Once upon a time, in an age before the Internet, the only way to meet people was to leave your apartment and interact with humanity. I know it’s a scary thought — leaving your couch, taking off your sweatpants, putting your Netflix binging on pause, and going out to meet people — but that’s just how the world worked. But considering how long the human race existed before the dawn of the Internet and online dating, it looks like meeting people in real life was actually working for them.
I myself have never done the online dating thing. I once signed up on OKCupid for a week to write a good reference for my friend Mattie (I don’t even know if they do that anymore) so he could seem intriguing to some guy he was stalking, but that was it. I got a few messages that week and it confirmed that the online dating world probably wasn’t the best place for me.
Every person I’ve ever dated, including the man I married, I met in real life. Whether it was a bar, work (yes, bad idea, I know), or at one of the many media events that I used to frequent back in my social days (I’m exhausted just thinking about it!), that's how I met people. And you know what? You can, too. Here's are the 11 best places to meet people — IRL.
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1. Never Skip Work Happy Hour
Even if you know, for a fact, that you will never date any of your coworkers (which is probably a good thing), you never know who they might ask, from outside the office, to tag along. Those harmless office friends? They might have a cute buddy. So if a coworker invites you go to someplace else after Happy Hour, join them.
2. Check Out What Events Your Friends Are Attending On Facebook (And Go)
I don’t mean inviting yourself to whatever events aren’t “public,” but if you see that one of your Facebook friends is going to an art exhibit opening or a reading at the local bookstore, RSVP and go. It's a great way to find out what's going on and to get slightly outside your comfort zone, without having to show up somewhere completely alone.
3. Always Go To Friends' Birthday Parties
I know, I know. Getting up and going out, especially this time of year, seems like cruel and unusual punishment, but if you’re going to meet someone IRL, you have to venture out into the real world. Expanding our social circle, or at the very least, keeping it intact, is very important when you're trying to meet someone.
4. Take Public Transportation To Work
If the Instagram account Hot Dudes Reading has taught us anything, it’s that the subway is an oyster of attractive people who may be your ideal match. (Of course, this doesn’t mean they’re all single.) Next time you see a hot person reading a book you love, consider striking up a conversation with them about it. Making eyes at the cutie across from you the whole ride? Consider handing them a piece of paper with your number before you get off the train. Sure, it's brave — but it's also a thrill.
5. Volunteer Your Time
Volunteering is awesome in more ways than one. For starters, you’re giving back, and secondly, you’re putting yourself in a group of likeminded individuals who, like you, are obviously saints. Consider volunteering for a cause you care about, and see who you meet. At the very least, you'll make friends (with more potentially cute buddies).
6. Don’t Close Yourself Off To Talking With Strangers
Yes, randoms who think it’s OK to talk to you when you’re clearly deep into tweeting something about your coffee can be really annoying, but sometimes when you give strangers the opportunity to talk to you, they can actually be cool. (But you’ve seen hundreds of rom-coms, so you know that.)
Of course, you need to be safe and should never feel harassed— but sometimes, society has made us believe we're always in danger, when in reality, we might actually sometimes enjoy the thrill of talking to a stranger.
7. Get A Dog (Or Borrow One To Take For A Walk)
As a person who loves dogs more than humans, I’m not suggesting that dogs are some sort of accessory. What they are are magical, furry gifts that, if you have the time, not only make you a happier person, but get you hitting up the dog park. That right there is opening you up to meeting new people. It’s amazing how many times my dog, Hubbell, has been a conversation starter.
8. Take A Class
Even if you haven’t been in school in years, you can always learn something new. Sign up for cooking class, a pottery class, or finally learn how to scuba dive. Remember how it was so easy to meet people when you were in school? You can do that again.
9. Agree To Be Set Up
So maybe being set up by your Aunt Edie is going to result in you being bored, because Aunt Edie never really understood you. But if a friend wants to set you up on a date, DO IT. Your friends know you well enough to know what type of person will click with you. This is your best case scenario for meeting people IRL, so don't roll your eyes at it.
10. Become A ‘Regular’ Somewhere
Back when I used to drink like every day was my last day on earth, I was one of a dozen regulars at a couple bars, and it was a great way to meet people. There’s something about being a fixture in someplace you’re comfortable (that isn’t your home) that gives you the confidence to talk to people. Find your favorite cafe, bar, bookstore, restaurant, or place to listen to live music and see how it feels to become a regular.
11. Do More Things Alone
Two big things happen when you’re alone: You’ll find that you’re more likely to talk to people and people are more likely to talk to you. When you’re with your friends it can be intimidating for someone to come up to you, but when you roll solo it’s easier for someone who might want to get to know you to make their move. If you can travel alone, then even better.
If you're shy about going out alone, bring a book or a journal at first, and take small steps to get comfortable with the feeling. Consider trying not to look at your phone all night, and see what happens. Look at our list of romantic dates to take yourself on, and remember: no matter who you meet or don't meet, you're one hot date.