Welcome to Meet Cute, where Professional Match Recruiter, Freyja, catalogs her personal, live from the trenches dating adventures (and misadventures) with the express purpose of improving your IRL dating game.
Coffee shop? Cocktail lounge? Home Improvement store? You name it, she’ll go there and report back with the verdict.
The last time I met someone that I was interested in organically was 3 years ago, at a friends birthday party. A year before that I had met someone while working. He was a customer at a shop I worked at, and kept coming in every couple of weeks until phone numbers were eventually exchanged, and we went on a first date. And before that, I was meeting guys out in bars on random weekends out with my friends. In the last three years, however, with the surge in popularity and normalcy of using dating apps, meeting people in real life has gotten a lot more difficult.
I’m not alone in feeling this way, so I decided to go on a quest to figure out just how easy (or difficult) it is to meet people in-real-life.
I’m someone who generally prefers to meet romantic interests out in the ‘real world’ because I am ultimately a chemistry-based person, who is sad to say that I also tend to have a rather specific physical type. And I only get pickier when I’m swiping through online profiles (which often feel one-dimensional and contrived).
Unfortunately, we live in a world where technology has all but taken over, and walking around with your head buried in your phone is the norm, making meeting people out in-real-life more elusive than ever. This fact was illustrated clearly for me a couple of years ago, when I met someone on-set for an acting project. He hardly acknowledge my existence. Six months later, we matched on a dating app, went out on a date, and his level of interest skyrocketed.
It’s like he didn’t see me as a date-able human woman, until we matched on an app.
I asked a group of my peers about the last time they met someone organically. One woman I asked (who works in finance), has never used an app. She’s in an open relationship with her boyfriend who lives abroad (she met him on a bus in Spain — he simply saw her, walked up to her, asked for her phone number, and the rest…well, that’s still being written).
Now, anytime she meets someone new, it tends to be out-and-about, often through mutual friends of her co-workers. In her work, she tends to be surrounded by men, so it’s relatively easy for her to meet single ones. I work remotely, so that’s just not an option for me.
Another friend (who’s currently in grad school), said it’s been over a year since she met someone IRL, though she didn’t initiate it. He boldly asked for her number while she was waiting for a Lyft after a night out — this straightforward IRL tactic is what I like to call, the ‘cold approach.’
The number of men who employ the ‘cold approach’ seem to be dwindling, which led me to the next step in this experiment: learning more about the male perspective.
Here’s what happened this month on Meet Cute…
V Wine Room
Wine Bar, West Hollywood, Los Angeles
7:30 PM on a Wednesday
It was pretty dead. There was a large group of seniors who were taking some sort of wine class, and a few businessmen in their 40’s who seemed to be regulars, grabbing after-work drinks. They seemed to be friendly and having a good time, but I didn’t get close enough to check for wedding rings or strike up a conversation. The sommelier was cute, outgoing, and age-appropriate, but alas, he was taken. He did give me some great tips for how to approach people in the service industry, however! He mentioned that if you try asking someone out at the end of their shift, they might flat out reject you out of sheer exhaustion.
Picking up on their vibe, and the kind of day they’re having is key. Aside from that, he recommends being as straightforward and genuine as possible.
Bonus points if you make it clear that however they respond won’t affect your continuing patronage of the business.
VERDICT: While I wouldn’t go there to meet men, I would go back for the conversation, and sommelier insights! I’ve been to this wine bar twice, and both times (each with two different sommeliers), they were really open to discussing their perspectives on men and dating, and giving advice when needed. Wine and girl/boy talk — that’s a win-win if you ask me!
Fairfax District, Los Angeles
9:30 AM, Monday
I was going to meet a friend for coffee, and then post-up with my computer to work, so I thought I’d grab a to-go lunch from Trader Joes. Honestly, meeting someone was the last thing on my mind, but I was in a cute dress and ‘feeling myself.’ I stopped outside of the store after purchasing my items to organize my backpack, and an Australian man who was quite a bit older than I typically go for, approached me. He went with a very straight-forward approach. “You’re very beautiful. You caught my eye in the store. I’d like to give you my card, maybe we can get drinks or dinner.”
It was a nice compliment, and I respected that he was to-the-point, while not being overbearing (i.e. he gave me his card, instead of asking for my number — take note gents!).
That said, he was still 20 years older than me, and I didn’t enjoy being hit-on by someone who could have been my father. I declined his offer, and handed back the card. He seemed pretty shocked by that, but it felt good to be clear and honest (I recommend it ladies). Also, why would you want to waste anyone’s time?
Culver City, CA
I had been out all day and was making a quick grocery run before heading home. I walked past this guy, and I noticed him because he almost could have been my type, but had this weird mustache that threw me off. He ended up behind me in line, whether on purpose or by accident, I’ll never know, but he asked me about the walking boots I was wearing, and if I liked the brand. Based on my Man Crush Monday interview with John (hitting Heartalytics on the next issue), it’s likely that this guy was open to feeling out a potential connection, and I could have given a cue of mutual interest by asking a question back.
Instead, I politely answered his question, and then turned away. This was not out of outright disinterest towards this man (although the mustache really wasn’t helping his case). It had more to do with the fact that I suddenly felt incredibly self-conscious. I had been running around in the rain all day, and just didn’t feel my most confident. So this points to something I need to work on, which is to be more open and receptive, especially IRL situations.
Knowing how to drop cues of interest is just as important, if not more important, than being able to pick up on them.
VERDICT: These were unusual experiments because I don’t typically get hit-on at grocery stores. That said, it seems like a solid IRL option as it happened twice in such a short period of time. I would say, give it a go! If you are open to meeting someone in this capacity, and you’ve planned ahead and aren’t in a stained T-shirt, your chances are solid!
Meet Cute Tip — wearing an article of clothing that could be a conversation starter is a useful tool (whether it’s a favorite band T, or a bold jacket). It allows for people to open the door to a conversation in a way that doesn’t feel overly aggressive or too smooth (just right!).
Madison & Park Coffee
West Hollywood, Los Angeles
Trying to figure out how and where it’s possible to meet someone in-real-life has forced me to be a more present and aware of my surroundings.
Which brings me to another Meet Cute Tip: Take your headphones out while strolling, while shopping, all the time really (if you’re hoping for an IRL interaction).
As I look around this coffee shop on a weekday, there are a lot of people on their computers. As can be expected — most, if not all, are probably here to work. But I also notice that every single man in here has earphones in, which can only really be interpreted as ‘don’t talk to me.’ If I had seen someone interesting in here, I’m not sure it would have been an environment that would be conducive to starting a conversation.
VERDICT: Maybe not the best place on a weekday when everyone has their head down to work. I’d be open to checking out another coffee shop to see if the vibe is different, or trying on off-hours to see if people seem more social.
Perhaps on the next Meet Cute!