How To Meet People IRL If You Hate Dating Apps

Photographed by Michael Beckert.
No matter how commonplace dating apps have become, they're not necessarily for everyone. In fact, a lot of single folks find apps to be hell on earth — an exhausting place where you're judged in the time it takes to swipe one way or the other. And that's totally cool. These things aren't for everyone, the same way walking up to a stranger in the park and asking them their sign isn't the way some folks care to do things. But the question is, how do people who hate apps actually go about meeting people?
"Everything comes with a price, right? The price of dating 'organically,' so without an app, is that you have to learn to put yourself out there in the real world," says Carlen Costa, PhD, a sexologist and psychotherapist based in Ontario, Canada. "You've got to take an active approach to your dating life versus waiting for someone to come to you."
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This can be a really daunting idea for a lot of people, especially considering how dating apps have made the age-old tradition of, you know, approaching people at bars not the norm. But if the digital middle man of the dating app is removed, then it's up to the person looking for love (or lust) to take matters into their own hands — even if it means opening themselves up to rejection.

"The rejection you might be manifesting in your mind is so much worse than it will be in real life."

Megan Stubbs, EdD
"The truth is, though, that the rejection you might be manifesting in your mind is so much worse than it will be in real life," says Megan Stubbs, EdD, a sexologist and relationship expert based in Michigan. "Most people are polite, and chances are they aren't going to reject you outright." But this fear of rejection can also manifest in a completely different way: expecting other people to approach you. "People think that dating and finding a relationship is a passive state of being," Dr. Costa says. "Whether you're online, or doing it organically, you've got to learn to drop your ego. You can be looking for a casual hookup and have ego, but you can't have ego and be looking for a relationship."
The next part is easy: Put yourself in environments that you already find interesting. "Do things you enjoy doing, or think you may enjoy doing," Dr. Stubbs says. "This can be an event at the museum, a beer tasting event, a free concert in the park — whatever!" That way, you're surrounding yourself with people who share your interests, which makes for an easy opportunity to strike up a conversation. "It can be as simple as, 'Hi! My name is Megan. Do you come to beer festivals often? Can you recommend one that you love?'" Dr. Stubbs says.
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Another great tip? At a bar, start chatting up the bartender and they can play connector for you, especially if the bar isn't particularly crowded. All of this can take some practice, so don't feel discouraged. "Utilize the people around you, even your friends," Dr. Stubbs says. "Don't think that you're a charity case if you ask your friends' partners, 'Hey, do you know anyone to set me up with?'" They may not have even considered playing matchmaker, so planting the idea in their head can set off a lightbulb.
It can be difficult to meet people out in the real world when everyone is swiping, but it's far from impossible. And even if you don't wind up with the love of your life, you could wind up with a bunch of new friends — and that's a pretty amazing consolation prize.
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