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Even with all of the technology connecting us together, finding and meeting people for dates, mates, hookups, and spouses can still be a challenge. In fact, it can even make meeting someone more confusing! As a result, I get asked a lot about how and where to meet women or men for dating. What are the best ways to meet men or women? Where are the best places to find women or men? Etc.
Fortunately, the question has been thoroughly surveyed and studied by social science research. The answer, however, seems to change depending on your personal dating and relationship goals. Therefore, there may be several best places to meet women and men - depending on exactly what you want.
Read on and we will sort out the confusion...
Research on How People Meet
The most recent research on this topic was presented by Rosenfeld and Thomas (2012). Their analysis was based on a national longitudinal survey of over four thousand adults, aged 18-59, called the "How Couples Meet and Stay Together" (HCMST) survey. In addition, the researchers also compared that data to other historical surveys on the topic too.
Some highlights from their findings include:
Heterosexual couples primarily meet in one of three ways. A little less than 30% of couples meet through mutual friends. A bit more than 20% meet in bars or restaurants, with another 20% or so finding a partner online. The rest (~30%) meet through some part of their daily lives - church, family, neighborhood, work, or school.
The vast majority of same sex couples meet online (a bit less than 70%). About 20% more meet a partner in bars or restaurants, with the rest primarily meeting through friends or coworkers.
The majority of couples begin with self-introductions (43%), or are introduced by mutual friends (31%). The remainder are introduced by family, coworkers, classmates, or neighbors.
Some ways of meeting may be better for long-term relationships than others. Particularly, couples who meet in their daily lives, especially through church and school, are more satisfied with their relationships and less likely to break up than couples meeting other ways. This was supported by earlier surveys, which also found short-term and sexual relationships more likely to be started under the opposite meeting conditions - usually bars and restaurants (Laumann, Gagnon, Michael, & Michaels, 1994).
The Best Ways and Places for You to Meet People
As the research indicates, there are a number of successful places and ways to meet people. Therefore, how and where to meet women or men may depend on your own relationship goals, needs, and preferences. Here are some general guidelines...
For long-term relationships, you may want to look to meet someone during your daily life - particularly through a religious, spiritual, or educational activity. This may help to increase the satisfaction and longevity of the relationship. Presumably, the similarities also help partners to make a deeper connection and share gratefully with each other. Religious and spiritual compatibility may also reduce the likelihood of cheating and infidelity. Such relationships may require self-introductions though. As a result, you may have to overcome anxiety, learn to break the ice, and ask for what you want (even indirectly), to begin an interaction.
For short-term relationships and sex, you may want to look for someone during your night life - particularly at bars, clubs, and restaurants. Individuals at such venues may be more likely to have similar short-term and sexual goals as well. Also, bars and clubs may offer a better chance of getting noticed, flirting, and touching to build sexual attraction. Such meetings may still require self-introduction though. Therefore, you may have to overcome anxiety, learn to break the ice, and ask for what you want, to begin an interaction too. In this case, however, a bold pick-up attempt and being direct with your interest may help increase your chances of finding a like-minded lover.
For more specific preferences and needs, you may want to look for someone online, or through friends. Online dating can be particularly effective when you are geographically or socially isolated - or when partners that fit your preference are in short supply. Specifically, sites that focus on your particular sexual, gender, ethnic, or social preference may help a great deal in finding a satisfying match. Furthermore, friends who already have similar preferences or needs, particularly those within a specific community or group, may also be a good source of introduction to new partners. Also, if you are socially shy, it may be more comfortable to look for dates online, or get introduced through friends too. Thus, networking with likeminded people, both online and in real life, may be the key to you finding the specific love you're after.
Meeting a potential relationship partner does not have to be confusing or challenging, especially when you have a particular goal in mind. You will often have the best success when you look in the places and ways that will bring you in touch with likeminded people. Specifically, long-term relationships are often found with others who are focused on similar long-term religious, spiritual, or educational activities in their daily lives. In contrast, short-term and sexual relationships can best be found with others who have such immediate excitement and pleasure on their mind - usually in the nightlife of bars, clubs, and restaurants. Finally, finding some specific relationship preference and need can often be accomplished by networking with others who are compatible in those ways - either online or through social groups. In any case, finding others with similar love life preferences and goals will bring you closer to satisfying yours too.
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Until next time...happy dating and relating!
Dr. Jeremy Nicholson
The Attraction Doctor
Previous Articles from The Attraction Doctor
- Laumann, E. O., Gagnon, J. H., Michael, R. T., & Michaels, S. (1994). The social organization of sexuality: Sexual practices in the united states. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
- Rosenfeld, M. J., & Thomas, R. J. (2012). Searching for a mate: The rise of the internet as a social intermediary. American Sociological Review, 77, 523-547.
© 2014 by Jeremy S. Nicholson, M.A., M.S.W., Ph.D. All rights reserved.