When swiping through curated photos, filtered selfies, and expertly crafted profiles becomes more chore than cheer, you may want to consider alternatives to online dating apps. “As much as I embrace technology, there’s nothing better than meeting someone in real life. Chemistry can tell chapters beyond a dating profile,” says relationship expert and matchmaker Destin Pfaff, who along with his wife Rachel Federoff, founded Love and Matchmaking. But in an era where dating apps rule, how does one go about meeting their meeting their soulmate the old-fashioned way? We asked the experts to share their tips how—and where—to meet someone out-of-this-world…in the real world.
Take yourself on a date. 👨 👩
We get it, you feel most comfortable when you’re singing Sweet Caroline with your crew, instead of humming your favourite song solo, into your Sauvignon Blanc. But that handsome guy who caught your eye? He’s probably not going to risk getting rejected in front of five of your BFFs. “In therapy, we work on building confidence and self-esteem to have the courage to go out by yourself or with one friend,” says psychotherapist, TEDx speaker, and author Kelley Kitley.
“People are more approachable when they are at a social event without a group of people,” she says.
Consider pulling up to a bar seat at happy hour alone, with a great book. That page-turner can make a perfect conversation starter.
Volunteering is good. Working at the sign-in is better.
It makes sense that doing charity work (only if you are into this of course!) is a great way to find a date: “You meet like-minded people who have the time to give back to the community and to support their passions”.
Say hello in the grocery store line. 🛍
Waiting is the worst. Who likes to stand there with nothing to do but count the freckles on the person's neck in front of you? But think of it this way: there’s nowhere else to go, so why not start a conversation? “It passes the time and you never know if it could be a match or if they could know someone,” says relationship expert and therapist Dr. Juliana Morris, who points out that if even if Mr. Right isn’t directly in front of you, it’s good to practice striking up conversations with strangers. “You never know if it could be a match or if they could know someone,” she says.
Participate in your church ⛪️
Wherever a community gathers, there’s a good chance of meeting someone—and places of worship are no exception. “Churches are redesigning ways to stay connected to attract community members,”. “Sign up to receive invites from your local religious organisation for events like leadership conferences, modern music performances or evenings hosted by a quality speaker,” she suggests. Some churches have coffee shops to athletic facilities so that even non-members can share feel comfortable sharing in the fellowship.
Take a solo trip on a group tour. ☀️
“Traveling can be a bring out the best of you,” says Morris. “Your mind is learning, you see new sights and cultures, and it can be a wonderful backdrop to get to know someone.”
Many travel companies offer group trips designed especially for people traveling solo. At Exodus Travels, 66 percent of their clients sign up for tours alone. Another option is Contiki, an eco-conscious company that appeals to younger travellers (think 18-35). Whether you prefer to cycle through Vietnam, or eat your your way through Paris, there’s a tour for you. Even you don’t meet your soul mate on the Inca Trail, you’re growing as a person, and that’s always attractive.
Flying is a first-class meeting zone. ☝️
If you decide to take a trip, keep in mind it's not just the destination…it’s the journey. “I always tell clients to look their best during traveling because people are bored and watching,” says Morris, who points out that not only do fellow travellers often have things in common, but they also have the time to connect (now that's a positive spin on a delayed flight!). A simple question like, “Are you flying home?” Or “What book are you reading?” can lead to much bigger conversations. “I know multiple people who have met their spouse in airport travels,” encourages Morris.
Learn something new. ⛳️
“Doing something different can make you open up,” says Morris, “And people are attracted to open, vulnerable people.” If you're not sure where to start, or what to do dabble.co lists all kinds of cool classes by location. Or, similarly, meetup.com is a website where people can join (or create) groups that meet for activities like hiking, golfing, or even coding. “Taking an interesting class will likely attract interesting people, that you may be interested in!” Says Pfaff. So whether it’s beer brewing, wine pairing, painting or sausage making, find something that piques your curiosity and go for it.
Pay attention to group calendars. 📆
You may be tired of online dating, but don’t discount the internet as a tool all together. “Sites like feverup.com or eventbrite.com can provide great information on fun events going on around your town,” says Pfaff. He also recommends checking out your Facebook Events, which lists what’s going on near you. Pfaff likes that you can see profiles of who’s “interested,” so you can get an idea who might be there, even before you go. “These are great ways to scope out activities where you could possibly meet someone,” he says.
Walk a dog. 🐶
If this sounds cliche, sorry, not sorry! (Because it's true!) “Dogs are great conversation starters…and distractors,” says Morris. For example, not sure what to say after hello? How about “What’s your dog’s name?” But even more than a good ice breaker, when you’re caring for a dog you’ll seem more approachable and kindhearted to others, says Morris. “If you’re a true pet lover, your relationship with your pet can show a vulnerable side of you that gives others a peek into your personality.”
We saved the easiest, and best, for last: Smile 😃
There’s no happy filter IRL. So you’re gonna have to work those cheek muscles on your own. We’re not saying you need to be in a good mood all the time. That’s foolish. But from the bank to the bike path, “you can ‘accidentally’ meet someone almost anywhere in your day to day,” says Pfaff. “Be open to the universe delivering to you in the least expected places,” he says. When that happens, he says to “put your best self forward.” So the next time you spot someone who catches your fancy, try this crazy idea: “Make eye contact and smile!” What happens next may be even more satisfying than swiping right.