A few years ago, a friend introduced her new boyfriend. When I asked how they'd met, she lowered her voice and leaned in conspiratorially, like she was about to disclose her bank PIN and mother's maiden name. Turns out, they'd matched through a dating app but were officially telling people that they'd met at a pub — as in, the pub where they'd arranged to grab drinks after weeks of chatting online.
These days, you'd be hard-pressed to find a London single — and even some two-timing not-so-singles — who hasn't outsourced their love life to dating apps like Tinder, Bumble, Happn, Her, Raya and The League. There's no stigma, just a steady stream of swipes.
Dating apps and sites offer convenience, choice, and instant confidence boosts, and many of the couples clutching red roses and paying for overpriced steak-for-two this Valentine's Day are bound to have first connected online.
For the rest of us, however, it's easy to get discouraged by dick pics, matches that don't go anywhere, and first dates that fizzle out within the first 30 seconds. Many people crave chemistry and crushes and banter and the flush of flirting in the flesh. They want spontaneity and meet-cutes worthy of a rom-com. It's not that online dating rules all that out (see: You've Got Mail); it's that meeting someone IRL (in real life, Mum) and by chance can feel, for some, more romantic and kismet-y.
There's no wrong or right way to meet The One. But if you've got Bumble burnout or feel like you'll never find someone if you're not swiping enough to develop carpal tunnel syndrome, take heart. These London-based couples all met IRL — through work, through friends, hell, even through parents — and are proof that "old-fashioned" offline romance hasn't entirely expired.
Who knows? Maybe next Valentine's Day you'll be splitting a crème brûlée with someone you met in an Uber pool, at a pub quiz, or on a blind date. And if not, there's always an app for that.