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Silverton Singles – Replacing online dating with old-fashioned community

By Melissa Wagoner

When Heidi Walker found herself single again after 15 years of marriage, she knew dating would be different but she wasn’t prepared for how different it would be.

Silverton Singles bowling at Silver Creek Lanes.

“I just remember meeting people through friends and work. It was never an issue to meet people,” Walker, 45, said recalling what dating had been like when she was in her twenties. “People were always talking and mingling and exchanging numbers. But now everybody’s married. And you don’t want to date too much in your own group because then you’re alienating people if it doesn’t go well.”

Undeterred, Walker turned to online dating. But she quickly realized that it wasn’t for her.

“When you’re meeting someone in person your gut has a chance to get a feel for their spirit and eye contact,” she said. “But online you just have to go with how someone has chosen to represent themselves.”

Fed up after five years of failed attempts at making online dating work, Walker finally decided to take a break from the apps and try something new – in-person singles mixers. 

“I’m interested in networking and bringing people together,” Walker said. In November 2020 she started her own private Facebook group known as the Silverton Singles. “I don’t have massive hopes of dating people, but I just want to get people together and provide an opportunity.”

And so, on Nov. 12 Walker invited 11 singles, ranging in age from 27 to 67, to Silver Creek Lanes, for a night of food, drinks, bowling and mixing things up.

“I’m here to meet new people and get out of my bubble,” one attendee said of her reason for joining.

To which another added, “I just want to be able to connect, especially after what we’ve gone through the last few years, and going into winter.”

Similar sentiments were echoed throughout the introductions phase of the meeting. Most confirmed that it is community that attendees are seeking, above all else. It was a revelation that came as no surprise to Walker.

“With COVID, I think we’ve all forgotten how to interact,” she said.

“I’m looking to get out of my shell,” one single said, while another added, “I’m just looking for friends that would hopefully turn into something great.”

That’s what Walker is hoping for as well.

“It’s better to stay away from the apps and join a group,” she said. 

For information about Silverton Singles events join the Facebook page.

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