Ditch the Dating App: 6 Tips for Meeting People IRL
You’re out at the bar on a Friday night with your buddies when you happen to see an absolute stunner sitting across the way. After the initial shock and awe wears off, your next thought might be, “They’re perfect, but there’s no way I can just walk up to them. What would I even say?”
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With apps out there like Tinder, Bumble and eHarmony, meeting someone organically — that is, face-to-face without having had any prior interaction whatsoever — can seem more daunting than ever. On a dating app, you have the luxury of scoping a potential partner out, as well as engaging in small talk that’ll help get those introductory things out of the way. You’re also able to gauge whether or not you actually want to take the time to meet this individual in-person.
Contrast that with meeting someone organically, not knowing a single thing about the person you’re about to approach aside from their looks, and it’s easy to see why the prospect might appear terrifying. Your mind starts thinking of all the ways it could potentially go wrong. The questions start, and despite trying, they never let up: Should I offer to buy them a drink? Is it best to start with a compliment? How do I make sure I don’t come off as creepy? Why does life have to be so hard?
If you’d rather prioritize meeting someone in real life over chatting behind a phone screen, here are a few tips and tricks from relationship expert April Masini that may help things work in your favor when meeting organically.
Accept That It Probably Won’t Go the Way You’re Picturing
For better or worse, the interaction you have with this attractive stranger will not end up going the way you imagine. Sure, they could be super easy to talk to, in which case you might nab yourself a first date without much effort … or you could get completely stonewalled, in which case, hey, at least you tried. Either way, the point is just to roll with it.
“The best way to approach someone in real life is to embrace all facets of real life,” says Masini. “You can’t control everything. Things will go wrong. And the beauty of life is in finding your sense of humor, and being charming — meaning rolling with the punches and making things go as well as they can.”
Don’t Wait Around for the Perfect Moment
If you see someone you’re interested in, don’t waste time building up courage before you approach them. There’s no such thing as a perfect moment, and there’s no time like the present. Plus, it isn’t exactly helpful to spend more time psyching yourself out than you need to.
“If you’re at a coffee shop, start the banter and offer to buy her a muffin to go with her latte,” suggests Masini. “If all goes well, exchange contact information and make a date. This is a lot more streamlined than … trying to find her at the same coffee shop on another day when you’ve got your courage, and coming back on subsequent days if you don’t see her again. Strike while the striking is easy.”
Look for Someone Where You Regularly Spend Your Time
Without even realizing it, your usual routine likely sees you at a lot of the same places on a regular basis. Is it possible there is dating potential right in front of your eyes that you hadn’t exactly noticed before?
Look where you naturally find yourself already. As Masini points out, “This may mean the gym, your church or spiritual place of worship, the market, your dry cleaner, restaurants you frequent, bars you frequent, the dentist’s office, public transportation, or your office. Once you get off your apps and open your eyes, you may find lots of people you want to date and never noticed.”
Different Approach, Different Results
Bad luck in the realm of IRL dating could mean it’s time to switch some things up, if just a little bit. You don’t have to drastically alter the way you live your life — just take the time to tweak some of the small things.
“If you’re flying, book the middle seat,” says Masini. “It’s less comfortable, but you have two chances of having someone interesting sitting next to you. Using Uber? Try Uber Pool instead of riding as a sole passenger. You may find someone interesting hops in with you. Say yes to invitations for dinners and parties that you usually say no to.”
It could even be something as small as telling family members that you’re in the market. “[If] your aunt and uncle have friends with children your age,” adds Masini, “let them know you’re looking.”
Don’t Be Afraid to Make Big Changes, Too
Whether you’ve been contemplating dance lessons or joining a book club, taking that leap (if you want to call it that) can lead to completely unexpected results — and yes, that includes finding a potential romantic partner.
“Hire a trainer who has other clients, and who works in a nice gym,” suggests Masini. “You’ll meet others doing the same. Join a club where there’s golf or tennis with people you do and don’t know. Go to clubs and ask people to dance.”
You could also “take vacations in groups [or] pop in to your city’s museums alone, and stare at art until someone interesting comes up next to you to stare, as well,” she adds.
Remember to Smile
To ensure you come off like a completely friendly, approachable person, put the technology down every now and then. It’s never a bad idea to flash those pearly whites at people you pass in the street.
“Most people go about their days with their heads down, their iPhones humming and their fingers flying as they scroll through emails and send texts,” says Masini. “Put the device away and try smiling at people as you go about your day. It’s one of the best gateway behaviors to meeting new people.”
Getting out of your comfort zone and putting yourself out there is often the best way to meet new people outside the confines of online dating. You never know what those social opportunities may yield until you throw yourself into them. At worst, you get rejected, but live to see another day; at best, you’re putting a ring on it a few years down the road.
So really, what’s to lose by taking a chance?
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