What You Need To Know About Meeting People In Real Life Instead Of On Dating Apps

mbg Contributor By Andi Forness
mbg Contributor
Andi Forness is an online dating coach and active member of the Jungian Coaching Association and the Society of Women Entrepreneurs.

Image by Michela Ravasio / Stocksy

If you haven't gotten the chance to see a bathroom selfie in a messy bathroom or carry on an engaging "morning" or "whatcha doin'" convo with a complete stranger for a week and they disappear, you may not understand why so many people hate dating apps. Another big complaint is that the person on the app never looks as good as in their photos in real life, which sets up an initial meeting date that is supposed to be fun to have disappointment and frustration instead.

To be on a dating app, you have to learn a new world where there are tons of risks involved, where you can get ghosted, zombied, benched, catfished, and so on.

Places to meet people without dating apps.

Meeting a potential love interest in real life can definitely be better than meeting people online in some aspects because you can get an accurate picture of what they look like, how they carry themselves, and what their energy is like. Another bonus is you can be a more normal version of yourself if you meet someone in real life while engaging in activity versus just meeting a complete stranger for coffee. Having the focus not be on meeting a potential love interest helps some people be more at ease and more themselves. 

Here are some ideas to meet people in real life:

  • Meetups (or specifically meetups for singles)
  • Network events for your industry
  • Alumni events from your college or high school 
  • Sports clubs (like running, biking, soccer, triathlons, etc.)
  • Gyms and yoga studios
  • Friends setting you up
  • Friends of friends at group gatherings
  • Fun education classes and hobbies (think a weekly painting class or some such) 
  • Your religious communities (events at or hosted by churches, temples, mosques, etc.)
  • Volunteer groups
  • Dog parks
  • Camping groups and outdoor classes 
  • Book groups at your local bookstore or library
  • Coffeehouses

But before you go flitting off to that coffee shop, we need to talk about something: 

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The real reasons people don't like dating apps.

Though I understand the common complaints about dating apps, plenty of people have gotten around them and found true love (and quickly) on a dating app, so there must be something else going on behind the scenes, for those of you who hate them. 

Some people might simply be scared. Fear of putting yourself out there for your whole city to see you are single and looking is sometimes very hard for some people, especially if they have been single a long time or have a history of short-term relationships. People are embarrassed to go back online and have people judge them for not being in a relationship or not having the last one work out. Fear of failure may come into play here unconsciously behind the scenes too.

But these fears are unfounded—because the people on dating apps are single and looking too, and there's no shame in that. You're someone who knows what you want and are investing time into seeking it out. Good on you!

Fear of rejection may also play a part in why some people avoid dating apps. Just like if people don't get enough likes on their Instagram post, online daters take it really personally if the person they wrote to or swiped on did not message them back. It is OK! There are a million possible reasons that person didn't write back, and 99.9% of the time, that has nothing to do with your attractiveness and value as a person.

Why you're going to need the same skills dating online and dating IRL.

But even if you're going to go the IRL route, here's the truth: You will have to put in the effort no matter where you're trying to meet people. I have only heard one story of a friend of a friend who fell in love and married the cable guy that showed up to her door. 

Most people choose online dating because it's easier and less time-consuming than going all over town to a bunch of groups hoping perchance there is one interesting person there who happens to be single, attractive to you, and attracted to you. And just like when you meet someone through an app, you'll have to have focus and intention, be communicative, have boundaries, and be open and willing to risk rejection, to name a few, when trying to make romantic connections in real life.

If it turns out that you hate dating offline as well as online, that might be a sign that it's time to sit back and do a little journaling about your fears and hang-ups around dating. You may need to address those deeper blocks before you can finally find a great person to share your life with.

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