Here's a truth: if you want to date people, you have to meet them first. Scientists have been working hard to devise a workaround, but if you sit around waiting for them to finally engineer a technology which beams prospective suitors into your living room, you'll waste away your glorious, precious youth.
In most cases, meeting people involves taking off your pajamas, putting shoes on, brushing your hair, and leaving the house. You could presumably fall in love with your food delivery person, but let's be real: this isn't a rom-com, this is your life.
People meet other people everywhere. In fact, most cities suffer from people infestations: there are potential paramours swaying to the song playing on their iPods on every corner, shoveling food down their faces in restaurants, giggling into their comic books on subways. Winners, all of them!
So, what's best way to meet the one that's right for you? Where should you go searching for that flawed human being who'll make you deliriously happy and deliriously miserable in equal measure? I've broken down the pros and cons of some common meeting-boys scenarios. My opinions are based exclusively on personal experience and anecdotal knowledge. The only thing I'm sure of? I love boys / boys suck; Love is not a game / love is a battlefield.
Pro: They've been vetted, so depending on what kinds of friends you keep, you're less likely to stumble across a maniac, sociopath, or pie obsessive. You typically meet in a low pressure way (bowling!) and your first few interactions likely occur in a group setting, so you get to skip a lot of the initial awkwardness of dating, establish a rapport, and figure out how much you like them before diving into more explicitly romantic territory.
Con: It'll be too easy to pester your friends for details about his previous relationships, which is information you almost certainly don't need to know but are incapable of resisting. If things between you don't work out, your friends will find themselves in an uncomfortable position: most bystanders don't know how to avoid the gravitational pull of the he-said/she-said blowback which follows the demise of most short-term relationships. And each time you run into him will be a real test of your maturity, which sounds like an upside, but who are you kidding? Tests are hard and uncomfortable and you should try to avoid them at all costs.
Pro: Minimal legwork. You appear at a social establishment, he appears at the same establishment, you eat food or drink drinks, talk about yourselves, and figure out whether or not you'd like to do it again in a week or so. You might genuinely like the person you meet.
Con: The cons of blind dating have been well-documented. Most people are bad matchmakers, so blinded by their own feelings of affection for either or both parties that they can't anticipate anything but a happily-ever-after ending to the set-up. It's also pretty much impossible to predict whether or not the two people in question will actually be attracted to each other, and news flash: most people are not attracted to each other. Attraction is a statistical improbability, and your blind date is likely to be the pheremonal equivelent of a troll. But you'll still have to be nice to them, out of respect for the person that set you up, and maybe even kiss them at the end of the night. In this case, staying home seems like a better use of your time.
At a Party
Pro: You probably look your best and are having fun, as will the other person, so you'll be making a great impression on each other. You have some social ties to each other, but maybe not a claustrophobic number of mutual friends. Whatever relationship you have proceeds organically, bypassing some of the more uncomfortable aspects of contemporary dating rituals: the night you meet is technically your first date.
Con: Life is not a party, and the personality traits which might have made him appealing during a well-attended festivity (particularly if you've had a couple drinks) might not translate well to the bright light of day. Does he have a job? Ambition? A habit of listening to other people and caring about them? What's up with that mole?
Pro: You can sift through hundreds and maybe even thousands of profiles, giving yourself free reign to be as picky as possible. If you want to date only 6-foot+ Stephen King-fanboy amateur hockey players with younger siblings, there are probably five in your area registered on OKCupid. Go forth and be unreasonably selective!
Con: The attraction factor is as much of an issue with people you meet online as it is for blind dates. You'll spends tons of time messaging with various people and then joining them for a drink only to discover that you'd rather be organizing your sock drawer than sitting beside this person and paying attention to the words coming out of their mouth. Online dating might seem easy, but it's more work than any other method: instead of allowing yourself to stumble into romance in your day-to-day life, you have to set aside a portion of your time and mental energy for finding someone you'd enjoy making out with. Whether or not you should online date depends entirely on how badly you want to be dating in the first place: if you've just gotten out of a longterm relationship and want concrete evidence of all the other fish in the sea, go for it! If you're bored and want to have an interesting experience, go for it! If you really, really, really want to be dating and can't stop thinking about it, online dating is a surefire way to kill your dating drive.
Pro: You spend a lot of time in the same environment, so you get to know the more mundane aspects of each other's personalities and lives extremely well. You have a lot of common ground, so the intial stages of dating are more likely to be easy and pleasant. It's a very common way to meet people, so you have convention on your side.
Con: You know about this. If it doesn't work out, you'll still have to see each other every day. It will be awkward at best, painful at worst. If you end up involved with a superior, you'll rile up your coworkers and send your HR department into a panic. You have to be SURE that both you and the other person are reasonable, mature human beings that would handle the breakup with as much dignity and grace as possible, and that's a tall order.
Pro: My very favorite. Meeting someone when you're least expecting to meet them is the stuff of romance. Whether it's at the grocery store, at a coffee shop, while you're locked out of your apartment and trying to break back in, you're establishing a relationship on a foundation of whimsy and chance. Gravitating towards one another because "it makes sense" or because you've developed a habit of chatting might be a shortcut to many healthy relationships, but I say that the ideal route to a partnership is through a tunnel of wild, untempered infatuation.
Con: You can't plan it, it just happens to you — sorry, control freaks. Also, he might be a serial killer or a Lady Gaga fan.