Did you finally get a dinner date with a girl you’ve been talking to on Tinder for a week, only for her to spend the entire time checking her social media notifications?
Or did you finally meet that hot guy you’ve been messaging on Match.com only to discover that he’s actually a bloated, white-haired dude who reeks of cigarettes and looks nothing like the 20-year-old whitewater rafting photo posted on his profile?
If you just moved to a new city and that disappointing scenario sounds like your dating experience, maybe it’s time to hit the streets and meet people the old-fashioned way. Finding people to ask out in a new town can seem impossible, especially if you don’t have an established social circle that you are a part of. While it might be a challenge to get out of your comfort zone of swiping right, we still think meeting people in person is the best way to make a love connection.
But first a word to the guys looking to pick up women. Just because a woman is out in public by herself, doesn’t necessarily mean that she is interested in having a conversation with you. Learn to read signs and signals, and always be respectful. Approaching a woman you don’t know requires confidence, but it also requires good judgement as to whether it is an appropriate time or place.
With that in mind, here are the best places singles can meet girls and guys and jumpstart their dating life in a new town.
1. Unleash the Power of the Pooch.
Hit the off-leash dog park and let your dog do the romantic legwork. Even if you’re feeling shy, there’s no better ice breaker than your pushy pit-mix sniffing out that cute blond with the three-legged terrier. Who knows? Your dogs may not be the only ones eager to romp.
Be aware that meeting women at a dog park is more socially acceptable than approaching a woman just walking her dog by herself. At a dog park, interaction with new people is expected. But a beautiful women is walking her dog alone, that is definitely me-time and she should not be bothered.
2. Join a Club.
Keep an eye out for flyers for groups sharing your hobbies and interests. When comedian Dan Nainan moved to New York City, he was lonely until he joined a group that rollerblades around the city one night a week.
“Instantly, I had 200 friends,” says Nainan. “It’s a very social group, and I’ve met a number of women this way.”
Joining local groups is also a good way of making friends, which can eventually introduce you to their friends or co-workers you might connect with.
3. Keep Lookout While you Work Out.
When Jill Bulluck moved from San Diego to Washington D.C. and found a new gym, she spied a hunky man grunting on the bench press machine while she practiced lunges nearby. The two struck up a good conversation and dated for nine months.
“He really helped me to set a higher standard for the men in my life,” says Bulluck. “We had a great dating experience.”
But don’t gawk at the opposite sex while working out, unless you want to be labelled the gym creep. If you want to meet women at the gym, be sure to respect any negative signals.
4. Dust Off That Yoga Mat.
When you sign up for yoga classes, you’ll not only become more agile and flexible ( always a plus in a new romance), you’ll also make new friends. Added bonus if you’re a guy: You’ll be outnumbered by women by at least 7:1. Recently, Nainan set aside fears of looking foolish and rolled out his yoga mat for all to see his best downward dog.
“The class was perfect and I met not one but two nice ladies there,” Nainan says.
5. Volunteer For a Cause.
Want to decrease crime in your neighborhood or promote a political candidate while making new friends to go out for happy hour beers and burgers with after meetings? Volunteer for a charitable or activist group and you’re guaranteed to meet people with character who have the gumption to take action.
6. Go to Church.
Why stop with just listening to sermons? Sign up for classes offered and you’ll have something to talk about with that guy who’s been checking you out every Sunday from two pews away. Potential bonus benefit, you’ll likely share the same values.
7. Further Your Education.
Christopher Gerhart met his future wife while taking a night class at Sam Houston University in Huntsville, TX. She was searching for her classroom in the hallway and the two hit it off. “We started hanging out, going to shows at school, walking in the park, normal dating stuff,” said Gerhart. “I knew after about three or four dates that I could be happy with her for a long time coming.”
8. Learn a New Skill.
Take a cooking class, dance class, or sign up for beginner tennis lessons. Enroll in a course to become a master gardener. Look into sailing classes at your local yacht club. You’ll meet other lifelong learners and maybe even that special someone.
9. Start Your Own Group.
Why wait for the right group when you can start your own? Post flyers at your coffee shop, grocery store, gym and other places to begin your own book club, walking group or movie club. Set a time to meet, exchange contact information and go from there. Even in a big city there are plenty of people just like you looking for someone else that shares their interests.