Dating Guide

Can You Meet a Great Guy in a Bar?

Two women offer conflicting perspectives on the age-old question.

It Worked For Me

The Optimist

By Audrey Swanson

If your mom is anything like mine, you grew up hearing warnings like “Nothing good happens after midnight” and “You’ll never meet a good man in a bar.” I proved the first one wrong when I discovered midnight movie premieres with my dorky group of Twilight-obsessed high school friends. I proved her second notion wrong last April when I met my now-boyfriend at Sambuca 360 in Plano’s Shops at Legacy. I love my mom, regardless of her wretchedly generalized advice.

But I think that’s the key: I didn’t expect it. It happened naturally. The lesson here isn’t that you can meet an eligible someone at a bar; it’s that you can meet an eligible someone anywhere.

Meeting a potential suitor in your favorite watering hole is actually one of the better options these days. Striking up a chat with a stranger over Moscow mules seems, to me, like a preferable option to sitting on the couch for two hours, haphazardly swiping left on your iPhone or scrolling through dating profiles all night.

Think about it this way: You, ideally, are a good person, and you might like going to bars from time to time. It’s not that far-fetched that you could start a conversation with, ideally, another good person who likes to go to bars from time to time too.

The night I met John, I was celebrating with a friend who’d landed her dream job earlier that afternoon. He was sitting on a stool, tucked into a corner of Sambuca, quietly sipping his beer. I gave him a quick glance, decided he was pretty cute in his button-down flannel and cowboy boots, and walked up to say hello.

Well, more accurately, I approached him and said, “Why are you sitting all alone?” (I know. Best pickup line ever.) We chatted for a while and exchanged numbers at the end of the night. For people in their 20s and 30s, this isn’t an uncommon scenario.

What I did not expect were the few text messages following that night to turn into a date, which turned into dates, which turned into dating. Now we’ve been together for more than a year.

But I think that’s the key: I didn’t expect it. It happened naturally. The lesson here isn’t that you can meet an eligible someone at a bar; it’s that you can meet an eligible someone anywhere. It takes a bold move, though, which can be slightly less scary after a little liquid courage. Approach him (or her), offer a slightly insulting pick-up line, and see what happens from there.

Who knows? It could work out, and then you can say, “Guess what, Mom. I met him in a bar.”

Audrey Swanson is research editor for D Magazine. If she weren’t already in a relationship, she’d be happy to let you buy her a vodka soda.

No, You Are Not Special

The Realist

By Mary Claire Hamm

For all you optimists, here’s a little straight talk from a realist.

My usual group of girls was out on a summer night, hopping from one McKinney Avenue bar to the next: Renfield’s, Fat Rabbit, Idle Rich, the works. One friend made a particularly good connection with a guy after a rom-com worthy “meet cute.” She lost her earring. He turned on his iPhone flashlight, and together they searched the dark wood of Idle Rich’s floor.

She was grateful for this heroic service and promptly bought him a drink. They talked, sipped, and exchanged numbers, while the rest of us sized up his semi-hipster outfit. We debated whether his glasses were real and if he owned more beanies than ironic coffee mugs. He seemed innocent enough. Sweet, even.

Flash forward three hours to an Uber full of 22-year-old women ripping on the male driver. We had many questions, mostly rhetorical, for him.

“Is he serious?” we asked. “Is. He. Serious? He cannot be serious.”

A simple text had prompted our incredulity: “lost u in there. gonna head out. u can come over later if u want.”

It was a customary, if slightly presumptuous, invitation that would have been politely declined — had we not seen him leave the bar with a petite blonde in tow at the exact time of his text. To you optimists suggesting that she could have been a sister or a friend, I respond with my sincere hope that you do not kiss your sister like that.

Not every guy in a bar is horrible. More often than not, he’s a normal-enough fellow with normal-enough friends. But proceed with caution. This sounds like motherly advice, but mothers are always right, aren’t they? (Remember when she said don’t drink the punch or tease your hair? Yeah. Two things I wish I had heeded.)

Moral of the story: If you meet a guy at a bar, chances are you’re just another female in his strike zone. You are not an individual. You are not special. Harsh but true, ladies. A midnight meet-up at a venue that celebrates­ — and encourages — drunken stupor and hookup culture isn’t going to cut it.

If you don’t believe me, I encourage you, the next time you’re out on the town, to eavesdrop on a conversation or two.

Last time I did, I heard an R-rated tale of one man’s previous endeavors – which involved foreign twins.

Yeah, can I close my tab, please?

Mary Claire Hamm is a freelancer for and wants to know if being a crazy dog lady would be socially acceptable. She’s asking for a friend.


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