5 Ways to Get a Valentine’s Day Date After College

It’s that time of the year again when you see couples everywhere you go: holding hands on the subway, taking kissing selfies, cuddling in your airplane row, skating hand-in-hand in the park. Whether you like it or not, PDA is at an all time high in the winter, or at least it always seems to be. If you’re a single girl, seeing couples showing off their love for each other makes you want to curl up in bed with a good Netflix show and never venture out into the real world again. We don’t blame you, but it doesn’t have to be that way! And no, you don’t have to resort to Tinder, either. If you aren’t in a relationship, here are five ways to get a date in time for V-Day.

1. Join a club

In college, there were endless opportunities to join extracurricular activities. Not only were they easily available, but you also had friends who were interested in joining the same activities. In the real world, there are no more club fairs or email reminders about this week’s rugby practice. You have to pursue your interests; no one is going to ask you to.

Fortunately, these clubs do exist in the post-college world, but you have to do some of your own research to find them. Check out posters at your local gym or flyers at the independent coffee shop on your block. Whether you’re looking for a book club or an intramural sports team, you’ll be instantly broadening your network and meeting new people, especially those who already have similar interests. If you hit it off with that cute guy in your salsa class, you might just have a chance at a Valentine’s Day date. 

“I got discouraged when I would go out to bars and meet guys, but never go out on dates,” says Kate Bennett, a graduate of Duke University who now lives in New York City. “One night I realized that I probably would not meet someone I would want to date at a bar anyway and would need to find someone elsewhere. When I followed my interests, which was volunteering at a nonprofit once a week, I met a great guy that I’m still dating.”

2. Go to the gym

You may think that you’re never going to get a date at the gym, of all places. You’re sweaty, listening to music and trying to focus on nothing but your workout. In actuality, the gym is a great place to find a date… you just have to step a little out of your comfort zone!

If you see someone at the water fountain or in your spin class, why not smile and say hello? Or if you want to try a new weight machine but aren’t sure how to use it, try asking the guy you’ve been eyeing to give you a hand. Striking up a conversation with a stranger can be difficult, especially when he’s in the middle of a workout, but you have nothing to lose: The guy is most likely going to help you out, and if he doesn’t continue to talk to you, so what? It’s better to put yourself out there than wait around for someone to approach you.

“I always thought guys wouldn’t approach me if I was sweating at the gym, but I was wrong,” says Kelsey, a recent grad living in Boston. “One day, when I finished running on the treadmill, this cute guy next to me said he was impressed with my running and he was just trying to keep up with me. He asked if I was training for anything, and we started talking. He happened to be training for the same half marathon. We hit it off and started to chat every time we saw each other at the gym. He got my number, we went on a date and started dating soon after.”

3. Become a regular

During the winter, it’s tempting to stay in with reality TV reruns and mouthwatering takeout, but this isn’t any way to find a date. Exploring different places is your best chance at finding new favorite spots that you can frequent. If you start going to the same coffee shop, bookstore or even bar, for example, you’ll begin to recognize other people who are also there often. Becoming a regular allows you to become comfortable in a place, which also opens you up to casually meeting new people.

If you keep seeing someone you’re interested in, say hello (eventually one of you will have to)! Luckily, you already have something in common. So despite your desire to stay in on a cold night, sometimes you just have to force yourself to bundle up and explore—you never know whom you might meet.

“I have a hard time talking to strangers, especially guys, when I’m out,” says Dana Stein, a Boston College graduate living in New York City. “Every bar I would go to I would have my friends with me, but it wasn’t fun meeting anyone new. Once I started going to this bar where I really liked to watch football every Sunday, a cute guy approached me that I had seen two times before. He commented on my T-shirt that said, ‘Go Broncos!’ because he was actually from Denver as well. We started talking and we ended up going on a few dates.”

Related: 5 Tips for Actually Making Friends in a New City

4. Have your friends set you up

You may not have any friends that you could see yourself dating, but your friends probably have friends who could be potential matches for you. According to Match.com, 63 percent of married couples meet through a network of friends. While the goal is to get a date for Valentine’s Day and not necessarily plan a wedding (yet!), meeting someone through a friend is an easy place to start. Your friend knows your personality as well as the person he or she is matching you with, so he or she probably has some idea of whether or not you two would like each other. If you don’t want to go on a blind date with the person, ask your friend to invite a group of people over one night before committing to a date. That way there’s no pressure to match up with the guy or girl, but you’ll be in a comfortable setting to get to know him or her if you’re interested.

“I always wondered whether couples who met through friends were good matches or were together because of convenience—until my friend had a potluck dinner at her apartment,” says Cat Hagen, a Wake Forest University grad living in Boston. “My friend’s friend had brought his roommate, and I ended up talking to him the whole night. We’re still dating after six months. So it does happen!”

5. Give online dating a try

Okay, so online dating doesn’t have to be eliminated entirely if you’re looking for a V-Day date. While Tinder is infamous for hook-ups (though finding a date isn’t impossible), dating apps such as Hinge and Coffee Meets Bagel are better ways to find a date who actually wants to get to know you. On Hinge, you match through mutual Facebook friends, the virtual way of meeting through a friend of a friend. On Coffee Meets Bagel, you list your interests, and each day at noon a new match is delivered to you, whom you can “Like” or “Pass.” If you’re meeting up with someone for the first time, try to avoid setting your first date for the 14th—it’s better to establish some sort of connection before you celebrate Valentine’s Day together!

“I was using Tinder for awhile, but had the most miserable dates,” says Cornell grad Madeline Kleinman, who now lives in Philadelphia. “My friend told me about OkCupid, and while I thought it was a serious dating site for older people looking to get married, I was surprised to see young, cute guys in their twenties. I was messaging with one guy for a few weeks until we finally went on a date.”

Dating in college is undoubtedly different than dating in the real world, but it doesn’t have to be more difficult. If you’re not spending Valentine’s Day with a SO this year, you can still have a great time by following these tips to find a potential date (or just have a good time in the process, totally pressure-free!). You have just a few weeks left before Valentine’s Day comes, so go get out there in the post-college world and snag yourself an eligible bachelor or bachelorette!

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Caroline Tocci is a Colgate '13 post-grad living in NYC. Besides working as an editorial assistant at Scholastic, she enjoys running, traveling, sailing, cooking, cheering for the Patriots, reading, and writing, of course. You can check out her blog Caroline's Cucina at http://www.carolinescucina.tumblr.com or follow her on Twitter, @carolinetocci

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