How to Meet Your Next Romantic Partner in Real Life

How to Meet Your Next Romantic Partner in Real Life
Image: Getty

Dating apps really haven’t been around that long, in the grand scheme of things, but they’ve become a staple in modern life. Like dashing out a quick work email after business hours, ordering a whole meal for delivery without picking up the phone, or hailing a cab directly to your location with the touch of a button, dating apps are a huge step forward in convenience, all thanks to our phones. But none of that is always great: Work-life balance, the comfort of building a relationship with your go-to takeout restaurant, and the thrill of flagging down a cabbie got lost in there somewhere — as did the value of having a real-life “meet-cute.”

There’s nothing wrong with meeting the love of your life–or the love of a night — on an app, but there is something to be said for connecting with someone based on something more than both being online at the same time. Meeting someone in real life ensures you have at least one mutual interest or pre-existing connection, and it’s a better story to tell than, “We both swiped right and picked a bar to meet at.”

That’s why you might want to consider deleting your apps and trying to source your next partner the old-fashioned way. Here are some tips if you want to give it a try.

Be open to meeting someone at work

Hooking up with a co-worker can be fraught (although it’s doable), but your job gives you face time with tons of people who aren’t your direct colleagues. Clients, vendors, representatives, and hell, even people in the same industry at other companies are new partners or friends just waiting to be met. We aren’t saying you should walk into the office or the annual networking mixer on the prowl, but be open to the possibility that you could encounter someone special while on the clock.

“I met my boyfriend Mike in 2006,” said Blair Taylor, a 40-something New Yorker. “I was 26 or 27 and working on Canal Street at an art gallery, and he came in to visit sometimes. His best friend, Matt, was the little brother of my coworker’s husband.”

They stayed in the general mix of each other’s lives but didn’t date initially. It wasn’t until this winter that they really connected, after he direct-messaged her on social media for her number. Even that wasn’t a play for romance — yet. Taylor’s soon-to-be boyfriend heard she had cancer and wanted to connect her to his father, a doctor.

“We chatted a lot. He was so nice and supportive and just always was there checking in and being cute as fuck, so I fell for him,” she said. “It definitely helped that I had known him so long, even peripherally, and that we had so many friends in common. He felt verified to me.”

That feeling of verification is key here. Knowing someone through real-life channels helps you get a sense of who they are and clues you into what kinds of people they surround themselves with and what they do with their time. When you meet up off an app, especially in smaller towns and cities, you may end up having mutual connections anyway, but you go in blind to that.

Be open to meeting through friends or family

Meeting someone through friends or family is a great option. This isn’t Fiddler on the Roof or anything; your sister might not actively be your Yente. Still, you don’t need to ask your pals or family members to set you up with someone directly. Just being open to meeting their friends and family members can help you make new connections.

Liz Heit, a pop-cultural critic, met her fiancé when they were in high school. “He is my best friend’s older brother’s best friend,” she said. “It was an interesting set of circumstances because he was a bit older than me, so in that regard it was a little uncomfortable, but as time went on, I became incredibly grateful to date someone who was in my circle, and it’s helped a lot over the years. We have the same friends.”

Clay Carufel, a 20-something in the Midwest, said he’s used dating apps in the past and found them helpful for meeting new people, but was really happy when he met his current girlfriend: “I was friends with her brother, who I met on a softball team, and my girlfriend came to our town to hang out with him. We went on the river together in a group of people, then went out and just hit it off and had good conversations.”

Family is really important to Carufel, who said that a major benefit to meeting his girlfriend this way is that he was already close with her parents, which is a priority for him. Meeting her through her brother, he said, “really set the stage for us. I felt like once we started dating, it was less of a hurdle to get to know [her parents] and I could just talk to them like I always had.”

Another partnered-up New Yorker, G. L. said she met her partner a decade ago at a party on the Jersey Shore and has never used an app.

“I think the biggest difference was how fast it happened, since we didn’t have to swipe through any photos or send a whole string of getting-to-know-you texts before we could be sure there was something there,” she mused. “What I remember most is how quickly we realised we had the same sense of humour. Not that text messages can’t give you an idea of what someone thinks is funny, but that first night we met at the party, he literally collapsed onto the floor laughing at a joke I told him — hard to be surer than that.”

Be open to meeting through the places you spend a lot of time

Next time you’re at your local corner store, sweating in the gym, or hanging out in your favourite park, take a look around. You’ll see some familiar faces. Are any of them cute?

You already have something in common with people who frequent the same locations you do — you literally frequent the same locations. One of the weirdest things about online dating is that no matter how long you chat on the app or by text, you really don’t know that much about the person you’re meeting up with and you end up having to start with all the basics as you work to determine if you have anything in common besides a mutual attraction to each other’s best photos.

This isn’t to say that if you meet someone at your favourite bookshop you’ll know all about them right away, but you’ll have something to talk about initially while the awkwardness wears off. Basing those first few chats on your similar interest helps you get to know each other better, faster, without even realising it — or having to force a conversation that plays the hits. Where are you from? What did you study? What’s your job? Do you have any siblings? What’s your favourite colour? Those things will come up more naturally as you discuss the thing you both enjoy.

School is always a solid option, too. If you meet in college, you have so much to talk about, from how you chose your school to what classes you’ve taken. Stephanie Lee told Lifehacker that she met her husband Rob “by coincidence or maybe divine intervention” while interviewing him for her college newspaper, for instance.

“His professor pitched a story on a video project Rob completed on LGBTQ inclusion in the church, which included a call with then-President Obama. I happened to be the only reporter in the newsroom at the time,” she said, adding that she has never used dating apps since she met her husband before they were a thing. She’s grateful they met app-free, “without explicit romantic intent,” because it gave them space to get to know each other.

See? Even an assignment can be a meet-cute. The possibilities are endless.

Again, there’s nothing wrong with the apps, but if you also open yourself up to some real-world possibilities, you never know who can walk into your life.

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