Dating in Vancouver: How to meet people IRL

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      Dating in Vancouver is a new dating advice column by local relationship expert Amy Chan, author of “Breakup Bootcamp: The Science of Rewiring Your Heart”.

      Why does Vancouver get such a bad reputation when it comes to dating?

      According to local singles, some common gripes about dating in Vancouver include:

      • People coming off as snobby or cold.
      • Dates cancelling plans at the last minute.
      • Endless texting that rarely leads to actual dates.
      • The apps not producing anyone suitable. 
      • The challenges of meeting new people outside of the apps.

      While I don’t have a way to guarantee your date won’t flake, I do have some tips for how to meet people in real life (IRL). But first, let’s discuss the art of approaching.

      How to approach someone in real life 

      For many, striking up a conversation with a stranger is extremely intimidating. You don’t want to invade someone’s personal space, and there’s a risk of rejection—not to mention the potential discomfort of future encounters, especially if it’s at a place you frequent often.

      To avoid making things awkward, it’s best to skip the pickup lines. They can come across as too forward, missing the important stages of gradually gauging mutual interest. Instead, focus on honing your ability to read people’s responses to see if they are open or not to engaging with you.

      Different opening lines to try, depending on the context

      Observational comments. Observational comments are remarks based on something you and the person you’re speaking to are both experiencing or witnessing at the moment. For instance, if you’re standing in line ordering food: “I heard this place has the best burgers in town, anything you recommend?” Or if you’re at a cafe and spot someone reading a book, you can say something like: “That book seems interesting. Is it any good?”

      Compliments. A genuine compliment can be a good icebreaker, but make sure it’s not about their looks or anything too personal. For instance: “That’s a really cool jacket, where’s it from?”

      Shared experiences. If you’re at a conference, you can start a conversation by asking: “Which speaker’s been your favourite so far?” If you’re at a party, you can ask: “How do you know the host?”

      Sometimes, a straightforward approach works just fine. Try asking a simple, friendly question, like: “How’s your day going?”

      To flirt or not to flirt?

      First, watch for “green lights” when you start a conversation. Pay close attention to both the words and body language of the person you’re talking to. A one-word answer to your question is a sign they’re not interested in continuing the conversation; consider this a “red light.” However, if they respond with a question or keep the conversation going, that’s a “green light” indicating that it’s okay to continue chatting with them. Remember: building rapport is like playing a game of ping pong, requiring both parties to participate. But if someone doesn’t even pick up the paddle in the first place, it’s a clear sign they’re not interested.

      Second, understanding body language is crucial. Typically, an interested person displays open body language. They might initially not be facing you directly, but as the conversation progresses and rapport builds, you’ll notice them gradually turning towards you. On the other hand, if their feet or body remain pointed away, or if they keep their arms crossed, perhaps placing a bag or another object between you, it’s a sign that you’re encroaching on their personal space.

      Now that you’re more aware of how to read someone’s receptiveness, here are some tips for where to meet people in Vancouver.

      Where to meet single people in Vancouver

      Even in our high-tech world, there are still plenty of low-tech ways to meet a partner. Research suggests certain places are better for finding long-term relationships than short-term flings. If you’re looking for something long-lasting, try places where you’ll share common ground emotionally or intellectually with others.

      This could mean attending community events and classes, going to conferences, becoming part of religious groups, or engaging in volunteer work. Other great spots include coffee shops, libraries, bookstores, and for pet owners, dog parks.

      Love the outdoors? Join a running club, hiking group, or volleyball league. The best part about engaging in communities related to your interests is that, even if you don’t meet a romantic partner, you’re still doing something you enjoy. You’ll benefit from the sense of community and the opportunity to make new friends. Win-win.

      Create your own singles night

      If you want to take destiny into your own hands, host a singles dinner. Gather some of your single friends and ask each person to bring a single friend. Aim for a group of about 12 to 16 people. To steer the conversation beyond small talk, consider using question cards, where each person grabs a card and takes a turn answering.

      Despite Vancouver’s reputation for having a tough dating scene, the truth is, sometimes we use these challenges as excuses not to step out of our comfort zone and put ourselves out there. The city is full of eligible singles, and it offers numerous ways to meet people.

      Developing the skills to create rapport and be open takes practice, but the more you do it, the better you’ll become. And even if you don’t find your soulmate right away, hopefully, you’ll have fun and make some new friends along the way.