How to meet awesome, smart people (especially guys) in UK (Edinburgh)?
August 6, 2016 7:33 AM   Subscribe

I'm a girl in my late 20s, and I'm moving to Edinburgh in a few weeks. I'll be looking for work first and foremost, but I really need to develop a friendship network, and I'd love to date. I haven't done much dating so far, though. What are good ways to meet people (especially single men) of around my own age (maybe 26-35) who are awesome and smart?

The kind of people I'd like to meet would be already on board with feminism and broadly left-wing. (Where do you go to meet feminist men??) They'd also be intelligent (thoughtful) and ideally somewhat cultured / interested in books and ideas. I think the kind of people I have in mind would often have gone to top universities and done well (as did I).

If you suggest volunteering, could you suggest what sort of volunteering? Not all kinds of volunteering are going to bring you into much contact with other volunteers, let alone certain sorts of people.

If you recommend Meetup, I'm under the impression that not all Meetup groups attract many people at all, or necessarily the kind of people I'm looking for, so again, detailed suggestions welcome!

I've kind of moved on from the hippy stage of my life; it's not really something I want to be part of. So I'm not keen on the Beltane Festival. Not really looking to meet very alternative-lifestyle people or spiritual types.

I'm ideally hoping to meet mature-ish people. Ideally socially competent ones.

I've been quite into worthy causes recently - Labour, the Greens, veganism... and I'm not wholly against doing some more of that in some way, but I think I'd rather meet people through pleasure-focused activities than worthy causes (I feel like worthy causes have crowded out joyfulness in my life recently, and I feel like sometimes worthy causes can become people's raison d'etre - I've been bordering on that myself - and I'm a little uncomfortable with that and looking to develop my own tastes and likes a bit more (somehow)). (I'm still going to carry on trying to be ethical and vegan, but I want to devote less time to reading about it, and I'm not sure I want to meet people through campaigning; I'd rather meet people who are into doing something because they love it for its own sake. I do know some very cool people who are involved with Labour, so that might be an avenue worth pursuing; I just don't want to meet people for whom activism is their life.)

Ideally I'd like to do something where people meet up regularlyish - I'll take an hour once a week if that's what's available, but from experience, what really builds friendships is more frequent, longer-lasting contact.

I'm not into the polyamory scene.

I'm not anti-geek, but it seems to me that a lot of geek types are into hacking life to make it "work better" in ways like trying polyamory. There's something about that that I don't like. Also, I *think* I may prefer people who are interested in society and culture, and in my experience, tech people are less so - I know there's not a sharp division, but there seems to be a blurry one.

I'm not into board games for their own sake. I can find them fun, but only as a bonding activity with people.

I don't play a musical instrument. :(

I'm not religious. I have once been along to a Sunday Assembly, but found it a bit baffling (and not necessarily easy to meet people).

Here are some other thoughts I've had:
- a choir? - of course, you spend most of your time not talking to each other. Might be mostly women?
- (Setting up (somehow)) a film society? - this would require me to figure something out with some university or arts building; don't know if possible. Not a cinema group; trying to keep it fairly cheap.
- Some sort of exercise thing? Joining a running group? Gymnastics / parkour? Pilates (doubt I'd meet men that way...)?
- book groups - yes but I'm not sure I'd do well at reading a book I didn't choose, plus they don't meet all that often, plus probably mostly women?
- an amateur dramatic group? I've never been involved with one before.
- art class of some sort? Not sure how good for meeting people.
- creative writing class? Again, not sure how good for meeting people, and might be mostly women.
- outdoor volunteering of some kind, like tree-planting type thing?
- dancing of some kind? I think mostly people aren't talking to each other in dance classes though, and it might be mostly women. (Unless it's ceilidh dancing, which I could go to if it seemed like a good idea, but I'm kind of bored of ceilidh dancing. And, like a lot of things, I feel like it attracts *everyone* who wants to meet people or dance, and not especially the sort of people I'd like to meet.)

posted by tangerine_poppies to Human Relations (15 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Response by poster: Quick addition: I am on OkCupid, and I can probably meet a few people that way, but there don't seem to be a *lot* of people in Edinburgh who are high matches with me.
posted by tangerine_poppies at 7:58 AM on August 6, 2016

The main leisure activity I've noticed in Edinburgh that made me think "Oh, that's where all the men are!" has been the British Military Fitness classes on the Meadows. But that depends on your tolerance for doing sit-ups in the mud.
Access Parkour in my experience are male-dominated but female-friendly, if you don't mind them all being much stronger than you.
I've met people by doing most of the things you've listed, so I'd say just try them and be patient if one doesn't suit you, try a different one the next term.
Also try not to pigeon-hole people and pre-determine what types you'd like to meet. Most people criss-cross several of the segments you've listed in different combinations, none of which really determine how fun/interesting they are. It's much more useful and productive to take people as you find them than to run them past some pre-determined demographic.
Good luck - it's a great city, just relax and enjoy!
posted by penguin pie at 8:04 AM on August 6, 2016 [2 favorites]

Where are you moving from?

I'm on the opposite side of the country and would say the SNP was a worthier cause ;) but getting involved locally with the Greens might lead to friendships. Most people there will be older than you maybe, but with the Greens you probably have the best chance of meeting younger folks.

Depending on what sort of work you're looking for, that might be your best source of new connections. Am dram aplenty in Edinburgh but not many straight men in them, IME.

Skyrides are a group exercise with a good gender mix, do you own a bike? Or parkrun but it can be hard to find people to chat with doing that.

Your tech/geek comment seems baffling to me, because we are geeks and very into culture, literature, society etc. but then i have already married That Guy I Know so maybe you're right and he's rare?

Is there anything wrong with going to a few bars and chatting to people? The problem with all contrived meeting-people activities, is that they are contrived. I imagine once you find work and then friendships from there you will be off and running socially.
posted by intergalacticvelvet at 8:06 AM on August 6, 2016

My best advice to you would be to stop thinking of people in terms of categories and just see people as people, multifaceted people. I find this is a common way of looking at people when in one's 20s but becomes extremely limiting as you get older.
posted by St. Peepsburg at 8:30 AM on August 6, 2016 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: intergalacticvelvet, I'd rather not publicly say where I'm moving from, sorry :)

Opposite side = Glasgow?

I'm def not into the SNP, I'm afraid.

Do you have any recommendations for amdram groups? Meeting female friends would be good too.

I hadn't heard of Skyrides. I do have a bike. What's that all about? A quick internet search hasn't thrown up anything that looks quite right.

Yeah, parkrun would appeal to me (in the sense of not yet being a runner but thinking it would be good thing to do), but as you said, I don't know how social it would really be.

"we are geeks" - everyone on metafilter? or you and your husband?
I think I'm a bit of a geek myself (in personal tendencies; not about computers), and it was maybe a bit of an ill-judged comment. I've had somewhat bad experiences with a couple of geek types. I don't mind at all if people are into computers (I think being passionate about anything is cool), and I know some really cool people who work with computers, but I think it's just that some of the people I know who are definite geeks are also the type to be into polyamory, "alternative" lifestyles, that sort of thing. (The polyamory thing burned me once.) Some of them seem to be quite immature. It's a stereotype, and I'm very aware it's not universal, but it seems to apply to some degree. I'd actually love to meet geek types who were mature, sensitive (to others), responsible and interested in some sort of arts/culture. It was probably an irrelevant thought. I guess I was thinking something along the lines of not being sure that a super-computer-geek-y meetup would be the best place for me. But then again, I'm not a computer geek, so if I went to anything like that, it would be a thing for amateurs who wanted to learn.

Bars: to me bars feel quite contrived, more so than going to groups to do things. I don't really like alcohol, so the whole scene feels quite uncomfortable to me. But if you really think that's an important way of meeting people, maybe I should try? But I wouldn't know how to go about it or where to start. Do people really make friends by going to bars on their own?
posted by tangerine_poppies at 8:33 AM on August 6, 2016

Response by poster: penguin pie, British Military Fitness? Hm. I don't think that would be my thing, sadly.

Yes, I know I'm being a bit too stereotyping; at the moment in my life I'm finding it easier to dislike things than to like them - it's a personal issue, and I know it's to do with needing to be happier in some ways. Thanks for being quite gentle in pointing it out. I think it's still OK to have ideas about what sort of person I'd probably like to be friends with, and I won't let it completely prejudice me, but it might influence where I look.
posted by tangerine_poppies at 8:37 AM on August 6, 2016

Roller derby did wonders in terms of exercise and a smart feminist social circle for me and while mostly female it probably is better for meeting men than it used to be. Men's derby is much more of a thing these days. Auld Reekie Roller Girls are good people.
posted by corvine at 10:10 AM on August 6, 2016 [1 favorite]

University of Edinburgh ballroom dance society? Get involved in the admin of a puzzle event?

Both require brains and some amount of social aptitude.
posted by batter_my_heart at 10:18 AM on August 6, 2016

Find a knitting group. Edinburgh is a real hub for craft. Some groups are very much twenty-somethings, other groups slightly older. Good workshops at the various shops will be a good introduction to people.

Spend time reading up on politics if this is something you are really passionate about - Labour in Scotland is something of a different beast to Labour south of the border. Scottish Green Party is also slightly different. Basically, things are aligned slightly differently. Be prepared for a lot of political discussion. Everyone seems to be really into debating politics these days, so just be aware of this.
posted by kariebookish at 10:48 AM on August 6, 2016

tangerine_poppies, i was asking where you are from because Scottish Labour and Labour are...different (and deriding Labour has become something of a national sport among some circles, not only SNP ones, so be aware - it's not personal, but everyone is very politicised right now and can get vocal). The only way to figure that one out is to suck it and see, but as you say you're not hugely keen on campaigning it doesn't really matter. And the Scottish Greens are pretty much on a level with the Greens doon sooth, although they do support Scottish Independence up here as a policy. I was also asking because your experience will be different if you're moving from NYC or London than if you're moving from Aberdeen.

Yes Glasgow :D

I meant my family are geeks, my husband is computery, i am not, but we are geeky. We are all some degree of autisticky too (only the kids have diagnoses but it's a spectrum and we are all traitsy) so maybe not very sensitive to others? IDK, we have friends and loved ones who we are kind to, and also blunt at sometimes. I can understand the stereotyping because bad experiences hurt and the need to protect ones self from hurt is universal. I don't think you should particularly seek a geek, more that i know tons and polyamory is definitely not "a thing" with any of the geeks i know so avoiding them due to that seems odd to me. But my sample size is only that of one person.

Unfortunately i am too long over here to know of current am-dram but Edinburgh uni footlights might be a good place to begin - even if you're not a student you can contact them and see if they can recommend you a local group or three.

Skyrides are group bike rides, organised by Sky (the TV people), free to attend and run throughout the year, depending on weather and provision but i have just read that they've been discontinued! :/ In which case i would heartily second roller derby, i've not tried Auld Reekies but have heard good things. Parkrun are okay IF you keep going. After a few weekends at the same parkrun you begin to see familiar faces who run at a similar pace and can begin chatting about running then life, but it takes persistence so the actual running bit would need to appeal first.

Bars are of course contrived, but they are the defacto (which might be good or not).

Do you like dogs? I have NEVER IN MY LIFE met more new people than since we got a dog. You can join BorrowMyDoggy or similar if you like dogs but don't want to actually own one right now. Obviously you only meet people who like and own dogs so avoid if that's not you!

I wonder if you are trying to plan all this because of the enormity of the move? I really think that you will arrive, find work, make friends there, make friends with the friends of those friends and realise one day that you are settled and dating and it has all happened, probably without you having to plan or try too hard anyway. Best of luck to you, an exciting if challenging time. :)
posted by intergalacticvelvet at 11:34 AM on August 6, 2016 [1 favorite]

Ultimate Frisbee is a sport filled with geeky guys. I had a friend who played in the U.K. for a while and she teally enjoyed it. I've always been able to find pickup games in cities and it's a sport that is really open to beginners at all levels of fitness.
posted by _cave at 11:45 AM on August 6, 2016

I am in London, and have just joined a kayak club. Loads of young smart single people who are pretty outdoorsy and cool. Basically, if you were part of the mainstream (tv, alcohol, bars), you would not be picking up a paddle to kayak in your weekends. It is not competitive and beginner friendly. We go on great trips away and there is a lot team bonding. There are people who are super into kayaking, and also people like myself who are generalists and like a variety of hobbies. I would highly recommend you join a club in Edinburgh.
posted by moiraine at 3:24 PM on August 6, 2016 [1 favorite]

This kayak club is half men half women, although I have heard some clubs are more men skewed
posted by moiraine at 3:30 PM on August 6, 2016

OK, further to my previous post, a quick brain dump of places for you to google - not necessary recommendations, you'll need to check them out yourself, but as a starting point:

Am dram: Arkle, The Grads, Edinburgh People's Theatre, TBC Improv, Edinburgh Acting School. If you're going to try the Uni, try Bedlam.

Exercise: jogscotland = sociable jogging groups for beginners upwards, skew older and more female than traditional athletics clubs. There's an Edinburgh Women's Parkour group if you search on facebook (they're buddies with Access, who I linked to above.) I was once on a train with the Auld Reekie girls and they seemed like a hoot. I think Edinburgh has one or two groups of Hash House Harriers but that might be more boozy than you're looking for. There are loads of climbers in Ed, but they tend to climb in groups of friends rather than formal clubs. You could check out Alien Rock or Ratho for any intro sessions that might give you a climbing posse, or at least a buddy to belay for you.

Art: Leith School of Art, ECA evening classes, council evening classes, Edinburgh Printmakers.

Politics: As others have said, if you're not already living in Scotland, you're probably unaware just how rudderless and mission-less the Labour Party is here since the SNP cornered the market in left-of-centre politics. Even anti-nationalists often agree the SNP do a pretty decent job of running Holyrood, which has left Scottish Labour pretty much without any purpose, and massively stigmatised by their alliance with the Tories during the referendum campaign. Suffice to say, campaigning for them is not likely to be an uplifting experience. Maybe look for more of a single-issue interest group that appeals.

People: I've never in my life met a polyamorous geek, but know plenty of geeks who are into culture - if you base your perceptions of entire swathes of people on a handful of personal experiences you're going to end up with a view of the world that is both totally fictional and pretty unhelpful to you. Especially if you're moving to a whole new place. Yes, identifying tribes can be a useful shorthand, but they often stack up very differently in different places.

And lastly - as others have said - don't sweat it. This is a small city with a huge amount going on. Once you arrive, pick something, give it a go, if it doesn't take, pick something else. You won't be bored.
posted by penguin pie at 5:03 PM on August 6, 2016 [1 favorite]

I can't really help but re: geeks. I do know lots of geeky guys both in the US and in Australia. A couple are from the UK. None in my experience are polyamorous or interested in that at all. Some might be, but no more than any other group of people. In my experience, geeky guys are usually pretty loyal. As far as culture, I know a lot of geeky cultured people; I consider myself one.

That said, geeky people can get a bit single-minded about their interests sometimes. Everyone I know tends to buy into geeky paraphernalia and stuff-- pop culture art, tshirts and the like, and they really really like their geeky interest of choice. I get the feeling you wouldn't be into that and might think it juvenile.

Activities are a great idea. What about art class? A vegan cooking class? And two of my friends met their SO's when they joined Fencing. Another friend of mine met a lot of men when she took up Karate. She didn't join to meet guys, so she didn't date, but she did have a lot of interest. Also mixed sports. Soccer or Basketball if they have that in Edinburgh. My brother played mixed Netball, but he did it to meet women, as it doesn't get very many men.

I do think you may be over thinking this a bit. You are making a lot of preemptive assumptions about groups of people before meeting anybody. People are varied and multifaceted and it is problematic to try to pigeonhole them, both for them, but mostly for you, too. You'll go farther if you just go in with an open mind and then make your decisions based on the individual traits of the people you meet instead.
posted by Dimes at 12:56 AM on August 7, 2016

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