Can you go to a bar and leave with a boyfriend?
In my early twenties, I’d live for the weekends spent going to dive bars with my girlfriends.
Although the sole purpose of our booze expeditions wasn’t to get a boyfriend, we knew if we played our cards right, that Zac Efron lookalike we made out with after a round of tequila shots could turn into a guy we’d later end up dating (given, he’d likely be more Jonah Hill and Less Efron after the hangover had faded).
Meeting guys seemed effortless.
But the dating game has changed a lot since then.
That dive bar is now Tinder and those initial flirtations over Patron shooters are now a ‘Heyyy’ popping up in our phone notifications; usually hours after an evening of mindless swiping.
Let’s face it; meeting people via dating apps is easier. You don’t need to leave the house, or even get out of your week-old sweats, and you’ve got the added bonus of being able to rigorously screen someone to discover if they’re worth your time before you’ve even made actual eye contact.
But just because online dating has majorly picked up in popularity, should meeting men the old-fashioned way be entirely ruled out? Some of my friends are convinced the reason I’m still single is because I resort to technology to find love (and I’m not talking about my vibrator). And they may have a point. While Tinder’s easy AF in comparison to an actual chance encounter with a cute stranger in line at Starbucks, it’s usually more likely to result in a late night booty call than an actual lasting relationship (not that I’m against casual sex).
So, could I actually walk into a bar and walk out with a boyfriend? Is that even a thing anymore?
I was keen to take on the experiment.
Writing about dating and relationships and calling it work can sometimes see me doing some crazy things. But finding a man the old-fashioned way shouldn’t have been as big of a deal as I was making it out to be.
I figured I did it several years ago with ease, so I might as well pick up where I left off; though this time I’d be leaving the fake tan-stained hands and Spandex mini dresses in that dive bar and heading somewhere a little more age appropriate.
My first step? Finding a wing woman or two to send out the signal I was friendly and approachable. This turned out to be the first hiccup in my seemingly simple plan, as with age comes responsibility, and with responsibility comes less free time to gallivant around town looking for penis; as husbands, mortgages and work deadlines didn’t exist the last time I called upon with my boy-hunting squad. Compared to my coupled-up friends whose primary goal it is to save, my responsibilities stretch as far as feeding my cat and making sure my washing is done so I don’t have to go commando.
Hunting for man meat in a bar wasn’t an expedition I wanted to venture on alone, so thankfully I eventually wore down a girlfriend into going out for a post-work wine and cheese sesh with me.
All we needed to do was to pick a venue where the drinks were fabulous and penis plenty, but every place that sprung to mind was either formal dining, family friendly or a trendy hipster bar where you needed a code word to infiltrate the squad. Long gone, it seemed, were simple bars with sticky floors and pool tables, where you could convince a passing handsome stranger to teach you how to play and relay to others the story of how you met.
But scouring the bar for a guy to approach, presented my second problem; my permanent beer goggles. My bad eyesight makes everyone appear a Bradley Cooper from afar, I practically have to be sitting on a dude’s lap to have their facial features in focus. And now I’m in the marrying age bracket, I have to be on the lookout for men wearing wedding rings, too. How the hell was I meant to see that without a neatly presented profile pic and bio?
So I decided to just sit back, relax and assume any interested parties would flock to me… or so I thought.
I’m unsure if the scent of my desperation could be detected a mile away, or if it was just a bad man night, but besides walking out of the bar sans Bradley Cooper-esque new boyfriend, I walked out feeling like a dating failure.
Those feelings pushed me to try online dating in the first place, and for that reason, I’ll always be on Team Dating Apps’s side.
Sometimes we just don’t feel confident to approach someone when we’re out, and this is where online dating proves its superiority, as it takes the stress out of the approach (and the risk of beer goggles). I’ll always swipe right to that hot guy on Tinder, but would I approach him in a bar? Maybe not.
The romantic fantasy of going out with our friends and meeting the man of our dreams is just that; a fantasy fit for a Sandra Bullock flick. We might cringe at the thought of telling our friends we met the love of our life on Tinder, but rewind a few years and that was just as cringe-worthy as meeting someone in a dive bar and taking them home.
We have accept that as we get older, our discerning tastes make the small pool of available men a lot smaller. Add in responsibilities that chew up our time and the emotional energy required to meet someone, and it’s little wonder a lot of us find the IRL dating game an exhausting one.
And really, at the end of the day, who gives a shit how I meet guys. Swipe enough and Zac Efron’s long lost twin’s gotta be there somewhere, I figure…
Comment: What’s your preference for meeting someone; in person or online?