As we get older, work long hours, relocate, and as our friends start marrying off, it gets harder to meet people — and even more difficult finding people to date. Frustrated with this fact of life, my friends and I have found ourselves looking into creative ways to meet people we’d categorize as datable without going to bars or nightclubs like we did in our twenties. I thought it would be helpful to share the result of our research and brainstorming.
1. Volunteer. Give back, meet quality people who also want to help others, and by doing something for a greater cause you will worry less about what you think your life is missing and start giving thanks for all you do have. Plus, it’s fun and rewarding. Some helpful websites that can easily match you up with a project you are interested in are www.californiavolunteers.org and www.volunteermatch.org.
2. Step outside of the box. Literally, get out of your house! Get dressed and head out to a cafe or restaurant to read, write, journal, or blog. Get into a routine of going to the same place a few times a week so you will see and be seen by the same people, and perhaps get up the courage to talk to someone. This takes effort, I know, as I am writing this wearing sweatpants in my apartment. But unless you are banking on a cute pizza delivery guy, you won’t meet anyone by sitting at home.
3. Meet people through friends. I know set ups are uncomfortable and awkward. Trust me, I have been through plenty of them. But, you never know. You could meet someone great. It doesn’t have to be a full-fledged blind date. Accept invitations to parties, go to group dinners or go to happy hour with co-workers. You may meet new friends and widen your social circle, which opens your door to many more possibilities.
4. Get a hobby. Run a marathon, take an art or language class, or join a co-ed sports league. Find something you enjoy doing. Maybe you will meet someone with similar interests. If not, you’ll at least be happier doing something you love.
5. Go to church/temple, etc. Many religious organizations have young adult groups or social events. You’ll meet people who will have similar values and beliefs to yours, which is a great foundation on which to build a relationship.
6. Consider online dating. Becoming increasingly more common and accepted, today at least 17% of marriages have resulted from meeting online and this number is expected to increase dramatically. I know many people who have gotten married through dating websites. It seems especially ideal for people who work long or crazy hours or have just moved to a new city. If setting up an online dating website is too much of a commitment, try Facebook. You may befriend someone on Facebook, an old high school or college friend or a friend of a friend, and hit it off.
7. Attend a singles’ event. There are tons of different singles events for people of all ages with different interests — networking events for young professionals, activity based ones, or even one called Table for Six that starts with a group dinner where you can meet people and take it from there — perfect for people who love food, like me. Try Googling ‘singles’ events’ in your area and get a few friends to join you in trying one.
8. Go to an exercise class or the gym. I look frightening when I work out — no makeup, sweaty, and uncoordinated. But I have married friends who met in a yoga class so it’s not an impossible feat.
9. Work. Fifteen to twenty percent of married couples meet at work or school. Even though I have heard it’s not a good idea to date people you work with, the fact of the matter is that work is where most people spend the majority of their time. And don’t forget, all those co-workers have their own social circles, which probably include at least a single friend or two.
10. Open your eyes. This may sound like a no brainer, but when I walk into Starbucks, most people are talking on their phones or texting, or seem to be preoccupied with their thoughts. Next time you go out for a latte, why not stay off your phone and get out of your head? Look around you, make eye contact, smile — show people that you are interested. Connect with them.