Modern-day dating can seem more like job-hunting in a competitive market than simply falling into love by chance. You have to work at it, put yourself out there, and diversify your approach. It takes effort. Online dating has finally taken over as the top way couples are meeting — outperforming the “family and friends” plan. But there are still plenty of ways to meet “the one,” especially for marriage-minded people. And Meetup dating is one of those ways.
Most people are familiar with Meetup, even if they’ve never joined a Meetup group or attended an event. The premise of this largest network of local groups is building community based on common interests. Passionate about environmental clean-up and sustainability? There’s a group for that. Interested in art museums? Take your pick of artsy-minded groups. Single again and looking for a way to meet other singles with similar interests? Opportunities abound for Meetup dating or simply making new friends with fellow singles.
Meetup’s mission is grounded in the power of individuals to make a difference in themselves and in the world through self-organization. If you have a passion or interest that you know is shared by others, you can organize your own group. You don’t have to wait for a party planner or major organization to put together an event.
On any given day, more than 9,000 Meetup groups are meeting face-to-face around the globe with the common goal to “make community real.” And, while your initiation into this friendship- and community-builder starts online (check out their phone app here), Meetup is all about just that — meeting up.
Meetup dating, like all things, has its pros and cons. As a dating coach, I am committed to helping my clients have the broadest and most personalized reach into their dating options. I want them to have an online presence, and I also want them to be out meeting people in person. It’s important, therefore, that they understand the pros and cons of all their options.
Here are some of the pros of Meetup dating.
- There is a Meetup group for every interest — currently over 100,000 topics. And if you don’t find what you’re looking for, you can organize your own group or event. This narrows down the guesswork and assures you that you’ll at least have some fundamental interests in common when you show up.
- Attending a Meetup function isn’t about joining “established groups” where you’re left alone trying to fit in. Most of the people attending are in the same boat. And even if they are regulars, there’s nothing about the group that will require “catch-up” on your part.
- There are no fees to join Meetup. Dating isn’t the underlying premise of the organization, but many groups are focused on bringing singles together. And it’s nice to know that, unlike online dating, there are no membership fees to participate. In some cases, Meetup organizers do ask you to pitch in to help with the expenses as a requirement of membership.
- Meetup is a great way to meet a lot of new people in a short amount of time. And you don’t have to abide by a speed-dating structure to find out a few defining qualities about each new person you meet. People are showing up with a common willingness to be social and meet new people. That makes chemistry immediately possible without even trying.
- You have the opportunity to build upon commonalities. Because you’re already connected by at least one common interest, there’s a good chance you have other friends in common. A Meetup event is a great opportunity to explore those possible common connections through conversation and social media exploration.
- You can have a lot of fun without all the dating pressure. Granted, you may have an underlying goal of finding someone to date. But Meetup has a bigger purpose that allows you to meet awesome people of both genders and to connect through common interests and values. So, even if a little light flirtation over cocktails and appetizers doesn’t lead to anything romantic, you’ve at least made a new friend. And being in a group setting helps to ease all the pressure that comes from being completely focused on one person.
Here are some of the cons of Meetup dating.
- While there are no fees for using Meetup, there may be costs involved for specific events. For example, if reservations at a restaurant are required, you may have to pay a per-head cost. Also, group organizers may divide their monthly cost of running their group among their members.
- Some people use Meetup only as a way to meet potential dates. And they lose the broader intention of making friends and building community. It’s not uncommon, for example, for middle-aged divorced people to attend Meetup functions only as a way of getting back into the dating scene. While there are plenty of Meetup events centered on singles, the purpose of Meetup in general is bigger than that.
- Organizers can have a difficult time getting rid of problematic members. They are, after all, “self-organizing,” and that can make rules enforcement challenging.
- People often RSVP for an event and then don’t show. This behavior is especially stressful for organizers who may have to make, keep, and pay for reservations at a specific venue. It’s important that people change their RSVP if they suddenly can’t make an event.
- An organizer may have ulterior motives behind the group or event. For example, s/he may organize a mixer for health-conscious, active people, but really be using it as a front for selling a supplement line. Or, with regard to Meetup dating, an organizer may create singles events with the sole intention of finding clients for their business or matchmaking service.
- Meetup isn’t meant to be an alternative to online dating. But some people misuse it that way, and that can detract from the intended low-key “social” dating aspect of Meetup dating. You may get “hit on” by random men who you’ve never met before.
When you’re looking for lasting love in this fast-paced, technology-driven world, it’s important to be diversified in your approach. You need to be anchored with a well-prepared online presence, and you also need to be out there engaging in-person connections.
Especially for people who are marriage-minded, building relationships on common values and interests is essential. Meetup dating is one of the best ways to bring wonderful, like-minded people into your life.
And by building your own community of friends with common values and interests, your chances of finding “the one” skyrocket!