When it comes to dating and relationships, everyone has some wisdom to share: “It will happen when you least expect it,” or “You won’t find them until you stop looking,” or “You need to love yourself first.”
All of these may be true on some level, but when you’re single and want to take a more proactive approach to meeting someone, it can be less than helpful being told to just wait for the next one to come along. (“And then there’ll be three at once, like buses.”)
So, for us less passive types who want to take control of our love lives, what are the best places and ways to meet potential partners, and how can we prep, so we present our best possible selves and find our best possible partners in return?
According to relationship coach Lucy Keaveny, it’s good to start with an open mind and avoid being too prescriptive about everything you’re looking for in a partner.
“Rather than have a rigid dating checklist, split this into ‘deal-breakers’ and ‘nice to haves’,” Lucy says. The deal-breakers are your non-negotiables, so this could be looking for someone at a similar life stage – for example if you’re a single mum, you may want to date a single dad who may need to accept that your family comes first, be willing to fit in with your schedule and have a slower relationship rollout. If you’re wealthy, you may want to date someone with a similar lifestyle or disposable income to avoid conflict over this, so you might opt to enjoy luxury experiences or travel when trying to meet people.
“Key things to consider are age and life stage, the kind of relationship you’re looking for (casual or committed) and whether your fundamental values align (so differing politics may not be a deal breaker, but being honest, open and thoughtful are). With everything else, see them as a nice optional extra, to make it easier to welcome someone new into your life.”
So, now you know who you’re looking for, here is a round-up of the best places to meet men so you can take the dating bull by the horns (or just give it a friendly pet)…
1. Get your heart rate going at an exercise class
Whether it’s a weekly zen-out at yin yoga or something more hectic and high-octane at your local running club, training together is a great way to connect. As well as all the lovely, feel-good endorphins flying around ensuring everyone is at their friendliest, happiest best, you will have regular opportunities to build your way from a friendly hello to a full-blown chat and number swap, chances to work with partners or catch up at club socials where you can raise heart rates in a different way. For an easy, literally breezy way to meet people, a local hiking group is a great option – with opportunities to talk one-on-one and plenty of time to get to know one other, surrounded by lovely, relaxing scenery, with lots of sights and sounds around to talk about. And whether you meet someone or not, you’ll get fitter in the process.
2. Get bonding on an activity holiday
When you are considering how to meet men, your immediate thought might not be: ‘Trekking along a mountain trail in Cyprus.’ But actually, group holidays for solo travellers are a great way to get to know people against breathtaking backdrops, sharing new experiences and bonding in the best way as you explore incredible places and create memories together along the way. Explore offers a range of group trips for solo adventurers with a mix of singles, couples and friends travelling together, for a low-key, relaxed opportunity to make friends and see what develops. They also offer age-specific and culture-focused trips as well as activity holidays where you can walk, trek or cycle around the globe together, spurring each other on for the ultimate bonding experience. As Lucy says: “Group trips are a great way to meet someone, particularly as you can tailor the trips to your age bracket or interest. Whatever happens you will make new friends and widen your dating network, as they may know someone who would be perfect for you.”
3. Show off your skills at an evening class
Whether you have a flair for painting or pottery, baking or making, an evening class allows you to show off your talents (always attractive) and gives you an immediate ‘in’ via a passion or skill you both share. “Find an evening class doing whatever interests you, from cooking or crafting to playing an instrument or learning to sew,” says Lucy. “There are so many classes to explore and so many new people you could potentially meet, plus you’ll be learning a new skill or honing an existing one, which in itself brings happiness and confidence, making you even more attractive to others.”
4. Go on a foodventure
For perhaps the ultimate dating day out, combine travel, adventure, the great outdoors, exercise and enjoying a meal together in one, via a foodie foraging trip. As well as picking up some handy life skills (always good to add to your apocalypse survival plan) by learning the delicious eats you can collect and cook for free, there will be plenty of time to talk, learn together and enjoy your spoils together afterwards. Wild cookery school Fat Hen runs a range of two-day courses where you will forage, cook and feast together and hopefully find a way to each other’s hearts through your stomachs.
5. Pursue a passion
Pursuing a long-held ambition, whether it’s writing a novel or learning a language, will allow you to meet other like-minded, supportive and inspiring souls while you finally fulfil a long-held dream. The Faber Academy runs writing courses from single days to six months-plus, allowing you to learn the basics, hone your skills or make a serious commitment to writing a novel, while instantly connecting you with a network of coursemates and academy alumni. Or check out local language classes to help you discover your amour/amor/amore/der liebling while you go from glot to poly.
6. Get jiggy at a dance class
Strictly in the dancing sense (at this stage anyway). Dance classes make for an instant icebreaker and feature plenty of partner work that will allow you to get up close and personal with potential dates, enjoy lots of eye contact (which, along with touch, releases the love hormone oxytocin) and opportunities to get to know each other – a bit like speed dating with dance steps. Swing Patrol runs social events throughout the year with plenty for beginners if learning to Lindy Hop is still on your dancing to-do list, or look up local classes near you from ballroom to Bollywood.
7. And last but not least…
The Telegraph has a long history of matchmaking its single readers. Dating originally appeared in the newspaper under the name Kindred Spirits in the early 1990s, before moving online in 2005 and becoming Telegraph Dating a few years later.
While the dating landscape has changed in that time, our goal remains the same: to add love, romance and fun to the lives of single people. Some of the team have been a part of the service for more than 25 years, and our UK-based customer service staff continue to check every new member’s profile and picture before they appear online. We’ve helped tens of thousands of people turn online dates into happy and lasting relationships, weddings and Telegraph Dating babies.
If you’re single and interested in meeting like-minded people, join Telegraph Dating. With more than 220,000 like-minded single people, Telegraph Dating is the best place to find romance.