Get Ready to Play the Cornfield: A Dating Guide for Singles in Iowa
It's Cuffing Season, as the kids say.
For those unaware Merriam Webster defines this time of year as,
a period of time where single people begin looking for short term partnerships to pass the colder months of the year. Cuffing season usually begins in October and lasts until just after Valentines Day.
I have no idea how this trend started, but here we are. Older folks -- was this a thing before social media the term was coined? I know my dad had a girlfriend his friends and family would refer to as 'October Girl,' as she would circulate back into his life around this time of year.
I'll take this anecdotal piece of evidence as yes.
Anyway, dating in a state with a small population like Iowa can be difficult. Dating apps and online dating don't exactly make it easier, either. I collected the following tweets to illustrate my point (you may have to click on the tweet to get the full picture):
Dating apps are typically for those 35 and under, but you get my point.
Though online dating is an option and many people have found success on apps like Tinder, Bumble, and Hinge, people used to find their partners in person.
I can hear the collective gasp from millennials and Gen-Zers statewide. Crazy, I know. But you can do it, too. I promise.
And believe it or not, Iowa has some solid options for meeting a significant other in person. If you're single and lonely, I've got you covered.
1. Seasonal Events
The Midwest gets all the seasons, nothing like those southern states -- California, Florida, Texas. Warm weather all year round. Gross, amirite?
Here's an option: take your little cousin, younger sibling, niece or nephew and find the biggest hill in your area. Go sledding, snow-boarding, or even to a ski-lift. There's always a chance you could find a lady or guy your age doing the same thing.
You can even go snowshoeing or cross country skiing! Just in Polk County, Jester Park offers snowshoe rental, and if you’ve got your own set, you can head over to Ledges or Pikes Peak State Parks that offer some great trails to explore in the winter months. If that's your thing, your boo could be waiting for you there.
You know that adorable movie scene in every romantic comedy where the dude falls down while skating and the girl laughs, helps him up, and they promptly fall in love? Well, there's options for ice-skating in Iowa, too.
Don't like the cold? There's a plethora of indoor activities listed to meet people across Iowa on desmoinesparent.com and traveliowa.com. Things like indoor golfing, visiting the botanical gardens in Des Moines, and even just sitting down at your local coffee shop.
2. Flashback to Your Younger Days and Visit Campus
While Iowa, Iowa State, and UNI are the largest state schools, Kirkwood and DMACC both boast student populations of over 13,000. What would these schools be if they didn't offer some level of entertainment for their students? Other smaller campuses provide a multitude of activities, too.
Particularly for Iowa and Iowa State, sporting events can be HUGE. Kinnick Stadium in Iowa City has a capacity of 69,250 and Jack Trice Stadium in Ames holds 61,500.
There's also basketball and wrestling events at these schools that garner massive crowds. Lord knows you'll find someone who is a die-hard Hawkeye wrestling fan at Carver Arena.
Not only do both of these schools provide fun athletic environments for you and your friends, they provide an opportunity to high five and cheer with those in the sections near you. Why not offer up a wink or buy a drink for that cute guy/gal in the next row?
Have you always been a Hawks fan?
*Talks to someone who clearly doesn't care about the sport at hand* Big football girl, huh? .... Oh, you're just here with friends? Nice, me too. I don't know the entire roster of guys on the team and their hometowns at all.
Okay, tell me. How many points do you think you could score in a game of one-on-one with AJ Green?
Not into sports? No problem.
Universities are hubs for encountering different cultures, food, and music, too.
For example, UNI offers the Varsity Men’s Glee Club Christmas Variety Show that sells out every single year. Speaking from my own experience, having attended the shows my sophomore through senior years as a Panther, there are a ton of pretty girls there. Also a bunch of guys who are musically gifted.
Iowa has consistent musical showings by a varieties of students and will feature the famed a cappella group Straight No Chaser on December 9. Yay, Christmas.
Similar to Iowa, Iowa State features a barrage of musical guests, but will also play host to The Nutcracker Ballet December 11 and 12. I can feel the joy in the air already.
Though most people attending will be focusing on the play and/or concert at hand, it won't be difficult to strike up a conversation with a potential bae (an affectionate term used to address or refer to one’s girlfriend, boyfriend, spouse, etc.: "I love you, bae.") before the show:
What brings you here?
So, I take it your a fanboy/fangirl of The Nutcracker? Same.
Dang, we're both single and good-looking and we're here to enjoy Christmas jingles all by ourselves. What a shame. I suppose I'll be your girlfriend/boyfriend for the night.
3. The Bar or Gym
While this one is a little more general and can be applied year round, it's especially affective when the temperatures get below 10 degrees and you can't exactly spit game on the front patio or at the park.
And I know, there are people thinking "I don't want to meet a girl/guy at a bar." Or "I just want to workout at the gym."
Well, get over it.
Especially for the younglings, there are good people that go out to bars. It's incredibly common for people to want to go out and have drinks with their friends and dance a little bit. I mean, I've met amazing people at concerts where marijuana was wafting in the air and half the crowd was stoned.
Enter with caution, sure, but don't be all snoody and stick your nose up at the idea of meeting someone cool and fun at a bar. Crazier things have happened.
Not to mention, getting a little liquor in the system before talking to the opposite sex greases the social wheels a little bit, too. Have fun, relax, and maybe get your groove thang on. Who knows? One of your friends may see someone they know and the conversation could start super easily. And if not, you'll have a great shot of meeting someone if you approach with confidence.
The same applies at the gym.
Just this summer, while working out, I saw a pretty girl lifting weights in an area I was about to use. All I did was make sure she wasn't using it, too. She said no, we both smiled and went back to what we were doing.
Right when she was about to leave, I caught her and told her I liked the tattoos she had on her forearms -- which I did. They were dope.
We'll say her name was Maddie.
I asked her where/why she got them, about school, where she was from, etc.
Then I confessed "So, Maddie, I've got to be honest with you, I stopped you because I thought you were really cute."
She stopped, smiled from ear to ear, playfully touched my arm, and gave me her phone number on the spot. That was a nice little win for the day.
A. When summer comes back around, you can always go to breweries or rooftop bars. Those are great places to meet people. The environment is fun and laid back. Also county and state fairs are around that time -- the same applies. With all that fried food, alcohol, animals, and concerts, who wouldn't want to fall in love?
B. Singles events are places you're guaranteed to meet someone else who's looking to find a partner. And in cities like Cedar Rapids, Waterloo/Cedar Falls, Des Moines, and Sioux City, I'm sure you can search online and find when/where an event like this is held with ease. You might shy away from these as you see yourself and others at events like this as "desperate." Here's what I have to say to that:
Who gives a damn?
Try it. Maybe you'll find someone of the same mindset, just wanting to try something new. Maybe you won't. At the end of the day you can say you put yourself out there and gave it a shot, and that's pretty freaking cool if you ask me.
C. Look, if all else fails, dating apps aren't the worst thing in the world. I've had three dates in the last couple weeks solely off Hinge. I'm going on a second date with a girl tomorrow and another second date with a different girl later this week. They can work, and much like the other things listed here, all you've got to do is give it a shot.