By now, most of us are more than familiar with all the positive things online dating can bring to our lives. Some of us have been force-fed the rationale until we fully believe what the institution of modern love would have us believe: the internet may not seem a romantic milieu at first, but unlearn your romcom upbringing, and open your mind already, because the myriad apps and sites devoted to hooking you up with love or sex are highly practical.
You can filter people by height, for god’s sake. And spelling ability. And you know, everything else. While all of this may be true on a level (I know at least one person who met her future husband on Tinder), and oh-so-helpful to the socially awkward, the “too-busy-to-date,” or the rural recluses among us, as well as anyone else who simply prefers the ability to swipe freely or choose from a curated list, for some of us there comes a time when we must decide: should I go offline?
I’m not saying this has to be a fully conscious choice. You may already meet people both on and offline all the time. But there’s such a thing as an online dating rut. The kind that has you swiping with a scowl and forcing yourself to respond to the latest inane “how’s your day?” The kind that has you believing there’s always a better, hotter, more well-suited candidate just a swipe away. The kind that has you watching those old romcoms and sobbing ‘cause you just want someone to sweep you off your feet in real, uncontrived life. Let’s face it, sometimes dating apps simply don’t feel like real life. While it’s true they can be practical, and while it’s totally possible to meet a/the one online, if your texting muscles are tired and you’re tired of going on dates with people you’re convinced you’re attracted to until you lay eyes on them (oops), then it may be time to stop hating on dating and think outside the modern love box. Depending on how you’re feeling, you may even want to delete those apps altogether and embrace a new approach. You might surprise yourself.
Need some inspiration? Consider the following 5 ways to meet someone (gasp) offline:
1. Look up from your phone
And take out your headphones! Technology can create a real barrier to meeting someone. First of all, there may be someone checking you out who chooses not to approach you because you look busy, lost in conversation, or antisocial.
Second, when you open your eyes and notice your surroundings and the people around you, you may actually straight up see someone who rocks your world. If both of you happen to be unplugged, you can strike up a conversation much more easily, by asking a simple question, maybe. If your phone is tucked away, asking for the time or for directions is perfectly valid. Eye contact can be scary, but this is the stuff that offline heart flutters are made of. If there’s a mutual spark building from across the crowded subway car: lock eyes, smile, look away, look back again.”It’s the real-life equivalent of swiping right!” says dating coach and certified matchmaker Francesca Hogi. As long as you’re friendly and open to interactions when you go out into the world, it’s hard to go wrong.
2. Let yourself be set-up
It’s not that much of a stretch. Consider that the “blind-date,” once an actual thing, has the potential to be much more connected to who you are and what you’re after than a dating app. This is about being open to people who know you setting you up with people they know—whether you’ve met them or not. Go one further: ask a bunch of your friends to set you up with a friend of the appropriate gender(s) who is single and looking. Feel free to add a few basic criteria. Do your requesting by email if that’s easier. Think it’s embarrassing, pathetic, or desperate to go this route? Well, it’s not. It’s simply proactive. I recently had a friend message me on Facebook seeing if I was interested in a friend of his. Turns out I wasn’t, but now we’re on each other’s radars, shooting people of interest each other’s way as they come along. Isn’t that what friends are for?
You know, in real life. There’s a ton to be said for putting yourself in places and situations that make it possible to meet someone—the least of which might be meeting someone. Finding events and activities you dig will also just make you healthier and happier, straight up. Which in turn, hones your power to attract and be attracted. Going outside your usual circle of friends is a great idea since you never know who can introduce you to the one you’ve been wanting to meet. While doing things you like doing is wise, you may also want to consider inserting yourself into environments where you might attract the kind of person you’re lusting after, which may mean trying new things. Of course, don’t take scuba diving just to meet a guy if you hate being underwater.
4. The bar
You heard me. It may seem a little too 90s for you, and while bars have a rep for being good for hook-ups and nothing else, this is not always true. My first serious boyfriend happens to be someone I challenged to a game of pool in a bar. Why not go out with a couple of girlfriends, play pool, shoot darts, sing karaoke, do bar trivia, or whatever it is that makes you happy. Celebratory mode can help us open our eyes. If someone happens to catch your eye, make sure to schedule in a fully sober date before you make up your mind about them as actual dating material. Not that hook-ups are not okay. They are. No matter what you’re after, always exercise caution where booze is concerned, of course.
5. Date yourself
Seriously. Go places alone. I know it sounds daring, but I used to go out dancing by myself. For the sheer love of dancing, because I never had friends who liked it as much as I did. I also used to sit alone at bars sipping whiskey and writing poetry. I happen to be getting back into these things. Dare to challenge the antiquated, oppressive notions that women can’t go out alone just because. Look good, feel good, be confident, and treat yourself the way you’d like a date to treat you.
While this may feel awkward at first, you are giving yourself the opportunity to step out of your comfort zone—an integral skill to develop when creating the love life you want. And of course, if you’re open to meeting someone, you just might.