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Organic Meet

Connecting with someone new and interesting can be easier than you think. Whether you’re looking for love, romance, a romp or someone warm for the winter, here are some on- and off-campus dating dos and don’ts.

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Residence

Your tiny dorm room can serve a multitude of uses. I've known students who've held seances, brewed vodka from old potatoes, recorded albums, shot short films, launched opera-singing careers and made sun-dried tomatoes all from their dorm rooms. If your room is an inviting hub of activity, potential lovers will be more likely to stumble through your door.

My little sister Sally, a fine arts major, suggests brewing a pot of tea. When attractive and interesting looking students saunter past your open door, offer them a cup. Once you've lured someone into your room, atmosphere is key. Use the desk lamp, not that harsh fluorescent overhead light. Avoid plastering your walls with nostalgic high school photos. Choose artwork that is sure to ignite conversation instead. And remember, leaving condom wrappers strewn across your unmade sheets does not make you look like a modern Don Juan, simply a slob.

Make sure you clearly negotiate the laws of "sexile" with your roommates. Make a strategic alliance with your neighbours. Agree that when one of you has an overnight visitor, a roommate in need of some shut-eye can escape into the neighbouring room. You can easily drag those flimsy residence mattresses into an adjacent dorm.

The campus bar

Don't make picking up your only goal for the evening. "If you're going out only to pick up, you're going to become really boring really fast," says Katie Toth, sex columnist for the Dalhousie Gazette. People are most attractive when they're thriving in their own element, whether that be enjoying local music, belting out karaoke tunes or savouring the food at a vegan potluck. Desperation reeks and people will smell it a mile away.

It's creepy to feed shots to the person you hope to take home, hovering over him or her all night shouting "chug, chug, chug." Luring people who are blackout drunk home to your bed may be less challenging, but it's also rape. Stay sober enough to pick other sober people up using your wit, your charisma or even those funny stories about your grandmother's wooden leg. And pick-up lines usually don't work. "A simple 'Hi' is better than 'Is this love at first sight or should I walk by again,'" says Robert Panahi, founder of the Dalhousie Dating Society.

Remember, Halifax is small. There are no "random hook-ups." If you hook up with a classmate, you'll see that person everywhere. You'll bump into them when you eat falafels at pizza corner, go to the Farmers' Market, grab cigarettes at Kwik-Way or discover that he or she is your roommate's cousin. Treat people with respect by being clear about your motives and boundaries. If you don't want a relationship, tell people before things heat up. If you hope to trick your late-night hookup into marriage, a mortgage and children, that's a good thing to be clear about too. Honesty is essential, and so are condoms. They're available free at student health centres.

The library

There are lots of sexually frustrated students cramming for exams and studying in the library and they're usually alone. While you do have to be sensitive to the fact that some people are probably very stressed out and don't want to be disturbed, it never hurts to shoot coy glances around to see who else isn't thinking about their homework. You can make small talk if they follow you to the water fountain. If things heat up, there are plenty of secluded study nooks, where you can slink away with your new friend.

The cafe

The campus cafe is a great places to mingle and meet people. Projecting confidence and taking initiative is key. Make small talk standing in line. Don't be afraid to ask intriguing intellectuals what they're writing in their little black books, as these people usually love to talk about themselves. They might not make the best long-term lovers, but you could have an interesting Friday night with them.

The cafeteria

You can do more in the cafeteria than shovel greasy food into your chops. It's a convenient place to make evening plans with your fellow students. You get to check people out in their most natural states, before they've groomed and had their morning coffee or after a long day of studying. Take a few moments to recall the most interesting, funny or sexy things that have happened to you all day, so you'll have plenty of conversation fodder aside from "Are you really going to eat that?" But you may find intelligent conversation unnecessary. Plenty of students come to dinner at the cafeteria hammered after happy hour at the local watering hole.

Some cafeterias serve late- night study snacks. You can often learn more about people over coffee and pie than in a chaotic club where you have to shout to be heard. After chatting with that special someone during a late night snacking session, suggest a midnight stroll in the park or rooftop stargazing.

The outside world

Some students like to brag about how little they have to move to get their basic errands done. I met one King's student who didn't go outside once the entire winter, preferring to snake his way around campus using the underground tunnels. This mole-like behaviour results in a pallid complexion and a lack of sexual intercourse. Get to know your city! Discover our hole-in-the-wall pubs, our underground theatres, our best used book stores and the most romantic spots to sip whiskey from a flask on the Northwest Arm. The best way to pick someone up on campus is to take them off campus, sharing your favourite corner of the city with them.

Wherever you are, take control of the situation and put yourself out there. Don't be afraid to be direct. It will make you stand out in a sea of confused teenagers.

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