A recent study, using nationally representative data, of how people in the United States meet romantic partners found that 65 percent of LGBTQ+ couples meet online (whereas, for perspective, the same is true for only 39 percent of heterosexual couples). And the stat, says one prominent inclusive matchmaker, really isn’t staggering.
“One of the biggest challenges when you’re queer is figuring out if the people who might be interested in are also queer,” says Kara Laricks of Three Day Rule. “Dating apps remove the hurdle of having to guess.” That’s largely why I joined the pool of queers looking for love after my last breakup and promptly began swiping. I went through the motions of engaging in half-baked conversations, then after I got my hit of attention, I’d slither away like a ghost before there was any any mention of potentially meeting up IRL.
Call it karma, but once I was ready to actually meet cute potential partners, the sheer monotony of swiping felt stifling, and also about as romantic as a case of norovirus. As Laricks says, “Online dating dating may take away the guessing aspect for the LGBTQ+ community, but that doesn’t mean we’re immune to online dating fatigue (ODF).” Tinder burnout aside, Laricks says it’s totally possible to find love as an LGBTQ+ person without the help of an app—it just takes a little savvy and intel.
Scroll down for 6 matchmaker-approved tips to meet LGBTQ+ singles without dating apps.
1. Think outside the bar
Tumblr, Meetup and your local LGBT center are all great resources for finding queer events. And getting specific with Google to discover events and spaces you might not have otherwise found also helps. For instance, try searching “queer yoga [insert name of closest city here].” Or replace “queer yoga” with “queer CrossFit,” “queer book club,” or “queer softball.” You might even research whether your city has a queer professional group, or if there are volunteer opportunities with your local LGBTQ organization.
Furthermore, these events aren’t required to be queer-only. “Think about what you’re actually interested in and then put yourself in situations that allow you to do that thing,” says Laricks. “I always hear from people that they want someone who is passionate. If you fill your time with things that you’re passionate about, you’ll either meet people doing that activity or your energy will attract others to you.”
Wherever you go and whatever you do in the pursuit of finding a potential mate, prioritize enjoying yourself, and don’t stress too much about finding love.“Go in with curiosity, not expectation,” Laricks says.
2. Be open to a setup
Plenty of people meet via a setup, but when you’re queer, your queer friends assume you already know all the queer folks they know (See: The L Word’s legacy: The Chart). And setting you up likely hasn’t crossed your straight friends’ minds.
That’s why Laricks suggests requesting an introduction. Try lines like “BTW, do you have any friends I might be a good match for?” Or, “You should set me up with your friends!” Or even, “I’m on team setup…just FYI.”
“My older clients often talk about how they miss the wink across the bar, that invitation of interest,” Laricks says. Personally, even the thought of a cutie winking at me from across the bar, street, or gym makes me blush like my face invented the color red. Big wink energy > everything else I know to be true. That’s why she suggests finding a subtle, nonverbal way to communicate your interest to someone. “Maybe it’s a wink, maybe it’s a double-look back, maybe it’s a lip bite, maybe it’s a hair flip…find your personal flirt flavor.”
And you really have nothing to lose with this low-stakes move. If the other person is interested, you have a romantic comedy-worthy meet-cute story. And if they’re not, you can just pretend you just got some schmutz in your eye.
4. Compliment a person a day
“Practice giving authentic praise to your neighbor, your barista—anyone. This will give you an opportunity to drop an authentic compliment when you’re not attracted to someone,” Laricks says of working your gassing-up muscle. This will make the verbal flow easier and more authentic when you’re with someone you’re actually attracted to.
5. Take advantage of Pride
Pride is only one a month (or, depending where you live, one weekend) a year, so take advantage of it. “It’s the perfect time to relax. The the vast majority of people at Pride events are cool and LGBTQ+-friendly,” says Laricks. “This isn’t a crowd where you need to be concerned about hitting on the wrong people.” Bring the flirty eyes, people.
6. Try a matchmaker
“Outsourcing your love like is like sending out your laundry,” says Laricks. “You’re letting someone else take care of it for you.” And sure, as an LGBTQ+ matchmaker, Laricks is totally biased, but I’m neither a matchmaker nor biased, and I can’t recommend the experience enough.
Sure, I’m still single, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t have a blast being paired up and seeing what’s out there rather than what’s on my phone screen. “At the very least it’s a great way to meet more people in the LGBTQ community,” says Laricks.
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