These days, it feels like if you want to date or have a relationship with anyone, you have to be using one of half a dozen dating apps, or perhaps all of them in tandem. Unless you’re in college or some other highly social environment, chances are it’s hella difficult to make connections IRL. After all, meeting someone in a bar is not conducive to conversation, and anyway, those connections are probably not what you’re looking for.
It seems like online dating is the easy way: all you have to do is connect, upload a few photos, answer a question or two and bam! You’ve unlocked the master key to a veritable dictionary of possible mates and hookups. What more could you want?
If you’re anything like me, you want a hell of a lot more. This may be an unfair assessment, but meeting someone online seems cheap and fruitless, if my experience is any indication. Also if you’re like me, you’re somewhat romantic, and like the idea of meeting someone in person, with actual social interaction, maybe a smile or two, and a touch of serendipity. Yes, I’m a sap.
Unfortunately, people don’t really look for romantic partners or liaisons in person anymore. It takes a little effort. But people have been meeting in person for centuries before Tinder was a thing, and it’s possible. Here are some tips and ideas for an IRL meeting that may just work.
Ask to be set up
I know, I know. It’s probably the worst thing in the world to go on a blind date, but it does have some benefits. It sharpens your dating skills and makes the whole process just slightly less stressful when you go into it without any expectations. Even if it’s a total bust, you have great stories to tell, and you’ve gotten a little more first-date experience. And if you’re afraid of being labeled as lonely or a loser for admitting you’d like a relationship, face that fear. Knowing what you want and making it happen, even indirectly, is nothing to be ashamed of.
Attend your happy hours and encourage your co-workers to invite their friends/S.O.s
You can’t meet anyone if you’re always home by 6:30! Organize a happy hour with your co-workers and friends, and encourage them to bring newcomers (emphasis on single newcomers!). This way, the meeting is semi-organic but not orchestrated in the same way a blind date is. Most “old-fashioned” meetings happened “through a friend.” Your friend could be that friend who indirectly introduced you to your future spouse. That’s the dream!
Get coffee out instead of making it at home
Coffeeshops are full of everyone, all the time. Most people pass through a coffeeshop (even if it’s a busy Starbucks) at least once a day, and if you’re not buying coffee, you’re missing out on some traffic. It can be a strain on your resources but hey, an espresso is only like $1.25. That’s a small investment to make if it means running into someone special. But as in any IRL social situation, meeting someone who is a complete stranger does come with some major hindrances. So you need to…
Be comfortable (or uncomfortable) with approaching strangers
People don’t seek out other people in public as much anymore, so you’ll have to get over this (possibly warranted) fear of looking like the freak talking to strangers. But if someone strikes your fancy, small interactions, like a smile or accidentally-on-purpose bumping into them, may just turn into one of those rom-com meet-cutes you’re obviously looking for. Everyone is a stranger until you talk to them.
If you see them reading a book you liked, tell them that. Introduce yourself. Offer to buy coffee for the cutie in line behind you. Pass the sugar. Spill all your purse’s contents right in front of them. You’ve seen the movies. Be brazen.
Sign up for a new class
This idea has twofold results: you may meet someone who has similar interests in a. writing, b. painting, c. photography or d. meeting someone in person. And you’ll also get to learn a new skill! Classes put you back in that school mindset, and it’s great because if you do take a fancy to someone in that class, you get to see them every time that class meets. And if you don’t, you still have some boss photos to hang in your apartment.
Go to a bookstore, museum, or restaurant by yourself
Meeting someone when you’re with a gaggle of friends is a lot harder than meeting someone when you’re alone. Get used to going places by yourself, whether it’s just to a bookstore or a new exhibit, or taking yourself to a solitary lunch every now and then. Going places by yourself makes you more receptive to conversation from strangers, because you’re more approachable alone. And as always, you should also do some approaching. I personally have been that girl wandering around a bookstore, surreptitiously following that hot guy in the Poetry section. Whoops.