Thursday, August 7, 2014

Bars Are a Bad Place to Meet Women

I've met the majority of the women I've dated in bars. There have been plenty of girls that I've met through friends or randomly in public, but in bars, the sheer density of attractive, young, single women is enormously greater than it is on the street or beach or office (or anywhere else); and my dating history reflects that. I've made the point previously that the higher concentration of the opposite sex in nightlife venues is a good thing, and I stand by what I said. But as I've gotten older and come to know myself better, I've recognized two serious disadvantages to meeting women in this way.

1. Randomness

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.

2. Difficulty

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.


Related Posts
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

43 comments:

  1. Would you say the older men get, the more they are likely to chase or value a girl who is difficult to get? Younger guys are always nagging that girls need to start asking them out, or to 'stop thinking they are prizes'. I don't know if this notion of men chasing is dying out or if its just age-related.

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    1. It's a good question. obviously it depends on the guy, but as men age, they tend to become more confident and more knowledgeable about women, so therefore more willing to go for the ones they want. So yeah I'd say there is a weak trend in that direction

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    2. I just want to state the counter point to Andrew “but I don't respect my relationships with them because I didn't have to work very hard to make those relationships happen.” While I agree that a lot of men like the challenge/chasing scenario, there are people who don’t like that. It would be interesting to see if there are any studies related to this and what the ratios are.

      The second and more important point is that for a lot of men, maybe the vast majority of them, even as they age and become more confident they work hard and chase they still get no results. I have a bunch of guy friends who have careers and are successful otherwise, but getting a woman is the hardest part for them. Yes, we could all improve and remove some of those barriers, but if we were at Andrew’s level at keeping significant others then blogs like this would not exist.

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  2. Reminds me of a friend who told me a year ago, "We're guys. We go to bars to meet girls." And that's consistent with his personality. I do think that at some point, it gets old, depending on where someone is in their lives (20's, 30's, older), life circumstances, and seriousness in the depth and range of a intimate relationship that they are seeking.

    I don't particularly like bars but I can see why people (men and women) would. I think it also depends on the context and reasons for going - with friends as a social event or to seek a date. I think bars are also more compatible with extroverted personalities, as far as my general observation. My friend gets invigorated in such a setting, regardless of whether the outcome is getting a woman's #. He likes to scan, though, and he mentioned that he "doesn't want to miss an opportunity."

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  3. Back when I was single, friends would always advise me to 'go to bars more often'. But then they had to admit that they didn't know a single couple that had actually met in a bar.

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  4. Would meeting in a bar be equivalent to meeting at a party?

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    1. Depends why you (and he) went to the party. Anyway you can meet good guys at both places.

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    1. Jamie, so I take it that your suggestion to women is to chase after guys, keep dating them for years even if they never marry you, sleep with them before they even call you girlfriend and just do what you feel? Go to www.hetexted.com and read all the entries from women that think just like you and are now wondering "does he like me?" It's a sad state if affairs.

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  6. Yes. Thanks for crystallizing my thoughts on why I never, ever met a guy in a bar back when I was doing the bar scene (including working in them). Incredibly, at 45 (and still single), some are * still * telling me I need to go out to bars/clubs more. I can't think of anything less appealing, for the guys OR for me.

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  7. It's not just the bar scene. I think getting a girl is mechanical when you break her down into a pie chart of hair, makeup, eyelashes, teeth whiteness, etc. like you're going shopping instead of relating to a human being. It's mechanical when you apply "game" techniques and they work. It's boring. Men don't respect their relationships with those women because they don't have to work very hard to make those relationships happen. There is no vulnerability, no chance. They apply a prescribed set of behaviors and it works. Where's the "random" and "excitement" and even "reality" in that? No more random or exciting or tangible than completing theoretical mathematics problems.

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  8. Are you still single Andrew?

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    1. I don't get into serious relationships easily because I follow my own advice and so I stop dating anyone once I know it is going to be a dead end. I've had several short relationships in the course of writing this blog but nothing more than a few months. At the moment I'm 100% single.

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    2. Sorry Andrew, and can I ask how old are you?

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    3. My age is in the About this Blog section (link near top of left column). I'm 30.

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  9. I completely agree with you. Yes I met my husband of 20 years in a bar, but at that time in my life in my early twenties I had figured out that a man needs to be challenged and a woman wants to feel like the guy is willing to go to some effort to pursue you. I developed 3 point plan. 1) weed out the men of character after being a girl scout for 18 years and volunteering thousands of hours it seems natural to volunteer. I would ask the potential suitor have you ever volunteered? You'd be surprised how many guys have never given of themselves were there time for anyone else besides themselves. If they can't give without expecting money or some sort of return then how could you expect them to give of them self to you? the second was to invite him over and when he spent the night see if he could do it without trying 2 make a move. The last is the best never give your last name or your phone number and kick them out early enough for good reason like you have to go to work or school. This makes them have to go the extra mile to try to make contact with you again. It definitely shows you that he's interested in you. My husband spent weeks leaving little presents like daisies or a tape of a song he played for me or even a subway coupon explaining that he wanted to take me to lunch. He finally was on a date and drop the girl off early to throw rocks at my window on the second floor. Needless to say he's the love of my life. He made the effort and I love him for it. That's a great how we met story. and the rest is as they say history and our continuing love story....

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  10. Andrew, it sounds like you are growing up.

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  11. So if neither the bar nor online dating is a good place to meet great men, where are some good places?

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  12. This reminds me of a guy I knew who complained about how hard it was to meet suitable women in clubs. It was surprising to me that he didn't see that obviously most women in that venue were not going to be what he was looking for. I'm not knocking anyone who spends time in bars necessarily, but honestly, the vast majority of married women I know didn't spend a lot of time in bars or clubs, nor did they meet their husbands there. Yes, I know someone will come and say that it worked for them, or they were wild in their 20s, etc. I'm just saying that the most marryable and married women I know met their husbands during daylight activities in places that suggested common life goals/interests, such as school, work, church, etc. And they were never bar hoppers. This goes for non-religious women I know as well as religious ones, so it's not just a church thing.

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    1. This is why, by listening to PUAs, a lot of men are learning only how to deal with a specific subset of women and not how to live happily with a more emotionally healthy, self-respecting woman. Sorry, I know it sounds like I'm judging the bar scene. That's not my point so much as to say that nighttime venues attract certain types, and those types are not always compatible for something longterm. You'll get the girl who is there because it's her friend's bachelorette party, or the woman who is entertaining guests from out of town, or the one whose friends insisted she needed to get out of the house and come out with them for a "girls' night out". But the ones who make the bar/club their regular habitat? Yeah, unlikely.

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  13. Andrew, I'm surprised that someone with an understanding of statistics like you would use the word "random" to mean "unexpected".

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  14. I can relate to this post very well. I don't know if it is simply a natural life stage for men of a certain age, or if it is a "feeling" at some point that something is amiss from the relationships that started in such ways (nightclub scene / internet).

    Good post, Andrew.

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  15. I thought about this some more, and modified my earlier comment. My views against online dating aren’t always popular. I’ve never done it, and never will do it for a lot of reasons. Not my cup o’tea. It’s fun to see/meet people in 3D and be attracted to them, and what better than getting to know them and find chemistry, biology, and tres importantly, physics :) Those are rare gems that I feel are missing otherwise.

    I recognize that it’s quite popular and integral to modern dating culture, and I guess I can see value to it for people, but it’s never appealed to me. I would feel like I’m on some kind of carousel. I also think the magnitude of competitiveness and prep/rehearsal eliminates the “randomness” so when you meet online folks it’s like you get a recycled list of things to say and what not. I can only imagine (am speculating here) that there’s a level of emotional burnout for people who don’t find what they’re looking for. I can see why it works for some and not others. I'd also be curious to know whether anyone has success stories from online dating.I enjoyed reading this post.

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    1. Emily,

      I can vouch as a success story from online dating. Most people would categorize me as "fun, attractive, and smart" yet I had no luck meeting men through friends/"normal" channels (and NOT because I wasn't trying). In fact, the few men I have been interested in and dated were all from online dating (ok cupid, etc).

      Andrew,

      I read your blog religiously and now have found myself in a wonderful, committed relationship with a man I met on ok cupid. Shocking, yes. Even I can't believe it.

      My question to you is this - if meeting men at bars on online is "easy" and therefore low value, then where do high quality, available women go to meet high quality, available men? When I was single, I tried every avenue to meet high quality men (non profits, friends of friends, hobbies, sports teams, you name it) and online was the only way I met anyone intelligent, successful, kind, and respectful.

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  16. Hi Andrew
    I really need some advice with this one - what do you do about needy men?
    A lot of my dates have gone like this, I went on one Friday night and it started well - I already fancied the guy all he had to do was not mess it up! I was nervous at the start of the night myself, body language etc probably gave me away a bit but after a couple of drinks and a bit more time I felt more relaxed.

    He went the other way, after we'd been chatting a bit longer he was fishing for reassurance and I began losing my attraction to him. The date wasn't awful by any means so I let him give me a kiss - I'd have thought the fact I didn't leave after an hour and let him kiss me would have been reassurance enough, but no he's continued fishing for reassurance throughout the night and then in his texts by text, double texting etc.
    I don't expect a guy who's all cast iron confidence all the time and I'd probably be a bit worried he didn't like me if that was the case, but at least you have some control over what you say and it's a lot easier to not show it via text message.
    I am chronically single and everybody says I'm too harsh and give these guys a chance it might get better. I've always thought by late 20s early 30s and you'd think they would know better so it's probably only going to get worse (and I even wonder if that's why so many people complain their girlfriends never want to have sex because I literally feel my attraction just drop) - what do you think? Can somebody you coax it out of somebody?

    In any case is there any reason you could suggest why I seem to mainly attract these guys?

    I don't worry tooo much about my looks (obviously I do I'm a woman but don't think that's the issue I mean), I thought maybe I don't come across as confident enough myself, I know what not to say and do etc I'd never get on all insecure on a date and certainly not over text, but I wondered if perhaps it's because I'm fairly decent looking but not overly extroverted and a little clumsy etc that this combination attracts the insecure men as but is doesn't catch the attention of more self assured men?

    Any advice welcome, thanks!

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  17. Haven't been here in a while! Men rarely approach women anywhere other than a bar or through online dating these days, and I can't say I know a single couple whose relationship began through a daytime encounter. All of my friends are in relationships, and almost all of them met either online or at a bar. For single women like me (newly single), who work in a female-dominated field in a place they haven't lived in long, the odds of us meeting men through a "meaningful" means are slim: the very, very few single guy friends in my expanded social network are not attractive/interesting to me. So yes, it would be nice to meet a guy elsewhere, but it seems that bars and online may be the more likely route.

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    1. Yeah nice to see you back.

      I definitely know what you mean, which is why I am not saying categorically that you shouldn't hang out in bars. You just need to be aware of the disadvantages (and advantages), and make your decision accordingly.

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    2. I met my current boyfriend of two years at an event to play board games! It was one of these "new in town" kind of events. You might check out meetup.com or just any other events or groups that interest you in in your area. Something that's not too gender specific, of course!

      He added me on Facebook, and then told me about other things going on. I ended up entering his group of friends, but it was a awhile before we went on a date.

      I was also in a relationship of five years, with someone who worked at the same company as me. We met through mutual friends at work (different departments). It was the same thing, there were several group encounters before we ever met up one on one.

      I've never dated or even gone out (or gone home) with a guy I met in a bar. I did however, have an interesting relationship with a guy I met on OKCupid. He was actually the only guy I've ever met through online dating, and we dated for about a year (before I moved to another city for a job and broke up with him...)

      Other guys I've gone on dates with I've met through mutual friends, or in some activity or class.

      It's not to say that I don't go out. I like going out with my friends and dancing and all that. I also don't mind playing wingwoman for my friends. But there's something sleazy about meeting someone in a bar. I've never been attracted to someone I met that way. I feel like if they are hitting on me in a dimly lit bar it's for really superficial reasons, which I find unattractive in itself. It takes time for me to warm up to someone enough to want to go on a date with them.

      I think the chance of meeting someone you connect with at a bar is way, way less than in a setting where you are bound to have something in common with that person.

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    3. I kind of skipped over the part where you said you haven't lived in the place that long. The new in town kind of events would be a good fit then! In general, I think a good strategy is to look for friends, not a boyfriend. Build up your circle of friends, both male and female. As your social circle expands, so will your contact with eligible bachelors.

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  18. Could you please write a post on how to resolve conflicts/arguments in a relationship? Many a times women (mostly them..) have been 'accused' of not being peaceful enough, being too combative, that men don't need this, etc.
    I have been in a relationship for almost two years but it's going bad in terms of conflicts, my boyfriend gets mad for the smallest of things and refuses to speak with me for days afterwards, despite my best efforts of explaining, apologizing, trying to be communicative and completely understanding his view. I feel like I can't get through to him and sometimes I wonder if it isn't a game he's playing as I can't fathom a grown up man acting immaturely for the smallest of things.
    I think your input and vision would greatly help in a general framework on how to make peace with a man...

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    1. It's exhausting to be around someone like this.

      Signal is loud and clear. He wants to break up with you but is too weak to do it. So he's going the passive-agressive route and picking small fights in the hopes you will get exasperated and break up with him ... so he can feel guilt-free over the end of the relationship. A guy of weak character.

      Alternatively, he has had a head injury/concussion which is making him behave like this. This is common behavior in men with head injuries - difficulty controlling anger and difficulty controlling impulsive behavior. It will be a lifelong behavior thing, so if you plan to stay with him, get used to it.

      I advocate leaving and looking for someone who will be kind to you.

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    3. One more thing:

      Men don't change. They just don't. So any woman dating a guy should tell herself, this is the way he is and ask herself "Can I accept him like this, or is this behavior a deal breaker for me?" If you accept him and stay, you've made your choice and so you have to put up with it.

      Instead, women for some reason take poor male behavior and turn it inwardly, like the OP, asking themselves 'what could/should I be doing to make this relationship better, I must be doing something wrong'.

      Bottom line: People don't change. YOU can decide who you want to be with. You can decide not to be with someone who is unkind or who creates drama. You have no obligation to be the mommy to a man-child throwing tantrums who hasn't grown up.

      You deserve to be happy, and yes, there are wonderful men out there who will have no drama and who you will alway be happy to be with.

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    5. @Juliet

      What a logical answer. And while I largely agree with it, I think it could do with a few extras.

      In my view, people - men and women alike - don't really change... unless Fate intervenes, gets them into a blind corner and backed against the wall; and to get out of it alive and whole, the Only way, is to dig deep within and find their innermost character, to show themselves what they're made of. Beyond confidence. Spirit.

      The best steel is the one forged in the furnaces, tempered with harsh sudden cold, hammered over anvils, strengthened, machined - then achieves it's purpose, it's potential.

      Then there's boundaries. Maybe people that pull through from a life-changing situation can become better persons than who they were before, in some crucial way, like being more honest with themselves. Still, there are exceptions. Such is human nature.

      Women, due to their hormonally-charged make-up (aka the hamster) have different mechanisms to adapt to changes. For one thing, logic doesn't really enter the equation, does it?

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  19. Good to know that Andrew is learning slowly but surely....

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  20. You've hit the nail on the head. It's funny: before you even mentioned online dating at the end, I was thinking to myself, "This is exactly why I don't like online dating and why it doesn't work for me." The intention of both parties (to date) is so obvious that any sort of lead-up or excitement about the process doesn't exist (at least in my experience as a woman).

    Online dating has always felt forced to me, and I think part of the problem is that, in a majority of cases, you have to go on many dates before you find someone you have chemistry with. Whereas, when you meet someone offline, chemistry comes first, and a relationship progresses naturally after that.

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  21. I find it very disheartening maybe feel a little pity that you don't have much respect for relationships with women who you met at bars. It seems like you are more focused on the process than the women themselves. Which makes sense because you blog about it and analyze what you have experienced. This mentality may have made you miss the boat on someone really special.

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  22. A terrible place to meet women.

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