8 places to meet people IRL that aren’t dating apps or bars


If you have a dog, you could try hanging at the dog park; it might be a good way to meet someone. Photo: 123rf

When there’s a new couple around, it’s natural to ask, “So, how did you meet?” Most of the time, it’s one of these answers: Through friends, at work, or on a dating app. Gone are the days when connecting through Tinder or Bumble came with an elaborate lie about a meet-cute that stemmed from sitting together on a plane... it’s so common these days.

But there are drawbacks to meeting through an app or website, I get it, and sometimes you just want to get off your phone and meet people the old-fashioned way. Well, I have good news for you – it’s still very possible, and it doesn’t have to start with approaching a stranger at a bar. Here are some better possibilities:

Playing on a sports team

Adult sports teams are more popular than ever, and signing up for a recreational free agent team will introduce you to a whole new group of friends (and all the people, hopefully of the single variety, who they know). A good attitude is more of a prerequisite than stellar hand-eye coordination, so hit the field, court, or bowling alley.

Joining a book club

It sounds like the start of a Hallmark movie, but a book club is another way to socialise with a new group of people. Don’t panic if there are no singles who share your bookworm tendencies – just like a sports team, you’re expanding your social circle, and you never know who has a single friend they’re eager to introduce you to.

Hanging at the dog park

Of course, this one only works if you have a dog or have a friend’s pup you can borrow or tag along with (don’t be the petless human at the dog park – it’s odd). But nothing gives strangers something to instantly connect on quite like their beloved pooches. Once Fido gives Luna a sniff, you have a reason to start chatting.

Volunteering for a cause

Whether you’re tutoring kids, cooking for a shelter, or helping cats find their forever homes, doing something good for others is never a bad thing. And if you happen to meet someone in the process, even better.

Switching your spots

It’s lovely that everyone at the local coffee shop knows your name and order, but you’re not meeting new people that way. Instead of only spending time at your usual hangouts, switch it up – try a different coffee store, shop at a new farmers market, or even try a pharmacy you’ve never been to before. If someone catches your eye, you can always make it your new go-to spot.

Hitting the gym

Whether you’re frequenting a yoga studio, dominating HIIT classes, or trying indoor climbing, a gym is a small community in itself where plenty of people meet. Asking a simple question like, “Have you taken this class before?” can blossom into something great – and you’re doing something for yourself and your health in the meantime.

Signing up for a class

If you’ve ever wanted to try cooking, surfing, knitting, meditating, making pottery, playing poker, or almost anything else you can think of, there’s probably some kind of class to do it. Just think of the adorable “how did you meet?” story that could spark.

Attending an alumni event

Many people want to leave high school or college in their past, but alumni events are a great way to connect and reconnect with people that you already have something pretty major in common with. You could meet someone who never crossed your path on campus, or you could find out that the quiet kid from your dorm is actually the most interesting person you’ve ever met. – Tribune News Service/Erika Ettin

Erika Ettin is the founder of A Little Nudge, where she helps others navigate the often intimidating world of online dating.

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