I like to do the opposite of what everyone else is doing. It started in 2014. When everyone else was finishing their theses, I “procrastinated” with an internship. While all my friends optimized their resumé, I started a blog. Whereas most people would long have published a book, here I am, patiently writing for free.
So back in 2014, when Tinder was just two years old and few people in Germany were using it, I thought it was a good idea to jump on. And then I used it in a different way than everyone else. I met an awesome girl and we were together for almost two years. The reason it ended has nothing to do with the way we met. We just reached a gap we couldn’t cross. That’s okay.
In 2017, Tinder feels like the new norm. I now know more couples whose relationships began on Tinder than elsewhere.
I think it’s time to do the opposite. Again.
The one thing that hasn’t changed in those two years is my attitude towards pickup, a YOLO philosophy about dating and “let’s just see where things are going,” wishy washy kind of relationships: bull-shit.
Finding real love is hard enough as it is, so I’m not gonna wait until I’m 39 (I hear for women it’s more like 29), panic and pick the next girl I run into. Instead, my default mode has always been to look for signs of what might last a lifetime.
If you’re on a quest for a proper relationship, but wondering what the best way to meet women (or men) you’ll actually like is, this will give you a new idea to work with.
Note: This is 100% personal experience. If yours differs, please do share your story in the comments.
When You’re Trying…
When the world is on Tinder, it’s time to go offline. But where do college students like myself go to meet the opposite sex? Bars. And clubs. And then bars again. Did I mention bars?
If we were to make a top 10 list of scenarios in which college students hope to meet their future partner, I’m confident at least 8 would involve alcohol. There’s only one problem: I don’t like going to bars.
But if everyone else tries to meet people there, wouldn’t it make sense for me to go there too? Even if I don’t like it? At least I’ll maximize my chances, right?
WRONG! I beg to differ. Not that I won’t meet women. I will. My point is: it just won’t be the kind I like.
…The Math Isn’t In Your Favor
If you sleep 8 hours a night, you’re awake for 5,840 hours a year. Assuming you’re like me, you might end up in a bar for 3 hours every other month or so. That’s 18 hours a year – or 0.3% of your waking hours.
I don’t know about you, but I want my girlfriend to be like me. Not entirely, of course, but without any similarities, staying together for a long time will be impossible. There wouldn’t be any room to develop what Jonathan Haidt calls companionate love – the kind of love brothers or best friends share, and which lasts a lifetime, not a week.
If future Mrs. Right and I are the same in just one regard – the amount of time we spend in bars – our chances of meeting are almost non-existent:
0.001%. That’s 1 in 100,000. You would have to sell out Madison Square Garden five times and meet every single visitor to find who you’re looking for.
What I’m saying is: Just because social norms dictate certain places for us to go to find love, does not mean you’re more likely to find it there. Quite the opposite is true.
Whenever you go somewhere based predominantly on your hope of meeting someone special, you’re reducing your chances of liking whoever you’ll meet. You’re not going because you really want to be there, but because think you have to to get what you want.
The Best Kind Of Love…
…is effortless. So maybe we should stop trying.
Have you ever heard anyone say they found love like this: “Soooooo…I arranged dates every other day, went on 53 and number 48 finally turned out to be Mr. Right!”
I doubt it.
All of the times when my feelings for a girl were the strongest, I had run into them by chance. They were the girls that one day sat next to me in school, were part of the event team I joined or suddenly walked into the study room.
I did my thing, they did theirs. Our paths just happened to cross.
This is where today’s simple idea comes in:
Do You: The Best Way To Meet Women (Or Men)
What if you just stopped all active efforts to find dates? Could you just…live your life? Could you just be okay with the way things are? And when someone grabs your attention, you simply talk to them?
Here’s my suggestion:
You do you.
Don’t limit your activities. Don’t go to specific locations to meet women. Or men. Don’t force it. Don’t exert any particular effort, for the sole purpose of meeting someone. Be patient. Live your life. Be alone. Be okay.
Don’t go where you think the people you like will be. Just do your thing and find the people you like wherever you go.
Not actionable enough? Fine. Here are 3 things you can do, using the pareto principle. You spend 80% of your time in 20% of the places you repeatedly go to. Start working with that:
- Make a list of the 5 places you spend most of your time in.
- Circle the top 2.
- Has anyone caught your eye there recently?
- No: Great, keep going there anyway (and pay attention).
- Yes: Talk to them 🙂
Why does this work?
Getting back to the issue of commonality addressed earlier, what was a problem with bars becomes an advantage with, say, the library. If you go to it because you enjoy being there and you insinuate the person you meet does the same, you’ll already have common ground by the time you get to know each other: you both like going to the library.
This is exactly the type of common ground you need for a strong start to your relationship, because it allows you to build companionate love right away. By the time passion first hits a low point (which it will) you’ll already be partners in crime for life. The more shared history, the stronger companionate love gets.
Plus, the more time you spend together, the faster you’ll know if you’re a good fit for sure – and that’s easier when you happen to be at the same place a lot anyway.
Stuttering Your Way To Success
I’m very much aware that the last part, talking to people, is what’s hard. Approaching strangers isn’t easy, go figure. If you find yourself in a situation where you’re procrastinating on talking to someone, because you’re scared, motivate yourself into the challenge.
Last time I did this, I watched this clip from “We Bought A Zoo” about 14 times before finally walking up to her:
“Hey, I’m gonna grab something to eat, wanna come along?”
shoots me startled look
“Naaaaaah, I’m meeting a friend for dinner in a little bit.”
She might as well have mumbled her rejection in Chinese, because the moment I’d finished my sentence, a massive wave of endorphins washed over me. Side effects may include an elevated sense of pride, higher self-esteem, plus some extra confidence for your next courageous attempt.
Sure, it sucked that she said no, but when I checked the mirror this morning, I was still here. Plus, this didn’t have any real, negative consequences. It just left the status quo untouched. I did already not have a date with her before I talked to her. Now I still don’t, so what?
That said, here are some things that have helped me talk to strangers more lately:
- Make eye contact first to dip your toe in the water. Repeated looks are a good sign the other person hopes you’ll be braver than they are and walk over.
- Talk “with” the person, not “to” the person. Don’t overthink the dialogue. Just talk like you would with a friend.
- Approach them the way you’d approach anyone else. They’re just another person, not another species.
- Remember that not talking is more awkward than talking. Humans are hardwired to communicate.
- Just because they haven’t noticed you yet, does not mean they don’t like you. People are busy doing their thing. Don’t take someone else’s tunnel vision as negative feedback.
Warning: Don’t Get In Your Own Way
One caveat: this doesn’t mean you should decline dates because they don’t originate from one of your top 20% of places – love is unpredictable. If dumb luck throws you a date with someone you’ve liked for a while, don’t say no because she hasn’t given you her number at your favorite Starbucks, or you first talked on social media.
Life is what happens while you’re busy making other plans.