Three years ago, I darted to the back of a plane and hid behind a tray table in the upright position. Seconds later, I got a text message: “Laura? Was that you on my returning flight.?” I sunk into the seat closest to me, hoping the guy who’d texted would use the bathroom at the front of the aircraft and avoid me at all costs during the long journey to Washington.
This wasn’t a high school classmate run-in or sworn enemy of mine. He was a perfect stranger, actually. We’d met three days earlier on a 5-hour flight from Dulles to Denver, and though I’d been charmed enough by this fellow to give him my number after we landed, I reevaluated the situation at lunch with friends the following day.
“Someone asked you out on a plane?” my buddy Adam said. “That’s weird. Desperate, too.”
It wasn’t too odd, but I couldn’t wrap my head around the fact that he made the trip from D.C. to Utah every weekend so his mom, who lived in Salt Lake City, could do his laundry. I decided not to go on a date with the guy, but being on the same returning flight made that internal choice especially awkward in that moment.
If I could go back, I’d tell my 22-year-old self not to be such a closed-minded brat and think for herself. Meeting someone up in the air actually sounds pretty romantic in retrospect! There are lots of great, unexpected ways to stumble upon your soul mate, so be sure not to rule these ones out:
1. The gym
If you’re anything like me, you come out of every workout session looking like a clammy wet trainwreck. The gym isn’t a place to display your glamorous side, but when you’re serious about someone, you don’t have to look like a swan 24/7. If there’s a fitness center regular you’d like to get to know, approach him/her when you’re ready. Not to get all schoolgirl on you, but maybe ask a friend to tag along if going up to random folks makes you nervous. You’re certainly not alone.
2. Your apartment building or neighborhood
It’s never a smart idea to date roommates, but people in your general living area aren’t as risky. If you’re in a giant complex, you could meet your soulmate at a building party, or at the very least some nice neighbors. It’s a little more challenging to socialize after college, so don’t be shy about going up to people in your neighborhood or building when they’re out and about.
3. The plane, duh!
Let’s not forget that it’s also symbolic of “going places.” Don’t follow my bad move and run away from a potential gentleman (or lovely lady) the next time you’re on a Boeing 737!
I know, I know, don’t defecate where you eat, blah blah blah. Though office romances can end badly, they can also give birth to lifelong companionship. The workforce and school are among the top places to find one’s spouse, and it’s not that surprising to hear. If you’re in the same field, chances are you have similar interests or at least understand each other’s work flow.
I’ve written more than once that I’m relieved my soul mate wasn’t one of my classmates, but lots of rewarding relationships come out of the academic environment. The more difficult part is evolving together and working around each other’s plans after graduation, but if you can pull this off, you’re probably in it for the long haul, and what wonderful stories you’ll have to tell for years to come.
6. On public transportation
After living in DC for a year, I complained it was too hard to go on dates with my work schedule. But when my good friend Crystal visited me from California, we took the metro around town and she had a thought: “Why don’t you just meet someone on the train home from work? That literally takes no time out of your busy day. You’re on the train anyway, why not kill two birds with one stone?”
Maybe it’ll be the person reading a book next to you, the kind soul who gives up their seat for a pregnant woman or someone who grazes your hand on the pole by the door. If they’re less than graceful, they might fall on you during an unexpected train jerk, but again, that’s a neat story to divulge later on down the road.
7. On the streets
More than a year ago, someone in NYC told me about his amazing encounter with a girl in Paris. It was a rainy day and she didn’t have an umbrella, so he offered to share his own umbrella with her. A brief but memorable romance blossomed between them, and a similar situation may come into your life. Not all strangers have good intentions, but if the gesture feels sincere and right, let the chemistry flow.
8. In traffic
If Malcolm from Malcolm in the Middle could find short-lived pre-teen love in a traffic jam, then you can absolutely do the same … and make it last.
California is known for horrendous traffic in certain parts of the state (looking at you, LA), and as frustrating as it can be to sit behind the wheel and listen to shouty talk radio personalities in between overplayed songs, you never know who might be in the surrounding vehicles. A friend met her longtime boyfriend in gridlock traffic that forced drivers to stay put for hours. As you can imagine, people ventured out of their cars after a while, and that’s how she started chatting with her future beau, who lived in San Luis Obispo as well but was visiting San Francisco for the weekend.
You could experience your own version of this story in traffic, a delayed subway car or seemingly endless bus ride to another city. Be open to the possibility of something amazing happening in a less than ideal or romantic scenario.
9. In a waiting room somewhere
You know Jessa? The super cool, unspeakably gorgeous character on Girls? She is a wild child on the show and definitely had a crazy youth in real life, but the way she met her husband was pretty normal. They saw each other in a waiting room at a doctor’s office and tied the knot within a year: “I had bronchitis, and I don’t remember what he was there for, but I liked him and gave him my number. We’ve been together for four years and married for three of them.” It doesn’t sound like there was a big chase or annoying psychodrama that just didn’t have to happen. They liked each other and the rest was history.
I know this one might seem “too easy” and I’m biased as a successful online dater, but hear me out. Twenty-three percent of people who try online dating meet their spouses on one of these sites, so even though the pointless stigma continues to linger, more and more women are walking down the aisle thanks to companies like OKCupid, HowAboutWe and Match, to name a few. You might be warned about “creepers” on the Internet, but I can assure you the bar scene is plenty seedy, and at least most online daters are willing to court you a little before taking you to bed.
The important thing is to keep an open mind and not write someone off based on the manner in which you were first acquainted. The real happiness comes after you’ve met, and once you’re close to someone, the introduction doesn’t even matter.
Any other ideas? Share in the comments section.