There’s a dating crisis in the West.

Around 50% of people in the US say dating has become harder in the last decade or so.

When answering the survey question “How did you meet your current, or most recent, partner?” from one of the UK’s most reputable research and opinion polling firms, the top answer wasn’t a particular method, it was “N/A – I have not had a partner”.

Even if a number of people not in relationships want to be single, loneliness has increased in the last few decades and a big contributing factor is an increased difficulty in starting and maintaining relationships.

Unsurprisingly, some have taken it upon themselves to diversify the ways people can meet and date through alternative dating methods.

Despite the good intentions behind these alternative dating methods, I’m going to show you why none of them will fix the dating rut the West is currently experiencing. I’ll also show how you can proceed on a personal basis to improve your chances of meeting the right people if you’re looking to date.

Alternative dating methods

Single accessories indicating openness to meeting people IRL

As an alternative dating technique to online apps, some companies have tried to use accessories to increase the number of people who meet each other in real life.

For example, one company sells a particular coloured ring that customers can wear on their finger to signal that they’re single and open to dating. The idea is that if this ‘movement’ gains sufficient notoriety, enough people will buy the ring making it easy to identify who’s single and open to being chatted up making IRL meetings easier.

Sounds appealing right?

The problem is as well-intentioned as the movement is, it will not make meeting people IRL easier on the whole. Let’s examine why.

First of all there’s a practical issue.

The ring might be simple to wear but it’s far from simple to spot. It might be a particular colour but with the myriad of accessories people wear on their hands and wrists these days it’ll go unnoticed by most.

Think about it—when was the last time you remembered the hand accessories of someone new you met? Most people don’t even notice large jewel-encrusted wedding rings on a finger let alone a normal-sized unassuming one.

Of course if it’s brandished or hands are explicitly revealed then they become noticeable. But that’s exactly the point. If you’re not in conversation yet (because you haven’t talked to them because you haven’t seen the ring), why would they show their hands to you? It’s a chicken and egg problem.

This is up close. Most strangers won’t be close, they’ll be walking down the street or across the room in a bar. It’s impractical to rely on scoping someone’s hand from a distance before you think you have the ‘right’ to talk to them. It’s also impractical to hover closer just so you can see their hands and then make a decision, that’s creepy.

There are also issues with customer acquisition mostly stemming from gender dynamics.

Anybody who isn’t living under a rock can tell that for heterosexuals, the norm in society is that men pursue women from the outset and less so the other way round.

This means that men, who could comprise half of the customer base, aren’t incentivised to buy one of these rings over (justifiable) doubts that it’d do little in making single women pursue them. Cultural norms are nearly impossible to subvert.

Among women, a different issue arises. Women are the gender with the most abundance when it comes to dating options. While this doesn’t apply for every woman, most women can have options to date from in other areas of life lessening their motivation in spending dozens of dollars on a singlehood ring.

All in all, the gender dynamics behind these factors play a role in reducing the likelihood that the ring’s ‘movement’ will reach a critical mass threshold of popularity.

Then there are other telltale signs.

What I noticed from the company selling the singlehood ring is how heavily they promote their exclusive events for customers. What this means is much of their success in pairing people together comes from how they create a dating event rather than the impromptu IRL meetings from wearing the ring itself!

So if a ring and other accessories ultimately lead to dating events, perhaps then alternative dating events are the key?

Alternative dating events

We’ve all heard of the typical dating events out there. Speed dating and singles nights creating a formalised setting where anybody who’s not taken can mingle with other singles to see if there’s a romantic connection.

There are also get-togethers that don’t pose as definitive dating events but offer the opportunity to meet someone with romantic potential such as networking meetups or language exchanges.

But there are also other types that are becoming increasingly common. These are events that want to set people up for dating but rely on some kind of proxy to do so. These proxies can range from anything such as a ‘Squid Game’ themed dating event or a potluck dinner.

These alternative dating events seem fun on the outside and they can be interesting due to their novelty factor.

But most of the attendees often leave with a sunken heart because the ultimate purpose of the event wasn’t met: finding an actual date.

Alternative Dating Events

I call these types of events ‘gimmick events’. The reality is a lot of the proxies behind them are just novel excuses to create a unique occasion (everyone loves something new) rather than ensuring the matchmaking process is smooth. A classic case of style over substance.

As I wrote in my post on dating events:

“One note of importance is to be aware of gimmick events.These are events with special themes that look like good ways to meet people on paper but can be unnecessarily complexified activities that fail to meet the core purpose of socialisation.

There’s no problem including a fun twist in an event but the core purpose of allowing people to mingle and connect shouldn’t be relegated in importance. It’s fine if you want to attend an event because you find the theme fun in and of itself but if your intent is to meet people for dating, do your research on the nature and organisation of that particular event beforehand.”

When you sign up for an event with dating potential, make sure it ticks a number of boxes.

It should allow you to meet a range of people, not sit you next to only one or two the whole night.

It should allow you sufficient time to interact and connect with others, not only encounter them in passing over a game.

It should have a balanced gender ratio for obvious reasons, not be a lopsided affair.

Unfortunately, most of the alternative dating events don’t achieve these points.

So if there’s no special accessory for meeting people IRL and there’s no groundbreaking new dating event to attend, maybe, just maybe, there’s a unique dating app out there?

Alternative dating apps

I make no secret of the fact that I think online dating is the worst dating method to rely on, especially for men.

Most people have used dating apps at some point. Chances are, if you’re reading this post on dating, you’ve used them too.

Tinder, Bumble, Hinge… you’ve probably used one or all of them with varying success but almost certain disenchantment.

But still you hold out hope that apps can be better. Maybe there’s an off-the-radar alternative dating app that will find you your perfect match?

I’m not going to sugar-coat this: that’s very unlikely. Here’s why.

Dating apps have been part of the cultural milieux for over a decade. Dating websites even longer.

The impact this form of tech had on the life area of relationships was extraordinary. Almost seemingly overnight, societies went from widespread skepticism about meeting people online to near universal acceptance.

With software “eating the world”, all kinds of entrepreneurs wanted to cash in on the success of Tinder by creating their own dating app. You only have to type in ‘dating’ on Google Play or the App Store to see that there are hundreds if not thousands of dating apps all vying for your finger swipes.

Alternative Dating Apps

Within the last year, I met a Romanian entrepreneur in Turkey who told me he’d created what he thought was a unique dating app on iOS for LGBTQ+ people only to have its launch rejected by Apple. The reason? It’s edginess and USP were already being achieved by similar dating apps for that community.

All of this is to say that no matter your orientation, gender, type, interests, kinks and beyond, there’s a dating app out there for it. Over the past decade plus, people have tried to push their niche apps to the stratosphere of Tinder and Bumble and only gotten so far.

And you do need to get far enough to warrant using an app. At their foundation, dating apps work the same way as social media platforms—network effects are paramount. This means you need a certain number of users to make joining and using the app worthwhile for other users.

And to do this on a dating app, you need enough of each gender and/or orientation on either side to attract that interest.

Only a handful of apps have achieved meaningful network effects to make them successful, the ones we know the names of.

This is why even if that salad matching dating app (no really it’s a thing) seems fun on the surface, you’re never realistically going to meet a wide enough pool of people from it due to low network effects.

Even the apps that purport to revolutionise online dating fail to live up to their crusading message eventually. Bumble wanted to differentiate itself from Tinder with certain unique features but years later, the gender ratio skewing that infects all popular apps became inevitable for it too (in case you’re wondering they both have around a 3:1 male-to-female ratio, a terrible distribution for both genders).

If an app experiences success, it succumbs to downsides sooner or later.

Of course, online dating can work for some but if it’s not working for you, you can see by now that sitting around waiting for dating apps new and old to improve your chances of meeting the right someone isn’t a clever way to spend your time.

So what is?

If alternative dating methods don’t work, what does?

If you’ve read my main article on dating, you’ll know what’s coming.

There are only five ways to meet people for dating. Every method, no matter how different it appears on the surface, fits into one of these categories including the alternative dating methods above.

The singlehood accessories and rings are about improving your chances of meeting people IRL meaning they fall under the categories of day encounters and night encounters.

The alternative dating events are just that, dating events.

And of course alternative dating apps come under online dating.

Therefore instead of relying on niche methods, your best bet is to:

-> Read my advice on each category 

-> Pick two or more of the five categories that best suit your personality

-> Go all in on them

The reason I recommend committing to at least two categories properly is because most people are not diversifying the ways they meet people enough. If the extent of your dating life is swiping on a couple of apps everyday, you could genuinely transform your dating life simply by introducing one more category that you do properly.

Very few people on the planet can or want to do all five categories. There are obvious time constraints in doing all of them but more importantly, not all categories will fit your personality.

Reflect on your values in life and where your own personal hard-wiring does best.

Introverted but don’t like nightclubs or the image-based vacuity of dating apps? Day encounters could fit your style.

Love trying new things and want to meet more people in general? Social circle dating might be for you.

Feel like your world comes alive at night? You’ll probably do well with night encounters.

After you pick categories, commit to doing them properly. Don’t bail after a few attempts of meeting people just because they didn’t go your way. Do them until you feel like you’re meeting the people you want or you realise the method doesn’t suit your personality. In which case, switch to another.

It’s hard to see how anyone who follows these steps can’t have a successful dating life or find the right partner with good effort.

Alternative Dating Categories


Alternative dating methods abound. There are a range of accessory-based movements, unique dating events, and niche apps that want to have their slice of the relationship market pie.

The problem is these methods have a ceiling limit in their utility as reliable means.

Singlehood accessories have practical efficacy and customer acquisition issues. Alternative dating events are gimmicky. New alternative dating apps fail to gain enough traction in an oversaturated market.

The reality is the best way to improve your dating chances is to find which of the five dating methods works best for you and go all in learning about them and taking action. This is how you get better at meeting the people you want, increase your number of dates, and improve your love life.

I hope this article has given you food for thought. If you have any questions or want to say hi, get in touch with me as I’d love to discuss this with you and can answer specific questions that can help you.