Vancouver’s dating game

It seems like anybody who’s nobody (that’s all of us) is online dating. We’ve got some alternatives.

Claire Matthews


Single in Vancouver? Chances are you’re probably on Tinder, OKCupid, or, if you’re real serious, Plenty of Fish (PoF). The latter is the Windows 2000 of websites. I Googled “worst Windows operating system” and picked one that describes PoF: outdated and not user friendly.

Online dating, however entrenched in our lives, seems to be the bane of everyone’s existence. So what’s there to do? If online dating is the worst option next to dating friends of your friends, where else can you meet people in the unfriendliest city?

  1. The bus.

Yes, that’s right. Finding your next date via public transit is the best option for users of Tinder. If you think about it, riding the bus is exactly like Tinder only more awkward because it’s real human interaction. Your eyes sweep left and right over the barrage of faces and sometimes you accidentally look too long. Or you make the mistake of looking at all. Now that person is maintaining eye contact with you and smiling. They’re one step away from saying something about the weather or the construction on Broadway.

Make sure you sit at the back of the bus or stand. If the bus lurches to a halt and you’re standing, let’s hope you bump into some cutie who you have to apologize to. The Bus Ride of Your Life (too much?) is best for introverts. You can rock the looking twice or prolonged eye contact without worry of being harshly snubbed. If someone is checking you out, you can snub them by looking at anything other than them without feeling bad. You’re just not into somebody who has an obnoxious text tone. No worries.

You can write people off as quickly as you swipe right. Did they tap their Compass card, are they wearing a Herschel backpack? That’s an honest student right there. If they didn’t tap, aren’t wearing a backpack, and are awake, probability has it that they’re not a student and they’re riding the bus for free. If fare evasion irks your moral compass, look right past them.

The 99 is the best bus for meeting your next date. But since it seems like 95 per cent of the riders on the UBC B-Line are actually students, so if a poor-but-happy partner isn’t your jam, maybe the next option is better for you.

  1. Donair Spot

When you’re wondering where to go for lunch, head to the Donair Spot on Broadway and Heather. The food is incredible and so is the massive window that looks onto Broadway. Do you know how many people walk past that window in thirty minutes? Neither do I, but it’s probably the same as the number of people who visit your OKCupid profile. I recommend ordering the chicken plate because it’s huge and can justify sitting in front of the window for that long.

The Donair Spot is ideal for OKCupid users. The effort and vulnerability ratio of the Donair Hotspot is greater than the Bus Ride of Your Life. With OKCupid, generally people fill in their profiles like decent human beings, giving some indication of what their interests are and what they’re doing with their life. Note: a lot of people don’t do this. These are the people who don’t order garlic sauce at the Donair Hotspot. Don’t trust anyone who doesn’t order garlic sauce. Even if they’re allergic, is that what you want? Garlic is amazing and can you really live the rest of your days without it?

With the Donair Hotspot, you gotta rock the eyefuck. You have 10 to 15 seconds of sustained eye contact and you want to draw them towards that big window that’s preventing the two of you from being together like you’re destined to be. You must be able to hold eye contact for longer than is Vancouver-acceptable. Sitting behind the writing on the window isn’t recommended, but it could add some mystery to you. The angle, however, is the true advantage to this spot. You’re half as tall as most of the people walking by and from selfies, we know this angle is flattering. Just make sure you lick away the hummus in the corner of your mouth while making eye contact with the nurse walking by. Did I mention it’s right by Vancouver General? So many people in scrubs (and suits) walking by.

  1. Random Stores

Start to frequent stores that have long lineups. This is a great opportunity to talk to people who are enduring the same plight as you. I once had a two-minute conversation with a man about the colour of a lampshade. If he was unmarried and twenty years younger, I might have offered to help him find a room in his house for it.

  1. Work in Customer Service

Get a job in anything involving face-to-face contact with the general public. This sounds like worst thing for your mental health, and it is, but it does come with benefits (sometimes actual benefits like dental). To put this to scale, I’ve been hit on more often making sandwiches at Safeway than I have received creepy OKCupid messages. If you know the OKC game, you know that this number is ridiculous.

I know a lot of these suggestions seem outlandish, and you’re right, but so is online dating. Plenty of people meet their partners online and have meaningful relationships. But opening yourself up to strangers, engaging in spontaneous conversations with a person you’re drawn to in the 49th Parallel lineup might also be the beginning of a meaningful relationship.

A friend of mine met his future girlfriend at a bus stop at two in morning in Downtown Vancouver. We were drunk, bussing to South Van only because we missed the last SkyTrain to Surrey after my boyfriend at the time and his friend got into a fistfight at Waterfront. My friend started chatting with the girl at the bus stop, sat with her, and got her number before we got off. They’ve been together for almost four years.




Claire Matthews is a UBC MFA student, writer, editor, soap maker, and whiskey drinker.