Love & Sex

The Numbers Game

Living life as a single in Santa Fe

I‘m a youthful 61 and never thought I would get divorced. I thought “Jerry” was my forever guy, the love of my life. The chemistry was unbelievable. He’d know what I was thinking before I even said it; we were so in tune with each other on so many different levels. Of course, the sex was great, but the friendship, the connection, the support. That all changed when, after more than seven years together, we ended the relationship.

My experience is hardly universal. According to a recent piece in Forbes Advisor, early 2024 stats show that half of all marriages end in divorce while second and third marriages fail at a higher rate. And though the numbers might be higher than expected (or maybe they’re precisely what you expected), no one wants to experience the emotional rollercoaster ride of divorce. Adjusting to being single again feels foreign, as well as living out of the habit of being married, especially if the union lasted many years.

Times change, things change, feelings change, dating changes. How do we, years out of practice, navigate a new singles world after thinking we’d never again need to weather first dates, cringey conversation and the sometimes herculean task of getting to know someone new?

In her 2013 book Journey to the Heart, Melody Beattie writes that “beginnings hold the promise of new lessons to be learned, new territory to explore, fear and hope. Let yourself begin anew, let it be magical.”

Of course, it’s that “letting” that’s the hard part.

Like most singles today, I first thought I’d give online dating a try. I felt the experience would be an important and positive learning process on my journey of discovery as a newly divorced woman. Online dating, in fact, seemed like a logical and convenient way to meet an eligible man. I allotted six months to explore this possibility, during which time I learned the apps and services were anything but logical and convenient. Not only were there few nearby options in my age range, the disappointing experience was a minefield of fuzzy photos, deception and fake accounts.

Many have found their significant others this way, and it was certainly worth a try, but online dating left me discouraged. Yet it also left me at least semi-hopeful. I couldn’t be the only person who felt this way. I mean, OK, maybe I’m a little old fashioned, but there’s a big part of me that still prefers to meet people in person. So I asked myself, why not explore that possibility again?

Online dating doesn’t have to be the default, especially in a city like Santa Fe that falls slightly behind the times. What this city needed—what I needed—was a social group just for singles. So I created the iMeet, iMingle, iMatch Santa Fe on the Meet Up online platform. Our first event launched in October 2023 with an in-person format designed for adult singles to connect in real life. It saves time and effort, reduces uncertainty and offers a sense of safety. Best of all? You might even find someone!

Here’s how it works: I ring a bell at various intervals to encourage people to move around and start new conversations through prepared ice breakers. Everybody gets a name tag emblazoned with the phrase, “Ask me about ______.” It’s a great way to get to know people, and I try to include games for a little bit of structure—games like two truths and one lie; conversational topic cards and others. Walking into a space where you don’t know anyone…well, sometimes you can feel stuck or overwhelmed. And if people still feel pressure, they should know that events are built on a friends-first model and the idea that there be a community for singles where everyone feels welcomed.

And it’s going great. The events, or socials as we call them, thus far have taken place at numerous venues in Santa Fe such as the CHOMP food hall, cozy downtown hotel La Posada, the airy Herve Wine Bar near the Plaza, Iconik Coffee Roasters in Midtown and multipurpose bar/venue/restaurant Boxcar right downtown. At last count, roughly 300 singles have participated, and earlier this month I even teamed up with Julie Ferman of the company Santa Fe Matchmaker, who affirms my observations about modern-day dating.

“Age matters less than it used to…what family looks like is broadening—older women/younger men pairings are becoming more common; distance matters less,” she says. “Retirees and those who work from home have more flexibility, greater ability to make the drive and spend time in two places, broadening the acceptable radius for candidates for dating.”

iMeet, iMingle, iMatch events in Santa Fe have drawn in participants from Albuquerque and Taos, for example. But age and distance aren’t the only factors; money matters too, but maybe not in the way you might think.

“We’re beginning to see a relaxing a bit in the insistence that women often have that the man ‘out-earn’ her, especially in the older demographic,” Ferman says. “What matters far more than how much someone ‘has’ is the ability for both to be good deal-makers about how the expenses of the dating relationship might be shared.”

Of course, meeting someone special might have to come first, and creating these gatherings has been rewarding. I formed the group to bring together like-minded people who want more out of life and to connect on a more personal level—and to feel a part of a singles community in Santa Fe. Life is too short to not search out the joy and love in your community, and that includes new friends.

To be a part of our singles community, download the Meet Up app, next search for “iMeet, iMingle, iMatch Santa Fe,” join and RSVP for the next social.

iMeet, iMingle, iMatc Social: 6 pm Thursday, March 7. Free. As Above, So Below Distillery, 545 Camino de la Familia, (505) 916-8596.

Margaret Lambe is a Southern girl transplanted to the American West after moving to Santa Fe. 18 years ago. She has two adult daughters, her own business and it’s her goal to bring happiness and love to the Santa Fe singles community.

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