How To Meet A Guy In A Bar, From Someone Who's Done It

August 13, 2014 by Justine Schwartz
shefinds | Style

I met my husband at a frat party, which is the college equivalent of a bar. I thought he was cute so I just introduced myself. “Hi–I’m Justine.” (Literally, that easy.) Soon we were talking about the new N.E.R.D. album (Rock Star was his jam) and contemplating going on a liquor run. And before I met my husband, I met lots of guys in bars–not to be totally braggadocious, but I pretty much “killed it” in that scene. (And still do–I’m a great wingwoman if you ever need one. Email me!). I am an extrovert, so I enjoy talking to new people and in social situations I get as much of a buzz off of that as I do my first vodka tonic. I once picked up the hottest guy (sorry, hubby) simply by asking him if he liked the house band. It really is that simple (plus, guys love when you make the first move–more on that later).

Now that I’m off the market, I have to live vicariously through my friends and co-workers who are single. I’ll often ask them what it’s like in the dating world these days, since everyone is on Tinder and I have no idea what that’s like. Is it harder or easier to “put yourself out there” online? Do people love it or hate it? From the stories I’ve been getting back, it seems like it can suck sometimes. Or, like, a lot. Yes, everyone is on Tinder, but no one actually meets up with their matches for dates. They just mostly chat through the app, and very rarely meet in person. Wait, what?? You don’t even get dinner or drinks out of it? That’s the best part of dating!

And there are more dating apps than ever (Tinder isn’t the only one), so you would think that there would be MORE ways to meet cool people, but if you ask the average 25 year old, most wouldn’t describe their dating life as “awesome” (or epic or whatever the kids are saying), or the guys they are meeting as particularly great.

And the weirdest part, to me, is that some people still think there’s still a stigma attached to online dating (even though everyone does it, and it accounts for something like 1/3 of marriages). So, if people hate online dating so much–why don’t they give the old fashioned way a try?

Here are my tips for meeting a guy in a bar, which I hope you will take with a grain of salt, because there is actually no wrong way to meet your soulmate (if you believe in that sort of thing). Dating apps are great, dog parks are great, intramural softball leagues are great. The list goes on. But here’s how to do it with liquor and loud music involved:

Keep your phone in your purse.

Back when I was single, we didn’t have smart phones–I literally remember texting on my Motorola Razr (sweet phone, btw), but I didn’t have an unlimited data plan, so I probably was sending a few texts a night–if that. In those days our phones weren’t even web capable, so you know what we did at the bar? We ordered drinks, talked to strangers and put in song requests with the DJ. We’d talk to the bartender if there weren’t any cute guys around (which sometimes even resulted in free drinks. Ah, those were good times.) And you know what we DIDN’T do? Stare at a screen all night, checking our Facebook feeds or texting our friends or just generally pretending to look really busy when we were actually doing nothing. Which is what a lot of you millennials are doing. No hate, I’m just describing what I see when I do go out (married people like to get their party on too, y’all!).

If you’re a single person asking yourself “Why can’t I ever meet guys when I’m out?” here’s my advice plain and simple: stop Tweeting, Tindering, Facebooking on your Saturday night! It’s not even that fun. And it’s definitely not more fun than doing Pickelbacks. Put the GD smart phone DOWN and you might actually notice that there are hot and fun people all around you. In real life. IRL!

Play darts. Or pool. Or shuffle board. Something.

Don’t be a lame chick and let the guys hog the pool or beer pong table–put your name in for next game. Play with a girlfriend or ask a random dude to be your partner. And don’t apologize if you don’t make the shot or act like a ditzy girl with no athletic ability. Genuinely try to win–and maybe wager some alcohol on it? Loser buys the next round. The point is–you’re putting yourself out there, while genuinely having fun. Because darts are fun and everybody sucks at them, so there’s no shame in the game.

Have some great stories in your back pocket.

This is like, socializing 101, but you should have some really epic stories in your back pocket on a variety of topics that you can pull from when talking to strangers at the bar. We Found Out Our Neighbor Was A Bank Robber (true story) or This One Time When I Was Backstage At Bonnaroo or I Once Was An Extra In A Gerard Butler Movie. Let’s call these your Bar Stories. Don’t push them on people, but you should have them locked and loaded should the conversation naturally head that way. (“Oh, look–there’s Gerard Butler over there. I was once an extra in one his movies.”) A good Bar Story has humor, a “you won’t believe it” element, isn’t too much of a downer (“And in the end, she died!”), and makes you sound really, really interesting. Okay? If it sounds like a tall order, don’t worry, all you need is one or two of them that you can use over and over again.

Don’t be Debbie Downer.

Do not talk about how exhausting your job is or how much you hate your boss or how the friend you came to the bar with is pissing you off. I’m not saying you can’t have these feelings, but a person you are meeting for the first time doesn’t know you well enough to care about them. No, he doesn’t care that your college roommate won’t let you bring a plus one to her wedding, so stop talking about it. But he does want to know if you need a refill on that drink. K?

Girls can be wingmen, too. 

What’s that quote about how women would rule the world if we didn’t hate eachother so much? Yea, the same thing applies to picking guys up at the bar. My biggest regret from when I was single is that I wasted so much time and energy being jealous of the attention my girlfriends were getting. I shouldn’t have thought about it like a see-saw, like the more she was talking to guys the less I was. In reality, it’s easier to talk to new people in a group than one on one, so having your girl by your side can be a big help not a hindrance (it’s not a competition!). Know your friend’s strengths and talk them up to the guy she likes (“Karen tells the BEST dirty jokes.”). This will not hurt your own game. Trust me.

Guys WANT you to approach them. They love it.

In college, one of my best dude friends (he was one of those sensitive bro types–aren’t they the best?) told me that he had the hardest time breaking the ice with girls he was interested in. He said that it felt like he was expected to make the first move, by society or whatever, but his fear of being rejected stopped him from doing so in many situations. For some reason, that really resonated with me (maybe because a guy was opening up!), so whenever I’m out with girlfriends I always try to remind them of that. Communication is guys’ achilles heel. They aren’t great communicators, but girls are (generally speaking here), so why wouldn’t the girl start the conversation? Let me tell you–if you do talk to a guy first, you’ll get major points (it’s actually a major turn-on, according to my male sources). In all my years on the singles scene (ok, mostly college), I never once regretted approaching a guy first. And if you still don’t believe me, ask your guys friends (or your brother or a male cousin if you don’t have any). I would bet you a case of Natty Ice that they’ll agree. 

Just have fun. 

Relax! There are lots of fish in the sea and you will find one. And if not, just think of all the perks of being single: more Real Housewives marathons, less Sports Center, more time for getting ahead at your job, more late night dance parties to Rihanna and Bey… I could go on.


I want to know–was this helpful to you, single girls?? And those of you who are attached… how did you meet your significant other? Leave a comment below!



Editorial Director

Justine Schwartz is a veteran women's lifestyle editor; she's written extensively about style & beauty tips, health advice and wedding planning for more than a decade. Her work has appeared in New York Magazine, Huffington Post and New York Weddings. Justine has been with SheFinds since 2010; you can reach her via email at [email protected]

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