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Looking FOR love

Think local

It’s a sunny Saturday morning in Manly and some of the Northern Beaches most eligible singles have gathered for a champagne birthday celebration. The group of mates vary in age from mid-20s upwards, and while not all are looking for love, a few were brave enough to talk about the difficulties of meeting someone special on the 'insular peninsula'.

Pete Hilyard, 26, has been single for four years. The Queenscliff resident says the singles scene is very "incestuous".

"It's very hard to meet someone 'new', because there's a good chance they've been with someone else I know," he says.

Mr Hilyard says he has tried a variety of methods to meet people -ranging from the pub pick-up to online apps such as Tinder.

"I usually go to the Steyne Hotel if I'd like to meet new females.

The problem, however, with trying to meet someone in a pub is that girls are often on the defensive to ward off all the jerks. And even if your intentions are good, it's very hard to break through that barrier," Mr Hilyard confides.

Tinder is okay, he says, but shallow.

"It's hard to get to really know someone by text," he admits.

Local resident Sophie Watkins agrees Tinder has its limitations."I'd rather meet someone in person than try and judge them in five photos on Tinder," she says. However, Ms Watkins keeps returning to Tinder as a way to meet people who don't live on the peninsula.

'I've downloaded and deleted the app about 15 times,” she tells Peninsula living.

'I've lived here my whole life and when I go out I see the same people over and over again.”

Twenty-eight-year-old Manly resident John Gourlay works in the Sydney CBD and says meeting people over the harbour after work on a Friday is much easier than trying to meet someone on the Northern Beaches.

“It's hard to break into different groups on the beaches,” he says.

“Maybe as people are a bit more closed off? I'm not sure why.”

He has had some success with Tinder, having met his current girlfriend two months ago by using the dating app.

A 47-year-old Northern Beaches female who wishes to remain anonymous has been single for 17 years. She says she has used quite a few methods to meet people over the years - online, going out, introductions through friends, exercise groups, and through work.

The peninsula local says when she was younger, boozy pub nights played a major part in meeting new people.

"Alcohol makes it very easy to meet people, though usually the wrong ones! Now that I am older and don't drink, I mostly meet guys from my fitness groups - be it yoga, swimming, running groups and so on. The best part is you start off as friends and get to know each other over a period of time. It's a much healthier way to form a relationship," she tells Peninsula Living.

Ms Stockman also recommends using your four-legged friend as a means to strike up a conversation.

"I have done a fair bit of dog minding and that is an awesome way to meet people. I think the dogs provide a distraction - much like exercise - and it makes it easier to keep the interactions light-hearted and fun," she says.

There are a few dedicated exercise dating services in Sydney -one of which is fit2date, which has training groups commencing in Sydney this month. The fitness group was launched in 2007 by entrepreneur Erica French, who set up fit2date "so like-minded fun, active people could get to know each other in a relaxed and pressure-free environment, without the sleaziness of meeting people in bars or clubs or the randomness of online dating."

On the Northern Beaches, there are also social groups for surfers, yoga enthusiasts, swimmers, rock climbers and more.

If exercise isn't your thing, then relationship experts recommend finding a social group that centres around an activity you do enjoy -photography, writing, cooking or going to church, for example.

And if you're still finding it hard out there? As Ms Stockman suggests, you could always get a dog.


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