For all the poetry and magic ascribed to love, it’s easy to forget that finding romance is in many ways a numbers game. No matter how attractive, funny, and suave you are, you may as well be a monk if you’re not in contact with other like-minded people. That’s why making yourself datable is only half the battle—the other half is knowing where to make that fateful connection. Here are some places you should be on the lookout for romance:
Online: The scales have tipped. In the last decade, public attitudes about online dating have seismically shifted from cautious to widespread acceptance. More than half of Americans know someone who’s met their partner through the internet, and a similar proportion recommends dating sites as a good way to meet other singles. It’s not just for millennials, either—just as many romantically-inclined 45- to 54-year-olds take advantage of the web as 18- to 24-year-olds! So if you’re still down on online dating, you’re in a rapidly eroding demographic. Why not give it a try?
Each site has a unique feel and clientele, so there’s bound to be a niche for you. Pay-to-use sites such as Match.com and E-Harmony tend to attract users serious about commitment and compatibility, whereas mobile apps like Tinder streamline the process to get you face-to-face with local folks fast. Popular sites such as OKCupid and Plenty of Fish feature a diverse clientele, but there are focused services, too—like Farmers Only, for ranchers and cowhands, or Purrsonals, for cat-lovers.
At work: You may have heard that it’s taboo to date around the office, but let’s be realistic: If you’re a passionate entomologist, is there any better place to find a partner who gets your devotion to beetles? Many couples do meet through work and bond over shared ambitions—like Marie and Pierre Curie or William Masters and Virginia Johnson (the pioneering researchers of human sexuality).
Of course, an office romance has the potential to stain your professional reputation, especially if it ends messily. Rather than setting a blanket ban on dating within your organization, be deliberate: Ask yourself honestly, before fanning the sparks of flirtation into a real romance, what’s driving your attraction. Are you crushing hard on the HR guy mostly because he’s the only attractive man you chat with on a consistent basis? Or do you guys have the kind of chemistry and compatibility that inspires a Nicholas Sparks novel? What kind of impact on your career could it have if everything goes south? The bottom line: Never say “never” to office romance, but don’t be capricious.
Around town: Anywhere can be ground zero for a new relationship. You might notice someone in a coffee shop reading the same novel as you and strike up a conversation. You might bump shopping carts in the canned foods aisle with your future spouse. Or maybe you’ll eye the same guitar in the music shop and start jamming. Being anywhere but your house increases the chances you’ll make a connection with someone new, so make a habit of spending time in cafes, libraries, and other local hangouts. If your town has regular dances, take advantage of that—swing, salsa, contra, and blues dancing are beginner-friendly, cheap, and perfect for getting face-to-face with new people.
With mutual friends: If you’re a straight man looking for a single woman, you might run into some trouble introducing yourself to local ladies out of the blue. Fortunately, there’s an easier way. Whenever you make a friend, you’re not just linked to them, but to their entire social network—their family, friends, and co-workers. Your buddy Chip isn’t a single lady, but doubtlessly he knows a few: his cousin, his old boss, a college friend. When Chip invites you to lunch with some friends, or hosts a soiree at his house, you’ll have chances to meet his extended network (ahem, datable people), with the added benefit that now you’re vetted by Chip. Of course, try to pick friends you genuinely enjoy spending time with—Chip will know if you’re just using him.
In the classroom: There’s one upside of group projects—the possibility of getting randomly assigned to work with an attractive, single person! Even if you’re considerably past your college years, most towns offer non-credit classes, including painting, drawing, woodworking, dancing, and photography. Find something you’ve always wanted to learn and sign up. There also are free writing groups and book clubs that will get you talking with new faces.
When we think about how to find love, it’s often assumed that our soulmate will drop into our laps; that if we simply go about our lives, they’ll show up as sure as an Amazon delivery. Indeed, some relationships do materialize effortlessly, but many require us to step slightly outside of our comfort zone. That’s why it’s okay to feel paralyzed by the idea of trying salsa dancing or making an online dating profile. The important thing is to try anyway.
If you’re not sure where to start looking for love, advisors at KEEN.com can point the way.