4 Ways To Meet People IRL For Everyone Who's Over Dating Apps
Kelly Gonsalves is a sex educator, relationship coach, and journalist. She received her journalism degree from Northwestern University, and her writings on sex, relationships, identity, and wellness have appeared at The Cut, Vice, Teen Vogue, Cosmopolitan, and elsewhere.
Back in my single days, one of my tried-and-true favorite places to meet dudes was on public transportation. Seriously—I've met at least four or five romantic flings on buses, trains, and subway cars.
If you're sick and tired of dating apps, finding dates the old-fashioned way is definitely still a thing. Dating coach Camille Virginia recently put out a whole guide to it called The Offline Dating Method, so if you have no idea where to start, here are a few of my favorite tidbits of advice from her book. (FYI, her guide is geared specifically toward straight women, but the tips really work for anyone!)
1. Go somewhere solo.
Think events and gatherings where people specifically get together to do something as a group, like group workout classes, wine tastings, or volunteering.
"Most people gather at these events to enjoy the social aspect and meet new people; thus, it's easier to chat up a stranger who's there for the same reasons you are," Virginia writes. "Push your limits by stepping out solo to a place that's just outside your comfort zone. The first time you go there alone may feel awkward—but by the third or fourth time, it will start to feel comfortable."
She also recommends scoping out events posted to sites like Meetup and Eventbrite; lots of people show up to those events by themselves, usually because they're looking to meet some new faces or find like-minded people to do something their usual friend circle isn't into.
2. Be present throughout your day.
You also don't have to go to special events to find potential dates. When you're doing your normal daily millings like grabbing a coffee at the neighborhood cafe, picking up something from the grocery, or riding public transportation, you're always coming into contact with potentially interesting people. I'm sure I'm not the only one who's eyed a cute stranger on the subway!
The key to actually connecting with these people, Virginia says, is presence.
"Being present in the moment is the first step of creating any sort of meaningful connection—from chatting up a woman behind you at the coffee shop to getting a date with a guy in the cleaning supplies aisle of the drugstore. Being present makes you aware of the people around you and creates a safe space for them to take the lead and engage with you," she writes. "Notice the man who stood at the door a few seconds longer so he could hold it open for you—and thank him by making eye contact and flashing a genuine smile. Ask how your waitress's day is going, and truly mean it as you say it."
3. Look for a shared moment with a stranger and comment on it.
"Use the Mind to Mouth Move to share a random observation or showcase your humor out loud to no one in particular," she says. "Look for what I call a 'shared moment'—when something unusual or noteworthy happens and everyone who witnessed it sort of looks around at each other with the expression, 'Did anyone else just see that?' Sharing a short quip takes those situations a step further because you're saying out loud what everyone else is likely thinking."
Maybe you're waiting in a long line at your fave salad place with an attractive somebody standing behind you, or perhaps you and a group of people witness a bizarre incident on the side of the street. Comment on it out loud—someone interesting might just pipe up and respond.
4. Lean on the trusty "yes, and…" trick.
If someone interesting initiates conversation with you at an event, at the park, or on the bus, give them something substantive back.
"A good mantra to keep in mind when talking to people you meet for the first time is the 'Yes, and…' rule of improv comedy. That means whatever the other person says, you find some way to agree and/or build upon it to keep the conversation moving in a positive direction," Virginia writes.
At the core, the key to making a connection anywhere in life is to be positive and be engaged. Stay present and tuned in to the people around you while going about your day, and you'll be surprised by what kinds of romantic sparks you can form in life's seemingly mundane moments.
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