says. “By 60 years old you pretty much get what you see.” But seat the notorious Denverite in a Cherry Creek Starbucks, and the flocking women tell a different story. Two approach him in 25 minutes, cute ones too. They’ve met him before, but still, that’s impressive. Husted says his job is the reason behind the Starbucks encounters, as well as the majority of his dates, explaining that he constantly has a flux of people moving in and out of his life. “And as a reporter, you have an excuse to speak to anyone,” he explains.
But narrowing down the field proves more difficult. Husted says his dating style is not to get in too deep on the first date. “I don’t want to go to dinner right away,” he says. “Meeting for coffee or lunch can be great. I just had a first date, and I took her to a blues club. When I wouldn’t dance, she got very angry with me. She cried. There was no second date,” he recalls. Dating does take a lot of energy, he admits, but being a bachelor also has its benefits. “As you get older, you get a wider age range of women to go out with,” he says. “I’m not set at all on just going out with 20-year-olds. Today, 60-year-old women have never looked better. I’m dating a kid when I’m dating a 50-year-old.” As for the “cougars” his age (women who pursue younger men), Husted thinks they’re great. After all, men have always been cougars, he points out. “I’m just not the cougars’ prey,” he admits. When asked what qualities a woman would need to get this self-proclaimed shy guy to pick her up, Husted rattled off the standard: attractive, smart and funny. Then he caught himself. “Isn’t that what everyone says?” he asks.
But he does believe that taking advantage of Denver’s vibrant social scene can increase the odds of meeting someone who fulfills his dating criteria. The entertainment expert’s short list of good places to meet women: Coffee shops (proven), volunteer clubs such as Volunteers for Outdoor Colorado, and Planned Parenthood parties (“600 women on the pill!” he jokes). The worst places to pick up women? Tailgating parties, Don’s Mixed Drinks dive bar and gay bars. His secret gold mine is charity fashion shows. “You’re supporting a good cause, there are no other men there, and you are expected to look at beautiful women,” Husted explains. Between professional research and his own experiences, he says he is still surprised by how often people complain about dating. He cites a laundry list of worn-out dating phrases he hears all the time: The odds are good but the goods are odd; you don’t lose your girlfriend, you lose your turn; and on and on.
“At 60, you’re supposed to be wiser, kinder, better at dating,” Husted says. “I think dating should be kind of fun, at least more than it is frustrating.”
In New York, people go on dates. In Denver, people do things. For Jordan Bullock, the latter is the best part about her hometown’s dating scene.
At 30 years of age, the vice president of marketing for the hot club, Jet, is searching for someone to navigate the Mile High City with her. No Chili’s and a movie for this socialite. She would rather go golfing, run Wash Park, take a day trip to Vail, or sample Larimer Square’s new restaurants. If someday this leads to marriage, all the better, but she’s in no rush. “When I hit 30, I wanted to just focus on making me a better person. If the right guy comes along, great. But if we go out and he doesn’t interest me, he doesn’t get a second chance. I’m not out there hunting for a husband,” Bullock says. “I have lots of friends who are really looking to get married, and they have a heartache every week,” she says. “I think the guys can see the gleam in their eye.” One thing Bullock says she has found changing with age is her preferences in men. The angelic-looking blond admits that she always used to go for the bad boys. Tall, dark and handsome topped the list. Now she finds herself more attracted to successful, kind-hearted men. “But part of me will always want a bad boy, or at least slightly,” she says. “I need a suit and tie during the day and a bad boy at night. I guess I just haven’t found the perfect mix yet.” But she’s confident in the selection in “Men-ver,” estimating at least three guys to every girl. Narrowing the field starts with the simple yet often overlooked rule of going places where you enjoy hanging out. “If you are a martini girl, don’t pick up guys at a pub,” she advises. “It always seems like I meet someone when I’m getting ready to go walking with my friends or rollerblading. And that’s what I’m looking for – someone healthy, athletic and who wants to be outside. Maybe I need a dog,” she jokes. “Maybe that will help me pick up guys.”
Staying friends with your exes is another key to dating in the Mile High City, Bullock says. “Everyone knows everyone in Denver, and everyone has dated each other.”
With more young professionals like Bullock working around the clock, she has also seen dating at work go from taboo to acceptable. She believes that as long as a couple isn’t working side by side every day or involving everyone else in the office, office relationships can work. “So many of my friends are dating people from work because they’re with them every day. There is really no free time, so it’s an easy way to meet people,” she says. Letting her friends do the finding on the other hand, has proved very unsuccessful. “I’ve been on about five blind dates this year, and to be honest, I would never go on one again,” she says. “The last one ended when we were in the car, and he asked me about my political views. After he heard them, he said that if he wanted my opinion, he would ask for it. So I asked him to turn the car around.” At the end of the 12-hour workday, Bullock is confident that by focusing on her personal goals and not stressing about a dating timeline, she’ll know what and who is right for her. This includes marriage, a concept with which she had an eye-opening close encounter.
“I was 25 and dating the ultimate Italian bad boy. On Valentine’s Day we were opening gifts and he pulled out a little box. As he walked toward me, he looked like he was going to get on one knee, and I shouted, ‘No! No! Don’t you dare!’ Turns out it was just a pair of earrings, but I think my complete panic was the sign that he wasn’t the right one. We broke up four months later.” Bullock also believes that when you stop looking for something, it will find you. “Sometimes I envy my friends who are married with adorable babies, but the grass is always greener on the other side,” she says. “And they think of my life as perfect.”
There is something about that big 3-0 birthday that sends people into anxious fits about marriage and kids, or the lack thereof. After that milestone came and went for Christine Chang, morning anchor for Channel 7 News, it was liberating. “When I hit 30, I had an urge that I should be married or engaged and have kids,” says Chang, now 34. “Because I’m past that now, I can just enjoy relationships and let them run their course the way they’re supposed to. I set my own rules of what love should be, and I’m very happy with that.” Dating for Chang is a challenge of searching for the best. “I would rather wait and find the great, than settle for the OK,” something she says she learned from an ex. But finding the great takes work, both physical and emotional, says the admitted serial monogamist: “If you don’t give it your all and love and have fun and put it all out there, you’ll never find the great. “I get into relationships, and I fall in love, and I fall really fast,” she says, estimating that the longest relationship-free period she’s ever had was three months. “What a normal person would do in one year, I would probably do in three months. I think I just love the idea of love. I should write romance novels,” she jokes.
And Chang’s not alone in her quest for the great, as many Denverites are looking for her. She’s received e-mails from loyal viewers looking for more from their smiling morning anchor. “I watch you every morning. Are you seeing anyone?” is the typical approach, she says, and she is completely flattered. “I admire anyone with the courage and guts to be able to do that just from seeing me on TV.” Chang responds to every e-mail, but says no sparks have come from a viewer yet. Part of the reason Chang’s viewers may be unsuccessful in wooing her is that she is looking for completely opposite qualities in a man than those she experiences in her work life. “I’m in such a rollercoaster business that I like very peaceful relationships. Anything that you think of when you think ‘spa’ is what I‘m looking for. It brings balance to my life,” she explains. It’s when she’s out on the town with her girlfriends that Chang says she meets most of her boyfriends, and she feels that meeting other singles at bars needs to lose that sleazy one-night-stand stereotype. “When you are so busy and you work 10-hour days, where else are you going to meet people?” she asks. Going to bars and happy hour and out to dinner is more than just about date hunting. It’s about spending time with friends who are “the family you choose,” she says, crediting another ex with that lesson. “People can say you don’t need to get married, but you do need love. Love plays a role in your life regardless of whether you’re single or married.” Chang has been impressed by how nice the men in Denver are compared to her single days in Las Vegas, Eugene and New Jersey (“I haven’t met too many psychos here,” she says). Still, she’s heard her fair share of bad pick-up lines. Her favorite was in college, when a guy approached her and said very slowly, “Hiiiiii, whaaaat iiisss yooouuuur naaaame?” “He assumed I was fresh off the boat,” says Chang, who was born in Taipei but moved to Louisiana when she was 8 years old. “So I started speaking with a thick accent and said, ‘English not good.’ My friend ‘translated’ back and forth between us for a while, with me speaking Chinese and her having no idea what I was saying! We laughed for months.”
Without the pressure of ages or numbers or bad pick-up lines dictating her love life any more, Chang says she is free to focus on her personal goals, such as work and tennis. “These things bring balance back to my life,” she says. “I don’t have to fit in this (relationship) box; it doesn’t define me any more. I am more comfortable in my own skin than I have ever been. I’ve also been told to wait till I get to my 40s – then I’ll be even happier!”
At 60, Kathy Finley is navigating the singles scene with a fresh perspective she’s not sure men are ready for at any age. Instead of looking for a date or a boyfriend or a husband, this recent DU construction management graduate is putting her energy into what she calls “extended friendships.” These are people with whom she can share fun experiences and build solid, long-term friendships, and it’s not limited to just one person.
If, over time, sparks ignite, she says there would be nothing better than identifying with a life partner. Twice divorced, she says she wouldn’t rule out another marriage. But if the attraction isn’t there, she is spared the emotional breakup and the anxiety that she’ll have to start all over again. There’s actually no end at all to deal with, just a strong friendship that could last the rest of her life.
“If there’s no reason to take it to the next stage, you still have your friendships,” Finley explains.â€‚ “And if it does get more serious, then you’ve had the solid basis of friendship already working for you. I think this is what my mother always told me to do anyway, but I never listened until now.” Men sometimes do need a bit of convincing to go this route, she admits. “I’m not so sure they like this friendship thing I talk about!” she says, noting that the opposite sex really hasn’t changed much in 40 years. “Men are just as romantic as ever. But that’s also a good thing.” Finley says the path for meeting these “friends” is far from the traditional singles bar hookups. Instead, she almost always meets people through mutual introductions. Having moved to Denver from Chicago in the past year, she has expanded her Denver network by joining organizations and pursuing personal interests to open up those lines.
Surprisingly, she says almost all her major relationships began as blind dates, which she wholeheartedly endorses. “Blind dates are great because you know your friends wouldn’t fix you up with a scam artist. You never know whom you are going to meet in a bar,” she says. “You also know that they want to meet you, they aren’t married, and the meeting isn’t five minutes – it’s a date.” Reminiscing about one of her most memorable blind dates, Finley recalls, “He took me for a hike first and then lunch afterward. It was great to have so many things in nature to talk about as a distraction rather than just focusing in on each other right away. It seemed very naturally fun, and then it was sort of romantic to end it in a first-class restaurant for a leisurely lunch. I married that guy who took me on the hike!” she laughs. Finley acknowledges there are new priorities now that didn’t exist in her younger dating days. Health is a big one for her. “When you’re young, everyone is in shape,” she says. “When you’re older, it shows when health is not a priority.”
She also doesn’t discount age being a concern. It’s tough to burst the bubble when approached by a guy a decade younger than she is, she says. “You didn’t have to worry about that when you were the young one,” she says. Aware that other women her age are pursuing cougar status (which is “an older, probably sexy woman who has money and can entice a hunky young arm-piece to follow her around,” Finley explains), she doesn’t think it’s particular flattering. But at least women know what they’re doing, she says, quoting the phrase: “At least when a woman dates a much younger man, she knows she looks foolish.” Finley’s largest priority, though, is finding friends she can laugh with, which transcends age. “We don’t have that many years left, and I want to have fun,” she says. “I’m not a young girl looking for someone to start a family with, and I’m comfortable on my own. So I really want to find someone who has a twinkle in his eye, agreeable friends and who likes to do fun things.” Which might quite possibly be the perfect friend.
Written by Colbert Callen
Photography by Kimberly Dawn