BY TAYLOR WADE
In order to learn a language or sport, you must devote a certain amount of hours per week to develop your skill. The same applies to your dating life. When seeking a relationship, you must exert a certain amount of effort.
If you're active on Match.com, OKCupid, Bumble, or one of many other digital dating apps, you carry a dating pool, full of options, right in your pocket. If you're working with a Chicago-based matchmaking service, such as Ambiance Matchmaking, Kelleher International, or Selective Search, your matchmaker carries a dating pool, full of options, right in his or her pocket.
However, if you're determined to find a relationship organically, you must insert yourself into the real world to create your own dating pool. This means constantly engaging yourself in events and activities, and opening your social life to a variety of new people.
My suggestion? Devote yourself to one or two activities that you enjoy. When you're involved in something enjoyable, your body language opens up, allowing a connection with others to occur more naturally.
Below you will find seven great ways to meet singles organically in Chicago. Under each general category, we list our favorite Chicago organizations to help you get started. Do you have a recommendation to add to the list? Leave us a comment!
1. SPORTS LEAGUES
Chicago Sports & Social Club
The Chicago Sports & Social Club organizes a variety of indoor and outdoor sports leagues year-round, including soccer, basketball, tennis, baseball, kickball, dodgeball, among others. This has to be one of the largest sports clubs in Chicago, and they attract mainly singles in their 20s and 30s. I’ve played in their kickball and beach volleyball leagues, and while I haven’t found a relationship (yet), I made many new friends.
Join a league: http://www.chicagosocial.com
2. TRAINING GROUPS
Nike offers a variety of running and cross-training classes in their store located on Michigan Avenue. Classes can fill up fast, so it’s best to register early.
View upcoming classes: http://exp.nike.com/us/en_us/e/cities/chicago/sessions#upcoming
CHICAGO AREA RUNNERS ASSOCIATION
CARA (Chicago Area Runners Association) is the midwest’s largest running organization. For a small membership fee you have access to race schedules and results, Chicagoland training areas (where you can meet other runners) and information on weekly fun runs.
CHICAGO TRIATHLON CLUB
For anyone interested in conquering the Chicago Triathlon (or any triathlon for that matter), this club is great. I joined in 2014 and loved meeting every single person. Join the club and attend their monthly meetings and pre/post-race parties.
Join now: http://chicagotriclub.com
THE ADVENTURE RUN
The Adventure Run offers monthly fun runs. Run a three-mile course and pickup free raffles tickets from the different checkpoints for chances to win great prizes. Enjoy the post-race cold beer while raffle tickets numbers are announced.
3. COOKING CLASSES
READ IT & EAT
Read It & Eat hosts an evening Cookbook Club on the first, second and third Tuesday of every month and a daytime Cookbook Club on the first Thursday of every month. Together, the participants will select a different book every month and members will then each choose a recipe to prepare at home and bring in to share with the group.
Join the club: http://www.readitandeatstore.com/cookbook-club.html
THE CHOPPING BLOCK
The Chopping Block offers classes designed for home cooks with busy lifestyles who have a passion for food. They offer intimate hands-on and demonstration classes covering topics from the building blocks of cooking to intensive Boot Camps led by professional chef instructors.
View classes: http://www.thechoppingblock.com/classes
4. FOOD & DRINK
WHOLE FOODS MARKET
Whole Foods Market hosts a surprising number of social events. My favorite is the 5 for 5 every Friday night from 5-7pm at the DePaul location. Pay $5 and receive 5 food and wine pairings, followed by a large gathering of people in the Red State Bar. The mothership located on Kingsbury is an even larger social hub, featuring events such as Wine & Cheese Night and Rooftop Grilling Supper Club. Even when there’s no scheduled events, the three bars located inside are full of friendly people looking to socialize.
Choose your local store, then navigate to the events page: http://www.wholefoodsmarket.com
5. COMMUNITY EVENTS
Next Door is a community space and lofty café that draws the creative and entrepreneurial-minded due to its wide variety of business and art classes. While it’s open office-style space allows for easy mingling, it might be easier to interact with others while sitting in a “Writing Secrets from a Screenwriter” or “Entrepreneur Boot Camp” class.
Choose a class: https://www.nextdoorchicago.com/web/guest/nd-classes
The social website that comprises meetup.com is massive. You can find fellow enthusiasts for any interest imaginable, including secret supper clubs, culture and arts, beach tennis, and a comedy lovers group, just to name a few. They even have a “Dating for Nerds” group where you can meet 4,964 “smart singles,” or choose from other singles groups.
Meetup with like-minded people: https://www.meetup.com
6. NETWORKING EVENTS
YOUNG PROFESSIONALS OF CHICAGO
Young Professionals of Chicago hosts events that are great for meeting other career-driven individuals. This group is committed more toward contributing to the Chicago community and less of people just handing out business cards. Check out "YPC Social Connect" –– a monthly networking event taking place on the third Thursday of every month. Ticket prices include cocktails, appetizers, and live music. Other organizations that offer monthly networking events include Network & Social and Network After Work.
View YPChicago’s events: http://ypchicago.org/events
Last year, 450 people joined the PAWS Marathon Team to raise $370,000 to help prevent the killing of homeless pets. In exchange for raising $600, runners receive free training through Chicago Area Runners Association and bonuses such as monthly dog-friendly happy hours, weekend fun runs, a pre-race “PAWsta” party and a heated, private tent on race day. The fun runs are held monthly starting in March, drawing about 30 to 50 people to jog with their pooch or a PAWS pup. What a great way to meet other active singles while supporting a good cause!
Become a volunteer: http://www.pawschicago.org/how-to-help/volunteer/become-a-volunteer
HABITAT FOR HUMANITY
This August, Habitat for Humanity Chicago began work on the Powers family's home. This home is sponsored in part by an anonymous donor who has pledged $60,000, and challenges the Chicago community to raise the additional funds needed to build the home. But you don’t have to get sweaty to make a difference. You can also lend a helping hand by joining the action committee or taking over offices duties.
View volunteer opportunities: https://www.windycityhabitat.org/volunteers-indiv.html
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