womaninbarFor a while now, my mom has been reminding me — intermittently– that she doesn’t believe I will meet the love of my life at a bar.

(To be fair, she does also readily acknowledge that I will probably not meet the love of my life sitting in my room drinking and listening to Elliott Smith, especially if I don’t get a few photos with my new haircut up on OkCupid before the end of the year.)

Initially, I thought that this was just her way of indirectly encouraging me to spend less time at bars getting drunk and wasting money and time. She’s wily like that.

But then something weird happened. I started to believe her.

I had to stay sober for a month, for medical reasons. (I was taking a liver-deluging medication for something that ultimately ended up being eczema. Go figure.) I spent hours in bars sipping on cranberry juice and club sodas, watching my friends make idiots of themselves. And when you’re not drunk you get a whole new perception of the attempts people make at the mating game while drinking in bars.)*

Here are a few places you likely already go to on occasion, where it might behoove you to keep your eyes open for a young lover (or loving cougar) who may end up your better half.

The library: People may not check out books so often anymore, but they do go to libraries, often to get work done. Which means even if you’re not in the market for some printed pages, you can check out boobs. This is an especially great place if you live in or near a college town, and are not of an age that puts you past college-aged women as potential significant others. Be wary of bothering people while they seem to be working, though. Wait a while, and accost them when they seem to be on the move or taking a break.

Book store: Book stores are calming. People generally aren’t wary of others at a book store, and won’t automatically think you’re out trolling for a piece of ass, like many people assume (often correctly) when you’re at a bar. Sadly, these are becoming less and less of a hangout because people are converting to tablets and stuff.

Coffee shop: These are the most like a bar without actually being a bar. You go to get drinks and hang out. And you already know that a person posted up in a coffee shop is not going to be opposed to a first date that takes place at a coffee shop. And coffee shops are great places for first dates, because you don’t have to shout over noise, usually, and you won’t have to spend a fortune buying the lady alcoholic beverages. (If you’re worried about meeting women sober, slug a hot toddy or two before you head in. I’m not gonna tell.)

Hardware store: Walk up to a pretty girl and say something like “Look, I’m not trying to be a manly man who approaches a woman in a hardware store to offer with help on her home improvement project because I think females are incapable of building things. I just wanted to come over here and tell you that you are pretty and I would love to spend some time getting to know you, if that would be agreeable. And if you would like that time to be while I pitch in a hand on this garden you’re cultivating, then that would be great. I know you can do it. But I can help.” Then carry her stuff to her car. [Ed. note: don’t ever say this to a woman.]

Dance class: According to my mom, women love a man who can dance. Why not hit up a dance class, where you can improve your appeal while being forced into dance partnerships with complete female strangers? And if your classes don’t yield any dates, well, you’ll be armed with the ability to go places where people do the dancing thing.

Gym: This one is out for me because I sweat so much, but you can bond over your mutual affinity for the Stairmaster, and the well-kept secret of interval training. If your gym offers yoga classes, go to them. If you don’t work up the stones to approach a girl after, at least your consolation prize is you got to stretch out, relax, and look at women wearing yoga pants. All at the same time. Yoga is the greatest.

Dog park: Girls love babies and dogs. But they’re more likely to approach you if you have a dog than a child, because, well, if you have a kid then there’s a good chance you’re taken. And dogs are easier to borrow than kids.

Volunteering: This is a chance to mix doing genuine good with potential for romance. If you meet your future wife while you’re reading to the elderly in a nursing home, your “How I Met Your Mother” story is going to blow everybody else’s out of the water.

Public transportation: I fall in love five times every day and my commute is only like 20 minutes. A crowded subway train is great for vaguely serendipitous encounters, too. You might bump into somebody or accidentally hold your phone with a picture of your penis up on the screen in her line of vision. You know, little things that can be conversation starters.

*But if this works for you, by all means: keep it up. You’re the man and I not only respect you, I am also jealous of you.