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One of my friends has had no luck in the love department so far. She’s hilarious, easygoing, smart, and, in my book, everything a guy could want in a romantic partner, and yet she’s been inexplicably single for years now. All through college, she had no trouble flirting at parties and getting dates, but, as soon as we graduated and she entered the oh-so-exciting world of accounting, her date options ran dry.
I know my friend wants to be in a relationship more than anything, but she just doesn’t meet single guys at her job or in her social circle.
Sometimes knowing what you want isn’t the problem — finding it is. Today, we’re going to brainstorm some ways for singles, like my friend, to go outside their daily routines and meet that someone special. Here’s our list of the 9 best ways to find a date in your area.
Online dating has to be at the top of our list. Stay with me on this one. I know it can be difficult, intimidating, or just plain frustrating, but no other platform can offer so many opportunities to meet people who are single and in your area. I should know because I met my husband online. It’s just easier to break the ice and cut to the chase in the online dating scene. Plus, married couples who started relationships online report being happier in the long run than those who meet offline.
With that being said, not all dating sites and apps are incredibly excellent at maintaining a large and active network of singles, so you’ll need to do your homework and find legit dating sites with great reviews and stellar reputations in the industry.
Here are a couple of our favorites:
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We highly recommend Match because it is the oldest and most successful dating website around. It’s responsible for facilitating more dates, relationships, and marriages than any other dating service. So it’s got that going for it. The dating service has an in-depth approach to online dating and a breath of fresh air, honestly, from the endless carousel of swiping and ghosting that free dating apps have become.
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EliteSingles is all about quality, not quantity. When the site sends you a match, you can rest assured that he or she is going to be very compatible with you. Over 80% of EliteSingles members have graduated from college, over 90% are over 30, and pretty much 100% are looking for a real relationship.
I actually know a lot of couples who met via a local Meetup group, and they’re all super cute. Some hit it off while playing video games together. Others met at a book club. But they all connected thanks to the casual yet fun gatherings arranged by members on Meetup.
Meetup’s motto is “we are what we do,” and its mission is to give people a chance to come together and explore their passions for literature, hiking, cooking, photography, or even political activism. If you don’t see a local Meetup that reflects your interests, you can always start a group of your own and find like-minded folks that way.
Meetup has millions of members and is growing all the time so you’re bound to find a walking buddy, a dance partner, or just someone to talk to. Such small local gatherings give singles a low-key environment to check out their options and find dateworthy folks without putting in a lot of effort.
My college friends often went out to the bar or the club as a way of scoping out the dating scene. It’s pretty easy to find a fast date in a crowd of flirtatious people. A city’s downtown area is often a popular gathering spot for local singles looking to make something happen.
Sometimes they’re only interested in a no-strings-attached hookup, and other times they’re hoping to meet someone who’ll dance beside them for years to come.
It doesn’t have to be a whirlwind romance in one night. Becoming a regular at a bar or club can give singles the chance to build friendships and relationships over time. Cecily Kellogg said in an article on Yahoo Lifestyle that she and her future husband talked at the bar once a week for five years before going out on a date. Now, that’s playing the long game.
“I missed the mark plenty, but I had several relationships, some serious, with men I met in bars,” Cecily said.
If you’ve explored every possible romantic option in your friends group, maybe it’s time to branch out to friends of friends. You can always ask a close friend to scroll through their contacts and social media profiles to see if there’s a hidden gem in there for you. My sister-in-law once set me up with her coworker, and we ended up dating for a few months — no swiping or pickup lines required.
There’s an extra layer of trust built into a relationship when you have a mutual friend or acquaintance. You have more accountability, so ghosting isn’t really an option.
I know a married couple who met because their mothers became friends and decided to exchange their children’s phone numbers. The two slightly embarrassed 20-somethings messaged each other, bonded over the nosiness of their mothers, and hit it off from there. They now have two little girls, and you can bet those grandmothers are pretty proud of themselves.
A lot of people are more than willing to play matchmaker for their friends and family members. It’s just fun to try to see if you know someone or know someone who knows someone who could be a good fit. Couples who meet through mutual friends can benefit from sharing a similar social network and perhaps even shared hobbies.
This obviously only works if you’re a student. Unless you decide to take a cooking class or something as an adult. But, seriously, talk to your classmates. They’re right there and easy pickings. You already have something in common. Working toward a shared goal can be a great foundation for a relationship.
Zero in on the cutest or smartest person in class and ask them to be your study buddy. Tell them you’d like to go over your notes or discuss the reading before class. You then have an excuse to exchange contact information or set up a study session at a coffee shop where you can form a friendship and see where things go.
Volunteerism is an excellent way for singles to put themselves out there and meet people while doing something worthwhile with their time and energy. It’s a particularly savvy dating strategy for anyone seeking a caring and compassionate woman because, statistically speaking, women tend to volunteer at a higher rate than men do. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, nearly 20% of volunteers in 2015 were never married and an additional 20% were divorced, separated, or widowed.
What’s more, people in their 30s and 40s and individuals with college degrees are both demographics most likely to volunteer. So you’ll find more than a few eligible dates working alongside you when you give your time to a nonprofit or charitable cause.
You can volunteer anywhere you like. Try using VolunteerMatch to find opportunities to get involved. Whether you’re planting trees or walking dogs, you’ll soon meet altruistic people who share the same passions and interests that you do.
Sports have the power to bring people together to cheer, laugh, and heckle as one. The sense of team unity can inspire camaraderie among strangers — and that’s a fantastic opening for singles to score someone’s number or land a date. Joining an intramural team can help you get to know dozens of people who enjoy soccer, basketball, Quidditch, or whatever sport as much as you do.
You can also go to a game or a sports bar in your team’s colors and use the excitement of the game to strike up a conversation with someone rooting for the same team. Or the opposite team, if you want to go the Romeo-and-Juliet route. Though, spoiler alert, it didn’t work out great for them.
Nevertheless, singles can use their favorite sports as a way to make friends, arrange dates, and build an active social network (maybe even a fantasy league) during the season.
Think you’ve exhausted all your date opportunities? No way! You’re surrounded by single people everywhere you go — all you need to do is open your eyes and work up the courage to approach them. You can meet a potential partner in a bookstore (like American author Ray Bradbury did) or while shopping in the produce section of the grocery store.
You don’t need to attend a single event to exercise your flirting skills. You just have to become comfortable with starting conversations with people in everyday situations.
“A lot of my clients didn’t realize that was an option — they thought that they only could meet people online or at a bar,” said Hunt Ethridge, a dating expert who specializes in daytime dating. “They didn’t realize that you could actually strike up a convo with anybody anywhere.”
Perhaps you’ve noticed a common theme on this list is common interests. Find somewhere that celebrates the things you love, and you’ll find someone who loves it too.
When you share your enthusiasm with a new person, you make a positive impression and establish a connection based on something real and lasting. That way, you aren’t just another dating profile claiming to be a huge fan of Harry Potter, Game of Thrones, or Metallica — you’re actually proving your fandom by showing up to a trivia event, fantasy convention, or music festival.
You can discover great events near you by consulting Eventbrite, a ticketing platform known for organizing some truly spectacular events. What’s more, lots of fun, fan-driven conventions will have singles events and other activities on the calendar to help attendees who are traveling alone connect with new friends and date prospects.
The modern dating scene can be tough to navigate simply because singles have so many options at their disposal to get in touch. Of course, sometimes it feels like there are no options out there at all, and you’re the only single person in a sea of couples. That’s when you have to get creative and look for ways to shake up your love life and expand your social network.
Maybe you’ve already tried one or two things on this list, but it’s worth giving it another shot and exploring multiple ways to get a date. These dating strategies can help find a setting where meeting people becomes much easier. However, it’s up to you to start the conversations, connect with folks, and make something happen.
Ultimately, the best way to find a date is to pursue your passions, maintain a positive outlook, and be open to the people around you. No matter where you go, that confidence will draw singles to you. Good luck!