Where To Meet Potential Dates In The Real World

Many of our coaching clients are quite rightly fed up with online dating, and want to meet people in “the real world.” We oblige.

They think that we will provide them with magical places or locations that are just teeming with single, eligible, and attractive people who are also outgoing enough to initiate a conversation, take the lead in showing interest, and then do all the work in “closing.”

Unfortunately, there is no such place. Before I list some of the places that are pretty decent to meet people, let me explain some of the pitfalls of thinking that a magical place to meet people exists.

crowded steps on a train stationWhen I was single in my 20s, I would always think of the next big place I could go to meet women. Then I’d get there and it would never live up to what I thought it would be. My experience as a dating coach has led me to the same conclusion. There are no truly amazing places to meet people, at least if you define “places” as locations that create the perfect situation for you.

If you think there is going to be a place that will be simultaneously busy, filled with single and attractive people that share your values, and is a venue that makes meeting these people easy and effortless, then you’re dreaming.

The only “easy” way to meet people is first and foremost to have a good friend group and real-world social network. This is easier for people in high school, college, or who have a job that puts them around a lot of people (like at a major hospital, for example). My observation is that some 20-somethings have these factors going for them, but as people in friend groups “marry off” the group shrinks and shrinks, and many single people in their 30s and beyond just can’t meet people this way.

Outside of this, you’re really going to have the skills to talk to strangers and then carry on a good conversation if you want to really succeed at meeting people in real life.

So, with that being said, I’ll list a few great “places” to meet potential dates in real life, as well as the pitfalls associated with each.

MeetUp Or Similar Groups

A lot of singles are looking into Meetup as an option. Meetup allows for the creation of common interest groups and then opportunities to meet based on them. Using meetups as a way to get a date can lead to a few problems. First of all, the singles groups tend to be like online dating, just in person. In other words, everyone has their guards up, and it can be awkward. If you are using other groups to get a date (like, let’s say, a hiking group), you’re going to find that many of them are filled with couples or others who had the same idea! So, I have noticed many of these groups are filled with guys looking to meet women.

Nonetheless, if you can find a group you enjoy, and have enough social skills and looks to stand out from others in the group, this could be a great way to meet a date and new people in general.

I joined a local running club because I enjoyed running, but I also made some friends from it. However, as a dating venture, there was maybe one single woman in the group.

Become A “Regular” Somewhere

Familiarity is one of the best ways to connect someone. This is why meeting someone in high school and college is often easy. You have time on your side. You can get to know someone in a class or through a club. It gives you time to get comfortable, build some attraction, and gives one of the two parties involved time to build up the courage to ask the other out.

One way to do this is to become a “regular” anywhere. I have done this to a degree with a local pub trivia place. I now know a lot of the people there and have even met some friends of friends.

The benefits of this are that you can build familiarity over time, and meeting people will be more natural. People have their guards down too. There are two main drawbacks. First, you have to choose a place that will have good romantic prospects. For example, if you’re a woman who decides to be a regular at a crafting store, then you’re probably not going to meet too many guys there. Second, even if you’re a regular at a place, it doesn’t mean a lot of other people will be. Even playing trivia I have noticed many people come for a few times and don’t return.

The Gym

So is the gym a good place to meet people? My clear and definitive answer is “it depends.” Let’s take your average Planet Fitness (yes, it’s a real gym for all you haters). It’s often crowded and filled with a good cross-section of people. Given that it’s a gym, it also is more likely to have motivated and physically attractive people in it. So, if you want a lot of people like that in one place, a gym could be a great option.

The problem is that most people are at the gym to work out and leave. And, since everyone usually has headphones in, it’s definitely a challenging place to meet others.

This is where you have to change your mindset (something I highly suggest in this article). While I don’t recommend getting into long conversations with people at the gym, simply being friendly, smiling, and throwing the occasional question (“do you know how to use this?”) or comment (“man you worked hard today!”) could start something.

By doing this you are also planting seeds for later. I have met three women from my gym while I was out and about. All of them came up and introduced themselves when they saw me out in the community, because they recognized me from the gym, and because I give off a friendly vibe while there.

Singles Events

I’m not a huge fan of singles events. The ones I have gone too tend to end up a lot like online dating, and that’s not a good thing. People have their guards way up, women tend to be extremely picky, attractive people clean up while less attractive people get very little attention, the number of attractive people is sometimes slim, and everyone feels really awkward because there is no common interest connection.

Despite a huge crowd, fun games, and a lot of interaction, one singles event I helped with was so bad I don’t think a single person connected. It’s because, for better or for worse, your average person doesn’t go to singles events. So, you’re limited to people who have decided to go to singles events.

This being said, at least you know everyone there is single, and if you have the attractiveness and skills to stand out, it could be a good way to meet people.

Bars And Clubs

Bars and clubs are a real mixed bag. Bars suffer from a whole host of problems but also have a lot of opportunity. One main positive is that alcohol tends to loosen people up (in fact some evolutionary psychologists believe alcohol has played an important role in human social bonding), so shy or reserved people are more likely to open up.  Another plus is that not only are some bars really crowded, but people are there to interact socially (versus the gym or church where they are there to do other things).

The main downside in 2019 is knowing where to go. Finding the right place can be a challenge, especially as more and more people have other things to do (like watch Netflix). There are also a lot of options like smaller breweries, so finding a place where “everybody goes” can be tough, and you may be more likely to find a lot of places with smaller crowds.

Plus, some people just don’t want to meet a partner while drinking, or consider people who go to bars lower quality people. There is also the issue of cost. If you are drinking or there is a cover charge, it’s not always cheap. Finally, some people are in different moods the day after drinking, so just because someone seems to be in love with you at a bar one night doesn’t mean they will even want to see you the next day.


Festivals are great places to meet people, because they often have music, activities, and are centered around a theme or community. You may even see people you’ve seen around town at the gym or other places, and you can finally feel comfortable saying something. Some festivals even involve alcohol which means people are more likely to be social.

The main drawback is that you may have to talk to a lot of strangers because not many festivals have natural ways to encourage interaction. Also, many festivals are family oriented and not necessarily a big draw for single people.


I have met quite a few people at concerts. They can often be fun, carefree events where everybody guaranteed has a common interest: the artist. And, you’re around a lot of people and often jam-packed next to them, so they have no choice but to be up close and personal.

I have found smaller events and concerts to be the best. The venues are often more intimate and people have more commitment to the artists in question. It creates more chances to talk and bond. Bigger venues mean that people are assigned seats so you don’t know who you’ll be next to. The main drawback is that they are loud and it can be hard to have a conversation.

Houses Of Worship

Churches, synagogues, and other religious places can be a decent place to meet others, but as anyone who has tried meeting people there will tell you, it’s not always filled with a lot of opportunities. For one, people just aren’t as religious as they used to be. Many churches are shrinking in size, and if you attend a church based on proximity, worship experience, or spiritual factors, you may find yourself in a community with very few single people. If you choose a church based solely on popularity, you may be more likely to meet people (but is that what God wants??).

Also, you may have to do the real bulk of meeting people through small groups or even singles groups (some houses of worship have them). This requires time and commitment, so unless you’re already interested in that place and its message, it’s a pretty big time investment just to meet people.

Wherever You Want To Meet Them

patio at a fancy barI’ll go a little “mind blowing” for this last one. The best place to meet people is wherever you want. I say this assuming you’re socially aware, not creepy, and understand social context (in other words, no, I don’t mean walking into a wedding and asking out someone about to get married).

Meeting people in 2019 is tough, especially as you get older, because social cohesion doesn’t exist anymore. People don’t know their neighbors, friend groups are shrinking, and people aren’t required to socialize as much (many people, for example, have food and groceries delivered and use mobile banking). The opportunities to get to know people “naturally” have decreased.

The only real solution is to create your own opportunities by meeting people wherever you are, if you feel like it. You can talk to people while waiting in lines, joke or flirt with the clerk at a check-out line, or make conversation with the people seated next to you on the bus.

If we look at these interactions like sales leads, these won’t be as “warm” as leads from other places, like when you have seen someone at church ten times, and smiled and said “hi” a few times, but there is also a lot more potential to get dates and meet great people when the whole world is the best “place” to meet people.

Please join us for our discussion about finding love in 2019 on our Facebook page. And, good luck in meeting people in the real world!

About the Author

David Bennett

David Bennett

David Bennett is a relationship expert, and has been a dating and relationship coach for over 8 years. He is listed in the top ten personal coaches for 2019, and is the author of seven self-help books. He has been featured in over 400 publications and other media appearances, including The Chicago Tribune, The Boston Globe, Men's Health, Bustle, Prevention, and Woman's Day.

Related Posts