A thought about Meetup groups

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Post by Caffeinated on Fri Aug 28, 2015 12:51 pm

I've seen the advice many times that to meet new people to date, going to Meetup groups is a good idea. I've also seen many people express frustration or disappointment in their experience of trying to meet potential dates through Meetup groups. Sometimes they find the group doesn't seem open to flirting with members without seeming out of place, other times the people going to the group are very different than who they'd like to date (decades older, for example). But I'm still a believer in Meetup.

So what's a person to do? My suggestion: be the change you want to see.

It's very easy to start a Meetup group. It's not that expensive. The website is easy to use. So why not start the group you wish existed in your community?
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Post by readertorider on Sat Aug 29, 2015 12:02 am

I'm not sure I agree here--as much as I agree that Meetups are an awesome way to get to know people in your area the 'start meetup->socialize->romance(?)' flowchart seems like it would be difficult to navigate in practice.

1. Running an organization can be difficult:

-On a purely practical level you need to arrange logistics for a regularly scheduled event and post notifications in advance--set up the meetup page, find a venue, have some sort of activity, and continue this process consistently.

-On an emotional level you need to be ready to deal with the times when you have something amazing planned and no one shows up or one person does, but they're ready to leave after 10 minutes.

-On a social level you need to be ready to be gracious and welcoming to pretty much all comers, but at the same time manage some of your more zealous attendees while (ideally) making sure that the rest of your group isn't neglected.

2. There's no guarantee that you're going to attract who you're looking to date. Some meetups are organized around an age range and relationship status with varied and sometimes datish activities--bar hopping, paintball, bowling, apple picking, etc.--which would probably increase your odds, but if you start an interest group the demographics will probably be more representative of the population than your idealized dating pool.

3. Looking for potential dates in a pool of people you organize seems rife for misunderstandings. In some of the clubs I've been in I would have been fine with one of the organizers coming up to me at the end and asking if I wanted to do some datish thing, but that's after I've been a regular for a bit and had a chance to understand that my response wouldn't change anything about my position in the club. Maybe other people have different experiences, but I feel like dating progress would need to be slow as you get to know people and let them get to know you.

My opinion is that Meetups are a great way to start to feel a social connection, build social skills, do something you enjoy, and potentially make friends/date. I think to start a successful one though finding a date has to be a bonus and not a major motivator--it's awesome if you want to share <hobby> with a bunch of other enthusiasts or get enough people together for group tickets to <activity> and you should definitely go for it, but I think it definitely can be challenging and time consuming .
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Post by Jayce on Sat Aug 29, 2015 12:24 am

Meetup dosent seem to be a very popular site for people in Australia, it's mostly used for people who like bush walking. Not many events are organised or held, or they are more for an older crowd like professional s in their 30s-40s then for young people.

Is meetup more popular in America?


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Post by readertorider on Sat Aug 29, 2015 9:16 am

In my 'area' there're 174 meetups. Several say they're specifically for 20s-30s (haven't been to any, but I'd think there's a pretty good chance it's true). There're a lot of outdoors type groups, board game groups, crafting groups, book clubs, and motivational societies, but also a hot air ballooning team and a group of people learning how to mind read (haven't been, again can't comment on the truth in advertising Wink).

I'm terrible at judging ages, but in the meetup I attend regularly I am on the younger end of things (many people will occasionally mention their adult children, some are retired, and the organizer will regularly ask how old I am (people bring beer to share!), but there's quite a few other people who look like they're in their 20s and one guy who showed up was definitely within a couple of years of my age and actively looking).
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Post by Caffeinated on Sat Aug 29, 2015 12:08 pm

readertorider wrote:I'm not sure I agree here--as much as I agree that Meetups are an awesome way to get to know people in your area the 'start meetup->socialize->romance(?)' flowchart seems like it would be difficult to navigate in practice.

1. Running an organization can be difficult:

-On a purely practical level you need to arrange logistics for a regularly scheduled event and post notifications in advance--set up the meetup page, find a venue, have some sort of activity, and continue this process consistently.

-On an emotional level you need to be ready to deal with the times when you have something amazing planned and no one shows up or one person does, but they're ready to leave after 10 minutes.

-On a social level you need to be ready to be gracious and welcoming to pretty much all comers, but at the same time manage some of your more zealous attendees while (ideally) making sure that the rest of your group isn't neglected.

I'm a co-organizer of a Meetup group, and I agree that it takes some work to arrange logistics and run a group, but I think that how much work it takes can vary. Plus, I think it's great practice in being social and creating community.

readertorider wrote:2. There's no guarantee that you're going to attract who you're looking to date. Some meetups are organized around an age range and relationship status with varied and sometimes datish activities--bar hopping, paintball, bowling, apple picking, etc.--which would probably increase your odds, but if you start an interest group the demographics will probably be more representative of the population than your idealized dating pool.

I did actually mean start a meetup group for [Local Area] [Age-Group] Singles, not so much a hobby/interest group. I agree that going strictly with a hobby or interest you're going to get a more representative demographic.

readertorider wrote:3. Looking for potential dates in a pool of people you organize seems rife for misunderstandings. In some of the clubs I've been in I would have been fine with one of the organizers coming up to me at the end and asking if I wanted to do some datish thing, but that's after I've been a regular for a bit and had a chance to understand that my response wouldn't change anything about my position in the club. Maybe other people have different experiences, but I feel like dating progress would need to be slow as you get to know people and let them get to know you.

Likewise, if a person is expressly organizing a [Local Area] [Age-Group] Singles group, I don't think there's as much to misunderstand about looking to date members. Why would someone start a singles group if they weren't themself single and interested in dating? (Well, or a matchmaker or something looking for business.)

Jayce wrote:Meetup dosent seem to be a very popular site for people in Australia, it's mostly used for people who like bush walking. Not many events are organised or held, or they are more for an older crowd like professional  s in their 30s-40s then for young people.

Is meetup more popular in America?


Yeah, that's something I should have said in my post, that my opinion mostly reflects how things are in the US, since that's where I am and what I know best. Meetup certainly seems pretty popular here.
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Post by reboot on Sat Aug 29, 2015 1:11 pm

I have been to a few singles and hobby oriented MeetUps. Things like singles 30-40 who hike or whatever. It was pretty cool for folks without my dating barriers because they combined a shared interest with an explicit "so singles can meet singles" framework. Flirting in that context was considered OK. The leaders of the best ones were often a single man and a single woman who were besties.
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Post by readertorider on Sat Aug 29, 2015 1:46 pm

[Local Area] [Age-Group] Singles group actually does sound like a very good idea for meeting people and fun to organize now that I'm thinking about it in that light. All you'd really have to do would be to pick a local attraction/event (mini-golf! drive in movie! expo center thingy! bowling!) pick a time and make the event. There would still be potential gender balance difficulties and dealing with difficult people, but still worth trying.

I was letting my experience running a college hobby club and project team color things too much--I made some awesome friends, but I did have meetings where only two other people showed up (not an unusual occurrence--a well beloved set of profs invited the 200+ person class to dinner with them and only 3 people showed) and somehow thought that out of college everything would be even harder (no funding, no free venues, no giant population of people your age around) when it's not necessarily an apples to apples comparison.
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Post by reboot on Sat Aug 29, 2015 2:10 pm

I think the key is setting up events where you are totally cool with doing it alone or with a small group that do not require a lot of set up. Museum visits, hikes, bike rides, attending a community event together, etc.. The times I saw low show really get under the organizer's skin was when they had to front a cost and then only had a few people to split it with.
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Post by eselle28 on Sat Aug 29, 2015 5:21 pm

My meetup experience isn't too extensive, but I've seen a number of groups for single people in certain age brackets. I think the understanding is that almost everyone there is interested in dating, but people at the ones I went to in New York were also sometimes interested in finding friends of either gender to go out to bars seeking partners with or to travel with.

In large cities, you tend to find more specific groups, like Thirtysomething Singles Who Enjoy Hiking. In smaller areas, it may be a better bet to keep descriptions just to an age group or to something broader like Outdoorsy (or Geeky or Foodie) Thirtysomething Singles. If you end up coordinating one of the latter two groups, I'd suggest trying to mix up activities and focus on things many people like, and also try to balance things like presence of alcohol and cost. A large, popular, general-interest group I used to attend did one week at a bar, one week doing something educational like a lecture or a museum, one week at a coffee shop, and one week doing something a little more active like ice skating or rock climbing every month. It had multiple organizers and could meet that frequently, which is beyond the limits of a small group started by one person, but I always thought that was a fairly sensitive attempt to make sure that many group members would have something they'd like to go to every month.

As for resources, it's absolutely hard to get these groups started. I've seen a few start and flounder in my area, because it's hard enough to meet the 3 new people who replied that they'd like to go to game night let alone organize it and feel responsible for other people having fun. I'd suggest starting a group with an eye toward finding some founding members who are willing to co-sponsor events with you rather than just forming a group and throwing up an event posting once 5 people join. Also, reboot is absolutely right that it's best to make your first few meetups ones that won't be a complete disaster if no one (or even more awkwardly, only one person) shows up. For that reason, game-related activities or discussion groups probably aren't a great first choice. It might be better to start with coffee at a place that also has board games or to suggest everyone go to a specific event like a history presentation that you wouldn't feel too terrible about attending anyway.
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Post by jcorozza on Mon Aug 31, 2015 12:06 am

My main meetup is board games, and it's the best meetup I've tried. There's enough variety in games that you get a decent mix of people, but also some who are like-minded. Plus, the activities are easy to plan/repeat, and it's easy for people to join a year into the group, because socializing while gaming is less stressful, for me at least. At least 3 couples have met in my group, but none had gone in with the intention of finding dates.
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