A decade into the dating app frenzy spearheaded by sites such as Tinder, Grindr, and OkCupid, singles are exhausted. Stuck in never-ending text conversations and catfished by fake images, people are turning to other methods of finding romance. Often, this means going old school. But the pandemic and increasing dependence on technology have made meeting IRL more difficult than ever. Here’s the lowdown on looking for love this way and some tips for meeting someone without online dating.
People who exclusively date online are no more successful. You might worry that if you’re not using dating apps, it’ll be harder to find someone, but that’s not necessarily the case. “Statistically speaking, the number of successful people meeting someone special on dating apps is very similar to those meeting someone on their own,” says Amber Kelleher-Andrews, a relationship expert and the CEO of Kelleher International. “In fact, it is surprisingly close, with 54 percent saying they met a significant other on a dating app.”
A lot of people are sick of dating apps. While they’re still overwhelmingly popular, you’re not alone in wanting to meet someone the old-fashioned way. Kelleher-Andrews explains: “It feels like we have finally hit a tipping point, and users themselves are getting tired of these hookup sites. Not to mention they take tremendous effort to keep up with.”
If you need extra help, a professional matchmaker might be able to help. “Dating apps are an option, not a requirement. They can supplement your search, or they can steer you towards volumes of singles with which you have absolutely nothing in common,” says Tammy Shaklee, founder of the gay and lesbian matchmaking service H4M. “Outsource your search, and let a professional comb through your options and introduce you to someone seeking what you are seeking.”
Tips for meeting someone without online dating
Volunteer. If you want to do something good for the world while also doing something good for yourself, find your local food bank or nature conservancy and sign up for some shifts. This is a great way to meet like-minded people in a meaningful environment with a common goal. And even if you don’t end up falling in love with a fellow volunteer, you’ll have contributed something positive to your community.
Go to local events for singles. The events scene for singles is up and running again now that pandemic restrictions are easing. And while the idea of singles events may conjure negative connotations, they’re not limited to awkward community dance lessons for adults held in high school gyms anymore. Websites such as Meetup and Eventbrite will keep you up to date with the latest options in your area.
Tread carefully with colleagues. Dating a coworker is risky. You’ll have to see them every day, and unless you’re certain that you will stay together forever or at least be friends no matter what happens, things will get pretty awkward. Even if you end up living happily ever after, do you really want your partner to be a part of your professional life? These cautions aside, however, love is rarely convenient and therefore you shouldn’t rule out something special just because it might interfere with your workplace environment.
Strike up conversations with strangers. Talking to total strangers feels taboo these days, but as long as you do it respectfully and in the right context, it can be the beginning of much more than a conversation. Approaching someone in a bar is an obvious option, but even finding opportunities at the gym or when you’re out walking your dog could yield positive results. Obviously, it’s crucial to read the room. If someone looks uncomfortable, leave them alone.
Start group hobbies. One of the best ways to improve your life on all levels–romantically and otherwise–is to start going to group classes and activities. Anything from language, pottery, yoga, jiu-jitsu, and everything in between will introduce you to new people and help you develop new skills. There are plenty of ways to make it affordable as well, such as joining an informal running group or book club.
Go to cafés alone. A lot of people (especially women) dread being hit on by strangers when they’re alone, but sometimes it can work to your advantage. Striking up a conversation with the person at the table next to you in your local coffee shop could lead to something special. Even if they don’t end up being the love of your life, they might end up introducing you to the person who is. When it comes to meeting a future partner in the real world, you have to treat every interaction as a networking opportunity.
Use your friends as resources. Despite the attention that dating apps get, a 2018 survey showed that only 8% of couples met online, while a whopping 39% met through friends. This indicates that, while you may think you’re taking the path less traveled by rejecting online dating, you’re actually pursuing the most fruitful option. Pester your friends about finding you a date, and you may end up in a relationship even faster than you’d hoped.
Go to all the parties. You may think you’re past the hedonistic days of your early 20s and prefer to curl up on the sofa and read a book on a Saturday evening instead, but if you want to meet a future partner outside of online dating, you have to be social. Parties are a great way to meet someone because there is an expectation that strangers will mingle and strike up conversation. You can stick to the parties that you know will be your speed, but push yourself to accept invitations as much as possible.
Hire a matchmaker. There’s a flurry of reality dating shows on streaming services these days, with a particular emphasis on matchmaking and compatibility experts. This may have gotten you wondering if you might benefit from a similar (though less public) arrangement. Professional matchmakers can be a great way to cut out the algorithms and have an actual human curate your love life. It’s more expensive than other options, but if you have a packed schedule and are burnt out on dating, it’s a great option.
Pay attention to your surroundings. You never know when the love of your life might walk into your orbit. It could be in line at the grocery store or the waiting room at the vet’s office. Be on the lookout for seemingly random encounters. If you’re staring at your phone every time you’re in public, you might miss the attention of someone special. Don’t be afraid to make eye contact with strangers who attract you. Remember: everyone’s soulmate was a stranger at one point.
Do not underestimate the power of mindset. It sounds corny, but mindset does make a difference. If you go into interactions with people expecting to be disappointed, they will feel it. Letting rejection get you down will also negatively affect your chances of finding love because it will make you withdraw from social situations that might be the key to your success. Keep a healthy balance of relentless positivity and realism and you will eventually find the person you’ve been looking for.
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