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Sometimes you have to put your phone down to meet new people

Online sites are more than just a place to get a date. You might find a new friend

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Online dating seems like the most obvious way to meet a potential partner — after all, how many singles (who are ready to mingle, of course) do you know who don’t have at least one dating app on their phone?

But online sites have become more than just a place to find dates. When someone moves to a new city, it’s a place to chat with locals about restaurant and bar recommendations. When somebody is bored, it’s where they can start a conversation with a like-minded stranger. Some people even turn to websites and apps simply looking for friendship. (Bumble even has a feature for that: Bumble BFF.)

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While it definitely feels like it at times (especially during a pandemic), online dating isn’t the only way to meet new people. In fact, there might be more effective avenues, depending on your personality. Check out some of these ideas:

Join a sports league

From casual kickball to competitive softball, adult sports leagues have been becoming more and more popular. Not only will you automatically meet a group of new people, but those on your team might know someone (a co-worker, friend, sibling, the possibilities are endless) who would be perfect for you. Just make sure you let it be known that you’re single and looking, and you’ll be surprised at how many options pop up.

Check out MeetUp.com

Sports not your thing? No problem — many people are right there with you. Luckily, MeetUp.com has gatherings for just about any interest, from crafting to music to poker games to movie outings. In addition to introducing yourself to new folks, you might even pick up a skill or two along the way.

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Go to a bar or coffee shop solo

Going out with friends is always fun, but you’re much more likely to be approached if you’re by yourself. Bring a book (maybe one with a conversation-starting cover) and enjoy your drink, and just maybe someone will say hello. (Of course, don’t be afraid to make the first move if someone catches your eye.)

Visit the dog park

If you are an animal lover, where better to find a match? If you don’t have a pet yourself, tag along with a friend (going to a dog park sans dog is somewhat frowned on, though you can always watch from outside the gate and see if a pup decides to play matchmaker) and see if a romance blossoms a la “101 Dalmatians.”

Join a book club

Not only will you expand your home library, but you’ll meet a new group of people. Again, even if most of your fellow club members are paired up, they may have a network of friends that includes someone great.

ExploreWhen it’s time to walk away ... from the dating apps

Book a group vacation

Travel companies like Contiki Tours (which caters to the 18-35 crowd) and Exodus Travels focus on group tours, so you’ll be sightseeing with the same group of people over the course of your vacations. It’s a great way to meet new people who are similarly adventurous.

Change your normal routine

When you take the same route to work, stop at the same coffee shop and eat lunch at the same deli every day, you tend to run into the same people over and over again. Who knows what might happen if you try a new spot for morning coffee or a different restaurant?

Meeting new people as an adult is no easy task. It’s not like college, when everyone is eager to meet friends — people tend to be busy and stuck in their routines. But it’s when you break out of routines that new opportunities arise. Whether you are looking to expand your horizons or need a break from dating apps all together, there’s no wrong way to go about networking. There are plenty of crazy “how we met” stories out there — maybe you’ll be one of them.

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Erika Ettin is the founder of A Little Nudge, where she helps others navigate the often intimidating world of online dating.

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