Meeting people is hard. There are apps, of course, but I think we all agree those are mostly a waste of time. And then there’s trying to meet people in real life. But I feel like all of the advice for how to do that is stuff like “join a club” or “volunteer at a charity.” Except, if I volunteer at a charity just to meet someone and then I do meet someone, I feel like that kind-hearted good soul is going to be pretty disappointed when I’m like, “Oh, I don’t ACTUALLY enjoy giving my time to help others; I was just trying to get laid. Wait… Is that a problem?”
Truthfully, all of the advice the experts give about how to meet a potential significant other is pretty useless. It all just feels so earnest and trite. But if you’re reading this, it’s ‘cause you’re sick of not having anyone to fight with over the remote control and also don’t really want to die alone. And I get that.
While I’m definitely not an expert, I have been doing this whole dating thing for a while, which, personally, I think makes me more qualified to dole out advice than some “matchmaker” or “dating expert.” And anyway, what do you have to lose?
So here’s my best advice for the stuff you should do if you’re really looking to meet the person you’ll spend the rest of your life asking “What should we eat for dinner?” in 2018.
Don’t Rely on Serendipity
Listen, I don’t want to be harsh, but if serendipity were the way you were going to meet your person, you wouldn’t still be single. It pains me to admit this, but if you want to meet someone, you have to work at it. I know, that makes me want to crawl into bed and hide under the blankets too, but it’s the hard truth, and going forward, wouldn’t it be nice to hide under the blankets with someone? And by “hide,” I mean… Okay, you get it.
Change Your Routine
You know where you haven’t met someone to knock boots with?. At Soul Cycle/the coffee shop you go to every day/your favorite wine bar/etc.
It’s very easy and comfortable to become a creature of habit, but if you want to see (and be seen by) new people, you’ve got to mix it up. It may feel uncomfortable (What will your fellow Soul Cycle cult members think if you don’t show up to your Thursday night class?!), but it’s an easy way to discover a whole new set of potential paramours… And, even if you don’t meet someone new, you’ll have discovered new awesome things about the place where you live, which is almost as good.
Ask Your Friends to Set You Up
One time, after I’d recovered from the demise of relationship, I sent an email to 20 friends telling them I was ready to be set up and outlined what I was looking for in a partner. My criteria included things like: must ski or snowboard; must watch NFL football, but not be a fan of the Cowboys, Seahawks, Patriots, Eagles, Cardinals, Rams, or Giants; understands the importance of sunscreen (I wish I were joking); orders dessert after dinner… the list went on. And on. And on. Mostly I was just trying to have fun with the whole thing, but it didn’t work because not one single person tried to set me up.
Hopefully your friends are better than mine, and if you put it out there that you’d like to be set up, they’ll deliver. And hopefully the person they deliver hates the Seahawks and knows the importance of sunscreen.
Make Eye Contact
If you see someone you want to meet or if you’re talking to someone you’re interested in, look them in the eyes. Like, for longer than feels comfortable, even if it’s just a second. A normal face scan takes three and a half seconds and lingering for even one more second signals interest. After you’ve met and talked, if you want to show that you’re interested in a little more than chitchat, make eye contact for 10 seconds or more. If there was any sexual tension between you already, just wait to see what happens at the eleventh second.
If you see someone you want to meet, move closer. Not in a creepy way, but in a way that makes it possible for you to start talking. It’s hard for people to get up the courage to walk all the way across the bar; it’s much easier to strike up a conversation with someone who’s within earshot already.
And while I hate that I have to caveat any of this advice, when I say “move closer,” I am not suggesting you invade anyone’s personal space or keep following them around if they aren’t into you. I know that YOU would never do that, but there are some weirdos out there, so just want to make sure that’s clear.
If you see someone you think is cute, talk to them. Ask them a question… Even “Can you believe this weather we’re having?” will do. It’s always lovely to offer a compliment, but just know that it doesn’t necessarily open the door for the person to say more than “thanks.” Also, this probably goes without saying, but, like, “nice ass” is not a compliment you should give a stranger. Even if it’s true.
Would you approach a person working on their laptop, frantically typing on their phone, or who’s sporting headphones? Then why would you ever think someone would approach you if you’re doing those things? I’m not saying that you should spend your entire commute trying to make eye contact with other people on the bus/train, but when you’re waiting in the line at the grocery store or sitting at the bar waiting for your friend to show up, do it without your phone in your hand. I know, just typing that made me very uncomfortable, but you’ve got to be approachable if you want to be approached.
Go Out Solo
Most people don’t feel comfortable approaching a group; after all, it’s hard enough just to approach one person. Try going out alone once a week—whether it’s to a restaurant, a bar, to see a band, an open mic night… see what happens when you show up solo. Just be sure to come off as approachable, which means appearing unoccupied (see above), sitting at the bar instead of at a table, etc.
It can feel uncomfortable at first, but with a little practice, it’s actually quite liberating. If going somewhere alone really scares you, try frequenting a local bar. Once you know the staff, it will feel less like going out by yourself and more like stopping by to say “hey” to your friends. Or like being an alcoholic. One or the other for sure.
Listen: I, more than anyone, understand how fun it is to sit on the couch on Saturday night and binge watch old episodes of “Gossip Girl.” But you’re not going to meet your Chuck or your Blair sitting on the sofa in your jammies.
If you want to meet people, you have to make time to meet people, which means you have to leave the house. Say yes to birthday parties, happy hours, playing in a softball game, going to a jazz club, dinner parties with friends, and, most important, to people who ask you out on dates. Sure, you might not meet someone you want to fall in love with, but at least you’re out trying. Which is really the most important thing to do.
I can only speak for myself, but I seem to always meet people in two situations: when I’m doing something I love or when I’m dating without expectations. I think both of those situations encourage a natural confidence that people find attractive.
So while I don’t want to end this by saying “be yourself” (I abhor a trite cliché), if you go out into the world, do the things you love, and present yourself as open to opportunities and possibilities, your person will think that’s attractive. And while you’re waiting for them to show up, at least you’ll be living your best life.