We all get into romantic ruts sometimes. Maybe we’re busy working hard, or we’re traveling a lot, or it just seems like we happen to be circulating in the same crowd and spending all of our time with the same people. Honestly, whose love life couldn’t use a little nudge in a more exciting direction?
Luckily, giving your love life a boost no longer requires making huge, scary moves like setting up an online dating profile, scheduling a bunch of awkward dinner-and-a-movie outings, or begging all your friends to set you up on dates with their single guy friends. This is because we are now living in a post-dating world, where people are connecting (and falling in love!) via more … ambiguous avenues. They are getting to know each other on not-quite-romantic-but-not-quite-platonic non-dates, exploring their connections via e-communication, and feeling sparks of potential, excitement and love with the people in their gaggle.
What is your gaggle? Your gaggle is the group of guys in your life who you might not be “dating,” but who play different roles, fulfill different needs, and help you figure out who you are, what you want and what kind of relationship you ultimately desire. Any time you feel the slightest spark of connection with a guy, no matter how quick or undefined or unexpected, he’s in your gaggle.
And those connections you’re exploring every day with the guys in your gaggle? That’s your post-dating love life. And it’s pretty simple to give that a boost.
The beauty of thinking about your love life in terms of the post-dating world, instead of in terms of the traditional dating world, is that you can take concrete, proactive steps to improve your love life immediately. You can simply begin by thinking about your gaggle, and thus recognizing, forming and cultivating relationships with the guys you know AND the new guys you could be meeting every day. Do this, and, voila! Your love life will be up and running at full steam in no time, via the path that people are actually finding love these days.
Like, really. In no time. Within the next 15 minutes.
How? Here are 10 tips for boosting your gaggle and getting some of those ambiguous – but fun and intriguing and promising – connections going. Today, right away, immediately.
1. Next time you see something funny – on the street, at a store, in a bathroom stall – take a photo of it with your phone and text it to the guy you know with the best sense of humor. Casual, fun, regular e-contact might turn him into a regular before you know it.
2. When you meet a guy who seems cool, regardless of where, when, or how, Facebook friend request him within 24 hours. Many guys now see this as a subtle, no-pressure hint that, hey, you enjoyed meeting them and might be up for getting to know each other further! And he could end up landing anywhere in your gaggle – so open that door. Like a status or two, and see if he starts reciprocating in any way (and yes, that comment on your Instgrammed lunch photo counts).
3. Haven’t heard from an old guy friend in a while? Maybe someone who you used to hang out with a lot, but who now lives across the country, or is working crazy hours, or just sort of dropped off the map? Email him! Just say hi and ask how he is and what he’s been up to. In other words, invite him back into the gaggle for a bit.
4. When your favorite sports team is playing, don’t watch the game alone. Instead, hit up a bar that’s known for having a fan base for your team, or head over to a friend’s house to watch it with a crowd. And then, when your team does something good, high five whichever guy is next to you. Yep, it’s that simple. Now he’s in your gaggle. At least for the evening! A few beers later, you might find yourself with a new friend.
5. As you’re walking out of your latest office meeting with a male co-worker, chatting about the new market projections and laughing about the boss’ new haircut, suggest grabbing a coffee before you both go back to your desk. This guy could turn into a career booster and maybe more.
6. Host a party at your place and use it as an excuse to invite basically any guy who you’ve spoken to in the past year (and of course, to invite all your awesome girl friends as well). No matter how casually you know a guy, include him on the Facebook invitation or BCC him on the Save the Date. And then encourage all your guests to bring friends. Who knows who might show up? Gaggle possibilities all around.
7. If you find yourself really, truly tempted to make out with a guy, and you’re getting the signals that he is feeling the same – do it. Right there. At the party, the bar, the soccer game or the conference (okay, maybe find a private area before you start getting hot and heavy in a professional setting). Quiet your doubts, push away the hints of your mother’s claim that no guy would buy the cow if he could get the milk for free, and just have some fun with your hot prospect already.
8. Say yes to the next three social engagements that you’re invited to. Don’t judge whether they sound weird or lame or boring. Just say yes. You can catch up on “Girls” tomorrow.” But for now, go out into the world, see what it has to offer, and open yourself up to possibly meeting some surprising and interesting new gaggle members in the process.
9. Buy two tickets to an upcoming event – a concert, or art show, or interesting talk – and don’t decide who is getting the second one yet. As the event gets closer, begin mentioning it in your conversations with guys and see who seems interested. When someone sounds as excited about the event as you do, invite him! No matter how casually or randomly you happen to know him. Having similar interests and passions is always a good jumping off point for expanding and diversifying your gaggle.
10. Join an organization. Any organization! A sports team, a political campaign, a writing group, a young members’ club, or even a photography or language class. The organization doesn’t have to be specifically or emphatically “co-ed” – but, there should be guys there as well. And then, start talking to those guys. Don’t worry about going on dates with them or falling in love with them. Just start talking to them, and see where it goes from there.
Jessica Massa spent a year traveling the country to conduct research on the modern romantic landscape and is the author of The Gaggle. She and her best-friend-turned-business partner Rebecca Wiegand co-created the gaggle concept and co-founded the post-dating website WTF Is Up With My Love Life?!