While it’s easy to point out the places not to meet women, it’s often harder to find the places actually conducive to conversation. It can sometimes feel like: Where are all these women hiding? Mostly, they’re just like us: at home, staring at their phones.
But there are some good places to go to meet them. Take these three ideas as promising springboards but also know that the best way to meet women is to go out and meet them, to actively engage with your surroundings, to smile and be open, inviting, and personable wherever you find yourself. Serendipity strikes like lightning, at random and unexpectedly. Here are a few places to increase your odds of a spark.
Go where they go, shop where they shop.
Before my divorce, I had never set foot in a HomeGoods or Pier 1 or Ethan Allen. I could barely tell you what these stores stocked, and I couldn’t decorate an interior to save my life. Now, living alone and making my own style and furniture choices, I know these stores well. And I also know that these places are where many attractive, professional, independent women love to go.
The freedom of singlehood allows new skills to blossom. Doing everything on your own can be seen at first as an overwhelming burden, but see it instead as an opportunity to learn new things and unlock unknown talents. Your space is now entirely your own for the first time in a long time, so make it so. Think more James Bond than Jim Belushi—a bachelor pad as a stylistic and inviting homebase, not a slovenly pigsty. No one but you can tell you how to make it your own, and that is another liberation.
You’re likely going to need help filling that space (many psychologists recommend completely getting rid of any furniture that has the smell of your former marriage on it, to cleanse your house and make it new again, if you didn’t already lose your things in the separation). To remedy this, you could sit on your computer ordering everything online, but the main way to get out there is to get out there. As above, there is no right place, and never a right time. It’s merely making yourself available to as many opportunities as you can.
So seek out the furniture and home-making stores. Feel free to look as baffled as you feel, and ask for help early and often. What’s a divan? What’s a bentwood? What’s an antimacassar? Who knows! But now’s your time to learn: Seek out an attractive, well-put-together woman with “I need your help,” a classic introduction that automatically puts her in mind to help. “You clearly have a good sense of style. I have a new home and no idea what I’m doing.” Or, looking at two loveseats, say, “Can you help me settle this—which one do you think looks better?” These conversations are easy, flattering, and natural, can tumble effortlessly into flirting, and help you with your décor regardless—a great metaphor for life as a dad starting over, where all interactions serve to support your growth and improvement no matter what their end game is.
This also goes for the good grocery stores. A friend of mine worked at Trader Joe’s for years, and the main reason he wouldn’t quit was the number of absolute stunners he saw every day. If you’ve been there, you’re likely familiar with this phenomenon. If you haven’t, maybe grousing that Trader Joe’s or Whole Foods are “too expensive,” do yourself a favor and give one a chance.
Just like with home goods, you should be going in already. Any self-improvement plan worth its weight in weight loss wouldn’t be complete without a nutritional component, so you should be seeking out the stores with the most nutritious food. If you do think these stores are too expensive, realize that with food, you pay now or you pay later (what’s the over/under on fresh fruit versus the out-of-pocket expense on a stent placement?). If you’re still skeptical, go and lo and behold.
These grocery stores congregate women who are also taking their health seriously—women who are active, health-conscious, and also independent enough not to balk at the higher prices. Once again, ask for these women’s help—“Can you help me? I don’t usually buy wine/cheese/leafy vegetables/tropical fruits—which one of these should I get?” You’re flattering their expertise and benefiting yourself, and doing so in a way that’s neither creepy nor forced. It’s win/win all around.
Find your local newsweekly
By far the best thing I’ve found has been my area’s local newsweekly. These newsweeklies can be found at the entrance to local coffee shops and area businesses, and are easily overlooked. I know I always overlooked them, until one day I didn’t.
After a few stultifying articles about lost cats and old cars, the obituaries, and some tragic op/eds, you’ll find the calendar. You may think the calendar is a list of chair yoga and grief counseling, and you’d be right, but it also has everything else, a treasure trove of events and entertainments that are otherwise unknown. You’ll find local concerts, food tasting tours, pub crawls, trivia nights, pickup basketball games, 5ks, art openings, auctions—you name it. They’re all there, and often very good.
There are plenty of kid-specific activities that give you an opportunity to meet new people and reconstruct a community (the loss of shared friends being one of the casualties of divorce). You’ll find fellow parents, kindred spirits, maybe even someone in the exact position you’re in, while making memories with your young ones.
I’m always surprised by the number of events going on that I’d’ve otherwise never heard of, and which also—crucially—give me the chance to get out of the house. As above, it’s most important to just go, come what may. Try something new, be somewhere new, meet someone new. Wear your new freedom well.
If you’re in a small town, expand out a bit (although I live in a town of 50,000 and always find things to do). These newspapers are out there, rich with “secret” information, providing a key to each weekend.
“I don’t remember the sex as much as I remember how it made me feel. For the moment, drunk on tropical drinks on an island, I lived in the present tense of my life…It was an escape into place.”
–Suzanne Roberts, travel writer
We often talk about how essential and refreshing getaways are, and how they can help enliven a dead bedroom and take a woman out of “mommy mode” (see the podcast with Suzanne Venker). Getaways allow women to escape and be free, to completely inhabit an entirely different headspace.
The same applies to the newly single. One of the best things you can do to relieve your own stress and honor your new freedom is to get out and get gone. “Flights not fights” could be the motto for the newly divorced, a chance for you to see the places you’ve always wanted to see, and to see them beholden to no itinerary but your own.
With cheap flights, vacation-rental sites, and pandemic restrictions being lifted, going…anywhere has never been easier. If you’ve always wanted to go to Barbados or Spain, Panama or Panama City, now is the chance to go.
Take a cue from the single ladies: they get away to get away, to be free, to be uninhibited, to have a good time, to make memories, to feel. For them, travel is like Halloween or New Year’s or Vegas in that it’s an excuse to let loose and be free of expectations, to be promiscuous if they want to be, to feel young again.
Heck, go to Vegas. But realize that “What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas” is more a mindset than anything place-specific—it’s the momentum of going into a weekend without any set plans, ready and eager to experience as much as possible. You can engineer this for yourself, be it at a beachside resort, a ski chalet, or the heart of an unknown city. The energy you carry when you seek out experience without any set plan will radiate off of you louder than any pickup line, as sexy as it gets.