Tracey Cox reveals the VERY unexpected places to find love

Who needs Tinder? Tracey Cox reveals the VERY unexpected places to find your next steamy encounter – from the local church to an Uber Pool (and 13 easy ways to make your move)

  • Sexpert Tracey Cox reveals where to find a partner if you ditch the dating apps
  • Suggests looking for love on the commute, at spinning class and even in church
  • It’s all about getting out of mindset that you can only meet on dating apps 
  • Also suggests the best ways to spark someone’s attention in an unlikely setting

Online dating and hook-up apps might be convenient but they’re also demoralising, exhausting and only expose you to a certain type of person.

Remember what people used to do before Tinder came along?

They’d meet in real life!

Look up, not down, and you might just find there’s loads of attractive people standing right beside you. Even better, meeting someone in real life avoids that awful moment when you meet someone you sparked nicely with on screen…to find it’s a fizzle chemistry-wise for one or both of you in the flesh.

Many people are so used to dating online, they’ve forgotten how to do it the old-fashioned way. Or never learned. A lot of millennials struggle with in person communication and lack body language skills because they have no experience.

I met my husband at a pub in Richmond. He was standing drinking a pint, I was sitting with a girlfriend at a table near him. Between us, handily, was a box of matches that came from Stringfellow’s, a strip club in London.

Sex and relationship expert Tracey Cox suggests connecting with potential lovers in real life – and not being afraid to flirt with people in unconventional places, like the back of an Uber (stock image)

I picked them up and called him over. ‘Are these yours?’ I said, narrowing my eyes like I was about to tell him off. He looked at them, squinted, and then said, ‘God no! No, they’re not mine!’.

‘Only kidding,’ I said. ‘I just wanted to talk to you’.

He laughed, I laughed. And then we got married (well, a few years later).

It’s actually easy to meet people. You just have to get yourself out of the mindset that says you’ll only meet them when you’re looking – like on an app or at a club.

Then you have to be brave enough to make an approach. Believe it or not, that part’s easy, once you know how and have done it a few times.

Here’s some unexpected hunting grounds you may not have thought of – and what to do when you’re there and see someone who takes your fancy.


Admittedly, you feel more confident date-hunting with a few stiff drinks under your belt than hovering around the washing powder in your trackpants, but don’t underestimate the supermarket as a potential hunting ground.

More than a few singles have connected while reaching for the same loo paper – besides, you can tell a lot about someone by what’s in their shopping trolley.

The man stocking up on nappies and tampons is married with child; the guy with chocolate biscuits and 25 frozen pizzas is most definitely single.

It’s super easy to start up a conversation as well. ‘I don’t suppose you’ve seen any baked beans in your travels?’ ‘I’m a useless cook. Do you think this is the right ingredient for a curry?’


Even if you’re not religious, going to church is a great way to meet people. Don’t assume everyone will be frumpy or misfits either: Mark Wahlberg, Justin Beiber and the Jonas Brothers have ‘fessed up to believing in God and they aren’t too shabby.

Get there at least half an hour before the ceremony starts.

Everyone knows everyone else, they’re friendly, eager to introduce you to anyone you’d like to meet and invitations to other church related events will come thick and fast.


Next to work, the gym is a hot spot for meeting future partners.

Gym gear is revealing so you get a preview of what they’ll look like naked and there’s nothing sexier than watching a guy lift weights.

Pheromones – natural attractants – are released along with perspiration and there’s plenty of sweating going on. Adrenaline is released when we push ourselves physically, making us feel pumped up and excitable. Add endorphins into the mix – feel good chemicals that release as natural pain inhibitors when we physically challenge ourselves – and the gym is a veritable melting pot of lust-inducing hormones!

Tracey Cox suggests the unexpected places you could meet a lover – and how to start a conversation with them 


You get all of the above, along with the chance to get to know people over a period of time because people tend to run with the same club.

It’s not contrived because you’re there for a reason and there’s generally a good mix of men and women.


Yes, yes, anyone who lives here knows no-one is supposed to strike up a conversation on the Tube. But people do – lots of them.

If you catch the same tube every day, you’ll start to see the same faces pop up. Familiarity works in your favour – the more often we see someone, the more we like them. And theirs. People’s personalities get the chance to shine through and the guy you dismissed as not being tall enough, starts to win you over with a cheeky smile.

If it’s a chance encounter – you’re travelling and see someone who does it for you – you need to act fast.

It takes guts and confidence to chat up a complete stranger – let alone do it in front of a carriage full of interested people – and the rejection factor is about 90 per cent (they’re gay, married or just met the love of their life). But what have you got to lose? If they turn out to be the new lover of your best friend, get out of it by saying, ‘I knew we’d end up friends!’

If you can get close enough to make discreet conversation, be direct. Say ‘Hi. I hope this isn’t creepy but do you want to get a coffee sometime? I can’t believe I’m doing this but you look really nice’.

If you don’t want to do it in front of people, get off at their stop and tap them on the shoulder. Like I said, the chances of them saying yes is probably quite low but at least you won’t spend the next six weeks kicking yourself over what if’s.

Tracey suggests volunteering for charity could provide an opportunity to find a ‘kind, generous, patient’ person  (stock image)


Exciting and dangerous situations boost levels of key hormones that are also responsible for making people fall in love at first sight.

There’s scientific evidence that riding rollercoasters causes the body to release a hormone called Phenyl ethyl-amine which makes us feel euphoric.

It’s also released in large amounts when we meet someone we find attractive.

This is why going on an exciting theme park ride bonds us easily to whoever we’re riding it with.

Stand in the queue solo and ask an attractive man if he’ll ride with you because you’re too scared to go solo.


If you want to weed out anyone who’s selfish and self-involved, do some volunteer work. Here you’ll find kind, generous, patient people who want to make a difference.

Doing something good for others, makes us feel better about ourselves and more confident. Shy people suddenly get brave enough to ask you out.

You work as a team so it’s easy to get chatting and suggest another date by talking about another worthy charity that could use both of your help.


Breathe. We hold our breath when we’re nervous. So take a few deep breaths before making conversation to calm yourself down. It also stops your voice sounding squeaky.

Don’t worry too much about your opening line

People clam up when they see someone they like the look of because they think the first thing out of their mouth has to be witty, charming or dead funny.

It doesn’t. A short ‘Hot isn’t it?’ or ‘Great pub!’ will do the job.

Keep it simple and keep it logical

The best lines are often the obvious. ‘Have you tried the chicken salad?’ while you’re standing in line at Pret. ‘Do you know how to work this machine?’ while you’re at the gym. The more ordinary the topic, the better.

Be impulsive

Most people don’t take chances, so if you do, he’s likely to be terribly impressed.

Thrust a cold, frosty beer into an unsuspecting male hand while saying, ‘Hi. My name’s Lucy,’ and you’ll stop him in his tracks.

Pretend you’re talking to your best friend

Skip the small talk and clichéd ‘do you come here often?’ stuff and talk about what you normally would. If you’re standing at the bar about to get a drink, say ‘God knows I need this after the day I’ve had!’.

Pretend you’re getting their attention for a friend

We’re a lot braver if we’re doing something for a friend than we are ourselves. What would you say if you wanted to get your friend talking to the person? How would you attract their attention and get them talking?

Give a compliment

Find an excuse to stand near them, then turn to them and say something nice. ‘I love your shirt.’ ‘Where did you get those trainers?’ ‘That’s impressive’ (if they’re lifting weights at the gym). ‘That looks nice, what is it?’ (if they’re ordered food). ‘What breed is your dog? I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything cuter in my life.’

Talk about something that’s happened

Brexit might not be the best topic, given how much it polarises people. But something else in the news might have some relevance to where you are. ‘I used to like crowds. Not so much now.’

Introduce yourself quickly, once you’ve broken the ice

Especially if you’re somewhere where they’re likely to leave quickly. Saying your name lets them know you really are trying to chat them up and not just being friendly and chatty.

Once you know their name, use it

Say it three times in the first conversation. Repeating the name of someone you haven’t met before not only shows interest, it makes them feel noticed and important. An added bonus: you’ll actually remember it.

Use ‘we’ as soon as you can

‘Shall we have another drink?’, rather than, ‘Can I get you a drink?’

Linking the two of you conversationally, subliminally plants the idea of linking up in other ways.

Another great word to use…

Including ‘you’ makes people feel you’re talking to them specifically and it pushes the pride button. Use phrases like ‘You would love it’.

Give good face

Popular people have animated faces. Your facial expressions should match what you’re talking about as well as reflect your reaction to what they’re telling you.

A lot of expressions are also infectious: it really is a case of smile and the world smiles with you.

Tracey suggests being impulsive and giving ‘good face’ when trying to chat up a potential lover 


Deliberately walk past someone. The more obvious the better.

Move closer. Make it look like there’s a reason for it (a better table, out of the sun, away from the crowd or moving closer to the action – there’s always a reason).

Use the old ‘look-then-look-away’ trick

It’s the best way to let someone know you fancy them without feeling like an idiot if they don’t fancy you. Look at them until they look back, then drop your eyes and smile to yourself. This says, ‘I think you’re cute but I’m too shy to come over.’

Smile at them

If they pick up on it and smile back, great. If they look straight through you, move your glance ever-so-slightly over their shoulder and they’ll think you were smiling at someone else. A smile is a universal, can’t-be-misinterpreted, simplest way to subtly signal ‘I like you and find you attractive.’ A broad smile and four seconds of eye contact is the clearest signal you can send.

Be easy to get to

Make sure they don’t have to wade through a dozen drunk friends to get to you.

If you want to make it clear the person you’re with isn’t your partner, put some space between you and turn your body so it faces the person you’ve got your eye on. Use your eyes to invite people to join you.

The better looking you are, the more work you have to do

This is what people automatically assume when they spot someone drop-dead gorgeous.

He thinks: She’d never be interested in me/Bet her boyfriend’s loaded and great looking/What could I say that she hasn’t heard a thousand times before?

She thinks: Anyone that good-looking has to be stupid/Bet he’s really up himself/Bet he only dates models, he’d never go out with someone like me.

The good-looking person is thinking: Why doesn’t anyone ever talk to me?/Why doesn’t anyone ever ask me out?/What’s wrong with me?

If you’re above average in looks or have something particularly spectacular (a great set of breasts for instance), no-one will come near you unless you make it incredibly obvious you want them to. Very often, you will have to be the person who goes over to talk to them or makes the first move


Who do parks attract? People with dogs.

Pet owners are proven to have better physical and mental health than people who don’t own one; they also indicate responsibility, loyalty and empathy.

It’s so easy to approach someone with a dog, even a child could do it. And they do.

Simply bound up to the dog and say ‘How cute are you!’ and then say to the owner, ‘Do you mind if I pet her or him? I used to have a dog just like this’.

Sure, it’s a lie but you can confess later and no-one minds a white lie when it’s used to get their attention.


Why wouldn’t you seize the chance to meet other people by clicking on Uberpool if you’re single? There’s a high chance they’re single, too, if they’re riding solo, they’re don’t live too far from you and you’re forced to make small talk.

If you’re both enjoying talking and you’re due to get out first, you can casually say, ‘So I’m meeting friends here for drinks. It’s great. Why don’t you come down and join us later?’


Everyone’s moving at a snail’s pace, stopping to touch and look at things so it’s easy to accidentally bump into them or end up standing beside them.

They’re usually held at weekends so anyone who isn’t paired up, might just be available and the mood is relaxed.

Conversation starters: ‘Is this nice or hideously ugly and I’m losing it?’ I’m buying a present for my brother and he’s about the same size as you. I don’t suppose you’d try this on for me?’


Never say no to a wedding invitation if you’re single. There might not be any single men at the actual wedding but you will meet new people who have single friends/brothers/nephews and grandchildren and would love to introduce you.

Everyone mingles, everyone drinks a little too much and love is in the air.

Milk it shamelessly. Tell everyone you want to meet someone and you never know who you’ll be chatting to on their mobile – or meeting up with – later. 

Visit to find Tracey’s product ranges, books and more non-judgemental information about sex and relationships. 


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