While it seems like everyone and their (single) mother are on dating sites these days, there are still many singles who wish to meet singles the “old-fashioned” way. You know, without swiping right. If you find yourself breaking out in hives at the mere thought of downloading Tinder, fear not! It is possible to meet people in Chicago without online dating. Before you resign yourself to a life of singledom and begin hoarding baby ferrets, give these seven ideas a try.
Start keeping the plans you’d normally break
You know that old coworker who’s always asking you to meet up for drinks? Stop breaking plans with her! While it’s way easier to stay in with your friends GrubHub and Netflix -- particularly after a long week -- it’s a bad habit to get into. Besides, how often do we hear those “I forced myself to go out and ended up meeting my future wife!” stories?
Learn how to talk to strangers
Some people are lucky enough to be born with the gift of gab, but for the rest of us, walking over hot coals sounds preferable to chatting up an attractive stranger. Dating guru Matthew Hussey has a great piece of advice that’s doable for even the biggest introverts: challenge yourself to talk to three new people every single day. Start off small: ask a doorman how his day is going, chat with your waitress, or make polite conversation with someone in the elevator. Over time, you’ll get more comfortable with talking to strangers, making it easier for you to chat up potential mates.
Sign up for co-ed activities
It’s a no-brainer that co-ed activities are a great way to make new friends and meet potential dates. Chicago is filled with endless options ranging from co-ed sports like beach volleyball, dodgeball, and kickball to activities like improv classes at Second City or iO. You may also want sign up for sites like MeetUp.com -- there are plenty of singles groups that meet up for fun group activities.
Put down your phone and take off your headphones
Admit it: you’re guilty of using your phone and headphones as a “do not disturb” sign when out in public, aren’t you? While having the ability to block out the outside world can be convenient in many scenarios, it also makes it incredibly difficult to approach you. The next time you’re tempted to crawl into your own little bubble at a coffee shop or on the CTA, pull out a book instead.
Attend Old St. Pat’s World’s Largest Block Party (or any other street festival)
According to organizers, over 100 couples have gotten married after meeting at the World’s Largest Block Party. While the event’s matchmaking potential may be as exaggerated as its “world’s largest” moniker, we have to admit that street festivals are great opportunity to meet new people. Tip: when you inevitably run into an old friend or coworker (you know you will), take the opportunity to hang out with their group. The more people you meet, the better your chances of meeting other singles.
Volunteer for a cause that’s important to you
Whether you participate in the host committee for an upcoming fundraising event, volunteer a few times a month at a local nonprofit or for an event like the Chicago Marathon, volunteering will provide you with plenty of opportunities to meet like-minded people. Best part: if you don’t meet the man/woman of your dreams, you’ll still walk away feeling good.
Put the word out to your married friends
Many people avoid asking friends to set them up for one simple reason: they’re afraid of coming off as desperate. While you probably won’t want to make a public plea for help via Facebook, it can’t hurt to reach out to a married friend for help, as their spouse will likely have a handful of single friends they may be willing to set you up with. One caveat: be sure you know their spouse and trust their judgement, otherwise you may find yourself on a blind date with the world’s oldest frat bro or a crazed cat lady in the making.