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Love, Florida Style - Love, Florida Style in Miami

Date: 2007-02-24

There are only two choices -- you're either in a relationship or single. For those in the latter category, I've got three words: "Love, Florida Style."

That's the theme of the third annual Singles Expo, a Sunday trade show held at the Sarasota Cay Club. The daylong expo features morning workshops, an afternoon trade show and an evening dance.

All of it will be focused on bachelors and bachelorettes.

We're not talking about rooms filled with shy librarians, hyper-horny best friends or online daters getting tips from charismatic love experts.

That may be hard to believe, especially after reading the workshop titles: "How to Become a Dreamgirl at Any Age," "The Importance of Dating Differently with Today's New Courtship" and "Take Off Your Blinders and Make the Next Relationship, The One!"

I know, I know. It's hard not to laugh. Don't know about you, but I've got way too many images of spinsters waiting decades for Mr. Right to come along.

Truth is, I didn't know squat about the singles scene.

But expo speaker Dr. Robyn Spirtas -- a licensed therapist with more than 20 years of love counseling experience -- straightened me out.

First off, most singles aren't desperate weirdos searching for any opportunity to hook up with anyone.

"Even if you're not looking for a connection ... singles clubs and events are not escort services or meat markets," Spirtas said.

Secondly, more people are choosing to be single.

"The divorce rate is so high that they are being more conscious and staying single by choice," she said. "Years ago, if you weren't married you were a spinster. Now, it's OK to wait for the right person or be happy living single."

The singles life offers many advantages.

"All those things you have to share and compromise when you're in a relationship ... when you're single, you make all your own decisions," Spirtas said.

But it's not all good.

"I see a lot of singles who feel sorry for themselves," she said. "Our society puts those pressures on us, but I think it's changing."

Besides, in the end, there are only two choices.

"The fact of the matter is that if you're single, you can either embrace it or have a pity party and wish you're in a relationship," she said. "But be careful what you wish for."

"Love, Florida Style" takes place 9 a.m. to 11 p.m. Sunday at the Sarasota Cay Club, 7100 N. Tamiami Trail. Tickets are $5 to $59. Call 955-1494.

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