I’m tired of dat­ing apps. How do I meet men IRL?

Red Eye Chicago - - Dating -

Dear Anna,

I’m 30 and have never been in a se­ri­ous re­la­tion­ship. It seems like I’m never at­tracted to guys who are into me, and guys I am in­ter­ested in ei­ther don’t re­cip­ro­cate or are al­ready in­volved. I’m not the club/ bar type, and my idea of a good time is go­ing to the movies or a mu­seum and hav­ing an in­tel­li­gent con­ver­sa­tion. Where can I meet guys with sim­i­lar in­ter­ests with­out hit­ting the on­line dat­ing meat mar­ket? I’m per­fectly happy and ful­filled be­ing sin­gle, but it would be nice to meet some­one re­ally worth it. Please help! —Thirty And Sin­gle

Dear TAS,

I get a ver­sion of this ques­tion of­ten and thus feel a dis­claimer is war­ranted: There are no bad places to meet peo­ple. Life is a piñata of happy ac­ci­dents, and you truly never know where you’re go­ing to meet the next per­son who changes your life. I met my last girl­friend through Twit­ter. (She chas­tised me for mis­clas­si­fy­ing bono­bos as mon­keys. You don’t even need a great open­ing line.) I’ve met ro­man­tic part­ners through mu­tual friends, on dat­ing sites and apps, drunk­enly at par­ties, soberly at read­ings, through co­work­ers, and on and on.

OK, now that we’ve got the “world is your man-oys­ter!” tid­bit out of the way, if you want to meet men who have sim­i­lar in­ter­ests as you and to meet them off­line, then you’ve gotta cul­ti­vate those in­ter­ests IRL. What are you wildly pas­sion­ate about and how can you trans­late those pas­sions to in­volve other hu­mans? You said you liked mu­se­ums, for in­stance. A cur­sory Googling proved that the Art In­sti­tute, the Field Mu­seum, the Adler Plan­e­tar­ium, the Mu­seum of Science and In­dus­try and about 14 other in­sti­tu­tions have af­ter-hours events. Bring a buddy or two to one and start meet­ing peo­ple. Or be ballsy and go alone — this will force you to do the scary thing and not just chat with your friends all night, which many of us are 100 per­cent guilty of do­ing. When you do talk to peo­ple, do so not just with the goal of ro­man­tic con­nec­tion. Talk to who­ever seems in­ter­est­ing. Talk to the mu­seum staff. Talk to the bar­tender/food ser­vice folks. Talk to the peo­ple who seem friendli­est. Ask them what they find most fas­ci­nat­ing about life these days. They might lead you some­where, ei­ther to a friend­ship or more.

And since you like movies, you could host a movie night and dis­cus­sion (or do it at a friend’s house if you don’t have room) and tell your friends to in­vite peo­ple you don’t yet know. Then do the same sort of rou­tine as sug­gested in the mu­seum ex­am­ple above. What other in­ter­ests do you en­joy? Do you vol­un­teer? Do you like cook­ing? Find ways to turn your hob­bies into learn­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties that direct you hu­man-ward.

Lastly, don’t for­get the time-hon­ored tra­di­tion of let­ting your friends set you up. You could even do this with an­other sin­gle friend and make a game out of it. Who­ever chooses the best per­son for the other gets a free din­ner. Or some­thing.

Good luck, TAS, and re­mem­ber: Cul­ti­vate a ro­bust life and ap­proach ev­ery­one you en­counter with the open­ness of some­one who just might be the next per­son to take you on a fan­tas­tic ad­ven­ture.

Anna Pul­ley is a RedEye con­trib­u­tor. Want to ask Anna an anony­mous ques­tion about love, sex or dat­ing? Email





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