You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make it drink.
A lesser-known adage: you can lead singles to a mixer, but you can't make them talk (without it being painfully awkward).
There's certainly no shortage of dances, cruises and other events catering to singles, but these events aren't always a fun - or even comfortable - experience for the participants.
That's why a rising trend in singles events is manufacturing a theme to create a common goal or common interest in order to get strangers socializing.
These concept parties break down the barriers of shyness and social awkwardness. Everyone becomes an ally. Opening the lines of communication in such a way is less terrifying than "cold opens" and conversations are more easily initiated.
Earlier this month, Toronto singles were invited to "get screwed" by dating consultant Shannon Tebb. Guests were each given a nut or a bolt of varying sizes and had to mix and mingle to find their other half.
"By giving guests a goal, it got them interacting with the crowd, which is a great icebreaker," Tebb says. "All guests were determined to find the right nut/bolt match."
Another example was a literary speed-dating event that took place at Vancouver Public Library in February. Meeting new people with your favourite book tucked under your arm offers an instant conversation starter for like-minded bookworms.
Props, costumes and team-building games automatically give partygoers an excuse to strike up a conversation with that cute stranger in the corner.
Begun by a startlingly self-aware group of women in their early twenties, the sex-positive Toronto collective I'd Tap That (http://id-tap-that.com/) organizes "crush parties" that encourage people to meet future friends and lovers in a fun, non-judgmental setting. The last crush party had a sleepover theme -- participants were encouraged to mingle in their pajamas and bunny slippers.
"Any night of the week, you can go to a bar and find friends and strangers to kiss," says one of the I'd Tap That founders, photographer Khadeja Wilkinson. "Giving the crush parties themes helps to get rid of the awkward small talk. Suddenly, everyone has something in common."
I'd Tap That's upcoming crush party (Aug. 31 at The Central in Toronto) will be built around superheroes, capes and comic books, again giving partygoers an excuse to dress in costumes and chat. All guests - not just the shy ones - are encouraged to pen anonymous crush notes or tweet-flirt by using a party-specific hashtag.
"The openness and acceptance we strive to achieve negates embarrassing rejection," says Wilkinson.
"There is a reluctance for people to approach others for friendly conversation, even among those that are not particularly shy," he says. "It is often difficult to get the conversational ball rolling. Themes and icebreakers at singles events definitely make things easier.
"With a theme, participants are given a task or mission to accomplish, involving speaking to at least a few fellow guests. Once the ice is broken, it's much easier for people to segue into normal conversation and find common interests."
If there isn't a themed singles party happening in your city, check out meetup.com to find a huge variety of organized social events wherever you live. Who knows? You might just meet your match.
Here is a list of upcoming singles events across Canada.