How Are You Actually Supposed To Meet People To Date IRL? We Have Some Advice

As the years pass, online dating becomes more and more popular. Even before the pandemic, when homebound activities became the norm, a study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found that straight couples meet through dating apps more frequently than through friends or family members. But aren't we bored of dating apps and the dull, droning discourse that surrounds them? Enough with the fish pics! These days, the thought of meeting someone in real life feels exciting — refreshing, even. But can you even do that any more? 

Yes, you definitely can. In fact, meeting your future partner IRL may have more benefits for your eventual relationship than you'd expect. Consider the ways in which dating apps fall short: The same repetitive prompts on every profile, character limits that prevent in-depth responses, and only a few photos to look at — and who knows if they're real or not — may simplify sorting through potential partners, but make it harder to determine the quality of your matches. Meeting someone in person gives you a chance to see who they really are, including how they interact with others — like you, their potential long-term partner. Here's some advice on how to get the most out of your IRL meetups.

Focus on what you really want

Sometimes, there's a big difference between what you want in a relationship, and what you think you want. When you use dating apps, you limit yourself to a select pool of contenders who only offer limited information about themselves, and you have zero opportunities to judge your chemistry with them. (As you know, your dating profile cannot contain your own multitudes, either!) 

So, instead of settling for the best from that bunch, why not identify what you really want out of a partner and go out into the world, determined to settle for nothing less than the best of everything? This might sound like a challenge, and seeking perfection is usually a fool's errand. Still, reframing your mindset and making sure that dating works in your favor, rather than settling for whatever you find online, can make meeting a potential partner IRL less daunting.

Besides, taking care of yourself, pursuing hobbies that interest you, and showing up in the world in a way that feels genuine are not just compelling qualities to others, but also good ways to meet someone with similar values. The beauty of this approach is that you will continue to put yourself first without feeling pressure to find someone who might fit your lifestyle — you'll already know that they do.

Brush up on your conversation skills

We get it. Starting a conversation with a complete stranger, as nice as they may seem, can be awkward. What are you supposed to say? What if they don't reciprocate your interest? Worrying about "messing up" a conversation is a valid concern; nobody wants to feel embarrassed. But this is all part of dating — rejection is nothing but guidance for the future. Consider that the people around you want to connect with others, too. They might be thankful to you for making the first move, even if it doesn't result in a love connection. 

Ask someone about their order at your favorite coffee shop, or for recommendations at the local bookstore, and see where the conversation leads. Then, pay attention to how you feel. Does it seem like the person's talking over you? Do they make you comfortable, or put you on edge? Do they show a genuine interest in what you're saying? This is the kind of information that's easier to determine IRL than on an app. And before you jump to conclusions, feel free to accept the connection for what it is. Don't worry about a future trip down the aisle; just enjoy meeting new people. 

Most important of all, though: When you're sick of dating apps, just remember that there's a whole world of people waiting for you who you won't find online. Trust yourself and get out there!