Dating Offline

My parents met in graduate school. My oldest sister met her husband in college. My other sister, in some sort of Cory and Topanga bullshit, met her husband in middle school. Now that’s just not fair.


The thing about dating in your twenties (and beyond) is, if you didn’t meet your significant other in school, then where the hell are you supposed to find them?

I’ve been talking with some single girlfriends lately and this has been the theme. We missed that brief window in our education to get our MRS degree. Instead, I wound up with a BA (two majors and a minor) and an MA…and what good is that (for matters of the heart, anyway)?! Now that university is just a memory, where do you find a suitable match?

Now obviously if you’re reading this blog, you know the obvious answer is “online,” but clearly that hasn’t worked out for me so far. Plus, meeting someone “organically” is generally the single-gal preference…but how? I often hear, “well I was introduced to my significant other by mutual friends” or “we met at a party with mutual friends.” I want to know who all these people are with all these friends! I have like five solid friends and trust me, I’ve already sorted through their “mutual friend” pool and come up dry. Which basically means I have this song running through my head ALL the time.

I was chatting with a coworker/friend at work about this recently and my boss came in and quickly jumped into the conversation. She said she met her husband playing volleyball, but I usually rule out athletic clubs for meeting a mate because it implies that I’m an athletic person, which just isn’t true. I don’t want to meet a man playing a sport and then he thinks he can take me hiking all the time, or that I’m going to want to go for a five mile bike ride on Saturday mornings. Please, I have a plate of waffles calling my name and the only race I want to have is who can finish them first.

So my boss suggested (somewhat jokingly (but actually pretty seriously)) literally riding the Johns Hopkins shuttle around in loops so that I could meet the doctors and businessmen who ride the shuttle to work. While I entertained that idea for about 30 seconds, I suddenly realized that riding the shuttle in loops would make me that girl who randomly pesters people trying to get to work in peace, and that basically makes me feel like this…


So my friend Meagan and I were texting, going back and forth about our mediocre dating lives, when I finally just blurted out…


Meagan agreed…. where do we meet men? She’s met awful men out at bars and on online dating sites. Meagan was at a loss. Which led to my next tirade…



As if the gods heard me, that same day I saw an article posted on Facebook called 5 Places to Meet Your Husband if You Didn’t Find Him In CollegeWHATTTT!?!?! Yes, please! This is literally the question I’ve been asking myself all week (if not, you know, forever).

So I start greedily scanning through this article like someone who says “oh, sure, we can share popcorn at the movie theater!” but then quickly realizes the other person is taking more than their share, so you start grabbing giant handfuls so you make sure you get the good stuff with the butter before it’s all gone (oh, don’t even pretend you don’t know what I’m talking about). You can read it yourself, but I’ll also break it down:

  1. At the bar.
    Like I said, you don’t meet your future husband at a bar. You meet a random drunken hookup at a bar. And if you met your husband/wife at a bar, you, my friend, are the exception, not the rule, and you know it. NEXT.
  2. Mutual friends.
    We already covered that. NEXT.
  3. On the street/At random.
    WHAT!?!?!? Stranger danger is a real thing, people. I don’t live in Boise, Idaho, I live in freaking BALTIMORE. I am 100% NOT going to walk up to randos on the street and be like “hey, are you looking for a date?” I’m pretty sure that’s how you get arrested for prostitution. NEXT.
  4. An ex.
    OMFG are we kidding here? I broke up with these guys for a reason. Sure, most of my exes are actually super awesome people, but we weren’t good for each other, which is why we’re not dating. Maybe some people broke up for reasons like distance or something, and now they live close again, so maybe it’ll work… but that’s not my situation… sooooo NEXT.
  5. In a coffee shop.
    This is the very last of their “solutions” and the problem once again is that I don’t live in a city or a culture where striking up a conversation with a random stranger is really okay. I go to coffee shops a lot and I’ve never had more of an exchange than the cursory mumbled “excuse me” as you both reach for the skim milk.

I totally get that I’m knocking down probably very reasonable ways to meet men, but the thing is, it’s not that reasonable for me. I am not a “strike up a conversation and win them over with my witty personality” kind of woman. I am the…


…kind of woman. The number of times my friends have tried to teach me how to “smile and look away” or casually flirt have all ended with a “never mind… let’s do something else.” It’s just not who I am, it’s not my style, and my resting bitch face basically makes me zero-percent approachable in potential dating situations.


This is why I do online dating. Meeting someone organically has proved about as fruitful as the watermelon seed I planted in my parents garden when I was six.


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14 thoughts on “Dating Offline

  1. Alex says:

    You might be over-thinking this a little bit. Unless Baltimore is just even more of an unfriendly, standoffish den of sadness than Madison is, it’s almost always OK for a woman to start a conversation with a man (except randomly on the street, I agree with that part.) That doesn’t mean everyone’s going to be interested in you, but it’s almost impossible for a woman to make a man feel uncomfortable just by approaching and starting a conversation–the same can’t be said if the roles are reversed. In fact, I think most of us wish women would start conversations with us more often, as it would make things a lot easier.

    I mean, if you just don’t want to approach people at coffee shops because you think men should be the ones doing the approaching, that’s one thing. But if you’re not doing it because you think it’s inappropriate, that’s probably not true unless Baltimore is just a terribly unfriendly place, in which case maybe you want to look at getting out of Baltimore in the next few years.

    On another note, since both men and women apparently have such a hard time meeting people after college, it would be nice if both genders could actually work together to fix that.

    • Carin says:

      Thanks for reading, Alex. A few things:
      I know you haven’t spent much time in other cities, so it’s sort of hard to explain the east coast culture to someone who hasn’t experienced it. I do love Baltimore, but it is also pretty unfriendly and has been ranked as one of the top five hardest cities for single women to find a partner.
      I absolutely don’t feel that men are solely responsible for doing the approaching, but I do feel uncomfortable talking to new people in general, especially if I’m interested in a date (as I discuss in my post).
      I’m not worried about making men feel uncomfortable. I, myself, am just uncomfortable with starting conversations with people who, as I perceive it, aren’t looking to be interrupted from whatever they’re doing so I can strike up a frivolous conversation. That’s just not really a thing on the east coast. People don’t talk to random people they don’t know, which does make it hard to meet new people.
      I hope that helps explain things a little better. Thanks again for reading.

    • Carin says:

      One more thing – it’s funny to me that you describe Madison as an “unfriendly, standoffish den of sadness.” Of all the places I’ve been around the world, Madison is by FAR the friendliest. So if you think Madison is unfriendly then you would find Baltimore to be tremendously rude.

  2. They should get all the people (and there seen to be a lot) who don’t want to, but feel they have to online date, put them all in a big room and let them have a nice big chat, pair off and then everybody’s happy.

    • Carin says:

      Haha I like it! At one point, I went to an event for where you can “mingle with singles” in real life. The catch? Lots of young single women and a handful of older men. That’s it. Oh well…
      Thanks for reading!!

  3. Have you heard of Might be worth a look as a way of presenting natural ways to meet other people without the explicit intension (and accompanied pressure!) of looking for a partner. I used it to find a Badminton group to play with in London. This escalated into dinner, drinks, karaoke, meeting friends of group members, etc. It’s by no means only sports, there are hundreds of people who meet up just because they share a common enjoyment of something. Drinks, dinner, comedy venues, music, books, movies, travel, the list is endless.

  4. Jessie says:

    I met my husband at Petsmart. He was teaching the puppy training classes (dog lover, check), and my parents were taking an 8 week class, so I saw him a few times before getting up the nerve to ask him to lunch. Look for classes in thinks you like (cooking? stained glass? Paint nite?) that meet once, or a few times, and that might be a great way to meet someone with a specific common interest that won’t feel like such an out-of-nowhere stranger-hookup. Groupon is really good for ideas.

    • Carin says:

      Hey Jessie — thanks for reading! That’s super cute that you guys met at Petsmart. That’s like the perfect example of meeting at a random place, but because puppy classes were a recurring event, he was no longer a random person by the time you made your move (if that makes sense!). I’ll definitely have to check out Groupon. I think for me, a semi-draw back is that I don’t want to go by myself (in case there aren’t any viable options), so I bring a friend and then just end up talking to them the whole time and not really “getting out there.” Definitely have to think that one over…

      • jessie512 says:

        Actually that was my point, that because it was a recurring event, it wasn’t me hitting on some random stranger, at least not totally, and that made it much better. So you might want to consider something like that where you can meet the same people repeatedly, in small bits, so asking someone to lunch isn’t as uncomfortable.

  5. Jessie says:

    *things, not thinks. D’oh.

  6. 1. “in some sort of Cory and Topanga bullshit” is now my favorite line describing any relationship ever.

    2. I’m a proponent of the mutual friend method (it’s how my boyfriend and I got together), but the problem is, you have to have at least one really aggressive friend who has no qualms about inserting her/himself into your personal life. I tend to hold back in suggesting that people get together, because I don’t want to set up a bad match or assume that my friend is looking to date. But I’ve realized recently that that’s really just an excuse, because a bad match probably just means one awkward coffee date with someone you never have to see again (which is not the worst thing to ever happen to someone), and if my friend isn’t looking to date, s/he will tell me when I suggest going on a date with someone. So this is my commitment to be bolder in setting friends up, and not trying to predict whether it will turn into a marriage or not before I’ve even suggested it.

    3. There have been several cute, single guys in the karaoke league I was in (and will probably rejoin next season). And people regularly bring their cute, single guy friends with them. Highly recommend. Let me know if you have a free Tuesday night and want to scope it out!

    • Carin says:

      1. Julie Stecker, you are my favorite.
      2. I totally agree that setting people up can be weird at times. I think there’s some fear that if the date is bad, that your friend will blame you for setting them up with a dud. That said, I think if the friend is thoughtful and has your best interest at heart, then mutual friends is a super awesome way to meet people. That said, I’m always just awkward AF and don’t know how to talk to men… but that’s another story for another day haha.
      3. I would love to come to see you karaoke it up! If nothing else, I’d love to watch you flaunt it up on stage. I’m definitely flexible on Tuesdays, so let me know when the season starts 🙂 Thanks for the invite!

  7. Laugh out loud funny. Thank you!

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