Every so often I see an article or a video suggesting that single people approach strangers in everyday life to ask them out on dates – at the coffee shop, supermarket or bus stop.
There is some validity to this:
- You can meet someone outside your regular social circle
- It’s a way to practice making first impressions
- If you can handle a very large amount of rejection, you will eventually succeed; on the other hand, if you are very physically attractive, success might come really quickly.
Now I’ve always believed in being friendly to my neighbors and fellow citizens (in safe places). But I want to explain why it’s a terrible primary strategy for getting dates:
- You don’t know anything about the stranger: and they might not be even single. Chances are that they aren’t compatible and going on a date with them actually incurs an opportunity cost in terms of time and money.
- Your success rate relies heavily your first impressions: which puts introverts at a disadvantage
- You aren’t given the benefit of the doubt: because they know nothing about you – you could be a horrible stalker with aerial photos of their apartment!
- The success rate may be low: which can eat away at your confidence
- It’s frankly kind of weird: most people expect to go the coffee shop to drink coffee and to meet people they already know. This latter point is what those articles and videos are missing. You can certainly go there and start conversations with strangers, but if the purpose of your conversations is only to get a date, you basically have an ulterior motive.
Instead, I propose that your primary dating approach be to try out lots of activities. Through the shared experience of these activities, you will make acquaintances and friends. Dating will happen naturally as a side effect of meeting people and potentially their friends.
Note that it’s important to do activities that you actually enjoy in order to form genuine friendships. If you instead go in purely with the goal of getting a date, people will see through that.
Ideally, an activity should:
- Involve interacting with other people: You aren’t going to meet someone playing piano in your living room
- Have new people join every so often: This is especially important if your current social circle consists of people who only know each other and nobody else, and you aren’t intending to date any of them
- Be relatively mainstream: Something that appeals to a wide audience (e.g. hiking groups at http://www.meetup.com) is likely to attract lots of people, which gives you a bigger dating pool. It’s important to try mainstream things – including those that are a little outside of your comfort zone.
- Be repeated: It’s easier to get to know people you see on a regular basis
- Have a demographic that is amenable to making friends: An even gender balance and of a similar age is best.
If after a few weeks you find that you don’t enjoy an activity and/or that the demographic is not ideal, you should drop it and try something else. Don’t continue to do things that aren’t working out.
Note that these rules are not set in stone. For instance, if you genuinely enjoy an activity that is in a niche (e.g. volunteering at a legal clinic) and does not involve your target demographic (e.g. everyone is much older), you can still continue doing it. Eventually an acquaintance may introduce you to someone who you can date.
The main advantage of repeated activities is that you can get an accurate read of someone by interacting with them over time. You’ll learn who is single and compatible without any heartbreak or pressure. And because you have developed some familiarity, she is more likely to say yes when you ask her out.
Note that this is a long-term strategy – making genuine friendships and romantic relationships takes both randomness and time. At one activity, I met a girl instantly while at another, it took me 5 years before an acquaintance randomly introduced me to a really good future friend. So this strategy is best supplemented with online dating.
Until next time my friends, keep dating!