Ever wonder how to meet new people in your busy, adult life? Here are a few tips to get you started.
College is a magical time for dating. We’re thrust into a huge group of like-minded people with similar goals, united by identical hardships, leaning on one another for support as we edge closer to graduation. Whatever comes at us, we’re all in it together, and the relationships which bloom in this environment are often strong and vibrant—there are seemingly endless possibilities for finding “the one.”
But then it ends.
You graduate and move to a new city. Suddenly, your only shared environment is a competitive, professional one that discourages openness. You’re around others who might not share your goals, ideals, and experiences, and who might not understand your struggles. You feel as if you don’t know anyone as deeply as you’d like, and you don’t have the time or opportunities to meet new, interesting people, much less bond with them enough to assess them as relationship material.
You’re also less likely to have the three things sociologists find necessary for creating close relationships: repeated, unplanned interactions, close proximity, and a setting that encourages people to confide in one another. College, (and to a certain extent, high school and trade schools, as well) all foster this kind of environment early in life, and once we’re out, it can seem much more difficult to meet and grow close to potential dates. But is it impossible? Certainly not.
Once we’re out of our twenties and no longer have the controlled environment of school, we have to get out there and find new people on our own—we have to be active in our search. We have to get out and do things. We have to be purposeful.
While this can be frightening, it’s also incredibly rewarding, and each way of seeking people out comes with unique advantages. Read on to reopen your dating horizons, and find out 6 ways to meet new people when you’re over 30.
1. Take Advantage of Technology
One of the most powerful, yet still overlooked, dating tools is the Internet. There are myriad online services that allow us to find compatible partners. Most dating sites allow users to enter their hobbies, interests, education level, and much more, and some even employ matching algorithms which suggest compatible people. There are a plethora of tools available to use that can be found with a simple “dating services” Google search.
The reason Internet-based services are so underused is the stigma that is often attached to them—especially among those who were around before online dating services existed. Some still hold to the old idea that dating sites are for the desperate, the unsocialized, or those who simply cannot get a date in person.
This simply isn’t true. Dating sites are, in fact, the new bar scene—better than the bar scene ever was, in fact. People from all walks of life use these sites, and in this variety, it is much easier to find compatible people.
Online tools aren’t limited to dating sites, either. Services such as Meetup.com host activities such as dance parties, poetry readings, outdoor activities, and more, and provide the opportunity to meet lots of like-minded people. And that’s the point—finding compatible people. Few innovations have been better for this than the web.
2. Find Your Passion
Passionate people are attractive. When we find the things we’re passionate about, and engage with these activities, we take on a combination of happiness and authority that is simply magnetic. Figuring out what this means for you goes a long way toward meeting new people—find what you love, and there’s likely a group or club related to it. Whether it’s reading, creative writing, cycling, photography, or studying theoretical equations, plunge in and find what drives you. Getting to know yourself is a major prerequisite for dating.
Once you figure out what you love, take it outside of yourself. Join that fencing or book club, and mingle, both in and out of the group. This brings you back to those three prerequisites for forming new relationships we mentioned earlier—proximity, unplanned interaction, and a chance to open up. Chances are, you’ll find it easy to connect with these people, and from these connections and shared passions, vibrant romance can bloom. Not only this, but you’ll also form a deeper connection with yourself.
3. Meet People at Your Place of Worship
Religion is often rooted in our deepest ideologies—the ones that we’re not willing to compromise, even in love. The places where we worship often hold activities such as luncheons and other such outings—don’t be afraid of developing relationships in these settings.
Finding someone who shares those deep ideals can mean a relationship that goes beyond simple shared hobbies or interests—it can mean shared fundamental values and a relational depth that’s hard to replicate elsewhere. You’ll have all of that, plus the spiritual and community benefits that a place of worship entails.
Take care, however, to not allow religion to blind you to the wholeness of a person. Just because someone shares your religious ideals does not mean that they’re perfect—explore their lives thoroughly, just as you would with someone in any other environment, and realize that the person you’re falling in love with is just as human as you. Remember that, and great things can come of relationships formed here.
4. Find Your Third Space
Your “third space” is the social surrounding that is separate from your usual two social environments—work and home. For many, this is a café or a park, and involves an environment which is inexpensive, accessible, comfortable, and involves regulars who habitually congregate there. This space should be neutral for you, without any obligation to be there—it’s a place you visit of your own free will, and leave when you wish.
This kind of home-away-from-home is a great place to get to know the regulars, and is more relaxed than a more competitive dating environment, such as a bar. If you don’t have such a place, take a look around your neighborhood. It’s likely that there’s a place that suits you—someplace that gets you out of the solitude of the home, and away from the closed-off professionalism of work, and places you in a relaxed, socially open context. Once you’ve visited a few times and have observed, start striking up conversations with interesting people. If you’re not one to engage others directly, bring your personality with you in a big way—dress in an interesting and unusual way that expresses yourself, engage in your hobbies or passions, and maintain an air of openness. People will be drawn to engage you in conversation.
In addition to meeting others, you’ll now have your very own third space—a worthy addition to anyone’s life.
5. Engage in the Arts
Engaging with the world of aesthetics can bring you into contact with the most unusual and interesting people. Nothing stimulates conversation quite like art, and so attending things like art exhibits, concerts, and poetry readings can forge friendships and relationships with the kinds of people you’d never find anywhere else. The arts can also help you get in touch with yourself, with what you love, and with what moves you, personally. And as we’ve discussed, the better you know yourself, the more ready you are to evaluate others for potential relationships.
Finding out what types of art move another person, in fact, is a great conversation starter, and a good way to get to know them. Art-related places such as museums, galleries, and regular outdoor music events can also serve as a more formal “third space,” allowing you to interact with others who share similar interests.
Don’t be afraid to engage in the arts, yourself. Try your hand at painting, writing, music, or any number of other creative endeavors. The pursuit of the creative life gives you common goals, struggles, and, often, common environments with others—something that is sorely lacking in our usual adult lives. Be communal with your art. Use it to give back to the community (volunteering), or engage it in a public place, inviting conversation.
Whatever art you choose to immerse yourself in, get out and use it to connect with others. You never know when you might find that person who can finish your poetic sentences, or who provides harmony to your music.
Giving your time is always a worthwhile endeavor, and your sense of empathy can not only help others, but it can also help you find love. Like the other methods of meeting new people we’ve discussed, volunteering presents the opportunity to simply get out, and get socializing. Find a cause that you can link to your passions and interests, and you’ll be sure to encounter other like-minded, philanthropic souls along the way.
Giving is also associated with lower blood pressure, increased self-esteem, lower stress levels, longer life, and greater happiness. Current research indicates, in fact, that those who give are 44 percent less likely to die over a five year period than those who don’t.
So if you want to live longer, be happier, and meet kind, empathetic people, volunteer. You won’t regret it, and you may just come away with that one other person who considers an evening rescuing stray animals to be the perfect date.
7. Get Out There
Don’t feel trapped in your work-home cycle. Add at least one of the activities we’ve discussed here to your life, and free yourself to be social, to put yourself out there to see and be seen. Everyone has different levels of sociability, but no matter if you’re an introvert or an extrovert, finding yourself, and engaging the world around you based on what you’ve found is the best way to keep meeting new people.
These are only a few suggestions to get you started. Get out there, find your personality, find your passion, and find your people. And along that journey, you just might find love.
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