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I know from personal experience how hard it can be to get over a past love and meet someone new.
The first real boyfriend I ever had was during my senior year of high school. We had met in daycare when we were about five years old, and our friendship eventually grew into something more. After our breakup, I didn’t know how or when I’d meet a new love interest. But then, on the first day at college, a guy in class leaned over and asked if he could borrow a pencil, and, as corny as it sounds, we immediately connected. In one moment, I went from a girl on the rebound to a girl happily crushing on her next boyfriend.
Sometimes it can be hard to meet someone new, and we all go through dating lulls every now and then — maybe because you’re hurting after a breakup or maybe because you’re new in town and don’t have many opportunities to build those connections. If you’re ready to move on but you don’t know how or where or when, check out these 15 ways to meet new people and start fresh.
Any single who’s serious about finding love, romance, or straight-up sex should add online dating into their social routines. Nearly one-third of all American adults have tried using a dating site or dating app to meet people, and it’s rapidly becoming the most popular way to meet a future boyfriend, girlfriend, or spouse.
If you want to online date, you should have no shortage of options. You’ve got more 8,000 dating sites to choose from, but we have our personal favorites that we’d like to tell you more about:
Match is a well-known dating site and app that has inspired more than its fair share of relationships and marriages in real life. The Match dating website was founded in 1995 before online dating was mainstream. Since then, Match has grown to encompass over 30 million members, with more joining every day.
Friends, Dates, and Relationships
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Relationships: Friends, Dates, and Relationships
Match System: Browse by zip, age, appearance, more
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Match allows a single person to search for a local date by specific criteria. Once you come across someone who strikes your fancy, add him or her to your Favorites list and send them a virtual like and wink — for free. Match also offers advanced features, including its own private phone service, to get you offline and on a date as soon as possible.
Elite Singles is particularly great for meeting college-educated singles, as 82% of its members have a bachelor’s, master’s, and/or doctorate degree. The site also really works — more than 2,500 members find love every month here.
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Relationships: Serious Relationships
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In addition to filtering by education level, Elite Singles lets you filter by age, gender, location, appearance, income, ethnicity, religion, lifestyle habits, and personal goals (e.g., having children). This, plus registration and certain types of communication, are 100% free to do.
When you think you can’t add one more thing to your to-do list, including online dating, turn to Zoosk. This popular (and free) dating app takes most of the work off your shoulders because it’s integrated with social media — making profile creation quick and easy. Everything you need can be pulled from an existing account!
Fun Dates, Serious Relationships
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Relationships: Fun Dates, Serious Relationships
Match System: Search and get match recommendations
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Zoosk’s numbers are pretty impressive as well. It’s been downloaded more than 30 million times in the App Store and on Google Play, and it has 38 million members who exchange more than 3 million messages a day. You’ll want to get in on that action!
Trying to meet people on your own can be stressful and frustrating, so take some of that pressure off yourself by having your family members and friends take part in it. Let them know you’re interested in putting yourself out there and trying new things.
They’re bound to have at least one person or one activity in mind that can help you out. Maybe it’s your mom’s neighbor’s son, your best friend’s coworker, your cousin’s 30th birthday celebration, your old college roommate’s housewarming party, and so on.
About 84% of people in the world identify with a religious group, and there are 37 million churches, 182 temples, and hundreds of synagogues and mosques in the world. This is why attending church or any other worship service is one of the best ways to meet some new faces.
Not only can taking part in a religious activity strengthen your faith, but it can also ensure you’re around people who have the same values, beliefs, and lifestyle as you. These kinds of commonalities are especially important if it’s a date or partner you’re looking for, not just new friends.
You probably already have stuff you love doing and interests you care about, whether it’s running, painting, craft beer, or vegan food. You could kill two birds with one stone by trying to do those things as often you can and in as many places as you can. Go to clubs, meetings, events, groups — whatever you can find online.
An older family friend of mine has really gotten into pickleball lately and has greatly expanded her social circle. Instead of sticking to what you know, something else that can help you meet new people is picking up a hobby or two that you’ve never tried before. There are all kinds of crazy, fun stuff, like welding, nowadays.
I mentioned earlier that I’ve dated people with whom I went to high school and college, and those have got to be the easiest places to meet people. You’re together for eight hours a day, five days a week, and that doesn’t include outside activities like game days.
After you graduate, it doesn’t mean you have to stop learning. Most cities have a ton of adult classes for food, wine, arts and crafts, music, dance, acting, martial arts — you name it. You’ll broaden your skill set and get to know so many different kinds of people!
You’ve probably tried the bar scene already, but it’s worth having on this list because you really never know. It’s especially helpful if the bar is having a themed night like trivia, board games, bring your dog, fundraisers, and costume parties.
You also shouldn’t have any problem breaking the ice on these nights because you already have something to talk about: what’s going on at the bar. If it’s trivia night, chat up the team sitting next to you once it’s over (Man, we blew it on the last questions. How’d y’all do?). If it’s a night for bringing your dog, your pets will probably play wingman without you having to try — sniffing every canine and person who comes near.
For those who hold philanthropy near and dear to their hearts, volunteering is our top recommendation for meeting people. From saving the environment, spaying or neutering animals, or fighting for LGBTQ rights, choose a cause (or two) that means a lot to you, find an organization nearby, and dedicate as much of your time as you can.
Similar to attending church, volunteering brings you together with those who are like-minded, so if that’s important to you, you won’t have to search far for it. Plus, you can feel less nervous about striking up a conversation.
Several months ago, my town held a festival for vegetarians, vegans, and anyone else interested in that kind of cooking and lifestyle. There were tons of food trucks, merchandise and materials, entertainment, and, most importantly, people. Arts festivals, parades, concerts, public speaking events, wine tastings, holiday activities, movies in the park — the list goes on and on. Time to whip out Google!
Festivals and events don’t necessarily have to cost a lot of money either. Some of them just ask for donations or however much you want to spend on your meals and souvenirs. If staying on budget is on your mind, add the word free into your Google search.
Meetup.com is one of the best creations ever. The site has millions of things for you to do, and they’re all listed in one place. Choose your location or interest (e.g., tech, food and drink, or language and culture), and you’ll see meetup after meetup after meetup. Each individual meetup page also has a lot of information to help you determine if it’s the right one for you.
Whether it’s a book club, a happy hour, or a knitting circle, these different groups are a good way to get out of your comfort zone and meet new people in the real world. I’ve found some of the craziest groups on Meetup.com, and it’s amazing.
Here’s Meetup by the numbers: Over 30 million members, 4.11 million monthly RSVPs, 608,000 monthly meetups, 272,200 meetup groups, 3,400 meetups happening now, and 182 countries hosting meetups.
I know what you’re thinking — I don’t want some rando coming up to me while I’m on the treadmill sweating like a pig. Or maybe I don’t want to look like some rando bothering strangers who just got off the treadmill. And I agree, it’s not about pickup lines and come-ons — you have to lay the groundwork to make a good first impression and second impression on a new person at your gym or sport league.
The gym can be a great place to find potential matches with the same common interest in fitness. You just have to be careful how you go about it. Maybe you make eye contact while taking a water break or grabbing a snack. Maybe you and a different person go to the gym around the same time. If you’re consistent, you’re bound to see some regulars who to approach (e.g., “I love getting here in the morning when there are fewer people hogging the rowing machines.”).
If you’re not a gym rat, try intramural sports. These aren’t only for high school or college students. Adult kickball leagues and soccer teams are really popular. Each practice and game can become a social event for building a new relationship. Being on a team allows you to get to know people on a deeper level, and you never know when you and a new person will knock it out of the park.
I got my first dog several months ago, and he’s the best wingman I’ve ever had. He’s super friendly, so no matter where I take him, we’re spending the whole time going up to everyone. If you’re a dog owner, you should take your dog with you wherever possible and visit your local dog park whenever you have free time. And it’s never really awkward — people love petting each other’s dogs and asking questions about them.
What makes this idea even better is if you get a group of friends to go with you and bring their pups. With so much backup, you shouldn’t be nervous at all.
I’m not talking about approaching a stranger in a quiet museum and asking them how a painting makes them feel. I’m talking about attending gallery openings, educational programs, interactive exhibitions, and other things like that where mingling and talking isn’t weird — it’s encouraged.
The museum in my city will hold events like butterfly releases, fun workshops, special talks, cool performances — you name it. Pull out your phone and see what you can find in your city!
Traveling is very fulfilling because we get to see the world and experience other cultures, and it doesn’t have to be done only with the people we know. Plenty of travel companies offer group packages and tours, which can save you money and ensure that you’ll be around some new folks.
If you’re not interested in traveling in a group, some companies will also connect you with locals who can show you the ins and outs of their city. Spending time with locals is a fantastic way to see some unique landmarks, sights, and restaurants, and they’d be more than happy to take you to the places where they hang out and introduce you to their friends.
I’d be willing to bet you have at least one social media account — Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, Tiktok — they’re almost impossible to avoid these days. Social media isn’t just for letting everyone know what you had for lunch, how many miles you ran, or the cutest thing your cat just did. You should also consider using these profiles to meet people.
Facebook Dating recently launched as an outlet for social media users who want to step up their dating game and use their friend network to find someone special.
There are ways to do date via social media without being creepy, and it helps if you get an introduction from a mutual friend and begin building a friendship rather than a romance. Start off small by liking or favoriting someone’s post or picture. Then leave a comment every now and then and see if they comment back. If they do, try to get a conversation going (ask for your friend for insights into what that person likes to chat about).
I’ve seen many friends harness the power of social media to get a romance going, and I’ve played matchmaker in my Facebook groups as well.
You’ll want to be careful with this one, especially if you’re trying to meet new people for dating. Take a look at your company’s policies first, and then proceed accordingly. If it’s OK for coworkers to date, or if you’re just looking for friendship, you’re good to go.
You’ve got to be careful about the ethical concerns involved as well. It is not a good idea to try to start a romantic relationship with a person who works for you. Relationship expert Dr. Wendy Walsh gave us some tips about ethically dating in the workplace.
A single person can become friendly with coworkers by organizing or attending happy hours, movie nights, or anything else you can think of (my company does office chair volleyball tournaments) to bring people together. People can be more serious and standoffish at work, so getting them and yourself out of the office setting lets real personalities shine.
The pace at which we meet people can slow down as we get older, graduate from school, become more invested in our careers, and are forced to deal with other obligations in life. But we shouldn’t use any of that as an excuse — after all, over 8 billion people live on this planet.
While I’ve met a lot of my boyfriends through college, parties, and even daycare, there are still plenty of other chances for me to meet new acquaintances and get new crushes. The same probably goes for you, and the first step is to just get out there and start talking. Whether you’re online or offline, you can run into many attractive and interesting people, who also happen to be single, if you keep your eyes peeled and have the courage to make the first move. Good luck!