Where are the single thirtysomethings outside of OKCupid?
July 19, 2012 6:37 PM   Subscribe

You're a woman in your 30s looking to meet men for dating/relationships. What are you doing to meet people OUTSIDE OF online dating sites?

I'm a guy in my 30s who has been doing online dating off and on for a few years now. I'm growing pretty dissatisfied with it. I have been trying to place less emphasis on that avenue and more on meeting people in shared activities/interests. However, I don't seem to find many 30 something women anywhere other than OKCupid. Over the past year I've gone to a bunch of different kinds of social meetups - hiking/outdoors, dinners/bar crawls, volunteering, etc. I've had fun at these things, but it seems like everyone I meet there is 45+. Is online dating really the only avenue left for meeting people in their 30s?
posted by sherlockt to Human Relations (37 answers total) 63 users marked this as a favorite
Volunteer. Pick something you like and are interested in. You will probably be outnumbered by 30 something females and they will (ideally!) be nice! Win win. (Note: making a longer term volunteer commitment ie something weekly is much better for this purpose. Meeting people for one day to forge a connection is much harder). But make sure you would be doing the activity anyway, and that meeting other people is just a perk. That is very important.
posted by bquarters at 6:40 PM on July 19, 2012 [4 favorites]

30s guy here, but I'll chime in seconding the volunteering, especially in activities that tend to draw a heavy female population. Can you help a local theater or dance organization? Is there a book fair around you? The latter are especially nice, since you end up chatting during the sessions. You might also social dancing, especially tango, meditation groups, or yoga retreats. The key, I've found, is regularity. Keep showing up!
posted by vecchio at 6:48 PM on July 19, 2012 [1 favorite]

A lot of single women in their 30s do an increasing amount of socializing with married friends, just because an increasing number of their friends are going to be married, and women are more likely to be the "social director" in a marriage in the U.S. A lot of women I know who are single in their 30s settle into a comfortable "third wheel" situation where she socializes frequently with her best friend and her BFF's husband, and often tags along to the BFF's various outings and events.

So this is great, because (lots of) happily married people love to matchmake! If a single male friend let me know he was looking to meet people, I would definitely be keeping that in my mind when I was talking to my close single girlfriends, and if I would happily make introductions in an appropriately low-key fashion.

I don't think it occurs to most single dudes to use their married friends to meet single women, but a lot of single women, as their friends get married and start families, shift a portion of their socializing to those married/family gatherings their friends are having. (Men seem to do this less often, more often continuing with "men only" outings with their single and married friends all together; women seem to plan most of the "family" outings so their good friends will be the tagalongs.) And a lot of women are far more open to getting to know a guy who's a friend of their friend, because there's at least a basic level of screening out the creepers that way.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 7:00 PM on July 19, 2012 [12 favorites]

If you don't specifically want a meat-market environment, take an evening college course. You'll find mostly non-kids in such classes, they tend toward the non-loser end of the spectrum, and you'll have ample opportunity to interact with them in ways that can lead to dating ("Hey, we have a study group this Saturday, want to attend?")

Many community colleges will even let you "audit" courses for free or for a tiny fraction of the normal cost, if you don't intend to pursue a degree.
posted by pla at 7:01 PM on July 19, 2012 [4 favorites]

Seconding vecchio. If you volunteer at a theater, and you can be useful, you will have found a decent pool of women. Just don't try to date people right off in this kind of setting - it's a community, and if you come in there loaded for bear, it will be obvious and off-putting.
posted by Medieval Maven at 7:03 PM on July 19, 2012 [1 favorite]

If you like animals, volunteer at an animal shelter. Lots of women there, and the adorable animals provide an automatic conversational subject (great for the more shy or small-talk-averse).
posted by Rosie M. Banks at 7:05 PM on July 19, 2012

Book clubs! Not just frou-frou book clubs either, but genre ones could be great - mystery or science fiction, for example. (I met my husband in a science fiction book club, and while we were in our late 20s, there were several people in our club in their 30s.)
posted by peanut_mcgillicuty at 7:11 PM on July 19, 2012 [1 favorite]

Book signings, book readings, museum lectures.
posted by caclwmr4 at 7:17 PM on July 19, 2012 [1 favorite]

I'm not really doing anything. I suppose I should, because I really do want to meet someone- maybe next year I'll panic and  go on a doing something spree. But so far, I haven't. But I live my life and some of that takes place where there are other people. I work, which involves going places & sometimes talking to people. I do things I enjoy, usually alone but sometimes with friends, and that also usually involves going places and sometimes talking to people. I do boring things I have to do, which...you get the idea. I also interact with people online in various (non dating site) ways, and sometimes meet them irl. So far in my 30s none of this has lead to meeting any dateable men, nor have I looked for that, but I guess it could. I - and my  single friends in the same boat - vacillate between giving up and acquiring numerous cats, and thinking that if we ever do meet anyone it's going to be by chance as an outgrowth of the life we're already leading.
posted by DestinationUnknown at 7:27 PM on July 19, 2012 [2 favorites]

There are other answers, but Eyebrows McGee has the best one so far... I am a very eligible bachelorette in my early 30s and I do the okcupid thing, but even online dating is a lot of work. Between that and my job and my normal social life with my (yes, almost all married or might-as-well-be) friends, I don't have much time left over for volunteering and book clubs, etc. Work the network. I try, but it would go much better if some single men were trying from the other direction, too.
posted by slenderloris at 7:45 PM on July 19, 2012 [3 favorites]

If you have any friends or cool cousins getting married, go to the reception and chat with ladies who don't have obvious partners. This is another way to get in touch with that friend-screened group of people.

If you have a passion for something, go to a conference or workshop related to it. Ideally this should be something attended by a fairly large group of people, and take place not too far away from where you live (hence you will meet people more likely to live near you). Ideally this would be a multi-day event, as then you have after-hours socializing.
posted by unsub at 7:56 PM on July 19, 2012

Over the past year I've gone to a bunch of different kinds of social meetups - hiking/outdoors, dinners/bar crawls, volunteering, etc. I've had fun at these things, but it seems like everyone I meet there is 45+

This stands out to me. Did you only attend one of each kind of meetup after finding the demographic out of your desired age range? I ask because nearly every 45+ person works with or knows in some capacity a person who is in their 30s. And you could be that person!

"Hey, friend, I/we met this guy at the canoeing meetup who seems like he's just your type!"

The larger your network is, the more likely people are to set you up with dates. Keep meeting people who do activities you enjoy. There may be reasons that the woman you want to attract is not going to the meetups you attend. Maybe she's at another meetup, maybe she's working those hours, maybe she's volunteering somewhere. But the people who know her might be at the meetups. Go to a few of the same ones for a few months before you discount them altogether.
posted by bilabial at 8:08 PM on July 19, 2012 [2 favorites]

At that age I was sometimes a single female. I volunteered for a community radio station, joined in a once-a-week running group that ran 5K and ended at a bar which was fun, went to bookstore events, had a community garden, and did volunteer events like the town's festival day, Slow Food events, etc. I met a bunch of people doing all those things - not really all for dating, but it was a great way to meet a bunch of people. The running group was particularly good for dating and making close friends. Just as a set of data points.
posted by Miko at 8:32 PM on July 19, 2012 [1 favorite]

Metafilter meetups. That's where I met my husband when we were both in our thirties!
posted by onlyconnect at 8:33 PM on July 19, 2012

Oh hey. Pittsburgher in your target demographic, and based on what I've seen, I suggest:
- volunteer at the Animal Rescue League, the one near Bakery Square. Almost every time I go past, I see several young adults (and lots of women) walking and playing with the dogs.
- volunteer at one of the local radio stations like WYEP or WQED, or wherever your tastes lie.
- volunteer for a music ensemble like the Banjo Club (yes, it's hosted by elderly Elks, but a large number of the audience members are young and interesting-looking, and the beer is cheap), or if you take music lessons, see if your teacher is tapped into any informal meetups, like jam sessions or musicales.
- try out for one of the Savoyards productions, or see if you can be a supernumerary at the opera, or volunteer as crew or staff for one of the theatre companies.
- if you rent, consider moving into the city. If that's out of the question, consider making yourself a regular at a nice coffeeshop in town.
- yard sales, big ones especially. I've had some surprisingly good conversations at those. Also, library book sales.
- if you do any arts and crafts, see about getting a booth space at one of the summer festivals, or sharing one, or volunteering with one of the sponsoring organizations' booths, etc.
- show up for an open work day/night at one of the community gardens (Braddock, Garfield maybe, I haven't been to others).
- ultimate Frisbee, though you may have to shop around for a group that's the right age.
- church, bible study, young adult group.
- dragonboating, or paddling club.
- volunteer to rehab houses with Open Hands Ministry, or similar.
Most people volunteer so sporadically that the landscape of any location could completely change between one visit and the next, but it's worthwhile to put down roots regardless; I agree with previous posters who say you should mine your current contacts for introductions and invites. Feel free to send me a note if you have any interest in specifics for any of the above.
posted by notquitemaryann at 8:42 PM on July 19, 2012 [2 favorites]

Yup. Same boat as DestinationUnknown. I can't bring myself to do online dating - I know it works for apparently everyone else, and that's wonderful, but I personally feel like I'm shopping for humans, and I just can't. So here's what I do (and how that's workin' out):

I do all the shit people always recommend immediately after telling you that you should be pursuing online dating: I take classes I'm crazy-interested in, I volunteer a lot, I pursue what interests me through a slew of (yes, mostly entirely solitary, wildly introverted) hobbies. That's all stuff I'd be doing anyway, because I just like doing it. And yet I keep hearing that this self-cultivation will somehow magically throw interesting people my way. But so far, I'm 99% sure everyone's lying, because that's not happening at all. So I've pretty much decided I'm destined to be alone forever, which is not too sad, because I genuinely enjoy being alone much of the time. But damn, I would like to meet new people and date and stuff, and I don't see why that's so weirdly hard.

I can sort-of second volunteering for you, with some caveats. On every volunteering job, the women outnumber the men by a long shot, and in my experience, they're usually mostly around my age (I just turned 36 yesterday). It would be lovely to see more dudes in my age range there. But honestly, I've been doing this for years, with the clear secondary purpose of meeting generally cool, caring, interesting new people, and nothing has ever come of it in terms of forming relationships of any stripe, which still seems somewhat wacky (and yet in NYC, utterly predictable) to me. So as often as I hear volunteering trotted out as the go-to standard for meeting new people, I have to call bullshit here. YMMV, but I think that unless you're in a small town or city - or perhaps volunteering for the same gig, with the same people, over and over again - your chances of ever seeing any of your nice, interesting fellow volunteers ever again are quite slim. I almost always meet great people and very organically strike up pleasant conversations on volunteering gigs. And then we both trot off in our respective opposite directions and it goes nowhere, because A) you're usually pretty focused on the volunteering task at hand (e.g, feeding hundreds of hungry homeless people, or ripping out weeds and cleaning up all the used condoms in X City Park), B) it's NYC and everyone is busy and exhausted all the time, and C) it's really never enough time to feel secure enough to make that leap over into "Hey, gimme your number!" or "let's grab some coffee after!" zone. And finally, I might be projecting my own crap on everyone else, but I really get the sense that everyone is doing the same thing: enjoying themselves while trying to meet new people, but remaining quite convinced that everyone else already HAS their people, and thus getting all insecure about it and slinking off home without really putting anything on the line. That's a delicate balance to maneuver. I am not having success. Again, YMMV.

My other concerted effort to at least make myself available to meeting people has been to deliberately go places that I enjoy by myself - museums and galleries, movies, concerts, Central Park, parties, a bar with great live music, once - and just meeting whoever I meet. And again, this isn't too much of a problem, because I'm a non-shy introvert, and I often even prefer experiencing these things alone. But my logic here is that most of my friends - and almost ALL my women friends - have left the city to pair off and have babies somewhere more affordable, so I've been hanging out with a group of mostly gay man-friends that have stayed put. And despite them not being remotely interested in my lady bits, people still constantly assume coupledom when they see Lady Person with Gent Person hanging out as a twosome, and that's not great for meeting other dudes, or really anyone else, because if I'm out with a friend, I'm guaranteed to be wrapped in deep conversation with that friend. So I try to fly solo as often as I can manage. But my at least logically sound 'Venture Out Alone' plan too has proven a total bust. I forced myself to go to a very chill, friendly bar in Brooklyn to listen to a friend's band and stood there in a bright red strapless dress listening to awesome music for five hours by myself, actually having a pretty damn good time, and enjoying friendly, non-weird and perfectly pleasant conversation with strangers, and I didn't get even remotely hit on ONCE. And it really fucking bummed me out. Unfortunately, you still need to be met halfway, and it just doesn't happen a whole lot nowadays, which I genuinely understand. I think dudes have been programmed to not Lech on the Laydeez, so now they just mind their own business and stick their faces in their beers. But I sincerely don't know what else I can do to 'put it out there'. So I'm putting it away, and returning to Plan A: do whatever shit I like and probably just die alone. And possibly also drag some perfectly nice houseplants down with me. The end. My apartment's even too small for a cat without the whole place turning into a giant litter box, so I'm totally S.O.L, man. So sad.
posted by involution at 9:12 PM on July 19, 2012 [36 favorites]

I think dudes have been programmed to not Lech on the Laydeez, so now they just mind their own business and stick their faces in their beers.

I certainly have. Right here on metafilter. There are plenty of threads devoted to the idea that you should never approach a woman in public because she (a) wants to be reading and you can't talk to her about the book she's reading, (b) waiting for somebody else, (c) is doing some activity because she wants to be doing it and isn't trying to meet anyone and can't you just let her play-sports/volunteer/take-a-class/practice-her-salsa-dancing in peace.

Honestly, I find it really frustrating. This bit in the friendship thread a few days ago: "it becomes tougher to meet the three conditions that sociologists since the 1950s have considered crucial to making close friends: proximity; repeated, unplanned interactions; and a setting that encourages people to let their guard down and confide in each other." seemed to explain my experience with dating. I am not going to, as busy adult, have proximity, repeated, unplanned interactions; and a setting that encourages people to let their guard down with most women. And yet it seems the only socially acceptable way to meet someone to date (outside of online dating) is to meet those criteria.

That being said I know a lot of people who meet people though AA or church, two organizations which help create the situation above. Not being religious or an alcoholic those don't really work out for me. But YMMV.
posted by bswinburn at 10:09 PM on July 19, 2012 [15 favorites]

Feel free to ignore this advice if you want, because online dating is really just not for everyone- but have you tried sites other than OKCupid? Because it skews young. Like, 18-29 young. Other ages are on there, for sure, but it is overwhelmingly a site for very young people. You might try Match.com?
posted by showbiz_liz at 10:41 PM on July 19, 2012 [1 favorite]

I hate to say it, but it's probably a gender-related hobbies thing. You have to take up volunteering jobs/hobbies/classes where ladies are likely to go. This is probably easier for you than it is for women (involution does have a major point there), though. God knows my only male-ish hobby was rock climbing, and you literally cannot do it without bringing a partner along already, so so much for that one :P (also why I quit it anyway when my rock-climbing buddies moved).
posted by jenfullmoon at 10:42 PM on July 19, 2012

I'm in your target demographic and finally gave in and joined online dating a few months ago because it's been impossible to meet anyone out in the 'real world.' Most of my friends are married and I have had to work very hard to retain friendships as well as create new friendships with other single women (married friends are always busy).

Between maintaining friendships, work, business trips, and my own hobbies I already have a full schedule. I work for myself so meeting someone at work isn't possible. Online dating was supposed to solve that but, turns out, it's just another job. I've had no luck so far either. The only volunteering I'm really interested in is political and I've only met older retired types and really young people.

So, where would you find me? Out to dinner with single friends or married couples. Tonight I was drinking in a bar with a married friend and nobody even looked twice at me despite the fact that it was around 80/20 guy-to-girl ratio. I've sat at a bar by myself before and tried to talk to people or drawn in my sketchbook and nobody has talked to me or continued conversations. Earlier today I was at the grocery store and riding my bike around town. I smiled at a guy on a bike, maybe I'll see him again.

Yesterday I was drinking with friends at a bar (all married folks but one—none of which have found anyone to set me up with). Earlier this week I was with three married women at a bar and nobody talked to us. I'm good at small talk but I can't do it alone. Last week I was drawing at museums alone. I smile at possibly single guys when I catch their eye but they don't act on it.

I go on a lot of group bike rides, street festivals and movies. I've met guys lately that I might be interested in (at a friend's party - she meets people through Couchsurfing - and out with a group of bloggers) but none showed any interest at all so I haven't pursued it. Like slenderloris says above, it's hard when there's no one trying on the other side. I don't like cats and my building doesn't allow dogs so...
posted by Bunglegirl at 10:51 PM on July 19, 2012 [4 favorites]

I have lots of single 30s female friends. They all work full time and socialize in highly scheduled ways and I can only think of one of them who spends time volunteering. Whenever they date anyone, it's always a friend of a friend. Always! Tell your married friends - girls, guys, everyone - to keep an eye out for you, and they will. Your parents' friends too. If they're anything like mine they will be only too thrilled.
posted by fingersandtoes at 10:51 PM on July 19, 2012 [2 favorites]

So this is great, because (lots of) happily married people love to matchmake!

I'm with the Eyebrows on this one, with one big caveat. Basically, she's right... except that only a few people are good at matchmaking. So most of your married female friends (or wives of your friends, if you only have male friends) know plenty of single ladies, but very few of them are good at making those connections. You need to find an Eyebrows, someone social and who loves putting people together. I have a couple friends like that, and a few more who think they are good at it but who really I wouldn't trust with my dating life any further than I could throw them.

Re: volunteering, I'd give it a mixed verdict. I supervise volunteers, and overlap with a bunch of volunteers and interns. In my field, they are almost entirely female. So that sounds like a great idea -- but they are almost all married, too. (Cue deflation sound.) So it's not as simple as jumping into volunteering and getting laid. But it gets back to the Eyebrows point above, which is that even married and older\ women tend to have single friends; the more you volunteer or get yourself out there in spaces with a lot of women, the more likely you are to be introduced to the right person.
posted by Forktine at 11:12 PM on July 19, 2012 [1 favorite]

Wow, involution's comment reflects my experiences practically to a T, even down to age (I turned 36 a few months ago). With the exception that my place is big enough to have two adorable fluff-puffs.

There's also the addition that I go mountain biking, which plenty of men do as well, but eventually I find out they're coupled.

I am definitely the "third wheel" too, for married couples both hetero and LGBT. I second the importance of matchmaking skills – oh the stories.

FWIW, I'm in France, where men are still quite forward with women, so I suppose there's some consolation in that this is a wide phenomenon. Been single for 8 years now, with a brief long-distance relationship in there. It's actually one of the reasons I no longer use OKCupid; the guy presented as divorced and single, we met IRL and that story continued, plus his professed desire for monogamy, then it turned out he was divorced... and sleeping with several women at the same time. Whom he'd all told the same monogamy story. Sigh.

Ideally, it's great to get to know someone in an environment where you see them interact with others. But as commenters have said here, even when you do that, sometimes there's just not anyone to meet. It's rough, and I echo everyone who's said that I never imagined it could be so much work. You always hear people say "do what you love, and love will find you" or "be content in singlehood and you'll meet the right person because you don't expect it" – these seem more to be post factum. But what is true, is that if you spend your time doing things you love and for fulfillment, then at least you have that joy and time shared with others. Much better than spending even more time in front of a computer screen, deleting dozens of emails, looking through dozens of profiles, sending loads of emails that never get a reply... Everyone's mileage varies. Sometimes the best you can do is to accept that you didn't get a car, but a horse, plus you prefer public transportation. Horses are awesome, but not many people know how to evaluate their qualities, as opposed to cars. okay that's a really weird metaphor but hey I love horses and would rather have one than a low-mileage car.
posted by fraula at 12:00 AM on July 20, 2012 [4 favorites]

I had another paragraph about the talking to strangers thing and I deleted it b/c I know MF doesn't like it. But reading the other responses above I'll be brave and recreate it. I had never heard of women objecting to (nice, normal) men talking to them in public before MF. I guess this place skews crazily hot. If your type is supermodel-y stunning, you probably shouldn't just say hi to women in the store, because they probably have had a tough day. If you are drawn to women who will never be on a vogue cover, but who seem interesting to you anyway, I'm going to say go for it. With all the caveats that you are polite, don't hound or pressure her, avoid her if her body language says 'go away', don't assume she likes you cause she's a barista, etc.

I think so many decent guys are scared to talk to girls that only the skeevy ones do it anymore, and so the notion that only creeps approach women gets perpetuated. A few weeks ago in the grocery store some guy who hadn't bathed in days stood behind me and said "Can't believe you're not married, huh?" I trust you have the good sense not to be that guy. Whats funny, or sad, is that in that same grocery store there happened to be two other guys who were so my type that I freaked out and texted my friend about them like a 16 yr old. But they of course would not have even smiled at me. The point is, 9 out of 10 times, a brief conversation with a nice normal stranger is a positive thing. (And I say this as a major introvert.) If the brief conversation happened to be started by an attractive, polite guy? Dude, I'd probably be gazing up at him adoringly the whole time. And every woman I know in the average-to-pretty range would too.

Something that just occurred to me, and I could be wrong, but I'm thinking women in their 30s who are still single are less likely to be the pursuing type. I'm sure some are, and they're just in between relationships that they initiate. But I think a lot of us are waiting for the right guy to appear, not in the pathetic damsel way, but more "I'm ok by myself and I don't enjoy chasing men around begging for their attention, but it would be nice if some worthy guy had the confidence to speak to me one day." Just a half-formed thought.

Re: volunteering, do it if you want to because you support the cause of course. But I've worked for orgs that use volunteers, spent lots of time in places like museums that rely on them, and done some one-off event type helping out myself, and I've never seen a situation where it could lead to meeting anyone. It's usually much older people or young students, and set up in a way that - naturally - uses people/time efficiently and keeps volunteers pretty separate. (You stuff envelopes in this office, you help take these boxes outside, you sit at this table and organize papers, etc.) There may be specific situations where it could happen, but I remain skeptical in general. (I now live in a small city where much of the non-museum type volunteer activity seems to be so stridently political and insular that it puts me off. When I lived  in a medium city the volunteering was so centered around pre-existing groups of friends that it was really intimidating, and I'm not easily intimidated. When I lived in New York, yeah, the very large city thing seems to be that everyone already has their life figured out.)

Re: friends setting you up. No one's tried with me since my 20s, and those attempts failed miserably. I have heard some hilarious stories from other single 30 something women, hilarious b/c the married people in question thought "single" was the only relevant quality for the guy to have. This is probably highly dependent on your individual group (or non-group) of friends. It could work well, it could also easily just not pan out. It's strange, but in my experience just b/c you are friends with someone doesn't mean you'll have anything in common with the other people they know.

I have seen people seem to hit it off in language classes, which whenever I've taken them have had a good male/female mix. Actually I'd do that again, if they taught the language I want to study where I live. But I wouldn't be doing it *to* meet men. There's something about doing activities for that purpose specifically that seems wrong to me. Not, like, morally wrong, just misguided - doomed to fail while wasting your time in the process.

I guess just be open to the idea that there are single women whose idea of "doing something" is more along the lines of putting yourself out there as involution says, rather than doing set man-finding activities.
posted by DestinationUnknown at 3:42 AM on July 20, 2012 [9 favorites]

How is it that nobody has mentioned Facebook? I feel like a social media weirdo...

I have been single but not looking in recent years so I have not actually dated anybody I have connected with through FB, but the potential is certainly there and ripe for exploiting if I want. There are people I haven't seen for twenty years on my "friends" list, and some of them live nearby and do interesting things, and FB has been, for me, the catalyst for an awful lot of "I see you do X -- so do I -- drop a line next time you do if you want to meet up there" in-person social whatnot. Highly recommended.

And I am invited to more parties, aware of more events, etc etc via the wonders of social media. Sometimes I "friend" people who are neighbours more to see what they are up to than anything else, and my potential-activity lists are overrun with all the whatnot going on in the community. If you keep going to these things you start to recognise people...

Facebook is also a great way to spy on friends of friends and see who in that pool you might want to find a way to meet. I suspect you actually have to like using Facebook for it to be a happy thing that expands your real-life social circles, though, and I know that is a hurdle for some... But there are certainly women my age (later 30s) peeking at your marital status and location on there if you're on there. It's a bit naff but "checking in" to places on FB (a la Foursquare) gives people an opportunity to I-like-there-too! and you the chance to How-about-Wednesday?
posted by kmennie at 4:06 AM on July 20, 2012

Well, I fit your thirtysomething single woman potentially-looking-to-date demographic, and I'm thinking of suggestions for how one could theoretically meet me in that right space/time. Lately, something really nice is a series of barbecues cum house parties a single gregarious friend hosts at his place in Brussels every two-three weeks in the summer because it's BTOB, BYOM (bring your own meat) and BYOF (bring your own friends). At every barbecue there are about 15-20-25 people, some old faces, some new. Because everyone is basically somehow linked to the main host, it's fun to talk to random people and figure out the connection. This is how I met and fell deeply in love (in limerance?) with a friend of a friend of a friend who happened to be reaching for the fridge at the same time as I was. We shared a laugh and started talking throughout the whole evening.

Also, recently a guy successfully chatted me up in a pub - a pub that I entered just to ask directions to a nearby restaurant, mind you. He brought me a beer and successfully got me to join his table of friends for about 45 minutes. (!!) I swear this never happens to me and/or I never respond in a positive manner to these kind of approaches. However, I'd say what "worked" with his approach was that he never "checked me out", he never used a "pick up line" nor any other technique. He addressed me frankly, expressed hope that I came to this pub because it's renown for its heritage organic ale, when I confessed my ignorance, he bought me a small glass, and suggested I finish the ale at his table of friends. There were three of them. They all looked like working professionals having a beer after work. He seemed welcoming and in earnest, and the barmaid wasn't desperately trying to signal to me to run away. So I met his friends, we talked about a million of things, he bought me another drink and we exchanged business cards when the time came for me to go to my restaurant. (And shortly afterwards, he sent me roses as a thank you gift, which floored me, and made me reassess my choice of life-partners. But that's another story.)
Just some ideas!
(p.s. conference are also a great idea! Everyone is suppose to be networking so it's considered normal to approach single women standing alone and/or groups of women sticking together.) Good luck, young man!
posted by ruelle at 4:11 AM on July 20, 2012 [4 favorites]

I was about your age when I lived in Pittsburgh.

I did classes at Pitt, one was a series of walking tours through the city that took place on Saturdays. It was fun, we were outdoors and walking around and I learned about some great neighborhoods (Mexican War Streets!)

Another class I did took place downtown on campus, Feng Shui. Woo as all get back, but fun.

If you're not very religious, but are interested in finding a community of fun, if flaky, people, try the UU church. I especially like the coffee hour after.

I volunteered with Habitat for Humanity and we built some houses in that neighborhood before you get to Kennywood.

How about a pool league? Bowling? Stuff like that.

Get out, mix, mingle. If you don't meet single women, you'll meet people who know single women and who may be able to facilitate a meeting.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 6:09 AM on July 20, 2012

Oh, I definitely agree with DestinationUnknown, that it's perfectly fine to chat people up when you're out and about, and if you make a connection, give a business card and suggest an activity. It's so rare these days that it'll probably be very well received. When I was single I would have been delighted by this. Just respect the obvious caveats, don't be angry if you're turned down, don't be creepy with baristas, etc.
posted by fingersandtoes at 7:21 AM on July 20, 2012 [2 favorites]

I am a woman in my 30s. This past winter, my community put on a big craft beer expo. I told my husband and friends (jokingly, of course) that if I was ever single again, they should remind me to pick up guys at the craft beer expo. It was a total sausage party. There were lots in their late 20s and up and they looked fun and seemed much more intelligent than those who prefer to pick up the cheapest mainstream beer at the liquor store.

So, that's where I would go. My recently single friend, who just turned 30, found her new boyfriend in the art scene in town. (They are both artists.) We have downtown art crawls and beer tasting events, which seem to be more particular about the people who attend, rather than random bars.

Are you in an urban area? (I am not, but I am an hour away from one.) There are also fun bike gang rides (as in bicycle) in Minneapolis, at least, where a lot of 20 and 30 somethings seem to get together and have a good time.

posted by jillithd at 8:46 AM on July 20, 2012 [2 favorites]

Feel free to ignore this advice if you want, because online dating is really just not for everyone- but have you tried sites other than OKCupid? Because it skews young. Like, 18-29 young. Other ages are on there, for sure, but it is overwhelmingly a site for very young people. You might try Match.com?

Because it's free, a lot of people on OKCupid don't take their membership all that seriously. If the *perfect* someone (or an acceptable one-night-stand, depending on preference) shows up, great. But otherwise, they are "just browsing" and answering silly questions.

Going to a pay site and filtering for other people who are paid members will net you better results. Or at least, a fair shot at interacting with people who are interested in meeting.

Volunteering to meet people: make sure you are there primarily for the stated purpose. There is nothing creepier and demoralizing than having a bunch of vultures at an event for some metapurpose.
posted by gjc at 9:44 AM on July 20, 2012 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thanks for the great ideas here - I think I'll find a few volunteering opportunities that fit my interests. Yes, I've done Match.com for a while and it does seem better for 30 somethings than OKCupid. But I feel like the whole online dating landscape has changed over the past few years - it used to be that it was easier to have conversations and get to know people, now it just seems like more and more people churning through more and more options without investing much in any particular interaction.

As for those who wish men would approach more. . .just keep being open and friendly. Also, carry some "bait" with you when you're out and about - an interesting hat or pin or watch or book that makes it easier for guys to start conversations. For me it's usually proximity + an easy conversation starter that pushes me over the edge to start talking to someone.
posted by sherlockt at 1:02 PM on July 20, 2012

setI don't agree with the panning of volunteering, whether in a big city or small. But I do think you should give thought to the type of volunteering you do and where it is. Someone noted that one problem can be that you don't get to work with the same group of people regularly. Those are probably not going to be great meeting-people volunteer gigs, because you really do need to be in a situation a bit longer than one half day or day with someone to see whether you can build an attraction. So lean toward things where you're part of a cohort of people that will work on the same committee, work on the same shifts repeatedly, etc. And also, make sure it's something people your age would do. There are all kinds of volunteering, as someone above noted - giving museum tours or visiting the elderly might not be the best choices if you're trying to meet people your own age. However, environmentally-related things like beach cleanups (another one I forgot, great for meeting people), teaching in kids' programs, serving on event committees for big events like music fests and food festivals, in theatres or music venues, coaching community youth sports teams, serving on volunteer committees that plan and run running, setup and breakdown of your local farmer's market, cycling, boating races, joining a community arts initiative, etc. - these might be better choices for meeting people your age. Keep in mind that not just any volunteer gig will bring you into contact with great people, but I can personally voich for volunteering as something that has basically been responsible for my getting a social scene going in my last 3 cities of residence. If one of your goals is to meet people, choose accordingly; there are some kinds of voluntarism that won't do as well for you on that goal, and that's OK. Save those things for when you're coupled up, and you can go do the soup kitchen or elderly visiting type things as a couple.
posted by Miko at 1:39 PM on July 20, 2012

These have already been mentioned, but when I was a single woman in my 30s, I took a lot of classes and did a lot of volunteering.

I didn't meet any men, but I made a lot of women friends, which suggests I was doing the wrong kinds of activities for my purposes, but that makes them the right kind of activities for yours.

Specifically, I took a few Spanish classes where attendees seemed to be predominantly hetero couples planning beach vacations and single women. I took a lot of different art classes, which were attended mostly by women. Ceramics and paper/bookmaking, were almost entirely women; printmaking was about 75% women; photography was about 50/50 (this was 10 years ago, so there was a lot of darkroom work, which was super fun). These were all courses I was interested in, but I was also hoping I'd meet men. I didn't, but you'll definitely meet women that way.

As for volunteering, I didn't do animal shelter/soup kitchen/non-profit type of volunteering because I was already meeting that kind of guy through work. Instead, I volunteered for the local Fringe festival and a music festival. At the Fringe festival I volunteered in the beer tent and it was the single best volunteering experience of my life. I was new in town and I went with the specific goal of coming away with three people I wanted to get to know better. I actually used a week's vacation to attend shows and work the tent (every 3 hour shift at the tent = one free pass to a play). I met TONS of people, and came away with three casual friends, one really good friend, and a group of people interested in putting on an art festival. So, yeah, my advice is to volunteer somewhere fun and boozy.
posted by looli at 2:18 PM on July 20, 2012 [3 favorites]

Just a note here: as I totally want men to approach (APPROPRIATE men, anyway, because seconding DestinationUnknown yet again, I too get the deeply unwashed and always aged 60+ guys in the grocery store), I actually highly, highly recommend NOT bringing a book, or any of the other typical 'leave-me-alone' contraband along when you fly solo.

As much as it can deliver some daunting dings and dents to your ego when absolutely no one approaches and you're standing there smiling at nothing with some hooch in your hand and absolutely no wingman swooping in to provide that slick social lube of, "YES! See? I'm not remotely alone! I am a happy, well-adjusted, busy, utterly self-sufficient person and I have friends and admirers aplenty!", if you're out by yourself looking to meet new people, I think it's really important that you force yourself to be wide open to actually meeting those other people by not sticking your face in your phone or a book or anything that usually clearly signals "PISS OFF". I've seen lots of people reading books that I've read or would like to read and chat about, but I'm not going to interrupt their reading, because I feel like that's a generally dickish thing to do, because they're reading.

But again, this is all tough ground to navigate, as bswinburn strongly attests above, and I certainly agree with. I personally feel like we're all trying our best to negotiate the new territory of (finally) evolving gender dynamics (e.g, Don't Letch on the Laydeez), plus everyone apparently approaching life like a series of goals and desires to be rigidly scheduled and met in the most optimal way, plus being in our own private space in public at all times (i.e, contantly connected to and engaged with our other friends elsewhere - not to mention movies, books, the internet, etc, via phone/tablet). To me, this sets up a constant, seemingly impenetrable buffer zone of weirdly, overwhelmingly public 'privacy'. Going to places like bars alone with no barrage of distractions and entertainment for ones self can definitely make you look desperate/creepy/alcoholic, but at the same time, if you BRING the distractions / self-entertainment, who the hell is going to barge into your little entirely self-sufficient personal world of one to connect in any way?

I too have begun to feel like this is simply an unworkable dynamic, and that my only choice to meet anyone dating-wise is to resign myself to the online shopping-for-people hell of online dating, but I absolutely agree with this article regarding this particular point (and whole lot of other shit - it's a pretty great article):

"With the sort of access and connectivity we have now, we can seamlessly circumvent any resistance to our desire by pursuing a reasonably close substitute for what we were originally after, or by opening ourselves to something easier among the many alluring diversions begging for our attention. Such are the productive pleasures of convenience, translating inclinations into results without fuss or rumination. Who has the discipline to choose frustration?".

Meeting new people is pretty fucking hard nowadays. Nothing about the general flow of our lives seems to promote it - the tide seems to pull us very clearly in the other direction, in fact. I'd love this thread to continue just so I too can see more suggestions, because I think this is a real problem for a lot of people. It sure is for me.
posted by involution at 2:50 PM on July 20, 2012 [8 favorites]

I was thinking about the fear of approach thing. It seems like such an awful tragedy, on some level, that you can't just walk up to someone you've done nothing but spot across a room (or subway, whatever) and be forward with them. But on the other hand, is it really such a loss? Last night I lay in bed thinking about large numbers of couples I know and how they met - whether in this generation, my parents', my grandparents' - and there is not one couple I could identify that developed a long-lasting relationship after meeting via a "cold" approach in a public space. I think this is more a romantic ideal than something that ever commonly happened, at any time in history. So I think we should rejoice that it is much less common now for people to give it the usual clumsy try, and that it's possible to be in public and mind your own business without someone macking on you for absolutely no reason other than your appearance. I'm not speaking of moments of simple kindness and shared humanity, which are great for those who opt into participation, but of the "I'm going to intrude on this woman's space now." The reason only leches do it is that only leches still think it's a great idea.

The important thing, I think, for creating inroads toward dating (or friendship) is a shared context. Especially with women. I was always highly suspicious of people who knew nothing about me, and had nothing to go on other than my appearance, who presumed that I might be interested in them based on nothing other than an overtly shallow interest in me. IT's not auspicious. However, anything that helps establish some common ground moves you a few steps toward an approach being received with more welcome. For instance, I once dated a guy for a few years who I met at a bar where people gathered each week to sing. We had both been going to the same place on and off for a long time and knew each other by face; I had always kind of fancied him and decided one day I wanted to meet him, so I asked the waitress what she thought about me buying him a drink. I figured she'd tell me if she knew he was a creep. Turned out he was one of her best friends and she was excited to facilitate the match. On the surface that was "me meeting a guy by buying him a drink," but in reality, it was a function of a shared environment we had both understood and been part of for a long time, an understanding of similar tastes because we were both there for the same music, an abundant amount of time to observe him and his friends and interactions and vice versa, and a vouchsafe from someone who knew him. So I think that anything that establishes more common ground than "We're on the same bus" or "in the same store" does bodes well for a entry point. That's why volunteering works - it indicates some shared values and habits, and gives you common ground.

I honestly think the "cold approach" thing is something we mostly imagine which comes from movies. There are probably a handful of people in each of our lives who might have sort of met that way, but I don't think we've lost anything in moving away from it, because I don't think that, as a relationship starter for more than a tiny fraction of people who are the wild exception rather than the rule, has ever truly existed.
posted by Miko at 7:39 AM on July 21, 2012 [2 favorites]

I don't know why it didn't occur to me to do this when I commented earlier, but Miko's last comment inspired me to tally up couples I know and how they met. Of all the couples I can think of at the moment, the ones who got together in their 30s have mostly met in fairly "cold" situations. Several met at bars. A few met through work, but they didn't work at the same place or know each other beforehand, they happened to cross paths while both were working and one took the risk to ask the other out. Also a number met online, though not via online dating - they were members of forums who met IRL and began dating. (Most, maybe all, of the couples I know who got together younger than that met at school, or in some school-like setting, or through online dating.) I know of no one who's met a partner through volunteering, taking a class (except as I said I have seen people appear to hit it off in language classes, I just don't know the outcome) or any other more structured "trying to meet people" activities. I guess this is why I still hold out some little hope for the "be yourself, do what you enjoy" method.

I didn't mean to suggest with my above comment that I or anyone I know is expecting to marry someone they met in a grocery store! (Though I do know of a few couples, of older generations, who have met in that kind of way.) Just that I think the repeated experience of inappropriate people approaching me and normal/well-behaved people either not noticing or pretending not to notice that I exist reveals a symptom of a larger problem. The problem being that it's becoming increasingly socially unacceptable to speak to anyone you don't know, but the avenues for getting to know people are becoming narrower. Which is ironic because again, huge introvert, but I think it's not a good development. Which is I think is what involution is saying also.

Anyway I've posted way too much in this thread and I'll stop now, but I hope you got some good ideas, sherlockt, good luck!
posted by DestinationUnknown at 9:26 AM on July 21, 2012 [1 favorite]

I met my partner on a non-dating forum, but I would say that's not a "cold" situation, nor would work be - you've got some credential there, some established common bond. The bar is about the only one I'd call "cold," and that only if they weren't regulars and had no other connections.

I don't really think it's become at all unacceptable to speak to people you don't know. I'm in a new town now, making friends, and so obviously I'm constantly meeting people I don't already know and speaking to them. It's very easy as long as the context is one that indicates a shared basis for connecting and a willingness on both parties. What's less acceptable is intruding when all the signals are that someone does not want to be approached, and when there is no shared context - like walking up to someone on the street. There's a big distinction and I'm hesitant to act like that's less clear for people than it is. If I'm at Green Drinks or sitting at the neighborhood bar watching a game that other people are watching, there is a shared basis. If I'm reading or sitting alone or listening to headphones, that is a very different thing. I feel like, with the aid of the internet and particularly things it's generated like meetups, social media groups that overlap with RL groups, and DIY/networking culture, it's gotten way easier over my lifetime. I feel it's a thousand times easier to meet new people now than it was in my 20s. Obviously mileage varies, but I really don't cry over the days of being bothered with unwanted approaches.
posted by Miko at 6:42 PM on July 21, 2012

« Older point me to Pontycymmer.   |   Tofu to sink your teeth into Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.