Join the debate. Vote Now on the Dear Abby Poll of the week.

by Abigail Van Buren

Boy Seen Abusing Cat Is in Desperate Need of Help

DEAR ABBY: I just turned 28. I have a full-time job and am also pursuing a career as an actress, which takes up a lot of my spare time. I have good friends and I'm a people person. I'm attractive, have a good personality and consider myself to be intelligent.

I'm pretty good at putting myself out there. I talk to guys I see in the grocery store, in my office building, anywhere I can. I try to smile at everyone when I'm out and about. I ask friends to set me up, but haven't met any nice single men who are interested in dating. Almost all my close friends are married or in long-term relationships. At parties it's usually a bunch of couples and me. I feel like the token single friend.

I have a busy life, and the theater hasn't exactly been a great place to meet straight guys, but where is a good place? I have tried speed dating, online dating, bar-hopping and singles events to no avail. Why can't I find a nice guy who's ready for a real relationship? I'm starting to lose hope. -- LOOKING FOR LOVE IN CALIFORNIA

DEAR LOOKING: Please don't lose hope. But let's review the venues in which you have been searching. I'm struck by the fact that all of those you mentioned require you to make a "quick sale."

With speed dating you establish that you're both available and there's a superficial attraction, but not much else. Bars are the worst places I can think of to look for a serious relationship. No one's at their best after downing a couple of shots, and the noise level isn't conducive to meaningful conversation. The Internet has been known to bring results, but many people -- of both sexes -- are wary because so many users fudge the facts on dating sites.

Singles events are better, but you might have more luck meeting men if you go places that nice people go, where there's less pressure. How about volunteering some time in your community -- the library, a hospital, the police department, a shelter? I recommend places like these because they offer the chance to form relationships with more depth. Even if you don't find Mr. Right, you may meet someone who can introduce you to someone eligible.