Dating and Meeting New People in a New City

Getting your bearings in a new city can definitely be a mixed bag. On the one hand, being somewhere completely new can be exciting and inspiring. It’s a chance to start fresh or reinvent yourself completely. When it comes to your love life though, a totally unfamiliar city can be really intimidating, especially if you’re gay, bisexual, or queer.

The “gay-friendly” factor can vary drastically from city to city, so it takes time to figure things out. If you’re going from a diverse urban area to a small town, things can be even more challenging. Here we’ll go over a few tips for meeting new people and making sense of the gay dating scene when you’re navigating your way through an unfamiliar city. You’ll be dating like a pro again in no time!

Take Some Time to Explore the New Location

No two cities are ever going to be alike. That said, the only way to really figure out what you’re dealing with as far as the local gay dating scene is to take your time getting to know the city. (You’ll probably want to do that sooner rather than later anyway, so you’ll know which places are best for having a good time, buying groceries, and so forth.)

Set aside some time to simply explore the city and surrounding areas. Drive around a little. Figure out what the locals there do for fun and pay special attention to any venues that seem gay-friendly. If you know people in the area, ask them about local LGBTQIA+ events you might be interested in. If not, check out the web or the local newspaper for suggestions.

Get to Know Your Neighbors.

Whether you’re moving into a house, a condo, or an apartment complex, it’s never a bad idea to get acquainted with those that are closest to you. At the very least, you’ll start things off on a friendly foot. You may even wind up making a new friend or two that you can actually count on in a pinch down the road or ask about different social opportunities in town.

That said, take the time to introduce yourself to each of your new neighbors. If you really want to be sure of ingratiating yourself, you can bring along a small token of your good intentions. (Edible treats like candy, baked goods, or wine are always winners.)

Be Open to Thinking Outside the Usual Boxes

If your new city turns out to have some social options that are similar to the ones you liked where you came from that’s great. Make sure you’re not limiting your thinking too much though, especially if you’re getting used to things in a smaller town.

The more open your mind is to try new places and venues on for size, the more likely you are to meet plenty of date-worthy new guys. Be willing to research nearby locations and be open to possibly driving a bit to get to a promising hot spot. Don’t just look at bars or clubs either. Farmer’s markets, academic centers, coffee shops, bookstores, and more can be great places to meet single gay men as well.

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Start Hitting the Gym

Although deciding where you’ll be working out now that you’re living somewhere new may not seem like the most important thing on your to-do list, it probably should be if you’re serious about jump starting your love life. No, a gym shouldn’t be treated like a bar or a club. It should be seen as a potential opportunity to get to know some new folks. (Plus, you’ve got to do something to maintain that toned physique, right?)

That said, if you’re hoping to meet some new people at your soon-to-be gym in addition to building some killer pecs, don’t default to the option that’s the most convenient or the cheapest. Every gym has its own crowd when it comes to who hangs out there, so it’s worth your while to find an option that feel like a fit for you. The opportunity to meet people you actually have something in common with is almost certainly worth driving a little out of your way or paying a little more every month.

Consider Embracing Volunteer Work as Well

When you’re new to a town, it pays to get acquainted with your community sooner rather than later. A great way to do that is to do a little volunteer work. Not only will you meet lots of new people, but you’ll establish yourself as someone that cares about being a community asset. It’s also a great way to start feeling less like a fish out of water when it comes to this brand-new unfamiliar place you’ve just moved to.

Choose something you actually care about being involved with. Do you love nature and the outdoors? Try something to do with public parks or local animal rescue. Are you all about connecting with and helping people? Consider a children’s charity or a political campaign for a candidate you believe in. At the very least, you’ll have a rewarding new way to spend some of your free time. You’ll instantly become more attractive to any new potential dating prospects in the city as well. Everyone loves a man with a good heart.

Attend Major Local Festivals and Events

Another great way to meet lots of new people and get to know a new town is to attend as many major local events as you possibly can within your first year there. Yes, options that are more likely to appeal to local gay people are always the best picks, but people from all walks of life tend to show up to events like county fairs, major sporting events, or huge festivals.

Definitely give having a good time your all as well. Shell out the money for a really good ticket so you don’t miss any of the action. Expand your horizons a little too. You don’t have to be a lifelong art lover to find value in an exhibit at the local art museum or a huge beer lover to make going to a local Oktoberfest worthwhile.

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Make Good Use of Gay Dating Apps and Interfaces

If you’re like most modern people, the internet is one of your main go-to resources when it comes to getting information you need. It can definitely help you make a few new friends in your area, not to mention meet some promising new guys to date. For instance, social media platforms or LGBTQIA+ forums and communities are great places to connect with other gay men. Spend some time socializing, asking questions, and reaching out to people that seem interesting or that have some interests in common with you.

If you’d rather just cut right to the chase, gay dating apps are definitely something to consider. Just make sure you choose one that specializes in the kind of connections you’re interested in. You can go with a more traditional option if you’re ultimately looking for a relationship. If you’re really more interested in casual encounters or hook-ups, try an interface like Grindr instead. Grindr helps you find matches via GPS, so it’s a great option for hooking up when you’re in a new city temporarily as well.

Always Make Safety a Top Priority

Yes, it’s importantly to be adventurous, daring, and open-minded when dating in a new city. What you don’t want to do is throw caution completely to the wind. No dating possibility is so awesome that it’s worth putting your life at risk, so always make sure safety is your number one priority, especially when meeting up with someone you don’t know.

When meeting someone in a new city for the first time, pick a public place. If they suggest a spot, you’re not comfortable with for whatever reason, definitely speak up and make a suggestion of your own that’s more suitable. Most importantly of all, always trust your gut. If someone or something doesn’t feel right, it’s better to pass than to wind up in danger. There will always be other opportunities for sweet hookups or dazzling dates.

Don’t be Afraid to Take the Initiative

Being the proactive one when you’re also new in town can be really intimidating, especially if it’s really not in your nature to make the first move. However, you don’t want to let any really great opportunities slip away. Remember what we said about new cities being exciting places that are full of possibilities? Those possibilities are unlikely to just fall into your lap.

Make yourself available to people and opportunities that come your way. Go out of your way to get to know anyone interesting that you meet. Make sure you’re exploring all of your possible options and definitely don’t shy away from stepping out of your comfort zone when it makes sense. You never know when it might lead to your next great relationship, hook-up, or love affair.

Rob West

Rob West

I worked with Matt to build several hookup apps for gay men, including Guyhop.

I've been in the scene for several years now. Eternally single until I find "him".

My background is in marketing and psychology, which gives me a unique perspective on the LGBTQ dating and hookup scene.