The first thing I've realized is that I don't value the way that I meet women I meet in bars – that is, I don’t value the process itself. I was telling this recently to a girl that I know, and she suggested that it was because meeting girls in bars is "too random." I think this is the common supposition - namely, that because you don't have any history or connection with the people that you meet in bars, there is no foundation for a relationship, and so any attempt at one is doomed. But this isn't the problem. A strong foundation for a relationship is just as much a function of personal compatibility as it is a function of common history or connections. Meeting the opposite sex in a bar isn't unsuccessful for lack of foundation, and it isn't unsuccessful because it is random. It is unsuccessful precisely because it isn't random.
Randomness is actually what we all want, in the sense that we all want our "how we met" story to be unique and unexpected. The more random it is that you met someone to whom you find yourself deeply attracted, the more special it feels, because you know that you were incredibly lucky for it to happen. It's the same phenomenon that makes people appreciate life so much after a near-death experience. You value what you have because you know that you almost didn't have it. As absurd as most romantic comedies are, it says something about our ideals of romance that so many of them start with some permutation of a girl hitting a guy on a bike with her car - randomly - and then falling in love with him. Things are romantic at least partially because they are unexpected, that is, seemingly impossible or unreal. I probably don't need to explain to most women how un-romantic it is to receive flowers on Valentine's Day. It might be nice, and it might be better than never receiving flowers, but it isn't romantic because it is too predictable. It isn't random at all.
Being picked up in a bar also isn't random at all. In fact, it is exactly the opposite of random; it is boring because it is too mechanical, too planned. Guys know that they want to meet girls, they know where to find them, and they go there to do so. Girls know that they want to meet men, they know where they will be hit on, and they go there for that reason. The encounter might take place in an exciting, fast-paced and sexually-charged atmosphere, but that's just superficial ornamentation. Underneath, those meetings are absolutely bland, because they are absolutely intentional.
Yes, obviously, not everyone in a bar is there with the conscious intention of meeting the opposite sex, but the percentage of people who are is infinitely higher in nightlife environments than it is in, say, a shopping mall. And following the train of thought described above, we project that intention onto every person we meet in a nightlife environment, then down-rate the value of those encounters accordingly. I don't value the women I meet in bars because there is nothing special about the way we met.
The second thing I realized is that I don't value the effort I make to meet girls in bars. There isn't necessarily anything wrong with the girls themselves, but I don't respect my relationships with them because I didn't have to work very hard to make those relationships happen. Men are very keenly aware that things of low value are easy to obtain, and so we assume (and in most cases are right) that things that are easy to obtain are low in value. A man might have the best job in the world, but he'll never feel good about it as long as he knows that he only got it because his father pulled strings with his professional contacts to make it happen. The same mentality applies in dating.
It hasn't always been this way for me. In my early twenties, approaching a random girl in a bar and attracting her enough to get her phone number took balls and felt like a real accomplishment - because at the time, for me, it was. I was able to have genuine relationships with girls that I met in bars because I respected myself for meeting girls in bars. But I don't anymore, because it has become too easy, too boring. Without the challenges that my adolescent social anxiety used to pose, all I see in bars is a social scene hugely facilitated by dark lighting, loud music, commotion and alcohol. They’re still a great place to have fun and get laid, but they’re not the kind of place where I expect to find a relationship anymore.
Now, does this mean that bars are a bad place to meet guys, or that you should stop going out?
Not necessarily. Despite the fairly categorical nature of this post's title, what I am really saying here is that bars are a bad place for me to meet women at this point in my life. I am no relativist, but the reasons explained above don’t apply to every guy, and they don't apply in every situation. If you meet a guy tomorrow who is the way I was at 22, for whom it is a big deal to meet a girl in a bar, then this isn't going to be an issue at all. And even if the guy you meet in a bar is exactly like me in the sense that it isn't a challenge for him, there is still the possibility of something working out; it just means that you are getting off on the wrong foot. If there is a strong enough connection, "how you met" probably won't be enough to prevent or disrupt it.
There is also the chance that there will be some other coincidence that makes the encounter incredibly random, despite the environment – maybe you find out that you both come from the same town on the other side of the country, or that you have identical ancestry, or that you are both obsessed with the same nerdy sci-fi movie, even though you met in a nightclub. And as I explained in previous posts, you still have to consider the disadvantages posed by what I've explained above, along-side the low probability of getting off on the right foot somewhere less intentional, like a shopping mall or at work.
No, I am not saying that you shouldn't go to bars. I am saying that you should be cognizant of the fact that men – just like women – will not respect or value what comes too easily, whether it comes too easily because (a) it is too mechanical or (b) because it requires very little effort. The converse of this is that men will value their encounter with you in proportion to how (a) unlikely or (b) difficult it was. While this doesn't mean that you should lock yourself in a steel cage and only accept men who are willing to tear it down to get to you, it does mean that you should avoid situations in which every man has easy access to you.
Incidentally, this post could also have been written about online dating, or anything else that dramatically facilitates meeting the opposite sex. You might think of bars and online dating as completely different – even opposites – but they share the strong similarity of taking the difficulty out of approaching (and therefore, being approached by) the opposite sex. Even though it seems like an ideal situation on the surface, the reality is that, for many men and women, bars and online dating are shortcuts. And no one wants to know that they got something important to them by taking a shortcut. Even if online dating or going to bars isn't a shortcut for you, be aware that it might be a shortcut for the guy, and that he is liable to respect himself and the relationship less because of it.
1. Bars Are a Good Place to Meet Guys – Part 1
2. How "Hard to Get" Should You Play?
3. Don’t Initiate Contact
4. Why You Don’t Get Approached by Men