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How to Meet Your Next S.O. Through Pokémon Go

A week ago I was in New York City, wandering the streets in search of Pidgeys and that elusive Tauros. When Pokémon Go came out, I expected it to be a cult hit—nostalgia-stricken millennials would certainly download it, but I didn’t think the rest of the world would. I was wrong. On one walk through Central Park, I ran into no fewer than thirty fellow trainers, many of them posted up in the same spot, chatting and getting to know each other over this bizarre smart phone game. Almost all of them were around my age, but other than that, the fandom seemed not to discriminate; there were trainers from every race, every gender. I’d never seen such an instant bonding experience from a social media-based game, and it was the most people I’d met in one day in the city. That’s when I realized what an awesome dating tool it could become. Here’s how you can do it.

1) Really play the game (AKA don’t be a poser). There’s nothing more skeezy than someone who pretends to like something just because they want to hit on people who actually do. If you’re going to try to meet (and date) people through Pokémon Go, you’d better really care about the game and not just be using it as a tool. It’s a fun game—give it a shot.

2a) Find Pokéstops that have had lures laid out. If you see a Pokéstop with confetti streaming out of it, that means someone has deployed a lure (a device that lures wild Pokémon). Anybody within several blocks can see that on their map, and you can reap the benefits if you trek out to wherever it is. That’s your best bet to find other trainers; they flock to a lure like ants to a picnic.

2b) Find a gym. An alternative to a Pokéstop is hitting up a nearby gym. If you see the icon above it flashing and displaying signs of a battle, it means someone is currently trying to take control of it, and you’ll easily be able to spot them if you make it there.

3) Look for people with their noses in their phones. If you’re in a populated area, you’ll probably find several others training at that Pokéstop, and you’ll know them by their age and look of intensity as they stare at their screens. Scope out the situation and see if anybody cute fits the criteria. If you find someone, you can make a move.

4) Ask if they’re playing Pokémon. I just read that Pokémon Go now has more downloads than Snapchat, in its very first week, and it’s well on its way to surpassing Twitter. By this point, everyone knows what it is, and asking a stranger if they’re playing won’t be weird—plus, chances are, if they’re hanging out at a Pokéstop and they’re intently looking at their phone, they probably are. Find out what they’re doing, what they’re trying to catch, what their highest level Pokémon is…that sort of thing.

5) Shift the conversation to get more personal. Pokémon Go is a fantastic first interest to have in common—it’s a solid conversation starter and any true Pokémon fan could go on for hours—but if you’re really trying to seal the deal, you’ll have to shift the focus to something outside of the world of Kanto. Exchange names/Facebook info once you’ve talked for a bit, if you feel like the chemistry is there. What more romantic story could you think of to tell your kids than that you met while tracking down a Pikachu?

6) Don’t be creepy. Never ever go into any situation solely with the goal of hitting on someone. If you start talking to them and they don’t seem interested, just drop it. Just because you both like Pokémon doesn’t mean you’re a match made in heaven. Respect your fellow trainer’s space and let them do their thing; if you guys are meant to be, the Pokémon gods will smile on you and you’ll end up with a coffee date (and maybe someone to train with as you try and catch ’em all).

Are you obsessed with Pokémon Go, or are you a traitor to your generation?