1. Get in Sync. One of the best ways to find and retain a well-matched buddy is to align levels of interest. A fast-paced drift diver might not be the best partner for a macro-focused night diver. But a diver seeking to learn more about underwater photography might be ideal for a camera-carrying pro. Try to match interest in depth, bottom time and frequency of diving.
2. Don’t Go for Quantity. You don’t need dozens of dive buddies. One or two good ones who love to dive the same venues you do may be all that’s required — the more familiar they are with your dive habits, the safer you should be with them.
3. Look for Quality. Since your buddy is a part of your safety gear, relevant experience and attention to detail are good things to look for.
4. Use Clubs and the Internet. Local clubs organize regular dives to help members stay active. The Internet - including web forums - also is a prime place to fish for compatible buddies.
5. Communicate. As with any relationship, staying in touch and really listening will ensure a long-standing bond. Remember that feelings aren’t right or wrong, they just are. So if your buddy feels uncomfortable, acknowledge what he or she has shared and probe to understand it better.