How to meet a man in real life

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Sick of online dating and hook-up apps?
Here’s a radical concept: why not try meeting a man the old-fashioned way– in person.

No more wading through thousands of profiles, based mostly on lies and flattering, filtered photos; no more polite, soul destroying dates with people you know you’ll never fall for; no more humiliating Tinder hook ups with guys who leave the second they realise sex isn’t on offer.

If you meet someone in person, you know whether you have chemistry or not. Or they grow on you naturally and delightfully: transitioning from a friend at work to someone you can’t live without.

Meeting a man IRL does require you actually getting up off the sofa, turning off Netflix and leaving your flat, but if you want results, this is what you have to do.

Another thing you’ll need is an open mind.

The person you end up with probably won’t look like – or be anything like – the person you think you’re going to end up with.

Which is why the first rule for meeting a man in real life is this:

Ditch the list

If you’re single and over 25, you’ll have a list of ‘partner must-have’s’.

Swap it for a questionnaire that you answer around date five.

Are they a nice person? Are they kind? Do they have great friends who clearly adore them? Do they get on well with their family? Is he nice to women? Does he treat you beautifully and clearly want to please you? Does he make you laugh?

These are the things that matter.

Height, hair colour, job, bank balance – these don’t.

Don’t look down, look up

Whenever I meet a single friend out and about, without exception, they are looking at their phone when I arrive.

Most of the time, they’re checking social media to see if some flakey guy they met online has finally called or made contact.

They’re surrounded by a sea of real life attractive men who are all potential partners but don’t see them.


Now look confidently around your environment and meet the eyes of people you find attractive.

If you see someone you like the look of, hold eye contact for a few beats longer than usual, then flash a quick but dazzling smile.

If they smile back, shyly glance back every few minutes so they well and truly get the message you’re open to being approached.

Single men are everywhere

They’re on the tube sitting beside you. They’re in the supermarket. They’re queuing for coffee. They’re walking in the park.

We all have a tendency to compartmentalise our lives: the weekends or nights are for finding love, week days are for work.

Open your eyes to ALL possibilities – you can meet the future love of your life anywhere and everywhere and that includes 9am on a Monday morning waiting for the bus.

Carry or wear something unusual

Yes really.

Wearing a bright coat or carrying a quirky bag or a (physical) copy of a book that’s controversial gives people an instant conversation starter.

“I love your coat/bag/backpack” and next minute you’re chatting away.

Don’t be scared to ask for their number of how to find them on social media

If I hadn’t asked my now husband if he wanted my phone number (after three hours of chatting – seriously, how shy was he!) we’d never have seen each other again.

Be brazen.

What have you got to lose?

If they say they’re married or attached, smile and wave goodbye and console yourself with the thought that you won’t spend the next week kicking yourself with ‘What if’s..’.

Go somewhere new

Keep doing what you always do and you’ll get what you’ve always got!

If you never meet anyone, you’re going to the wrong places.

Try a different area, a new pub, walk in the opposite direction during your lunch hour in search of more than a sandwich, go out with different friends.

If you’ve been going to the same pub, with the same friends, every Friday night for six months and never, ever end up finding anyone remotely interesting, why the hell are you still going?

Touch people

If you want to connect with someone, there is no better way to do it than through touch.

The briefest, tiniest touch can have an electric effect.

The next time you’re in a crowded pub, try this experiment.

Walk to the loo or to the bar to get a drink and gently move someone (preferably someone you fancy) out of the way by touching them. Gently put a hand in the middle of their lower back and apply a little pressure to push them to one side.

They’ll look around immediately and when they do, flash the biggest smile you can muster and say, ‘Sorry! It’s so crowded I couldn’t get through’.

Chances are they’ll obediently move to one side and flash you a smile back.

From that moment on, even if you’re not really their type, every time you catch their eye, they’ll smile at you.

If you end up standing together by the bar, it’ll seem the most natural thing in the world to strike up a conversation.

In fact, it’d be rude not to because it feels like you know each other. All because of that one touch!

Accept every invitation if it means you’ll meet new people

Say yes to everything you’re asked to that involves new people.

Especially say yes to after work drinks and happy hours: even if you don’t fancy anyone at work, you might fancy their friend who comes to meet them.

Say yes to friend’s birthday drinks even if you’re not that keen on the friend, say yes to trying a salsa class with a friend (even if you’re like me and the idea makes you want to stick pins in your eyeballs, go once and check it out anyway.)

Don’t just go to your gym’s Christmas party, go with your friend to hers.

In fact, find as many gym bunny friends as you can and go to ALL the gym Christmas parties: if the party at my gym is anything to go back, there’s a ridiculous amount of snogging that goes on!

This is the perfect time of the year to meet a man IRL.

Get out there!

Don’t be afraid to make the first move

I saw my now husband standing on the river with a pint in his hand and it took me about two minutes to come up with a cunning plan to talk to him.

(A box of matches was in between us, they were from Stringfellows strip club, Where they his?, God no! and off we went.)

So I didn’t only ask for the phone number at the end (see above), I was the one who started the conversation at the beginning.

Most men aren’t as confident as they appear.

Most men don’t have a clue of how to approach women.

The better looking you are, the worse it is for them because the chance of rejection is higher.

If you find someone attractive, find any excuse to talk to them.

Don’t use a line (men hate them just as much as women do), just say something that’s applicable to the situation.

If you’re both pondering the choices at Pret, say “Hmm. What do you reckon? The chicken salad or the soup?”.

If he’s standing beside you at the newsagent, pick up the paper and comment on what’s on the front page.

If you’re a runner and keep passing the same (hot) person, start saying ‘Hello’ each time you pass.

The next time step it up and say ‘We have to stop meeting like this”.

Yes you can be that cheesy!

It really doesn’t matter what you say, all you need to do is make conversation to give a very obvious green light that you’re open to being approached.

Go to single’s events

Most dating websites offer in person events like balls and get togethers.

Skip the online stuff, go along to the in person events: they’re far more successful at matchmaking.

Agree to be set up on that blind date

That sweet little old lady who lives next door and swears her grandson would be perfect for you – take her up on meeting him.

Hey, it worked for Bridget Jones.

Check and use ‘Rush Hour Crush’ in the Metro

You’ll find out if you’ve caught anyone’s eye – and can use it to alert the guy you’ve been shyly smiling at for weeks.

Catch public transport as much as possible: more people meet on there than you think.

Up your chances by trying to catch the same bus or tube – the more we see people, the more attractive they get.

That ordinary looking guy you’d never normally look twice at suddenly becomes the person you search for because you’ve started to enjoy that early morning banter.

And on that note…

Become a regular

A café, a bookstore, a bar, a restaurant – anywhere that exposes you to the same people over and over.

We’re more comfortable in places we go to often, so happier making the first move.

It’s easy to nod or smile at someone we’ve seen before and before you know it, you’re having real conversations.

Familiarity forces us to see past the exterior.

Make people laugh

One minute of laughter relaxes us for up to 45 minutes!

Both laughter and smiles release ‘happy’ hormones into our bloodstream.

Feel-good junkies that we are, we listen longer, talk longer and feel warmer and friendlier toward people who inspire this feeling.

If you’ve got a wicked sense of humour, unleash this secret weapon.

Do things on your own

You’ll be much easier to approach and more likely to look around your surroundings.

Sure, it’s easier to go out with girlfriends or hang out with lovely couple friends at their fabulous apartment, but it’s not going to get you loved or laid.

Be easy to approach

If you are out on the town, don’t make them wade through a dozen drunken friends to get to you

If you’re with a friend who could look like your partner, put some space between you and turn your torso so you’re facing out rather than in.

Accept that you might have to make it obvious you aren’t together if the person you’re eyeing off is looking a bit confused.


The more flirtatious the person, the more they get asked out.


Anyone can be a good flirt: you simply need to follow some basic rules.

Make eye contact. Stand closer than you would normally. Laugh a lot. Be interested in whatever they’re saying. Give compliments. Look at their mouth while they’re talking. Touch them lightly on the forearm.

That’s it. You’re done.

Don’t give up

You’ve spent weeks cultivating a connection with the most divine man you’ve ever seen only to find out he’s married/gay/has a girlfriend/about to move to Iceland?

Don’t be put off.

We’ve all spent hours flirting with some guy at something or other and ignoring all the other rather cute available’s to be told at the end of the evening, “I’d better get home. My wife’s had the kids all night.”

It happens.

Keep positive, keep flirting and stay hopeful.

Love comes to those who are out there looking for it.

Find more advice on love, sex and relationships on Find Tracey’s products on lovehoney.



One study found 39 per cent of 2300 people between the age of 18 and 34 met through friends, 22 per cent through unspecified social situations, 18 per cent met through work, 10 per cent met online and six per cent through social media.

So think again if you think looking down at your phone is going to find you the love of your life.

More bamboozling statistics: a 2016 US survey (of people who’ve been with their partner for five years or less) found 88 per cent had met IRL without the help of a dating site.

Yet another study found couples last longer if they meet in person rather than online.



Take a tip from Sarah Beeny: her website is genius.

Friends who have a great single friend – often exes of theirs – put up a profile on their behalf.

Friends know us better than anyone else, so the profiles are kind but honest.

Take this concept through to real life by organising a ‘my single friend’ party.

All your friends are invited and each has to bring at least one single friend along – an ex, a work colleague, a sibling – anyone who is attractive and available.

You, of course, need to make sure there’s a relatively equal number of single women invited to balance it out, but these events really do work.

I went to one party when I was single and it produced three couples who ended up marrying.

Not bad considering there was only about 25-30 people there!

Not only that, if you’re introduced through someone else, you can get a secret rundown of what you’re going to be in for if you date them.


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