How do I get laid without dating apps?

Image by the fabulous Stuart F Taylor

London has a population of almost nine million. It is one of the most vibrant, exciting, busy cities in the world. At the same time, most of the people who live here (myself included) have an instinctive distrust of strangers, and a powerful desire to not be bothered by one. So how do you meet people in this context? In the past I’ve relied heavily on dating apps. But as most people on The Apps agree, dating apps fucking suck these days. Let’s examine some potential ways to get laid without dating apps, with the aim that by the end of the year I will have DEFINITELY TRIED ALL OF THEM and if I haven’t you can tell me off for wussing out.

Speed dating

I am ridiculously keen on the idea of speed dating, not necessarily because I think it’ll be a successful way to meet the horny, affectionate loser of my dreams, but because I’m a very busy woman with a borderline fetishistic love of efficiency. I always know exactly which tube carriage to board so as to minimise platform time when I disembark; I have optimised my shopping habits to precisely calibrate for the quirks of each different supermarket’s self-checkout machines; I love efficiency! I want to meet a bunch of men all in one evening, add my favourites to a list like I’m on Amazon, then bang whichever dude’s on special offer.

Downsides: I hear that straight speed dating often has a very high ratio of women to men, meaning they sometimes need to fill men’s seats with guys who aren’t actually available. Also, I have never met anyone in real life who has met their long-term partner/fuckbuddy/spouse/soulmate after a rushed 3 minute chat in the back room of a Slug and Lettuce. Still, after I read this post to Patreons on a live call the other day, one person told me they knew a couple who had met via speed dating, and that’s jump-started my hopeful heart so I’m absolutely doing this.

Join a club

I actually do have an idea for a club I might join. It’s a club doing a thing that I like, that’s physical and will help my mental health, and may also throw me into the path of single men who are also joining clubs in order to get laid without dating apps.

Downside: the only nearby club of this type for people in my age bracket is ranged at 20-40, so if I enjoy it I have to leave next year when I cross the threshold of my fourth decade and immediately become invisible. I might do it anyway though, fuck it. Maybe once I’m in I can persuade them to drop the ageism.

Blind dates/set ups

In America, in films, whenever someone becomes single there’s always a friend who has another friend they simply have to meet. I want that please! I want one of my friends to suddenly remember that they have a hot cousin who lives in my area. Or a funny, nerdy work colleague who recently mentioned how he’s dying to meet a 40-year-old woman built like a fire door with a penchant for swearing and wine.

I came incredibly close to a genuine set-up about six months ago, and I’m so gutted it slipped through my fingers. My best mate (an extremely sociable man and actual gold-plated hero) ran into a guy on a night out who seemed funny and cute and friendly. He didn’t live in London, but he was here one week a month for work, which is perfect when you think about it: enough contact that I’m getting regularly boned, enough distance that I can make him fucking yearn for me. My pal sent me a description of this man (he sounded amazing) and a picture (don’t care, he looked fine) so I said “hell yes, set me up. Don’t forget to tell him how much I love sucking dick!” or something like that. Perfect. That’s the kind of energy I want my friends to bring to the boyfriend-hunt challenge. Unfortunately, the lads got on so well that they proceeded to get riotously drunk and Mr Boyfriend Material sent me a long pissed video of them both from a random nightclub at 4 in the morning. Despite my friendly message the next day when I awoke, he didn’t send anything after that. I can only assume he was embarrassed by his behaviour, which is such a shame because I’m always embarrassed by my behaviour, so we’d clearly have plenty in common.

Anyway. Yeah. Blind dates are an avenue I’d love to pursue.

Downsides: None of my friends have friends who are single men. And while non monogamous men are very welcome indeed (thanks lads!), there’s only so often you can borrow someone else’s boyfriend before you start hankering after a boyfriend of your own. Actually, that’s too euphemistic. To be blunt: I can’t get barebacked if I only ever fuck men with partners. If they’re occasional fucks/comets that’s delightful, but I’m after something regular, and it’s upsetting when all the sex I have with a regular partner is a constant reminder that I’m less important/valuable/sexy than the other women in their lives. Also I really love jizz.

Anyway! Single men in my age bracket are pretty thin on the ground. My friends need to step up and meet more available men, the lazy cunts.

The man who works in my shop

There’s a shop I go to roughly once a month, where the manager flirts with me. He’s definitely friendlier to me than any other customer I’ve seen him chat to, but I’ve no idea if the banter has any purpose to it or not. It’s just a gently escalating flirtation that’s been going on for nearly a year. He’s told me which bit of town he lives in, what he likes to do in his spare time, and even more importantly he’s asked me questions about my own life in return. Gasp! He’s very nice, and extremely sexy. He’s older than me, maybe 5-10 years or so, has a beaming smile and what I want to say is a twinkle in his eye (even though that makes me sound like I’m ‘courting’ in the 1950s). Definitely worth asking for a drink.

So OK, next ‘thing I should do to meet men in real life’, I should ask an actual real-life guy for a drink. The signs are there, so this is the easiest end of ‘easy mode’ for shooting my shot. The worst he can say is no, and I’m a big brave girl who’s had plenty of ‘nos‘ in my time. My self-confidence is absolutely on the floor right now, which is dragging me down, but what better way to pick it back up than by reminding myself that I can do difficult things? Just ask the cute guy for a fucking pint, GOTN, you absolute nob.

Downsides: He’s fit, like ‘goes to the gym’ fit, which would normally put me right off someone. As would the fact that he’s fairly well-groomed. These things place him firmly in a category that I don’t feel comfortable in, but which I could make myself comfortable WITH if he was keen enough on me. Which he might be. But then maybe he’s keen on me because a couple of times I’ve gone into the shop in my cycling sweats, so he thinks I’m an Exercise Person too, when in fact my life is about a 20/80 split between health and hedonism. For every Sunday I spend going on a nice long walk, there are at least four evenings spent watching Taskmaster and eating far too much cheese. Other downside: I really need this shop, it’s extremely convenient, and if I asked him out and got rejected I might have to find a new place to buy my Important Things.


Hear me out. This is a bright blue ring you wear which tells people you’re single. I SAID HEAR ME OUT. The aim is that people who are single can easily recognise each other and initiate a chat-up if they want to. It is billed as ‘the world’s biggest social experiment’, and apparently they’ve sent out over half a million rings so far, with the most popular cities being New York, LA, Sydney and London. London! That’s me, that’s where I live!

The PearRing has been advertised to me in a variety of places, most likely because my web search history indicates I am currently single (“solo cycling holidays”; “safe solo hikes long weekend”; “topless chubby guys with tattoos staring into camera like they want me”, etc.). I emailed the team behind PearRing, because I am a serious and professional journalist who is willing to do the research (as long as that research consists of sending no more than 1 [one] email), and they told me that they originally went round to bars handing rings out for free, but now they charge and then use the money to promote the concept. The rings cost £20 and they send you three sizes (which, if anyone’s taking notes, is annoying because I’d far rather minimise waste and just tell them my finger girth before purchase. Finger girth. Finger. Girth. Christ, I’m so fucking horny).

Downsides: The team told me they have distributed over 500,000 of these rings, but I have never seen anyone wearing one. The chances of someone actually knowing what it was if I wore it are slim. And even if they do know, are they actually less likely to chat me up? Maybe when they saw the ads, instead of spotting an opportunity to rustle up content for their own blogs/YouTube channels, they thought the whole idea was weird and vowed never to bang anyone who had one. To be honest, this isn’t really a downside, is it? I’m just filtering out the men who despise the very concept of who I am, and that’s got to be a good thing.

Downside the second: if someone chats me up and they’re creepy, I have immediately lost the easiest ‘out’ in the world (I’ve got a boyfriend).

Third: the gender demographics – while not terrible – aren’t looking great for me. Apparently there’s a roughly 58/42 ratio of women/men who have rings so far. Not everyone who has a ring is straight, but when I searched for PearRing discussion one of the most common comments appeared to be ‘lol straight people have reinvented the hanky code but in a way that is utterly tragic’ so I think it’s safe to say most people who have them are straight. 58% women, 42% men. Now, I’m not saying I don’t stand a chance, but I’m not hugely enamoured of those odds. I’m fun, for sure. And I’m very very eager to suck dick. But I’m not particularly visually impressive: my charms are more personality-based than ‘oh my god look at that hot girl, I absolutely MUST introduce myself’. On dating apps men outnumber women by a way bigger margin, and I’m still struggling to find a single solitary dude who is genuinely interested in me (as opposed to just ‘wants to fuck a woman, is happy to settle for whichever one turns up’, and that’s definitely not what I’m looking for). Can I deal with a 58/42 split? Is that a playing field I am confident enough to march out onto?

We’ll find out because I have, obviously, bought one. It hasn’t arrived yet because apparently they had a massive influx of orders, so either I’m the victim of a very silly scam or you’ll be seeing fucking LOADS of these on the street sometime soon. If it arrives, I will do the thing I always do when I’m trying to be brave, and embark on it with the aim of producing #content – pretending to myself that this is mostly for journalistic purposes, but secretly hoping a cute nerd spots it and approaches me with a joke about finger girth. Plus, if a bunch of you go and buy them then I might be able to wangle some sponsorship money out of the PearRing people, and this could be the start of a beautiful friendship/me paying my gas bill. Deal? OK game on: here’s the PearRing link.

Getting laid without dating apps

The plan: at some point between now and the end of the year, I will have a go at everything on this list. The ring, the club, speed dating, a blind date/set up if I can get one… and yeah, of course, I’ll chat up shop man too.

Why bother trying to get laid without dating apps? Why bother writing about this at all? I think I’m just letting myself be honest in a way that I haven’t felt able to for a while. I’m feeling quite down about dating right now. Something I used to find fun has become a weird kind of slog. It’s a combination of being absolutely baffled by the culture of dating apps (why don’t people put any information in their profiles?! Why do they send really short messages like this is MSN messenger?! Why do they try to meet up with a woman in whom they demonstrably have no actual interest?! Why do they say they’re ‘single’ when what they mean is ‘polyam, with extremely committed nesting partner who definitely gets to call shotgun on that sweet sweet bareback’?!) and viewing dating itself through a lens of need rather than desire.

I don’t know why I’ve slipped into ‘need’: I don’t ‘need’ a boyfriend. Zooming out and looking at my life, I’m extremely happy with my friends, Taskmaster, solo hikes and buckets of wine. Sure, I’m ridiculously horny, and the kind of horn I feel can only really be sated by someone who’s willing to put the work in – learn to rip me to bits in exactly the way I like it, construct elaborate playlists that I can suck their dick to, that sort of thing – but it’s not as if my life is empty without that. I have a fuckawesome time with my friends and occasional sex with men who happen to be in town… I just also really want somewhere to pour my friendly, horny, playful energy. Explore the kind of fucks that I miss from when I was in a relationship.

Yeah. I want that. I don’t need it, I want it. If (and only if) it’s going to be fun. So I’m reframing it. If I write a list in my head of all the ways to meet men and then nag myself to do it, the thought of even ticking off that first item makes me sad. But if I write a list here and show it to you lot, what previously felt like a chore becomes a fun work challenge. I’m a sex journalist! Intrepidly searching for the best ways to get laid without dating apps!

Last time I was dating, I had a lot of fun, but while I was away dating apps turned dating into work. Admin. A fucking CHORE. This is my way of trying to make it fun again.




  • OxyfromSG says:

    Best of luck and looking forward to reading the results.

  • Terry Bull says:

    Good luck with your search.
    I can recommend Speed Dating as a lot of fun, and a great way to meet people. In the past I’ve usually got at least 1 date out of every event I’ve attended, although nothing long term.
    In terms of clubs have you considered a running club. I know you are a fit and active person, and there are always far more men than women at running clubs.

    • Girl on the net says:

      Oh I’d fucking LOVE to be a runner but sadly I have never been able to do it. It hurts my tits. Which is weird, because I don’t even have especially big tits. I think they’re just really sensitive. I did have a go at the couch to 5k with one of my exes but he was SO GOOD at running and I was so bad at it, it kind of put me off. I might see if sports bra tech has improved since I last tried though – thank you for the suggestion! And delighted that speed dating has been fun for you – that’s great to hear and makes me more enthused to do it. Much appreciated Terry!

  • SpaceCaptainSmith says:

    I’ve only tried speed dating once, and there were more men than women – though that was a kinky speed dating event, which may have altered the demographics somewhat. Not sure how many dates resulted from it, none on my part anyway! But was fun, and a nice way to meet people; I should try it again sometime.

    I have no particular suggestions to add to your list (and the ring thing does sound awfully silly/scammy), but good luck with it!

  • SpaceCaptainSmith says:

    Actually, here’s one. You ruled out running clubs above, but since you mentioned hiking, why not try hiking groups? A friend of mine does that, organised on MeetUp, doing hikes with whatever random people want to turn up. And occasionally hooking up with them I presume!
    I do realise there’s a safety angle that makes that harder for a single woman, though… plus it would involve a lot of travelling to places outside of London, since you can’t really do it in the city.

  • Oh my god GOTN, I relate to this stuff so much. We’re around the same age too. I’ve been on the ‘dating’ (if you can call it that) bandwagon since the end of last year and it’s utterly demoralising and infuriating. There is another method I use that you haven’t got here – I post on Reddit on the GBr4r subreddit every now and then. The number of messages you get in response can go a bit nuts so I end up deleting the post when I can’t manage the volume anymore. There will be a quantity of those people who are dickheads and a quantity that say they want to meet in person but are actually too chicken. Then once you’ve managed to sift through those, there are some who will actually meet and fuck you. I’ve met 12 guys from there so far. The other upside to Reddit is that it’s primarily a place for conversation, so you’ll definitely get that in a way that you don’t on Bumble and similar. Also, I thought I’d become invisible when I hit 40 but from Reddit I learnt that it turns out it makes you massively desirable to men in their 20s and 30s, who are all dying to shag you because they know you’ll be great at it. Also, check out the RateMyCock subreddit, you’ll love it.

    Back when I used to write the Seaside Slut blog I got most of my conquests from Adult Friend Finder, don’t know if you’ve been on there or what it’s like now. I’ve also seen a new app called Feeld which is more about filth than dating. Can’t vouch for it though.

    • Girl on the net says:

      Ohhh I love that you’re doing this! And it prompted me to go check out those subreddits, there are some super interesting ones =) Thank you for the recommendation! I’m after a bit more than just casual at the moment so I probably can’t do much from this list, but I will definitely bear in mind if I’m after casual/one-offs in future.

      I have tried Feeld and was on it for a while (met a couple of good people but neither of those things grew into much more), and it’s a bit of a wasteland of one-line profiles if I’m honest. Some absolute gems on there, because I know at least two (very lovely) ex-partners of mine are on there, so it’s worth checking out to see if there’s anyone good in your area!

  • Moondog says:

    Reading reddit personals ads is a favourite hobby of mine. So many gems!

  • Awesome :) I recently posted in the GBr4f sub saying I was looking for FWB or better, and that if feelings developed and both parties were up for it, that would be OK too. Still got 60-odd people contacting me. :) People don’t just post looking for one nighters.

    Suspected Feeld might be like that, that’s a bummer. I don’t understand why nobody seems to have anything to say anymore on those things.

  • Fajolan says:

    Reading several blog posts one after the other, a sort of obvious idea pops up: flirt at Eroticon. Or would that be too much mixing work with pleasure?

    • Girl on the net says:

      I wrote a massive long comment here that, on reflection, I shouldn’t have written. Basically I have loads of feelings about this sort of thing at the moment and it’s something I should probably write about in a blog to get it off my chest, but the short version is: I can’t do this and you’re partly right about mixing work and pleasure, and I think that becomes infinitely more complex when my work is so tied up in my pleasure ;-) I really appreciate you asking though and I’m going to try and write a longer post about this at some point soon. If you’re interested in the one I deleted I’m happy to send it to you privately but I probably shouldn’t be dumping it all out here like one big old pile of dirty laundry! Much love, Fajolan, and as I say I really appreciate your comment it’s got me thinking a lot! xxx

  • Fajolan says:

    Uh oh. At times I can be the queen of provocative questions. At least it launched a thought process even though not by choice . I’d like to add that I also absolutely refuse to consider my work space a dating space. Reason? Dating with whatever outcome should remain for me an activity not linked to work. To employ an old fashioned term: a hobby. And it needs to happen in a space separate from work. I can avoid meeting ex dates if I keep things separate. And I already continuously need to be in contact with an ex partner as we parent. That’s enough unavoidable exs for a life time

    • Girl on the net says:

      Oh no it’s definitely not an ‘uh oh’ moment- you’re an angel and I really appreciate the question. Sometimes it just takes the right question to help dislodge something from my brain and make me realise what it is I want/should be doing (or in this case, why I *don’t* want to be doing certain things). I really appreciate you asking – thank you for the inspiration! <3

      And 100% totally get what you mean, and I'm sorry that you have to deal with exes. I have seen my friends and some family struggle with that compulsory-ex-contact and it must be extraordinarily tough.

      I love that framing of dating as a hobby, too. I think that's a really nice way to view it and that's also given me loads of food for thought - thank you Fajolan. You're a star!

  • Littlefish says:

    This is a question I’ve been asking myself. It’s easy to get lonely in a city full of people. As a cis het white male in the fifth decade of life, I should really have got a proper job and settled down, but life isn’t really like that. Now I’m single again, having missed the App revolution and only seeing App revulsion, I’m starting to wonder how on earth I might stumble into my next sexual encounter. Will check back here periodically to see if you have any definitive results.

  • Northern Boy says:

    I feel very much the same way about friends, not just girlfriends. I’m a few years old than you, and being child-free, not a member of a church or being in a sportsclub of some sort, I really panic about my declining circle of friends. I’ve some great mates, have had for years, but as they have kids, die, move away etc that it is only reducing. And… how am I meant to meet their kinky friends?

    • Girl on the net says:

      Oh I’m so sorry you have this with friends. I think I’m quite lucky that I have a close circle of friends and not too many of them seem to be leaving the city (and of those that have left, they’re close enough that I can still see them). But that must be really tough. I hope you can find something fun to do that works for you and brings you into contact with a new group of people. I know some people who’ve had great luck with book clubs/film clubs etc, and of course lots of people suggest munches to me for kink (which I think I’ll struggle with cos there’s a lot of ‘running into ex-partners/work colleagues’ worry!) but it is really tricky to find something that works for you and get stuck into it. Wishing you the best of luck with it and I hope your friends can support you even at a distance while you find some new people to hang with!

  • TwoStrokeGuy says:

    How do people get from joining a club to fucking? I met 100% of my sexual partners online, so I don’t really have an experience with offline dating. Back in high school (before the internet became available for mere mortals) I tried to flirt with a girl and asked her out for a date (she declined), but in hindsight I think I was harassing her…

    • Girl on the net says:

      This feels like such a strange question to me because what you’re asking here is ‘how do you establish rapport with someone you like, build trust from that rapport, and then escalate your relationship to a sexual place?’ and that is quite a big question. There are lots of different ways to do that, and all of them will depend on the person, what they like, the tone of your rapport, whether they like you in return, etc. Humans aren’t computer games – there isn’t a button combo to use. These ideas are all about meeting people and making new connections. The connection itself is the start, from there you have to use your words and personality and judgment and all the other things you use when navigating life.

      I’m concerned that you think you were harassing someone, but glad you recognised that in hindsight and I hope you’ve learned stuff that can help you in future. If you’re planning to meet new people, I would thoroughly recommend having a good read of a site like Dr Nerdlove: and getting to grips with some of his advice on approaching/chatting to people. I really rate his perspective and I think if this is the sort of thing you’re worried about then his work might be helpful.

  • TwoStrokeGuy says:

    I’m not looking for a “button combo”, more like a case study :-)

    You say that on date people should ask each other questions – which is a great advice and absolutely makes sense. People are on date to get to know each other. But what about non-date situation, like being at a club activity (playing board games, going on a hike, etc.)? I feel like asking (personal) questions in this setting invades the other person’s privacy. It feels OK to ask “Do you think the rich should pay more taxes?” on a date, but feels really wrong in a club activity. I mean the whole “talking about the weather” thing was invented to avoid these kind of “risky” questions. When does it start to be OK to get into the other person’s private sphere?

    • Girl on the net says:

      “I feel like asking (personal) questions in this setting invades the other person’s privacy.” That depends a lot on what questions you’re planning to ask. But I don’t think it’s possible to have a conversation without questions, so if you’re chatting to someone and not asking *them* anything, chances are they’re asking you: why not begin by throwing their own questions back at them? [“Oh what’s my favourite TV show? I like Taskmaster, how about you?”]

      I am talking about taking an interest in someone rather than delving in depth into their past – people generally like when you express an interest in things they say. If someone tells you they just went on holiday, asking where they went, what they did, what they enjoyed, if they would recommend any activities/places – that kind of thing is good convo. Likewise asking someone what got them into [INSERT HOBBY YOU’RE DOING TOGETHER HERE]. “Oh my brother and I used to play lots of board games when we were younger!” “Cool! Which were your favourites?” Listen when someone talks to you and follow avenues that they express an interest in. I don’t think this is rocket science, but to illustrate I’m gonna flip your question back round to you because I genuinely cannot get my head around what the alternative to ‘paying attention to someone and asking them questions’ might be…

      If you’re at a club activity (like board games, for example) and you want to get to know someone who’s playing with you… but you think asking questions involves invading their privacy… what exactly do you *say* to them? How do you even have a conversation without asking them anything? I don’t understand how this would be done. Do you just… talk at them? About what? I don’t want to assume your background here, but if this is something you struggle a lot with (specifically knowing which questions might or might not be appropriate) then it might be something you want to do a bit more reading about, and practice a little, in broader contexts (i.e. not just potentially romantic ones). Practice having conversations with colleagues and friends where you seek to just find out some stuff about who they are and what they enjoy, encourage them to talk about themselves a little, and practice your own skills of listening and asking follow-ups about the topics they seem excited to discuss.

      And because you asked for a case study, here you go:

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