If you ask anyone about the best places to meet singles, the most likely answer you’ll receive is: bars and clubs. And, in some ways, this answer is correct.
If you go to a random city around the world and you’re outside of a closed environment (like a university, for example), the largest concentration of single individuals on a given night will likely be bars and clubs in the area.
I’m not saying this is ideal, which is why I wrote this article. But, for many reasons, this seems to be the reality, except maybe in areas that severely limit alcohol consumption for cultural reasons.
If you are going to go out for an evening of fun with friends, want to dance, or plan on watching a band or catching a sporting event on TV, then maybe a bar is what you want. But, if you’re looking to meet new people, especially for a quality, long-term relationship, you might want to look elsewhere.
I’m sure there are many happy couples whose first meeting was in a bar (I know a couple). But, for large numbers of people who fail at meeting quality people in bars, here’s why.
An Impaired Brain Impairs Relationships
A friend of mine told me a story about a woman he met in a bar while he was in college. They hit it off, kissed, and even talked about how happy they’d be to meet again. He got her number and messaged her the next day. She barely remembered him and they never texted or met again.
It should go without saying that most people in bars are impaired. This can be anywhere from slightly buzzing to outright wasted. Some people see this as a plus. After all, alcohol can, at least at the right amount, help a person become more talkative, outgoing, and do things they might not otherwise do sober.
However, there is also a huge downside to being impaired, especially if the person in question drinks too much (which often happens). In that case, alcohol depresses the nervous system, creates memory issues, and hinders rational decision-making.
This means that if your goal is to connect with someone on a level beyond surface interaction, you might be out of luck at a bar. In fact, you might be like my friend who felt that he had connected with a woman in a meaningful way only to find that she barely remembered any of it.
Even if she was lying about not remembering, she still was willing to engage him only while drunk because she had on…
That young woman who talked to my friend and seemed interested obviously wasn’t. When they were both sober, she evidently didn’t find him attractive enough to get to know better and move forward.
This is a phenomenon called “beer goggles,” or the concept that the more people drink, the more likely they are to find someone attractive, even if they wouldn’t find the same person attractive while sober.
Science actually affirms the reality of “beer goggles,” but not necessarily in the way people think. Alcohol doesn’t create attraction where there isn’t attraction already. Rather, alcohol has been shown to intensify desire in the brain while simultaneously lowering rational inhibitions.
So, the more people drink, the more likely they are to become aroused and act on it. They will be more open to interaction with those people they find attractive in some way, even if the attraction is marginal or they wouldn’t date them for various reasons while sober (e.g. age gap, cultural expectations, their mom wouldn’t approve, etc.).
In theory, it sounds like “beer goggles” might be an advantage since it can get you access to people who otherwise might reject you. While that’s true in a way, it also is a long term disadvantage.
The next day, while sober, all the issues the alcohol removed are back in full force. So, you might have had a great experience with a nice guy or girl only to find the next day that they barely respond because they aren’t attracted to you with their rational brain.
So, even though she may have confided to you that she likes older, dominant men on Saturday night, while attending church on Sunday morning she may think twice about texting you back.
The takeaway is that bars might be ideal for random hookups and one night experiences (sex, emotional, or otherwise), but they aren’t always places to find long term success.
The Emotional Wall
While bars often have the most concentrated population of singles in any given area, paradoxically, they aren’t necessarily the most open group of singles. Lots of single people hang out at bars, yet, for some reason, they aren’t the most openly available singles.
The biggest component is the emotional wall many people put up at a bar, especially women. Even nominally attractive women will get hit on constantly at bars. Many of the efforts are annoying, creepy, and inappropriate. I had a friend who stopped going to bars to watch Ohio State football games (even though she didn’t have cable) because she got hit on every five minutes and was sick of it.
So, while a lot of single people might be out at clubs, many of them have a very high wall and are hard to reach on a meaningful level. You might approach a woman who is technically single, but just sees you as another loser in a long string of guys trying to have sex with her. You’ll be judged before you even get the chance to make a good impression.
Also, I want to add: while many regular people go out to bars and clubs, they also attract a fairly sizable number of troubled people who go there for less positive reasons. At any crowded bar (or even empty one), you’ll find plenty of people with issues who are trying to medicate them via alcohol. I’m not even including the hard core alcoholics, many of whom are “regulars” at bars.
My point is that, even though you’ll be around a lot of single people, many of whom are quality individuals, you’ll also have to sort through some who are less than ideal.
So, these are a few reasons why bars aren’t always the ideal place to meet single people. While I’m not saying you shouldn’t go, definitely don’t make them your only or even primary option. Next week, I’m going to discuss other places you can meet single men and women.