Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Go to a bar alone

I told myself I wasn’t going to go there – there being here – but the conversation has come up too many times to ignore. So by popular request, I am ashamed to introduce the most lame and clich├ęd series to hit this or any blog:

How Slash Where to Meet People to Date Slash Marry.
Somewhat proven advice that's not sure-fire or necessarily safe.

1. Go to a bar alone.

In other words – intentionally go without any other people to a bar and enjoy drinks sans the planned company of others. Sorry. The first time I told someone to do this they said, “what do you mean?!”

Here’s how and why it works:

How

  • Pick a spot with a long bar you know will be fairly crowded with the type of people you like at a reasonable hour on a weeknight that people go out. I'd do Barrow Street Ale House. Thursday. 7pm. You get an after the happy hour crowd of people still drinking but not black out. So, the fun ones.
  • Sit at the bar and order something respectable (read: not pink). Tip the bar tender well. If the first person who sidles up is a douche, you want the ‘tender in your corner. I can also pay off to strike up a convo with him/her. Could turn into group talk with the bar sitters. Huge move.
  • Engage in some form of banal activity that prompts curiosity but not intimidation. I'd go pages of whatever side-writing I’m working on and a little notebook. I’m casually reading and jotting things down while maintaining a look of coy openness to the question, “what’s that you’re working on? Other options: weekly news magazine, movie script (www.imsdb.com), book with lots of pictures you just bought. Not options: sudoku, your blackberry, nailpolish.
  • Set a time or drink limit and do not move. Your mantra: this is not weird. Think of the bar as a much-more-fun coffee shop. You would have no problem at all sitting alone at a Starbucks sipping coffee and reading the paper (if you would, get over it). The bar is like Starbucks but people get drunk, feel bold, and talk to each other. It does not matter why you are there alone and is not wrong that you are. But if someone wants to know what your story is, they can ask. Mission accomplished.

Why

  • You and your four best friends dressed up on a Friday night in a crowded, sweaty bar filled with a dime-a-dozen groups just like you is just bad odds. Dating is a numbers game. Put them in your favor.
  • While this is not weird (keep saying it) people don’t traditionally do it thus when they do it's noted and interesting to people who respect confident, interesting people. These are the people you want to meet slash be.
  • What do you have to lose? Right. We've been through this. The answer is: the cost of 1-3 beers, pride if you happen to run into an ex, and time if it doesn't work out. But remember - bars aren't just filled with people who might have date offers. They also feature people who offer jobs, apartments, or good advice. Hardly a waste.


Yes I realize this seems contrived. That’s because it is. There are lots of less contrived ways to meet people if you'd prefer. Popular examples include staring them down from across a party, winking at them from match.com, and telling your friends you really really want to meet them.

44 comments:

  1. Hmm...a very thought provoking and controversial post. Thought I consider myself an independent woman, i'm not sure I would have the balls to do this.I need more proof there will be a positive outcome. At my office we talk a lot about evidence based practices - proving a certain product, strategy, or technique works before advocating its use on a larger scale. So, I pose two questions, does this approach really work? and how do we know? I want at least some sweet anecdotes before I step foot into Happy Hour.

    Jessie, I'm sure you always get column ideas, but I do believe you should do this. For the blog, of course. That can even be the reason you tell people you're in the bar. What a great opener!

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  2. This works and is not so bad once you do it. The key is to be confident and to exude mellowness while sitting. You don't have to bring something to read, but it helps. Most bars in my town offer a free local paper that is nice to look through to fill in the gaps of ackwardness (which will go away with a couple of drinks)

    Truth be told, you will find some people who will judge you about being a woman alone at the bar, but for the most part, no one seems to really give a shit. It is also important to remind yourself that the people who judge are assholes and you'd rather not talk to them anyways. I agree with the mantra, it is important to remind yourself that sitting at a bar alone, is not inappropriate or weird, and the more woman who do it, the less of a stigma there will be.

    I think the best thing for me is that I often really have more of the "guy" approach to sitting at the bar, because sometimes I don't feel like going home, hanging out with any of my friends but want to be around people. Having this attitude and outlook on the bar experience makes it what is really is all about...relaxation and getting out of your head for a bit. This is usually when I have the best conversations as well.

    One last thing, don't do it too much cause you don't want to be an alcoholic. If you really want to date, coffee shops, online, parties, etc may be better options for healthy relationships. the last relationship I had was with a man I met alone at a bar and needless to say, he had a drinking problem alone with a slew of other issues....but he was charming!

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  3. I did this for the first time in my life just the other night - before I had even discovered this blog. I had about an hour to kill before meeting my friends at an event and there was this very upscale bar right next door, so I sat down on a stool and ordered an expensive cocktail and just sat there. It was VERY uncomfortable at first, but then I got to thinking, as you said, why should this be uncomfortable? I don't know anyone here, I never have to come back here, so what the hell? I made the mistake of not over-tipping the bartender (it was a good 25% tip, but not enough to get him to even be friendly, I should have just dropped a $10 bill and I would have been good for the duration). And my moment to meet someone came when 4 people came in and wanted, of course, 4 seats in a row, so I offered to move down to accommodate them. Unfortunately it was a 40-year-old man and his wife and kids, but a friendly conversation was begun and lasted the rest of the time I was there, and I got the hang of sitting alone comfortably and talking to random people. Now next time when it's a hot 25-year-old instead of The Waltons, I'm all set. And I didn't even have a little notebook or anything! This is a brilliant idea.

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  4. I am worried about that woman that walks to her car alone after a few drinks.

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  5. I travel for a living and I have gone to many a bars by myself for drinks and dinner... in a different town where I know no one. It's always worked out fine. You have the initial anxiety as you sit down but you often find that the bar tenders are kinder, servers and owners extra polite. It's as if they feel bad for you for being all alone. But in your head you know that "it's cool, I'm just having drinks and dinner alone at the bar in a city I don't know anyone because I'm here on business".

    Now in my hometown, I don't know if I could do it. Not that I know more than 20 people in this city, but my fears would be what if I were to run into someone I knew. How would I explain what I was doing? Not like it matters! But it's just the being caught alone. Or meeting a new guy and his wonders as to why I'm at the bar alone. Working? Why can't you do that at home? Reading? Coffee shop! Waiting for Mr. Right? Possibly.

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  7. Great article, and true. I have been going to bars alone on maybe a monthly basis for about a year. I started when I realized that I was so jealous of all the men, who after work would go and have a drink just for a drinks sake. I don't necessarily go to bars alone for dating purposes, but 75% of the time I have done it, I have been approached by a man- which is MUCH higher then when I go with others. I think the author is right is saying others find a lone woman at a bar intriguing, intelligent, and independent

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    1. "but 75% of the time I have done it, I have been approached by a man- which is MUCH higher then when I go with others. I think the author is right is saying others find a lone woman at a bar intriguing, intelligent, and independent"

      Well kind of yeah that too I guess, but the main reason is well, just take a second to imagine finding yourself living in a world where guys don't approach girls whatsoever and so if you want to not be miserably alone you have to approach a guy; imagine it, put yourself in that position. In this world where to not be alone you have to approach a guy, is it an easier prospect to approach a guy who is alone not talking to anyone, or to approach a guy who is engaged with his group of friends??

      Ahhh.. you see, it's much less intimidating to approach the lone person.

      And HI from the future 2012 woo! here's to someone replying to this comment in 2015!

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  8. all i do it go out to bars by myself- i like to try a variety of places too- sports bars, kareoke, dance clubs, live accoustic music, anything

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  9. "I am worried about that woman that walks to her car alone after a few drinks."

    There are a lot better things to worry about...

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  10. I'm going to do it tonight. Cheers for me!

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  11. So, I was reading these comments to determine whether or not I would have a good time. I was really scared to go out to a club/bar on my own. I'm very reserved and not really that outgoing type, but I really wanted to meet new people. So, here is how my experience went...I had a blast! I was, of course, very quiet at first, just sipping my drink on the sidelines, but had soo much fun when I met this awesome girl. I know it seems scary, but trust me! No one cares if your with 20 friends or by yourself. People go to these places to have a good time, not judge others. Try it. I hope your experience is as good as mine! :)

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  12. i moved to this town a year ago, and still haven't gone out. my kids, boyfriend etc. but it's time. i'm going out tonight. thank you for your votes of confidence, i'm sure it will be fun!

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  13. I do it all the time in my beach town. head out after work in my jogging clothes, exercise, stop by a local watering hole all by myself to celebrate my calorie burn; and potentially meet the after work crowd of men :)i always have a good time and end up talking to some fun stranger! I only take 10$ (2 hh beers + tip)with me, so I don't have too much fun!

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  14. ", I have been approached by a man- which is MUCH higher then when I go with others. I think the author is right is saying others find a lone woman at a bar intriguing, intelligent, and independent "

    haha this couldn't be more naive. Men see women alone as weak/low self esteem and alone and will aggressively try to have sex with them as the girl has friends with her to cock block the player.

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    1. Or...she has will power and a quick tongue and is able to make judgment calls and can cockblock for herself. This is from 11 years' experience going to bars alone, and when I run into guys like you, I fuck with you a little before sending you on your way...just because I think your type is funny; in a sad, sad way.

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  15. I'm male and I think its attractive if a women is confident enough to be by herself. That is strength of independence, it takes a certain degree of self respect to do that which I find sexy.

    In my experience SOME girls confide in their friends too much!

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  16. I have done this before but only on trips. I've lived in my new city for 1 1/2 years now...it's time. When someone asks if they do why I am alone I will tell them I'm doing an assignment for work. Experimenting how effective taking oneself on a date is in finding a date

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  17. Hmmm. Interesting. I've been at my current town for about 2 years and I still don't know anyone besides my landlord and maybe a couple of guys from school. I've been trying to read on others people experience about going out alone and is really scary to even thing about it but I want to broaden my social circle and get to meet new people. How do I even start by selecting a bar?
    I've seen in the past when a lonely person is at a bar and tries to talk to someone that is in a group they look at you like if you are a crazy person. How do you even deal with that? I'm just completely scare of rejection.

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  18. There is a really cool bar near where I live where I have seen women on their own a few times now, sometimes working, sometimes just having a peaceful drink. I think it's a new trend that is only going to get bigger as women become more confident and independent.

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  19. i went to a bar alone last night, sat alone tho because i didnt know anyone and it wasnt a crowded night, but i got a few compliments throughout the night and i pretty much just texted this guy i had a crush on for 14 years while i was drunk and got a date for next weekend there lol

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  20. As a man, not afraid of much, I usually go out alone. The search that lead me here was "when is the best time to consistently go to a bar"

    I am trying to set a scheduled time, so I don't waste time, and if someone wants to engage in a conversation, they know when I am going to be there more or less. If they consistently see the mystery guy, one Friday they may get the urge to approach me.

    All I am going for is to have a few drinks and relax. *I come with no particular agenda.*

    P.S. It is important to be friends with the bartenders. They will watch your back.

    P.S.S. Atmosphere is an important factor.

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  21. I think you might like to know that I do believe someone has ripped off your article. I read something EERILY similar here:

    http://thoughtcatalog.com/2011/a-guide-to-going-to-bars-alone/

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    1. Just FYI: The same author wrote both posts. So, yeah, it's not plagiarized... just tweaked/revised and published in two places.

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  22. I tried this last night at a bar in my town. I rode my bike there so I would be safe to get home by myself. Most of the patrons were a little older than me, so there was an enjoyable, but not frat-boys-trying-to-hook-up vibe. There was a good band playing which was relaxing and enjoyable. I said I was waiting on a friend (I'm not sure they bought it) and later admitted to someone else that I was there alone. I was nervous at first, but the bartender was friendly and after a few songs, someone came to sit next to me. We ended up talking the whole night. A lot of men looked at me but I didn't feel uncomfortable about being there alone, I felt powerful and independent. The older woman next to me tried to set me up with the bartender and I gave him my number. I had a great time and was so happy to not be sitting in my room alone on another saturday night!

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  23. If the weathers nice and my friends are broke ill go to the bar as long as theirs a tv with a sports game on. For some reason by the end of the drunk night I either end up with a girl or I end up with a couple of free beers. I have noticed a lot of people by themselves but mostly at the dive bars

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  24. I've been contemplating this idea for a while. I'm an introvert kind of person who never really got out much during the course of college so I only have friends in classes who I don't really hang out with. These are the same people that I've been in classes with for over 3 years and they've got their little groups of friends already. The friends I do have are either out of state or married with children and can't go out on a Saturday night. I've just been so tired of being home alone every weekend when I see lots of people out at bars having a good ol' time. So once again, I'm home alone, watching movies and eating some take out, when I started watching "Crazy, Stupid, Love." and I posed the question, guys are always at bars alone, why can't girls do it?. So then a brilliant idea popped into my head; I should Google this! And so I happened upon your beautiful little blog, and I feel so empowered. I was like, DUHHHH why didn't I think of Googling this before? So, thank you for the boost of confidence. I will go to a bar alone next weekend and hopefully it will be a pleasant experience. Thanks again!

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  25. i did this the other night i ended up meeting a new friend and drunk enough to have a one night stand. If i had gone with the ladies i doubt i would have slept with that guy.

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  26. I just went to my neighborhood bar - never went in before. I had a story for the bartender about how my sister was visiting from out of town and was driving me crazy so I had to get out for a minute. She was very friendly. Not my kind of place though. Two pairs of guys none of whom looked interesting or gave me the time of day. A little disheartening. Don't know if I'll try it again.

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  27. Very interesting, i just got out of a 4 years of dating my ex, i gave up my friends etc and now I'm stuck and lost and wanting to meet people my age and have a good time. Havnt tried this yet but hope it works :) sounds easy lol

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  28. I've been thinking on and off for some time to do this! I love my friends but I find it difficult at times to share some of my interests with them. At 21 most people my age are only interested in the high energy party scene. There are so many times I'd like to sit somewhere relaxed and classy and simply have a good drink. I also find that you tend to stick with the same people going to the same places that coincidentally are filled with the same crowd, so I think breaking that streak will provide a great opportunity to meet new people. I'm definitely going to try this soon! I'm glad I read this.

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  29. Just moved to a new country and don't know anyone here and I always enjoy a good drink or two and the only thing that stopped me was having no friends here. So last night I read your blog and actually went out and did this although didn't strike up any convos or any friends it felt good to do it and I def will be doing it again. Thanks for this!

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  30. I went out on my own this saturday, Started at a quiet bar, met a few men, went to another bar with these new friends, then ditched them for another club. It took me 1 minute to find a new guy (he was also on his own), we spent the whole night dancing and we ended up kissing. haha It was just something that I had to do to blow off steam. I will do this again! Just so cool to do what you want when you want it. I was in a confident mood, so it helped.

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  31. I've just moved from Bristol to a rural English town. I went to the pub with the mindset that my only goal was to have a beer. I went up to the bar and felt silly and awkward, taking ages to decide. In the end I asked the barman which beer he would recommend as I don't normally drink beer and don't know the local beers and he struck up a really friendly conversation. Unfortunately after that the bar got really busy but I got a seat where I could watch the Olympics and just relax. There wasn't anyone there alone, everyone was in groups or couples, but I didn't feel judged or out of place.

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  32. I went to a bar/club a few years ago on my own - was so sick of heading home after work on a Friday at 9pm when everyone else was out having fun. It was really scary at first especially since I'm a bit of an introvert but after a drink I loosened up and had an AMAZING time.

    I haven't done it again but reading this article & comments has brought back good memories of that night & I might just give it another go soon:)

    Oh by the way, no one's really got your back on your way home so absolutely DO NOT get drunk. Drink less than you normally would on a night out with friends.

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  33. Hey I hope you read this because I am *really really really* pissed that the first result of my google search for uhm... well... "going to a bar alone" was THIS http://thoughtcatalog.com/2011/a-guide-to-going-to-bars-alone/ - and yours was second - read, THIS PERSON COPIED YOUR AUTHENTIC AND HELPFUL POST with a shitter version that is more likely to be clicked on and they are a LIAR.. unless that person is you? But I think you've been plagerized (s/p). By a shittier writer. damn! Just letting you know. ugh

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  34. Hi, I am a bartender. If single men or ladies come into the bar then just park yourselves at the bar and tell us you are on your own. We will try our best to ensure that we get you into a conversation with other people. We will shake our heads when we advise you not to get into conversation with a certain person. Before you know it you will be in by yourself all the time because you will know everyone there that I to know and they will be looking for you too. Just don't be too hasty to "be easy" as it limits your chances and you'll be on the notice board before you know it.

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  35. I do a lot of work related travelling and as such i find myself having a few drinks alone quite often, however i tend to find it easier to meet peaople away from home than in my own home town. My point is i guess it's not as easy for men to do as most ladies here may think, and the odds are more in your favor as a woman.

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  36. Having the confidence to go out alone as a man is vital to your frame. I go to bars on weekends and even clubs alone to meet girls, sometimes I'm successful sometimes I'm not. either way you'll end up learning new things from new people whom you wouldn't have met otherwise. Yes it is so contrived, going out with friends is natural, this is forced but there's nothing wrong with that, you're stepping up and doing something that 90% of people can't do.

    I talk about going out alone on my blog, come and visit www.ruxman.com

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  38. I Did This Last Night. Best Night Ever! There Were These 4 Hot Guys There Who Bought Me Drinks, Played pool, And Just Really Made Over Me Like I Was The Hottest Thing Ever. Thanks To This Blog For Giving Me The Courage To Go In TheRe!

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  39. I tried this for the first time ever after reading this. I was supposed to hit the club with friends and decided i didnt want to so i went down the street to a local bar. My experience wasnt magical. I sat for a little it was a slower night just one group if friends. I looked like the loner alcoholic haha. But it was different. I didn't expect it to go amazing the first time and it was hard enough to just enter but will do again to promote more independence.

    And to the ladies...
    As a guy who goes out i find it easier to talk to a woman by herself then with her friends.

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  40. The clubs and bars are always the easiest place to get girls and there is no difference in Japan either. Many Japanese girls go to clubs or bars to find guys also. Many of the girls at club in Japan may say that they have been to club only a few times or for the first time even though they have been there every Friday and Saturday! You may be tricked by Japanese girl who acts so innocent in front of you but actually not.

    - See more at: Watch out! Japanese playgirls – Series 3

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