Single in the Brandon suburbs: a report from the field

The young Brandon professional always went to the 9 a.m. service at his church, but one day, just for kicks, he decided to go at 11 a.m.

When he arrived, he found his girlfriend singing in the choir. He had no idea.

The bigger revelation came after the service when he approached her, and she embarrassingly introduced him to her husband.

Oops.

Ask single folks in the South Shore & Brandon area about the dating scene and you get a mix of wary tales and hopeful wishes.

With median signs popping up all over for a local dating site, I thought it must be terribly challenging to be single out here amid soccer moms and Little League dads.

So in a totally unscientific poll, I surveyed some area singles to get their thoughts about the dating scene in the land of nuclear families and 2.3 kids. Because I don't want to be known as the date killer, I've withheld my sources' names.

Their observations varied, with a few suggesting that if you're young and single, you need to move to South Tampa. Most, however, aren't ready to give up on our area and believe that with a little work, you can find a mate. Of course, it helps if that mate is single.

"There are a mind boggling number of married men in Brandon that don't wear wedding rings, and don't act married," one single told me. "I am a married-man magnet. Ewww."

If you think it can't get any worse, consider the single guy who told me he was approached in a local bar by a married woman — and her husband. I guess that's double ewww.

In the area, there are generally two types of singles: the young, never been married single and the divorced single.

The young single, unlike past years, actually can enjoy a rising group of nighttime destinations in the neighborhood: Green Iguana, The Rack and Boomerang, to name a few.

But the folks I surveyed still flock to Tampa because out here, you tend to see the same people every Saturday night.

"Brandon is so close-knit," one single said. "If you start dating one guy, everybody knows it."

Dating outside the area proves geographically daunting, but one person I interviewed noted a distinct advantage: you can see if the guy really likes you by asking him to drive all the way out here to see you.

The young single usually enjoys that freedom, and when they begin looking to settle down, they search for someone near their age.

That's one of the problems when the young single meets the divorced single, who's often older, at a different station in life and a little less romantic about marriage. Add kids to the mix, and you're juggling a host of dynamics.

The divorced single, if kids are involved, squeezes in romantic pursuits between work, youth sports games and grocery shopping.

They seldom frequent the clubs in Brandon or Tampa, and often find it difficult to send the signal that they're available — save for crashing their shopping cart into a cute single at Publix.

One single mom pulled up in traffic beside the handsome delivery guy she knew from work — in her minivan.

"He said, 'Please tell me you drive something else on the weekends,' " she said. "Even though I don't have a ring on my finger, I'm in a minivan.

"I would drive something else if I could."

The divorced single also has to make the transition into a new life and sometimes find a new circle of friends.

"Once you become single you have to find your own identity," one single said. "You no longer have the family gatherings to go to because people don't invite you."

In the end, I get the impression the dating scene here isn't all that different than any other area. As one person said, it's more about quality than quantity.

My advice: Keep the faith.

One of the single ladies I spoke to has a friend who raves about the trendy scene in St. Petersburg after moving away from Brandon.

She came close to giving up on the area and following her friend across the bay, but just when she had almost lost hope — she found the man of her dreams sitting at the bar in O'Brien's.

And she wasn't even looking.

There's a lesson in that story for all you single folks.

That's all I'm saying.

Single in the Brandon suburbs: a report from the field 07/15/10 [Last modified: Monday, November 7, 2011 5:48pm]

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