You’re Never Going to Meet Your Future Spouse in a Bar

It can seem like there is only one socially acceptable place to meet people: bars. The thing is alcohol, loud music, and crowds don’t encourage serious relationships. Stop putting all your luck in the local watering hole and you might finally meet that certain someone.

It’s strange when friends in relationships ask me (Single McSingleton) whether I’ve been out trying to meet people, citing bars and night clubs as example venues to meet the opposite sex. They always say, “You have to get out there.” Just what exactly is out there? And if it involves hanging around dank pissholes on Saturday nights, cradling a warm beer into the wee hours of the morning while talking to a guy who more than likely will not remember my name in 24 hours, I’ll happily re-claim my single status next year on my taxes, thanks.

Whether you’re a single man or single woman, you’ve probably experienced this conversation at some point, and if you’re like me, it makes you want to scream a little. Since when did bars become the end-all of relationship-starters?

Don’t get me wrong. It’s fun to go to a bar to dance and have a few drinks, and yes, by chance, you might meet a nice chap or gal in a bar or nightclub, but no one ever looks around a bar and thinks to themself, “Yep. The man/woman of my dreams is somewhere around here.” [Puking in the toilet].

Here’s why you’re never going to meet your future spouse in a bar:

1. The bar/nightclub scene just doesn’t seem to nurture relationships.

Ever try having a conversation in a loud bar on a Friday night? It just doesn’t happen. Words get misconstrued, and instead of figuring out whether someone is worth talking to, you’re simply trying to decipher what they’re saying. If only bars had subtitles.

»Better option: Going to friends’ houses/parties. The atmosphere is still fun, but you get a chance to actually talk to someone in a quieter setting.

2. Alcohol makes everything look better.

“Coyote Ugly” is such an excellent phrase. The animalistic thought that someone experiencing a one-night stand would rather chew off his own arm than wake the undesirable gal sleeping on said arm is pure poetry. Alcohol does make everything seem better–life situations, outlooks, and yes, people. You can’t start a relationship when you’re both intoxicated. It’s like trying to get a laugh out of someone who’s high.

»Better option: Try coffeehouses. If anything, coffee makes people more perky and alert. You won’t be slurring your words (unless it’s Irish).

3. People who frequent bars often seem to be after one thing.

With alcohol and music flowing, bars can heighten a hookup culture, which is probably why your friends suggested “getting out” there to begin with (they just want to get you laid–thanks, friends!). If you really are looking for a serious relationship, getting involved with someone who’s just in it for the night might not be the best start. However, if you’re only in it for that duration, too–by all means!

»Better option: Meet people through friends. They’ll know you better than anyone else, exactly what you are looking for and what you aren’t (at least if they are good friends, they will).

4. Sometimes bars just aren’t conducive to creating romance.

There is a distinct smell I like to call “bar”; it’s a combination of fried food, basement, alcohol, with just a dash of cigarette smoke (and even if you live in an area where smoking isn’t allowed in bars anymore, that smoke smell from years of wear-and-tear will ALWAYS be there). Sure, guys can get aroused in a snowstorm with Ellen DeGeneres, but for women, sometimes bars in general are a turn-off.

»Better option: Try a wedding. Everyone’s in the mood for romance at a wedding. If you’ve been invited to one and you don’t have a date, abide by Kosmo Kramer’s rule: “I must be unfettered.” Bonus points if you can dance.

5. Bars don’t guarantee you’ll have the same interests.

Striking up a conversation in a bar can sometimes be painful. What do you talk about? “I like your beer?” It’s not like bars give you a lot to start with, as opposed to say a yoga class where at least the two of you enjoy doing the same thing. One of the great things about bars is that they attract a wide variety of people, but the double-edged sword is that either you’ll have something in common with these people or you won’t. At least when you do something you enjoy you’ve got a jumping off point, and you can narrow the playing field a bit more. Unless of course all you enjoy is drinking–then you’re good to go.

»Better option: Join a sports league or take a class in something that you’re interested in.

This isn’t to say that meeting the love of your life in a bar isn’t at all possible because surely many long-lasting relationships and marriages have started from a chance meeting at such an establishment. However, restricting yourself to only looking for someone special at a bar severely limits your options. If meeting your significant other in a bar were that easy, every “Guy walks into a bar” joke would end with “and meets his wife!”

Megan McLachlan currently resides in the Pittsburgh area where she freelance writes, drinks coffee, and obsesses over popular culture. She was an English major, but doesn't think she wasted her life. Yet. Her blog is megoblog.com.

  • Colt

    I enjoyed the article, but I have to say my parents met in a bar. And a large portion of my meaningful relationships began at the Hawk n Dove in Washington DC over a beer and discussion of the day’s events on The Hill.

  • RobC

    I married a girl that I met in a bar.

    We’re currently divorced after 5 years.

  • http://www.loveforexs.com jen

    I generally agree that bars are not a great place to meet the love of your life. My best friend meet her husband at a bar. She was meeting some friends after looking at colleges and that’s where she met him. But he was one the friends’ friend that she was going to meet… if that makes sense.

  • L M Fogel

    “Ever try having a conversation in a loud bar on a Friday night? ”

    Some bars are chill and quiet they are not *all* loud.

    “Going to friends’ houses/parties. The atmosphere is still fun, but you get a chance to actually talk to someone in a quieter setting.”

    I can’t *demand* my friend throw a house party. I would always prefer a house party over a bar…provided my friends are throwing house parties on a weekly basis…regrettably house parties come less than once a month and for some people…never. If you are depending only on house parties you may only have 5-6 of those a year while I can go to a bar more frequently than that giving me more opportunities to meet people.

    “they just want to get you laid–thanks, friends!”

    The only way I have initiated any commitment from a girl is by sleeping with her.

    “Meet people through friends.”

    Once again I can’t demand my friends introduce me to single available women. I can’t go to a guy, girl or couple I know and say “hey can you introduce me to or provide for me a variety of single women who would be interested in what I have to offer”?

    “sometimes bars in general are a turn-off.”

    You are at the wrong bar.

    “Better option: Try a wedding”

    How do I generate a wedding? If someone extends me an invite to a wedding sure I’ll go in an effort to meet someone…unfortunately I can’t demand friends throw weddings. For me wedding invites come once every two years…giving me one opportunity every two years to meet someone. That ain’t often enough.

    “Bars don’t guarantee you’ll have the same interests.”

    Yeah well neither does coffee shops, weddings house parties, construction sites.

    “you’ll have something in common with these people or you won’t”

    I agree. Focus on the people you have something in common with…pass on the ones you don’t.

    “Join a sports league”

    That suggestion has come up and I agree with it however once you put in an attempt on the two girls on your team and get rejected what does that leave you with? A sports league with two dried up prospects and no subsequent ones.

    Bars aren’t perfect but you can visit them any night of the week and generate a serious volume of leads.

    • andy

      I agree with almost everything you have said here. I think long term relationships that start in bars are extremely uncommon.

  • http://www.primermagazine.com Andrew

    Hey LM,

    The idea is to try the other alternatives when they’re present, obviously you’re only invited to so many weddings and have access to so many house parties.

    From some of your comments (leads, sleeping with women to initiate a relationship) it seems like you’re working from a volume approach, meeting as many people as you can with the intention that you’re bound to meet the right person. I think the idea of this article is more about upping the quality of people you’re surrounding yourself with, that is, people you’re more likely to be interested in. It’s not necessarily a better way, just different methods for different people.You mentioned that house parties don’t guarantee the same interests, but a house party thrown by one of your friends will have guests that are all friends of the host, or friends of friends of the host. Same sensibilities, etc. That’s much better than you’re going to get a random gathering of 100 people at a bar.

    For me personally, I’d rather go to 2 house parties, a wedding, and a coffeeshop a couple times a year, than default to a bar every week. I know I would get burned out pretty quickly.

    Certainly people meet others in bars and some start fantastic life-long relationships, I think for the most part, the point of this piece is pretty spot on.

  • Matt

    Hey LM, who peed in your corn flakes?

  • A guy who knows

    Nah man, LM’s got it. Everyone pisses and whines about the “bar scene”, but the truth is, no one wants to be there. It’s where people go to meet other people. If “Meg” spent more time there, she’d eventually bump into Mr. McInterestingStranger too. Meeting someone in or out of a bar doesn’t change that person… As LM points out, you’re simply increasing your odds by putting yourself out there to a higher volume.

    This article is just one sad list of defeatist stereotypes.

    Also, I’m calling Meg out on her coffeshop advice — like you really want to be bothered being chatted up by every hyper-caffeinated guy that decides he fancies you. At least on alcohol he’ll probably forget who you were once you slip into the crowd.

    • http://www.primermagazine.com Andrew

      Hey man, I’m all for having a discussion about ideas, but don’t be an asshole. If you don’t like what we’re doing here, you’re welcome to not read it.

      It sounds like you’re in the same volume approach, which is fine, but as I already said isn’t for everyone. And as a guy who is in a 5 year relationship (a guy who knows?) I can tell you I’m not interested in most of the girls that go to bars to meet people. Sure, my girlfriend goes out to bars, but it’s highly unlikely I would ever meet someone like her at one. Unless of course I take the volume approach and meet one of her type out of 100 women I’ve approached, which not only requires a lot of effort, it is the most inefficient way to meet people.

      Completely disagree on your anti-coffeeshop advice. It’s about being a normal person, starting conversation, seeing what sticks. Meeting new people. If a guy goes up to girls and “hits on them,” yeah, that would be annoying. A Primer man doesn’t need to use pickup lines, he’s himself, starts conversation. This kind of guy is going to be in a healthy, long relationship much faster than a guy using Game methods or trying to impress women with lines. You have to ask yourself, would you really want to be with a woman who was swooned with how you introduce yourself? Sounds like a pretty mediocre woman.

  • Carlos

    So basically, get out there

  • Sloan

    Great article. One place you didn’t mention is places of worship. Churches, temples, etc… frequently have programs / groups for young people.

  • barbar

    Sounds like megan has been to the southside one too many times.

  • William H.

    This is a pretty decent post, albeit pretty cliche with it’s generalizations, but well meaning enough. The only real problem is that most adults can tell you in even a midsized city that one ‘Bar’ is completely different from another ‘Bar’. If your living in or near enough to a major hub for your area then the choices of going out can be endless and your night can differ wildly just 100 feet down the road in a different building.

    I think what’s more important in the end is being at a place your comfortable rather than forcing yourself to somewhere with the hopes of hooking up. As long as your were you want to be, doing what you want to do and open to meeting someone in the process your chances are a lot better. Be that a bar watching a band play and drinking a beer or a coffee shop reading the afternoons paper and sipping on your tea.

  • Daniel

    I just can’t take a woman’s advice regarding women seriously.

  • http://www.primermagazine.com Andrew

    Daniel, really? Seems like they’d be the best to ask.

  • Marie

    Bravo, Meg! Excellent article – well written. Sorry about the mean spirited barflys…sounds like some unhappy people that have mistakenly thought they’ve been successful! If bars supply such a “serious volume of leads”, then why haven’t you (LM) found one to strike up a relationship with, ,,,or maybe you’re just interested in “volumes”, not a special someone to spend time with. I feel sorry for you.

  • allison

    I agree with parts of the article, but does this person plan on taking their own advice as the single lady or does she plan on just telling every other single person out there what to do while she just sits around and waits for the right guy to come into the picture? I’m not trying to sound subjective or rude, but that’s just how I see the writer’s approach. It’s a bit “do this because I’m smarter than you” but other than being well written, it just sounds like someone not practicing what they are trying to preach to readers.

  • L M Fogel

    “then why haven’t you (LM) found one to strike up a relationship with”

    Because they reject me that is why. Girl after girl rejects my offers, rebuffs or declines. Getting turned down doesn’t bother me though because as soon as they do I walk to the next one standing 12 feet away and try again. It’s essentially the same as a door to door sales job.

    I’m confident if I talk to several hundred girls eventually one will be interested in what I bring to the table. The sheer number of girls I’m putting an attempt in on would dictate one will dig me.

    It’s like shopping a script in Hollywood. No matter how many times your script gets turned down you can always try selling the idea at the next place.

  • Andrew K

    It all boils down to what kind of person these people are. Only people I know that had any kind of relationship from meeting at a bar have been happily married for over 15 years. Odd enough, neither drink.

  • Ryan

    Your odds aren’t great if you are trying to meet your future wife in a CLUB, but bars are great. Happy hour with friends on a week night is better than any of the suggestions above. You have more people who you aren’t likely to run into anywhere else with your friends around (church is fine, but people get worried about extending themselves in such a sensitive environment). Plus liquid courage will increase the likely hood of you acting on your interests.

    I met my wife in a bar after work on a week night 6yrs ago. We have been married almost 4yrs, and we have a 4 week old baby together.

  • http://www.primermagazine.com Andrew

    Ryan,

    That’s certainly a good distinction, and the idea is more about bars on a Friday or Saturday night, when a lot of people flood to them. Congrats on the family!

  • http://www.bing.com/ Loryn

    Glad I’ve finally found something I agree with!

  • http://www.thegasgrillreviews.com Jim@Grilling Tips

    I totally agree with the Megan’s point of view here. Sure a bar is a great place to hang out and meet people but I am not convinced enough that a bar is the right environment to find a partner to spend the rest of your life with even with some rare examples.

  • Sbolle

    Hard to imagine why you’re single, Daniel.

  • ZodiacRose

    I completely agree with Megan. I’ve done the “bar” scene for 6 years and never come out of it with a worthwhile relationship. I also advocate Dinner Clubs to meet people. It’s not as awkward since there are usually 10-20 people you get explore new places in your town and make new friends!

  • Alex

    Have a look at this cool set of articles on how to approach women. All is possible! http://theartofcharm.com/approaching-a-woman/

  • http://www.GirlfriendMagnet.com/ Mike

    Very true, bars and clubs are the last place I’d want to look for a life partner exactly for those reasons, thank you for the “better options”

  • Patrick

    I met my Fiancée at a bar, she is absolutely amazing.

  • andy

    I’ve never known anyone who met their girlfriend or wife at a bar or club. School and work seem to the the most common places and meeting through friends a distant third. If you are not in school and there are only dudes at work, it can be tough.

  • CH

    There were a study shows.. more than 65% of people met their the other half through social gathering places like clubs and bars.. :p Of course, it’s not always like that, but never say never.

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