Last year I found myself single (again). But why relationships never work out for me, well that’s another story.
I know I’m incredibly late to the party, but for the first time, I threw myself into the world of dating apps. And whilst it wasn’t all bad, I definitely now get why pretty much nobody wants to be there.
It can feel like modern dating makes it hard to find someone.
So where do you turn when you want to meet new people, date, and even find love, without turning to tinder?
In this article, we’ll look at how to meet someone without online dating.
What can I do instead of online dating?
Although as many as 39 percent of couples meet online these days, that still means plenty of others don’t.
It seems there’s merit for meeting IRL too, as research shows that married couples who meet online are a whopping six times more likely to get divorced.
Online dating is becoming the norm, but that doesn’t mean we prefer it. One survey found that 84% of Millennials would still much rather meet someone in the real world.
Some people who are not meeting anyone on dating apps may find them a waste of time. Others simply prefer natural, in-person chemistry.
40-year-old Charlene sums up the problem that many of us face:
“My friends use them, and their complaints about the quality of matches, the dilemma of too much choice, and the buildup of chatting with someone for weeks only to meet in person and not have chemistry completely put me off of dating apps. Swipe and chat my day away on yet another app? I don’t have time for that!”
There are many varied reasons why you might be getting fed up with apps and prefer not to use them.
But you might also be wondering what can I do instead of online dating? Here are 10 simple ways to meet singles naturally.
How to meet someone without online dating
1) Ask your friends, family, and colleagues to set you up
Shared acquaintances are still the classic way that people meet partners.
That might be friends of friends, family members, or even colleagues. The bonus of meeting someone through people you already know is the trust factor.
You are more likely to share similarities, values, or beliefs if you already have people in common.
This can be really important when dating, as the research shows that opposites really don’t attract, and we are actually more drawn to people who are like us.
One of the pitfalls of meeting online is the ‘needle in a haystack’ feel of stumbling upon “your type of person”.
Make sure people in your life know that you are actively looking. If they already know people who they think could be a good fit for you they can set you up.
It doesn’t even need to be an official date. You can always keep things casual and simply orchestrate a situation where you two can meet and see if you hit it off.
2) Strike up conversations in real life
Learning the art of conversation is a social skill that’s useful for life in general, but certainly when it comes to dating too.
To take the pressure off, rather than see it as “chatting someone up”, get into the habit of striking up friendly and engaging chats wherever you go. That might be at the coffee shop, at the bus stop, or when you’re waiting in line for groceries.
If that sounds a little weird, or you feel like you wouldn’t know what to say, use your environment for cues of what to talk about. For example, if you’re in line at a cafe, ask the person next to you if they’ve ever tried the Iced White Chocolate Mocha.
When you’re on your own, rather than with friends or in a group, it’s actually much easier to talk to strangers. You’re more likely to be approached by someone if you’re alone.
The online world has potentially made us a little lazy. But make a conscious effort at practicing connecting with your fellow human beings.
You don’t need to have an agenda, and only try to talk to people you are interested in romantically. The key to building up your confidence is doing this regularly so it comes naturally.
That way it will feel less awkwards and forced when it’s time to strike up a conversation with the cutie who you really do like.
When you meet someone you’re attracted to, go for it and ask them out or offer them your number.
Sure, it takes more guts approaching someone in the flesh than it does online (where the screen feels like it offers some sort of protection) but you may just be surprised.
As Ben Skirvin commented on Quora: “In the wild, I probably manage a date with a third to half of the women I ask out. Online, I wade through 300+ rejections for every terse response, if I treat it like a part time job. Of those, I manage a date every two or three months.”
Getting over the fear of rejection, and being ok with hearing ‘no’ is an important part of dating that we all need to learn to overcome.
Not everyone is going to be interested in us, that’s a fact of life. But just like anything, the more we do it, the less of a big deal it starts to feel.
3) Open up your energy
Often without realizing it, the way we are interpreted by other people we meet either gives them the green light or a big fat red stop sign.
For example, whether you are looking at people and smiling or if you walk with your head down and your headphones in. If you’re waiting in line are your eyes up and looking around at your surroundings, or are they fixed firmly on your phone?
I have a particularly warm and open friend. One time we bumped into some she knew.
“Where did you two meet?”, I asked. “Oh, at the ATM”, she replied. Yep, she had met and befriended a complete stranger after using the same ATM.
The reality is that you can meet someone in literally any public space, whether it’s the park, grocery store, or yes, even at the ATM.
It’s less about the location and more about whether you are opening your energy up to allowing chance meetings to occur and progress.
If you are closed off, it won’t matter where you go to meet someone, you will still struggle.
4) Going to events
I saw a funny meme recently that read:
“Single at 25: I have to go out and meet someone. Single at 40: If it’s meant to be, the right person will find me in my home.”
The undeniable convenience of dating apps is that you can browse dates from the comfort of the couch.
Wearing real clothes rather than PJ’s or brushing your hair is entirely optional. Sadly, meeting people offline does require slightly more effort.
It may seem an obvious point, but if you want to meet someone out in the real world, the more you actually get out into the real world the greater your chances.
That means seriously increasing your socializing, which can feel challenging if you are a natural introvert.
Start saying yes when someone invites you to a social event.
Attending friends’ parties, going to coworking spaces, picnics, gigs or concerts, gallery openings, etc. The more you mingle, the more opportunities you create for Cupid to find you.
They say it’s often when you least expect it that you meet someone. This is why increasing your potential for chance meetings is the name of the game.
5) Pursue your own interests
One of the most frustrating things about online dating has to be the challenge of finding someone who likes the same things as you, and that you will click with.
As Mari Del Rio, pointed out in a Quora discussion about the frustrations of online dating:
“Maybe 5 of them are attractive, but one of them loves hunting and strip clubs and hates reading. You love books, you love animals, and you prefer a gentleman. Another lives and breathes sports, and says he’s looking for the same. Another has an empty profile saying he’s looking for hookups, nothing serious.
“You’re left with two guys on an entire site. One will turn out to live with his mom and have no job, and the other will turn out to be a manipulative narcissist. It makes you feel like you’re going to die alone.”
That’s why the best place to meet like-minded people is by doing the things you love. For example, if you’re into art, go to galleries and museums.
Trying out new hobbies that you might be interested in can also introduce you to a whole new network.
There’s an obvious double reward to pursuing your own interests. Even if you don’t meet “the one” right away, you’re still be having fun, expanding your horizons, and working on yourself.
6) At the gym
Meeting someone at the gym can be substituted for any kind of fitness activity. If you’re not really the gym type, that’s no problem, it can just as easily be at an exercise class, yoga studio, hiking club, or Bootcamp in the park.
If there’s a particular sport you love, you might want to become a member of a local club, whether that’s sailing, biking, running, triathlons, etc.
29-year-old Chris told Business Insider that for him there’s an extra added confidence in meeting someone when you’re already in your element.
“I meet girls at the gym — which is a healthy habit anyway! — and it works out great. I feel in my element there, and that is where your self-esteem is most high, in your element or place or expertise. I highly recommend it.”
Although, one word of advice. If you are going to look for dates at your gym, stay clear of staff members, like personal trainers. I speak from experience when I say that you can be faced with the awkward dilemma of having to change gyms when you no longer want to see him anymore.
7) Taking a class
I’m learning Portuguese right now and am starting group classes again soon. One of my main reasons for doing in-person classes (rather than sticking to online study or one on one with a teacher) is because I want to meet more people.
You never know your luck, the man or woman of your dreams might be sitting right next to you. But if not, it’s yet another way you’ve increased your network.
Be friendly and make friends. Even if sparks aren’t flying with anyone in the class, who knows, they may be the one who ends up introducing you to your new beau.
Have you always fancied giving kickboxing a go? Are you dreaming of recreating that scene out of Ghost by taking a pottery class? Maybe you’ve been meaning to improve your cooking skills?
Meeting someone while you learn something new is another one of those win-win scenarios.
And if you’re thinking, well that’s all great in a pre-pandemic world, but how do you meet someone without online dating during covid?
The good news is that classes don’t even need to be in person, as one couple proved by falling in love and getting married after taking the same online course.
They quickly hit it off in a class discussion board, before starting to talk over the phone. After some long-distance dating, they were engaged less than a year later.
“If this story had been written by someone, it would’ve sounded like it was too good to be true…We were not looking for each other, but when we found each other, it was kinda like, ‘Hey, this feels right.’ It just felt comfortable and natural.”
It just goes to show that Cupid can strike anytime and anywhere.
8) Bars, clubs, and nights out
Meeting someone on a night out is yet another ‘blast from the past’ when it comes to romance, but one that is still going strong.
As dating expert Jeannie Assimos told Bustle:
“The old days aren’t as old as you might think…Meeting people at bars is extremely common, even by today’s standards. Think of bars as the sea where those “plenty of fish” we’re always referencing are”.
The relaxed and casual environment, combined with a glass of something alcoholic for a little bit of Dutch courage can make things feel more chilled.
If you’re guilty of always hanging out in the same venues, then try new spots and change up your routine.
If you always go to the same places, you’re more likely to be meeting the same people.
Go out with your friends, have fun, and approach someone to strike up a conversation whenever somebody catches your eye.
9) Networking and meet up groups
One of the best things I did last year was to join Bumble, not for the dating, but Bumble BFF.
If you’re not familiar with that feature, it allows you to meet new friends in your area.
Whilst online tools may not be our preferred choice in the world of dating, but they can still be a great way to connect with others.
Simply by meeting new female friends, I also increased my network.
In a similar way, depending on where you live, you may find local meetup groups for particular interests in your area or networking groups.
Even joining a Facebook Group in your area can be a great way to strike up a natural conversation with other people.
10) Volunteer groups
If there is something you are particularly passionate about or a cause close to your heart, then volunteering can be a great way to get involved in your community.
Not only are you giving back, but you’ll also encounter like-minded people who care about the same things as you.
Whether it’s animals, human rights, or helping the homeless — charities and goodwill work wins you karma points and may help you to meet someone special.
To conclude: Can I find love without online dating?
Despite what we think, I’m not sure it’s not actually any harder to meet someone offline these days.
I think that it’s partly that a lot of us have lost our nerve for it — both the effort it requires to put yourself out there, and the time you have to be prepared to wait for love to show up.
We’ve lost our patience for real-world romance because dating apps have offered us the illusion of being able to have it on demand. In the era of serial daters, we don’t always enjoy the timetable that serendipity seems to follow.
Yet, with patience, perseverance, and a touch of pluckiness, it’s perfectly possible to find love organically.