In today's environment of smartphones and Facebook, people are more connected than ever. The ways in which we as human beings meet and interact are shifting at the pace of software development cycles. As our consciousness adapts to an ever-changing personal identity in a digital world, the traditional ways we form relationships fall by the wayside.

Yet even in an age in which married adults run personal ads on Craigslist and eHarmony tries to advertise in World of Warcraft, good old-fashioned face-to-face meetings are still many people's preferred interactions. For this year's Love & Sex issue, SFR meets some of Santa Fe's upcoming and established singles groups to see how they bring people together.

"Santa Fe is not known as a singles' place, not like Denver," Singles Out owner Laurie Merrill tells SFR. Especially for the younger generation, she says, singles life isn't all about dating: "Intimate relationships are a lifestyle choice. Some people prefer to just have their lifetime friends because being in a relationship with another individual is a lot of fun…but you also have to put a lot of effort into it."

Deb Montoya, organizer of Santa Fe Singles, which serves people age 40 and older, says the dominance of activities that cater to tourists is a problem. SFS co-organizer Rex Wilmore thinks that people in his group's age range can get "stuck in a rut," following a bad break-up or divorce.

All three intersect in their belief that camaraderie is essential to social interaction.

"[SFS creates] more of a sense of community," Wilmore says. "Everybody has made a lot of good friends."

Of her group, Merrill says, "It's creating a basis for commonality."

Singles Out
Singles Out is a new startup program that creates targeted-interest events, including gay and straight events, outings for single parents, and alcohol- and drug-free activities. Owner Merrill first conceived of the idea approximately 2½ years ago, following her ordination. 

"It was just so much fun being around people and witnessing what's one of the happiest days in their lives," Merrill says of officiating weddings. "What would I want if I was single and wanted to have a good time with it? If you're in a place and atmosphere where you're relaxed and having fun, it's a lot easier to meet people."

To that end, every event includes communication games.

"It's important not only to be a good talker," Merrill says, "but a good listener. [The games are] fun and easy, but you'll be able to pick up the skills."

Secondly, Merrill says, Singles Out utilizes a "calling card" strategy to create a safe environment. After an event, she says, "if Joe wants to meet Sue, Joe fills out a calling card with his name and her name and what his intentions are.

The group contacts Sue and says, 'Hey, Joe wants to get to know you more'…It takes a lot of gumption to be that individual, to ask another person, 'Hey, I'm interested in you.' So it's safe and fun, but very old-fashioned."

Singles Out has no monthly or annual fees; individual event prices vary from free to more than $100 and include all expenses.

Santa Fe Singles
Santa Fe Singles is a noncommercial endeavor run by nine volunteers, including Montoya and Wilmore. Less of a dating group than a community of single adults doing activities together, Santa Fe Singles’ motto is “friends first,” although its website notes that its members “all keep an eye out for Mr./Ms. Right.”

In 2009, the group joined, which also hosts a number of other Santa Fe interest groups such as The Santa Fe Hiking Meetup Group and the Santa Fe Poetry and Prose Meetup Group. SFS hosts a number of regular events—such as weekly TGIF meetings at assorted venues around town, Sunday hikes and brunches, and music and dance outings—and lets its members suggest special outings. Montoya tells SFR that the group has, since November 2009, hosted more than 300 events, including trips to Ojo Caliente, building homes with Habitat for Humanity and planting trees for the New Mexico Wilderness Alliance. As of this writing, the group has 468 members, and Montoya and Wilmore say events usually garner 40 to 50 attendees.

Santa Fe Singles events are free, but members are responsible for their own expenses.

Dinner for Eight
6:30 pm Saturday, Feb. 5
315 Restaurant & Wine Bar
315 Old Santa Fe Trail

Boys Night Out: Dinner for Eight
7 pm Thursday, Feb. 10
Izmi Sushi
720 St. Michael’s Drive

Love in the Time of Shopping
4:30-6:30 pm Friday, Feb. 11
Sunflower Farmers Market
3201 Zafarano Drive

Super Bowl Party
3:30 pm Sunday, Feb. 6
Osteria d’Assisi
58 S Federal Place,

TGIF Meet-Up
5:30 pm Friday, Feb. 18
La Posada
330 E Palace Ave.

Fools for Love dance with Jimmy Stadler Band
7:30 pm Friday, April 1
$11 pre-registration
Marriot Courtyard
3347 Cerrillos Road