The answer is multifaceted, but mostly involves the single most important tool of divers, COMMUNICATION! That being said, here are a few ideas:
- BYOB (Bring your own buddy!) Before planning a solo dive trip, see if anyone at your local dive center, or club can introduce you to someone who might like to join you in the outing. If you are on a charter, talk to the other solo divers and see if their dive style matches your own, including how much territory they want to cover,(do they like to swim fast and cover a lot of ground, or do they like to take their time and observe things more closely?) How they do safety stops, and anything else you can think of that might be a sign of compatibility.
- If you are inexperienced, see if you can be partnered with a divemaster or other experienced diver who doesn't mind diving with a newbie. Just because a diver has more experience does not mean they will not make a good buddy for a newbie. Sometimes a more experienced diver might be a perfect match for a newbie if they enjoy the same type of diving and do not mind serving as a mentor.
- What really helps a buddy pair work together is how they communicate before they even begin the dive! Talk about the dive. How long? How deep? What about hand signals, navigation, and emergency procedures? And don't forget to check each other's equipment!
- Finally, if you are on a boat, and have concerns about finding a compatible buddy, talk to the captain or dive leader. They might be able to help find you a compatible buddy. If it goes well, great! If not, ask them to pair you with someone else that matches your diving style better.