If not online dating, then where do you meet people?

I wrote my pro/con list about online dating. It was brought to my attention that many things on the con list do not have anything to do with the internet, and that maybe I wasn’t ready to put myself out there, whether “there” was the internet or the … local bars.

Portland Print, from Edward Juan, available at buyolympia.com

Portland Print, from Edward Juan, available at buyolympia.com

Holly would really like me to try online dating. She makes the same argument that my coworker does. Something along the lines of “where do you think you’ll run into someone, then? Work? The grocery store?” and I get that, I do. I am frugal, so my day typically looks like this:

  • Go to work
  • Go to yoga
  • Go hang out with friends either at my house or their house (hey, I love family dinner) or go to the grocery store
  • Go home

That’s the truth, with some variation. I mean, sometimes I go to yoga after work, not before!

But it leaves little room to meet someone, unless we’re romantically reaching for the same pear, then we’ll tell a joke and fall in love in the produce section.

In a break from routine, I went out to dinner with a dear friend last week. I told her I didn’t want to do online dating. I want to experience the magic. She listened patiently, and said, “okay, I won’t make you do online dating. But you’ve got to get yourself out there! I’m not letting you give in to your reclusive self.” She also gave me tips on how not to be awkward.

Here’s a new-to-me one: when you part ways, say something about looking each other up on Facebook. You don’t have to go “phone number” with every Β new person.

This friend is really smart, and has a magnetic personality. You’d love her. She knows how to get attention without much effort (looks definitely have something to do with it but also she appears so friendly that you’re drawn to her.

I listened to her advice, and nodded.

But really, I’m stumped. If I’m adamant about not meeting someone online, where am I expecting to meet someone?

This weekend, I went to a coffee shop to do writing. Which is less frugal than staying home, but it’s at least getting me “out there” where I may or may not meet someone friendly.

Then, I went to a concert with my friends. On a Sunday Night!

Both of these things I wouldn’t have done without the gentle prodding of someone I trust.

However! I’m just about out of ideas. So, I’m going to ask the audience on this one:

Where, exactly is this “out there” that I need to get to?



  1. Many places that I go to have very few women. Places like the local hardware store or the pier where I go fishing. Sports bars are another place where there are normally a lot more guys than girls.

    A great place I found to meet people was at my local gym and at their once a month social days. I also met a heap of people when I was doing my degree at uni.

    I actually did have one of your fresh produce moments over a pear, except that it was a onion and it was another man… Needless to say, I apologized and went about my business as I wasn't really interested in meeting a man over the onions.

    • Frugal Portland says:

      HA! I also had a moment at a grocery store, where I tried to get out of a guy's way and knocked into some mustard. He helped me pick it up, but alas, our eyes did not lock. πŸ˜‰

      • I just saw this title and it caught my eye, because I see many of my social media friends asking the same question. I think online some people are having success meeting people, but it is harder to decipher a possible cat fish situation from occurring. I would say these places:
        Sporting Events (Wear the home team Jersey)
        Single Cruise ships (Carnival)
        Libraries (Geeky singles)
        Local Organizations
        Local Running Events (Run or Volunteer to get inside)

        Hope these help.

  2. There really is no difference between online dating and "real world" dating. People still lie. They still have the same commitment issues. They still have weird quirks and bad habits. The only difference is that you can shop from the comfort of your own home without going to a bar or wherever and worry about some douche trying to pick you u (then hitting on your friend when you turn him down lol).

    Sometimes I prefer it simply because I can do it while accomplishing stuff like work or reading. Other times I prefer to head out simply because of the immediacy and don't have to wait to get to know someone. There are always going to be pros and cons to anything, but sometimes you just need to say what the hell and give it a shot because you never do know who you will find.

    Anywhere is "out there". To me it just means getting out from the shelter of your own four walls and into a space where the chances of running into others is possible. It's not a particular destination per se, but more of a concept of opening yourself to the possibilities of new things.

    • Frugal Portland says:

      "getting out from the shelter of your own four walls and into a space where the chances of running into others is possible" is exactly what my goal is! At this point, doing the online dating thing is my comfort zone, and I need to step out of it. NOT judging the online, though!

      • I'll judge for ya–some of the chick (and guys from what I've heard) are bat-crap crazy.

        Wait, is it judgmental if it was experienced…oh well the statement is true regardless :-)!

  3. Let's see:

    * Football games
    * Bars with football games
    * Ski slopes (here now, lot's of dooods not working)
    * BBQ festivals
    * Car shows

    There you go!


    • Frugal Portland says:

      HA thanks Sam! I love these suggestions, but I love that you actually checked in from the slopes! You, sir, are one of a kind!

    • Grocery Store
      Golf Range/Club
      Ski Slopes
      Sporting Events
      All you gotta do is just walk up…and say…………..Hi!

  4. I say just give it a try. One of my good friends met someone online and they are getting married next month. He had a similar pro/con list, but decided to just give it a try.

  5. My lady friends from college who've found boyfriends all seem to find them in pretty regular places: gym, through shared interest (band), or at work.

    From my experience, you can't really plan these things. The best you can do is go out and increase the opportunities for a guy you'd be interested in to find you. And help him out a little! You don't need to go all Geisha on him, but certainly leave openings for him to try and start a conversation. Remember, guys are like robots when it comes to reading social cues, so "obvious" for you may not really be all that obvious for us.

  6. Have you tried meetup.com? Thats a good inexpensive way to meet new people who have the same interests as you! I went to a social meetup and met great people when we went to a comedy show. :)

  7. Budget & the Beach says:

    I know what you mean! It's funny because I got that advice too, but I was "out there" playing a sport hardly wearing any clothes and there were PLENTY of good looking guys, but I hardly had anything come from that. And then it's harder to get "out there" on a budget because I can't afford to go to a sports bar or out to eat. But some new things I did try sort of recently is hang out at a bookstore (I didn't buy anything), the library, and also had joined a cheap bowling league (although I did know a lot of the people from volleyball). I don't know though…unfortunately I think online dating is the option that is helping people the most. Maybe experiment and just think of meeting guys online as a way to make friends, and see what comes of it? BTW, I disagree with asking to be friends on FB…I don't want people I hardly know as my friends quite yet.

    • Frugal Portland says:

      Oh you make a good point about Facebook — and yeah, it's tough! I just feel like going online gives me permission to stay at home in my sweats even more than I allow myself to now! Dating on a budget, though. Sheesh.

  8. Keep going to book signings! Watch events (sports, award shows) at a local bar with friends. Are there any bars near you that do trivia? Go with a friend and find another group of two to team up with. Are there any restaurants near you that have family-style seating? Go just for an appetizer or dessert and chat with the people next to you. Switch up your Yoga routine to see new faces in class. Try a new class like pilates or a running group. Meetup.com is good for friends and they have some "singles" groups. Do you have any pets? Join a book group. Keep writing/reading in coffee shops. Browse the bookstore for both people and books.

  9. I'm surprised that none of your married/taken friends have offered to introduce you to anybody that they know or that their husbands/boyfriends know. Typically getting 'set up' can lead to some hilariously awkward moments but can also lead to good things as well.

    I probably could have written this post ten years ago, but at the time I never thought women had these problems. Just figured they had the guys flocking to them at all times :)

  10. How about taking more classes? Did you see anyone at the photography class? I think that's the easiest way to meet people. No guys in your yoga class? I met a lot of people in my early 20s when I was single and was more outgoing. Once I got married, I rarely make any new friends. It's tough in Portland. Let's meet up soon.

    • Frugal Portland says:

      No one in the photography class, unfortunately. But I should take another! Yoga isn't great for socializing, either. Yes, let's meet up some time soon.

  11. I would say just try to expand your social circle. Do you always hang out with exactly the same group of friends? Do they have other friends they could pull in to your dinners? What about hosting a joint party with someone so everyone can meet new people?

    I second Renee's suggestion of meetup.com, again for expanding your social circle. Even if you don't meet someone there, maybe they have a friend…

  12. Although I am probably married too long (44 years) to give you any advice, I think looking for people who share your interests are good places to meet people. So if you like museums, bicycling, outdoors etc join a group that do those things. You can volunteer at museums, take classes or go to these events. Just be friendly with people or start a conversation.

  13. This is a problem that I'm having right now… I tried online dating awhile back but it's not quite the same as meeting someone is person and falling head over heels for them. I usually tend to just date friends of friends because, even though I go out every day (for coffee or to the gym), I am not the type to walk up to a stranger and suggest that we be facebook friends, haha.

  14. Pauline @ Reach Financial Independence says:

    My cousin hosts a monthly "mystery guest" party. You invite 10 people you know, everyone has to come with someone the group doesn't know. It is a great mixer and a close friend found love there :)

  15. I met my boyfriend in the club (we met in February 2006 so… omg, time flies pretty fast!). But I was 20 then. Right now I would think twice before I'd decide to give somebody my phone number. (Don't get me wrong, I don't regret it. I just got older and I've heard/seen too many stories about men with fb status: in relationship asking for phone numbers). I went there with my friend, he was there with his friend, we didn't know each other, we just enjoy our time dancing together. This is how it started. But I agree with everyone here writing about meeting new people but with the same interests, that's always the best way to start conversation, sharing time together. Or maybe there is something you haven't done before but you want to try? One of my friends started jogging recently and he joined local running club where they meet twice a week to have training together and a beer/drink after that. He met one nice girl there and they've been dating for two months πŸ˜‰ I keep my fingers crossed for you :)

  16. joesaulsehy says:

    I know people who go places, but they don't talk to anybody. I think the key is in two parts: go places with lots of people and talk to a couple people each time that you don't know. Most people are shy. The only way to actually get people talking is to talk to them first.

    I won't talk to you if you're standing next to me in the produce section, even if we touch the pear together….but if you say something to me, I'll definitely answer.

    • Frugal Portland says:

      You're right — it's not enough to be out, I need to be outgoing as well. Thanks! PS see you in aisle 7.

  17. Go to the next Ignite Portland! Ignite events are fun and just nerdy enough that you could connect with someone about your passions, and usually frugal.

  18. ErinShanendoah says:

    I second the recommendation of using Meetup.com. Just sign up for groups that will do things you would enjoy anyway, like hiking. You will have a chance to go out and have fun with no pressure of meeting anyone, which is the best way to meet someone.
    I was lucky in the sense that I am a geek (role playing games, love of Star Trek, etc), so I always had interests that put me in a place where women were the minority. Everyone I dated I met through role playing games. I met my husband while we were pretending to be vampires (NOT the sparkly kind- long before there was a sparkly kind, actually). But it worked because I was doing something I enjoyed doing, and was going to enjoy whether or not a guy I was interested in was involved.

  19. I got set up on a blind date by a mutual friend. It worked out well :) I've also tried online dating before that and it's not so bad. I have the same issues, with meeting new friends….I joined a Spanish meetup group, a local theatre company, art openings, concerts, wine tastings, coffee shops. Think of what you'd LIKE to do on a date…and go there by yourself and likely you will meet other people that have the same interests. Also, trying new things like classes, running groups, etc (for example) are great ways to meet new people.

    You can do it!

  20. Anne_UGifter says:

    Oh ya, totally forgot about meetup! There's some great stuff on there. Are there any that are related to your career? Even if you go to a "professional young women" group or similar, it should expand your circle and allow you to cross paths with guys. I met my spouse in university, where it's all so much easier and you're constantly meeting people! What about tagging along to some church young adult stuff when your sister moves back? Again, just a way to grow the circle and maybe meet someone.

  21. I just wanted to add my two cents about the online dating thing. I know it can be scary. It can also be a lot of fun. I am 41 and just out of a ten year marriage, about a year ago, I joined OKCupid. There are a few shaggy-dog stories between here and there, to be sure.. but I also made some good friends through that site. And about three months ago I met the most wonderful man. It *can* work. I'd be happy to share advice if you like. But I did want to weigh in on the 'give it a try' side. OKC does a good job of filtering people based on what you like and don't like. And I am now crazy in love with a man I don't think I'd ever have met otherwise, for all the reasons you mention (he has never been to a yoga class and I am addicted to them) We probably would not have just run into each other otherwise, which doesn't bear thinking about now that we've met.

  22. plantingourpennies says:

    Okay, at the risk of sounding lame, have you tried something silly like a dodgeball league? No guarantee, but I feel like it's basically a "playgroup" for adults, and I know several people who have met long-term relationships (and one marriage) at things like dodgeball or ultimate frisbee. (Ultimate is riskier since some teams take it much more seriously than others…)

  23. newlywedsbudget says:

    i would suggest a number of outside activities. back in my single days, i used to do meet up, which is great for meeting people in general. i also went to my local church group for twenty-something singles, and i was part of a kickball team that was all about partying. i ended up meeting my husband through my blog though so i guess we sort of met online, although not on a dating website , hehe never say never…

    • Frugal Portland says:

      HA yes, please, anyone reading this nonsense want to date me? πŸ˜‰ But I love love love your story. So, I'll keep writing, how's that?

  24. Looks like there are some great ideas in the comments πŸ˜€ Don't really have anything to add. I'm in the same boat. My problem is a lack of confidence and being shy around girls. Working on it though. You should come visit Vancouver, the Canadian one. Not the one in Washington. So many hot single guys here :0)

    • Frugal Portland says:

      HAHA I went to Vancouver, WA last weekend … it's not really very awesome. I hadn't noticed the hot guys in Canada, though, because it's always so cold when I go up there!

  25. alwayshungry4 says:

    I agree with the Meetup site! I joined hiking groups and there's a lot of cool people that show up (sometimes as much as 50-60 an outing). There's also a few singles events meetups, like monthly pub crawls and stuff. This being said, I met my bf on Match… one month is reasonably priced, but I understand that it's not for everyone.

    • Frugal Portland says:

      I know, tons of people are online — it's just the easy way out right now, and I want to stretch my comfort zone first.

  26. kimateyesonthedollar says:

    I met my husband at a bar, so that might not be the best advice, but it worked out for us. I was with a girlfriend and we sort of psyched each other up about being more proactive about meeting people. I am not usually an outgoing person in social situations, but decided to be that night. Probably a few beers didn't hurt either.

  27. I've always been against online dating as well, but I just tried it out for the first time tonight. It was positively delightful. We actually had a lot in common. But if you still don't want to try, going to church is always a good way to meet people. I'm not especially religious, but it's always good to have a community behind you.

  28. I really understand where you're coming from. I love the idea of meeting someone in a natural and organic way and feeling that connection. But, I have felt that connection with a lot of guys and I'm still not married! LOL. It has become a lot more difficult for me to meet people because I don't go out as much (want to save money and bored with clubbing) and have already partied like a Rockstar. So, I have decided to try everything. Put myself out there without any expectations. Some ideas:
    1.) Hiking Meetups
    2.) Cooking classes-steak nights!
    3.) Wine tastings
    4.) Wine meet ups
    5.) Dodgeball/volleyball/kickball/bowling leagues-should be started up soon.
    6.) Crossfit-have you SEEN those guys!
    7.) Informal running groups
    8.) Ski meetups
    9.) Tell all your friends that you are available
    10.) Online dating-just keep it simple and just meet people for coffee. OkCupid is free. Five of my friends have met their fiancees/husbands online
    Do whatever feels comfortable for you! M.

  29. Holly@ClubThrifty says:

    I'm hoping that this is just part of a natural progression towards you signing up for Match.com. Please. Your soulmate is waiting for you! Or eharmony. Whatever. Did I mention that I met my soulmate in a Yahoo chatroom? That was 13 years and two babies ago!

  30. I have a single friend that is trying to find a man to settle down with haha, and she is always doing spontaneous things! She goes out a lot with friends to different cities – bars, clubs, parties, hanging out with friends at someone's house, weddings, marathons, etc. Also I hear volunteering is a great way to meet people!

  31. Oh, I hear you. I've had friends meet their soul mates online whereas other's only have horror stories to share. But you know what – that's dating. It sounds like you're "getting out there" more, which is certainly important. I think it's equally as important to be approachable. Some people give off a "do not disturb" vibe unintentionally. Good luck – the right person is out there!

  32. Why not try the volunteering route. Pick whichever type is your favorite. Do it not necessarily to meet those to whom you are volunteering to help; but rather to meet others who are, like yourself, volunteering as well. You then will have something in common with them. You will get to see what they are really like – not in a phony self-serving "look-at-me" bar scene – plus you also will be helping others. You pick the environment as well as how much involvement / time that you care to give to it. Nothing ventured, nothing gained.


    Yikes things are tougher today. We just went to a disco or a bar when I was young!

  34. I thought dating was tough when I lived in bigger cities, now that I am in a more rural area, it is even worse. I tried online…. I am convinced the only "decent" people on there were planted by the marketing department. Haha

    • Frugal Portland says:

      Whew, I can only imagine how hard it is to be single in a small town. Small town people marry around age 23, it seems!

      • It's not THAT small, area of around 35-40,000…but in rural Iowa (what you're picturing is probably close to reality. haha) To answer your question, they don't marry at 23, but probably have 1-3 kids by then. πŸ˜‰

  35. I think it's silly to have to pay money to find or meet the person of your dreams, which is why the popularity of online dating sites has always baffled me. Then again, I don't know a SINGLE PERSON who met their partner offline other than at work, which isn't exactly ideal either.

  36. woodswildlilfe says:

    Well, here is one from left field (or more accurately right field). Join a gun club. Skeet shooting is a gas! Just ask Obama. It really is a great place to meet guys, but they are likely to NOT share your political ideologies, and would make for some great debates (who knows what that could stimulate!). You'd be outdoors, with abundant fresh air and would get a chance to experience why guns are so important to so many people, whether that is right or wrong. Stick with shotgun competitions, and stay away from the rabid right with their 40-bullet clips and you will be surprised at how much fun you will have. You won't even need to have your own gun – the clubs usually supply the right equipment.

  37. I am so glad to not have to be in the dating scene. As you get older (out of school), it is harder to meet people. I have never used online dating, but know people who have without success but still they didn't regret it. I love Pauline's mystery guest night! Most people I know have met their significant other through school, work or friends. The more people you meet, the better the chance you will meet Mr. Right. Sounds like your friends have you on the right track for this…good luck!

  38. Tough! I met my first long-term bf online and I met Brian through a mutual friend. I've met interesting guys at bars, at concerts and strangely, on the bus – though I've never dated any of them. I think you just got to keep going out socially with your friends and keep making an effort to talk to people you don't know. At some point, something should click and if not, at least you're having fun :)

  39. MeeLee1980 says:

    Didn't read everything,but any social place, like clubs, dancings, beach, and even church, could be a place where you could meet someone.


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