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Where to Meet Potential Romantic Partners in Real Life

How to find a boyfriend or girlfriend during your daily routine.

Key points

  • Modern daters often forget about finding partners in real-life locations, although research shows up to 50 percent of couples meet that way.
  • Nevertheless, some locations are better for finding long-term love, while others are better for short-term flings.
  • Committed partners are more often found in places like conferences, religious organizations, or volunteer groups.
  • In contrast, flings and hookups are more likely found at places like clubs, bars, or parties.
Katerina Holmes/Pexels
Source: Katerina Holmes/Pexels

Sometimes, the hardest part of dating is finding attractive and compatible partners in the first place. For convenience and variety, many people try to solve that problem through online dating or dating apps. Nevertheless, online and app daters can sometimes be overwhelmed by the sheer number of superficial partners who don't "click" on a deeper level—or get frustrated by potential partners who don't click on them at all. Furthermore, when people think that these modern approaches are the only successful dating options, they may give up trying to find a romantic partner altogether.

Fortunately, the low-tech method of meeting people in real life is very effective. In fact, as Rosenfeld and Thomas (2012) note, about 50 percent of heterosexual couples and 20 percent of same-sex couples meet in person at a physical location. They go on to state, however, that some physical locations are better for meeting long-term or short-term partners. Given that, by knowing the best places to meet potential partners for your specific short-term or long-term dating orientation, you can easily work them into your daily or weekly routine!

Research on where to find romantic partners

Those dating locations where "birds of a feather flock together" were evaluated by Jonason, Foster, McCain, and Campbell (2015). The team asked individuals to share where they went to find potential partners in everyday life and inquired how good each location was for finding short-term or long-term partners, specifically. In addition, the research evaluated the personality characteristics and sociosexual orientation (long-term or short-term interests) of the participants themselves in order to see whether their characteristics influenced the locations they chose for finding a partner.

The initial results supported the notion that long-term and short-term partners are often found in different places. Furthermore, the researchers identified the best of those places, agreed upon by women and men. Those sites were categorized into the long-term and short-term locations below:

  • Long-term locations: These included classes, organizations, religious venues, work, gyms, coffee shops, volunteer groups, the neighborhood, conferences, and parks. Furthermore, women included libraries, whereas men included bookstores.
  • Short-term locations: These included bars, nightclubs, parties, dance clubs, the beach, weddings, gyms, concerts, fraternity parties, and the neighborhood. Additionally, men also included mixers.

Reviewing those lists further, the researchers also noted specific differences between long-term and short-term locations. Long-term partner locations, like religious organizations or volunteer groups, tended to highlight personality traits that could be beneficial for committed relationships. In contrast, short-term partner locations, such as bars and dance clubs, often highlighted physical attractiveness that could motivate uncommitted flings and hookups. The two mixed locations, the gym and the neighborhood, could be used to highlight either short-term or long-term mate features.

Explaining these differences further, Jonason, Foster, McCain, and Campbell (2015) also found that some of the participants' personality characteristics were associated with choosing long-term or short-term locations to find a partner. Particularly, those looking for long-term partners (especially at classes, work, or special interest groups) tended to be more conscientious and agreeable and preferred monogamous and committed relationships (low/restricted sociosexuality). In contrast, those looking for short-term partners (mainly through bars, clubs, parties, and the beach) tended to be more narcissistic, less honest, and preferred uncommitted hookups and flings (high/unrestricted sociosexuality).

Picking the best dating locations for you

Taken together, these results offer guidance on how to focus your own in-person search for potential partners every day. To start, it is important to know a bit about yourself, especially your sociosexual orientation and approach to dating. Once those are identified, you can pick the locations that best fit your needs—and tailor your approach there to maximize your success.

For long-term partners, focus on frequenting locations where you will have emotional or intellectual things in common with others who are there. That may mean looking for partners at classes, conferences, religious organizations, volunteer groups, or anywhere else that you can highlight your unique and attractive traits. Those locations will attract potential partners who will be more compatible for long-term relationships and who will be more ready for a commitment too.

In contrast, for short-term partners, go to locations that focus on sexuality and physical fun. That will often mean going to clubs, bars, parties, and anywhere else that you can flirt and act sexy. Remember, though, that these places are about seeing others and being seen. So, be sure to look your best and be ready to flirt when you go!

© 2022 by Jeremy S. Nicholson, M.A., M.S.W., Ph.D. All rights reserved.

References

Jonason, P. K., Foster, J. D., McCain, J., & Campbell, W. K. (2015). Where birds flock to get together: The who, what, where, and why of mate searching. Personality and Individual Differences, 80, 76–84. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.paid.2015.02.018

Rosenfeld, M. J., & Thomas, R. J. (2012). Searching for a mate: The rise of the internet as a social intermediary. American Sociological Review, 77(4), 523–547. https://doi.org/10.1177/0003122412448050

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