– by Regina Hopkins
Ladies! Who feels me out there when I say meeting men is hard? It can be even harder when you’re an introverted woman who is shy. Traditional gender roles have boxed us into stereotypes where women are supposed to sit back and let the men do the approaching. Ladies, no shade if you feel that way. I completely get it, and if I’m going to be brutally honest, I still prefer that too. It’s also definitely a lot easier to be approached than to do the approaching.
I’m 34, teetering dangerously on the edge of 35. While I have no problem with that actual age, I am more and more aware of what I want in life and for me I decided (a bit later than some) at about age 31 that I wanted kids and a family of my own. I also realize that I’m in the window of opportunity where you either have kids or you don’t. I know that window is closing in and won’t last forever. I am on a mission to find serious dating prospects with the hope of a finding everlasting love!
If you’re anything like me, you may be feeling the same pressures. So, I decided to do something today that I have rarely done before. A bit tired of attending the same meetups where I see the same guys again and again who I’m not interested in, or swiping mindlessly on dating apps for hours that often feels frustratingly fruitless, I said to myself, “I need to think outside the box here. How can I meet men that I am interested in? Where are these men, and specifically the single ones?” After a lot of thinking and lots of conversations with others brainstorming, I got a spark of what I call “genius.”
However, my “genius” idea (some might call it a little “hair-brained”) involved a little extra discomfort for me, but would ultimately put me into contact with the more of the men I was seeking.
I’ve been to more bars and clubs than I can count, hundreds of meetups, singles-mixers, speed dating events, swing-dancing and salsa lessons. You name it, I’ve probably done it! While over the years, I have certainly met some nice people at these places, even a couple that did develop into relationships, I decided I wanted to branch out even further and try something even I hadn’t tried before.
My plan was to go to conferences. Wait! Conferences? Why that? you’re probably asking. Well, not just any old conference, conferences that would specifically attract lots of men. After I got my moment of inspiration, I went online and searched “conferences” in my hometown. Luckily, I live in a fairly large city, Denver, Colorado that hosts lots of conferences of all varieties year round. This, I thought was a completely untapped idea. I’ve been to plenty of conferences before myself—mostly counseling-related conferences that involved other people in my chosen profession. As a counselor, my field is still largely dominated by women. When I was at those conferences, I always thought to myself, “Geez! This would be a single man’s paradise!”
Now, these conferences weren’t necessarily even things that I was naturally interested in. However, that wasn’t the point, the point was to try a new approach, to think and be outside-the-box. If I wanted different results than I’ve had before, I knew I had to do something different.
I know that lots of people say, “Do things you enjoy, and you’ll meet somebody naturally.” Let me tell you, I think that has been one of the biggest myths that’s been around for probably hundreds of years, that is unnecessarily cutting down on your options. Sure, it’s great to do things you love, however, I’m sure that I don’t have to tell you that men aren’t exactly flocking to Zumba classes and “chat and knit” meetups.
No, ladies, don’t believe that horse-puckey! You need to go where the men are to meet them! I’m not telling you to give up on things that you enjoy, but to expand your social sphere, you have to get yourself out of your comfort bubble. Is it hard? Hell ya! But, if you want results, sometimes you have to do things differently than you have been.
After finding a conference that would attract the kinds of men I was interested in, I decided I was going to go, no matter if I was apprehensive or not. So what conference did I pick? I chose to go to the American Mathematicians Society conference. I could certainly give myself plenty of excuses not to: “I’m too shy, I won’t be comfortable, I don’t know anything about math, I can go to the next one….etc.”
So what happened? I went. I can even say I had fun. I got to talk to some new people that I would have never otherwise spoken to. I got more information as to what kinds of guys I am looking for. Did I meet anybody? Sadly no, but I did realize that I was definitely on to the right idea. I picked a place where more men than women were. It was the perfect environment to approach men in because they were comfortable and in their element and area of expertise. The only problem I realized was that this was a big national conference, where most everyone I spoke to was from out of state. I also realized how much I was into really smart guys—it was a big turn on to be in the presence of so many smart individuals, in a profession I admire, if for no other reason than I’m simply not a natural with math. I also realized that when I was talking to these men, most of whom I started the conversation with by breaking the ice with a question about whether or not they thought they were an introvert or not—they really opened up. Once you get an introvert talking, they can be fascinating to listen to.
Breaking the ice with a completely random stranger is hard. It’s hard for most everyone—especially those of us who identify as introverts, and even more so for introverted women. But, if you want results, sometimes you need to try something different. Conferences specifically where men would congregate in masses are an idea that I had. I’m sure there are hundreds of other creative ways to meet people. You just have to put on your thinking cap, pull up your big girl pants and do the hard thing. Are you brave enough? Give it a try! What’s the worst that could happen?
Regina Hopkins, L.P.C. is a coach for Introvert Unbound.