Sometimes I wonder what it was like for people dating in The Before. You’d have to meet someone – in a club, or on the street or whatever – and then give them your number on a piece of paper (provided someone had a pen), and then you’d have to wait for them to ring your house phone, or vice versa. Without the ease of dating apps, or just sliding into someone’s DMs, dating was a purely face-to-face endeavour from start to finish, with a few phone calls or emails in between. It’s a lot to even think about.
That said, plenty of people have developed dating app fatigue in recent years, and prefer to go analogue. Which makes sense: The incessant swiping. The inability to know what a person is like from a few photos and some contrived words on a screen. The fact that chemistry is a physical phenomena – a hand brushing your leg, them leaning over to light your smoke, that sort of thing. Turns out that dating apps were never going to be the “fix all” that we once assumed they might. Re-enter: meeting people in real life once and then dating them.
The thing is, meeting people offline doesn’t come easily to everyone. Neither does flirting. Especially, I’d imagine, if you’re under 25 and don’t remember a time before Instagram reacts. With that in mind, here’s a handy guide to meeting people in real life without dating apps or DM slides.
Go to the right places
There’s no point in wanting to “meet new people”, but then only going to the same three places (your house, the local Aldi supermarket and your mate’s house). You need to get out and see some fresh locations – especially the sort that foster conversation (you probably won’t meet someone at the cinema, for example, or at a dental surgery, although stranger things have happened).
Lalala Letmeexplain, dating educator and author of Block, Delete, Move On: It’s not you, it’s them, suggests going to actual singles events (which might sound cringe, but everything is cringe when you think about it too much). “Joining local groups is also a good way,” she says. “Though join them because you enjoy the hobby and see meeting someone as a bonus – don’t join to pull. Things like group fitness boot camps… Somewhere you might find someone who shares your interests.”
Otherwise, just remain open – or as my mum says, “keep your light on”. “It’s possible to have meet cutes all over the place if you’re open to it,” says Lalala Letmeexplain. “Recently I’ve been approached in a cafe and walking down the street. Though some people might find it uncomfortable, I love the exciting randomness of it. If you are open to random meet cutes, make eye contact with people you fancy, keep your headphones off, be friendly and approachable. Say something non-creepy when appropriate. It’s a good idea to simply get out and be sociable.”
Get into flirting
Some people are just naturally flirty. They’ll lean into you while laughing, or stare at your lips for long enough for you to notice. For others, flirting can be hard work (like those guys who insult people they fancy because they heard on a podcast that it worked, or those people who just completely misread the signs). Or, like many of us, maybe you exist somewhere in between.