Dating IRL with few social connections
May 23, 2016 2:06 PM   Subscribe

I’m a 31 year old woman and I want to expand my options beyond just online dating for meeting men and finding someone.

It’s kind of scary when online dating is the only option, and I find it tough determining who I might like when looking through lots of generic profiles. I don’t have any friends right now, so I can’t meet someone through friends, or go to social events with friends. I read two surveys that say the top places to meet partners are through friends, social settings (bars?), daily life (work, church, school), and online. Like I said, I don’t have friends right now to pal around with. My current work place is a professional office and there are no eligible guys. Since I don’t have friends, part of my life involves going out and meeting friends through clubs, orgs, and the like. That’s great for meeting female friends, but I don’t see going to volunteer gigs and photography clubs as something that is going to work out for meeting guys. From examples I've read and heard about, people don't often meet dates that way, and not everyone is seeking those things out. It might take a while to meet friends, and I am not very outgoing, so I might not meet very socially-connected friends anyway. I had a hard time making friends growing up, and I had some obstacles as an adult that got in the way of changing things. So, I am not sure how to date without the advantage of the social mobility of having more friends, opportunities to go out, or a social environment. I would appreciate any suggestions for how I might navigate this.
posted by amya to Human Relations (17 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
 
It might take a while to meet friends

It probably will - but the same goes for finding someone to date.

Integrating new people into your social circle can take some time, effort, and willingness to accept false starts as part of the process. Making new dating connections is not that different from making new platonic friends.

It might be more helpful to see "developing your social life" as part of a whole process of growth and self-care. That is, do social things (meetups, volunteering) you genuinely enjoy and don't treat "dating" as this isolated task apart from just getting to know people.
posted by pantarei70 at 2:20 PM on May 23, 2016 [7 favorites]


When you see a good looking dude out and about, walk over to him, chat him up a bit, and give him your number.

Be cool about it (i.e. observe social cues, don't be pushy, back off immediately if you're getting a gtfo signal) and act confident and it'll be fine.

Yes this is hard and scary and opens you up to rejection and/or embarrassing situations, but that's going to happen anywhere that's not a dating-focused forum for meeting folks (like online dating).


You can also join community sports teams (like dodgeball or frisbee or whatever the cool kids are doing these days)--those are likely to have more guy participants than women so numbers are on your side, and sports will certainly have more guy participants than any volunteering club or whatever.
posted by phunniemee at 2:20 PM on May 23, 2016 [1 favorite]


Are there any dancing meetups near you? Those are pretty good for people who want to mingle, so maybe that?
posted by xingcat at 2:25 PM on May 23, 2016


Maybe a group class for a social dance? I got in to west coast swing a year ago and the community is pretty welcoming. A class will give a bit of structure and provide a regular event to attend, with the added bonus of learning a new skill.
posted by VeritableSaintOfBrevity at 2:33 PM on May 23, 2016


I find it tough determining who I might like when looking through lots of generic profiles.

You can't determine it in advance, though, it's a trial and error effort, right? Involves experimentation, taking some risks. And not investing too much into each meeting. Which is helped if you also spread your social eggs around via participating in group activities, etc., so that each date doesn't carry too much in the way of various expectations.

(I'm still personally meh on online dating for other reasons, so I hear you, but if you're broadly up for it, but a need for predictability and control are part of what's stopping you, might be worth taking that on.)
posted by cotton dress sock at 2:35 PM on May 23, 2016 [3 favorites]


the top places to meet partners are through friends, social settings (bars?), daily life (work, church, school), and online.

Your list skips over activities where you're involved with other people in a sport, or a game, or cooperating on projects ... etc. That is, your "daily life" category is so broad it leaves out the best stuff for getting in there with other people.

On preview: Your post says you don't think these types of activities are good places to meet males. I don't get it, why? And you also say you hear that this is not a good way to meet dates. Again, I disagree. Who is telling you that?
posted by JimN2TAW at 2:44 PM on May 23, 2016 [1 favorite]


Take classes, join a trivia team, do some volunteer work. There you'll broaden your options for finding friends and potential dates. Another option is to get season tickets to a sport you enjoy. You'll see other season ticket holders regularly. Minor league baseball, hockey and WNBA basketball are all affordable. (IF you don't like sports though, don't do this.)

I'll say this, even if you meet someone in a bar, you may find after a date that you're not compatible. Oh well, you're not compatible with MOST of the people you date, until you find the one or two you are. That's dating.

I'd for sure cast a wider net socially, but I wouldn't stop on-line dating. Commit to no more than one date per week (so you don't burn out.) Do coffee instead of drinks, and make sure there's only 30 minutes at first. That way it's more intimate, and you'll be assured of an opportunity to actually converse with your date. If you think it's worth exploring further make a dinner date. If not, what are you out? A coffee on your way home (or to your class, volunteering or game.)
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 2:57 PM on May 23, 2016 [5 favorites]


I agree with pantarei that it might be helpful to stop thinking of dating as separate from building a social life more generally. Aim for social activities with a good gender balance, and approach people of both genders with an attitude of friendship, and then when you meet people who seem like they could be a good match, ask them out!

If you do want to give online dating another try, just schedule lots of first dates and meet people in person. I agree it is impossible to tell from profiles anything beyond "there are clear red flags here and I should never date this person." Like, there are lots of very clear NO WAYS in online dating, but I'm a big advocate for meeting anyone who seems like a "hey, maybe?" and seeing how it goes. It is just impossible to really tell if there will be chemistry and a good match by sending messages back and forth. Much better to cut to the chase, get some coffee or a drink, and see if there's anything there worth pursuing. It's definitely time consuming, but women I know who aggressively send out messages and go on first dates tend to have pretty good luck.
posted by rainbowbrite at 3:01 PM on May 23, 2016 [2 favorites]


I said that I think that using clubs, etc. to meet guys is not as good because I read some books on stories of how people meet and it was mostly through friends or school or work. It seems that is what people I know say, also. From my experience going to hobby clubs and things like that don't always have the right demographic and it can be hard to find someone you click with. My intuition/logic makes me think that being limited to activities might be a dead-end.
posted by amya at 3:02 PM on May 23, 2016


That’s great for meeting female friends

... who may have eligible bachelor friends that they can introduce you to.

There's no way I would have met my SO without a match.com account. Is it easier to find someone worth dating by wading through online profiles than meeting someone through friends or daily life? Nope.
posted by sm1tten at 3:04 PM on May 23, 2016 [2 favorites]


I agree that *some* types of activities are not great for making friends or finding dates.

If you aren't finding people you click with at your activities, maybe try some new ones. Salsa dancing, improv acting classes, and hash runs (non-competitive running clubs) all focus a lot on interaction and socializing, so you might have better luck finding friends and dates there.

I really prefer online dating, because it's fairly easy for me to gauge if I think someone is attractive and interesting (and can spell) by reading through OkCupid essays, so maybe try that site if you're not on it already? I would suggest casting a wide net, and maybe do at least a little online dating while you're building up your friend network. The worst that will happen is you go on a few boring dates.
posted by ananci at 3:33 PM on May 23, 2016


I got sick of online dating because of the mental checklist and expectations that people seemed to have before you even meet. I finally decided to just get out and do the activities that I enjoy (mostly outdoor stuff), and do it just because I enjoyed it. I also got irritated by people who treated those meetups as ways to meet others for dating - they would pester me when I just wanted to enjoy a view, or walk quietly with my thoughts. Surprisingly, though, I met my current SO of nearly 2 years now, at a meetup hike. I wasn't expecting it, or looking for it. I was just my normal self - and we didn't even talk all that much on the hike - although I chatted here and there with a few people. He wasn't looking, either, but we clicked. In other words, I gave up the search, and started enjoying my life on my terms again. Isn't that what seems to happen? The right person comes along when you quit looking?
posted by itsflyable at 4:20 PM on May 23, 2016 [3 favorites]


Our city has a Sport and Social Club where individuals to sign up for a sports league and get assigned to a team (if you don't have your own team) for a 2-month season. We've played ultimate frisbee for a number of years now and it really expanded our friends network - the leagues seem to attract mainly people in their mid-late 20's up to early 40's.

There was a local news story not too long ago about how the Dodgeball league in particular has the reputation of being a great way to meet other people to date - lots of pairing-off success stories.

Sports leagues. Summer's coming up, look into it!
posted by lizbunny at 4:43 PM on May 23, 2016 [1 favorite]


Only if you would enjoy it (and if your area has these things) consider taking classes at a make space and/or going to a local game night. You may meet sexist jerks in those places but you might also meet nice people in a welcoming community. Just a thought. Good luck!
posted by Bella Donna at 5:42 PM on May 23, 2016


That’s great for meeting female friends, but I don’t see going to volunteer gigs and photography clubs as something that is going to work out for meeting guys.

No. It works for meeting FRIENDS, through whom, as you just noted, people are most likely to find partners.

Make some friends before you start dating. Don't try to do them in parallel. Because even if those friends don't introduce you to potential partners (again, by your own data, a very good way to meet people!), you'll be really flatfooted if you accidentally meet a guy at the photography club and don't have a single friend with whom to discuss him.
posted by babelfish at 7:36 PM on May 23, 2016 [1 favorite]


This:

> I don’t have any friends right now

seems like a bigger problem than 'I don't have a partner right now.'

I personally would not be very enthusiastic about dating somebody who was totally friendless. Okay, if you'd just moved to the city, sure, but I'd expect that you'd be trying to change the status quo there. I would not want you to be wholly dependent on me for social interaction. I would be disappointed to have to provide 100% of the guests for dinners and parties we wanted to host.

I don't understand why you think the things holding you back from making friends are not the same things holding you back from getting dates. People who do whatever in little community organisations tend to throw parties, little BBQs or whatever for the people involved; they also invite the neighbours and their other friends. And this would be where you would potentially meet people.

The "So, I am not sure how to date without the advantage of the social mobility of having more friends, opportunities to go out, or a social environment" is worrying because that is how one tends to meet people, either to date or to be introduced to yet more people, some of whom one might wish to date.

I get the feeling that if I worked with you and (as happened recently) a swell person I know mentioned that they were on the lookout for somebody to date and if anybody I knew came to mind, would I consider fixing them up, etc, I would look at you and think: "??" I get the feeling you are withdrawn enough for nobody to consider hooking you up (or hitting on you) because nobody knows the first thing about you.
posted by kmennie at 10:00 PM on May 23, 2016 [4 favorites]


Two scenarios:

1. You hustle hard and meet a foxy someone-or-other and limerence hits hard. A one-two combination of chemical infatuation and the absence of other social engagements means you end up spending a LOT of time with this person, which means you're probably not out there meeting a lot of new people, except maybe a few of this person's friends.

Once the haze fades, you realize that while this person you're dating is a fine and good person, you are fundamentally incompatible in some important way. Or worse--you're still riding high on limerence, and this person is the one who has this realization. You break up, and this person's friends stop sending you cat pictures on Facebook. Now you're not just back to square one, which is single and with no close friends, but you're on like square -1: single, alone, and a little heartbroken. No fun.

OR:

2. You hustle hard and meet a couple of cool people. You make plans to hang out again, and then again and again, and now you're friends. You meet a foxy someone-or-other (possibly through one of your friends via a fun night out, board game night, whatever) and limerence hits hard. You start spending a lot of time with this person, but not on Thursdays because Thursday is trivia night, and also friend X's wedding is coming up and you said you'd help stuff envelopes and drink wine.

Once the haze fades, you realize that while this person you're dating is a fine and good person, you are fundamentally incompatible in some important way. Or worse--you're still riding high on limerence, and this person is the one who has this realization. You break up, you tell your friends, your friends take you out for drinks and let you talk about how bummed you are and generally help you feel better about the whole thing. Now you're single again, but you're far from alone.

I'm nthing a lot of other sentiments here--seems like trying to use real world channels specifically for dating prospects is putting the cart before the horse. As you said, many people end up meeting significant others through shared friends and activities, so it makes sense to try to build a social network first and let those connections with potential partners happen organically.

I'm not saying to NOT date until you have friends, but rather than focusing specifically on dating as the end goal of joining new groups or doing other things to get out of the house and meet new people, keep your options open and follow up with people you click with, romantic or no. Good luck!
posted by helloimjennsco at 8:15 AM on May 24, 2016 [4 favorites]


« Older Restore a handful of PCs   |   Should we move to Portland (OR) or the Twin Cities... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.