There’s absolutely nothing wrong with using a dating app to meet someone. If anything, it’s an increasingly popular way by which people are finding the loves of their life. But just because everyone else is doing it doesn’t mean you have to!
So maybe, in an effort to try something new, get out of a dating rut, or just spend less time staring at your tiny phone screen, you made it a resolution to delete your apps in the new year. Which you’re now realizing was a much bigger deal than you thought it’d be, because oh my God, how does ANYONE meet in real life anymore?!?
That’s where this handy, straightforward guide comes in. Here’s 10 easy, (mostly) pain-free steps to successfully deleting your apps, getting off your couch, and meeting someone this year.
1. ASSESS YOUR RELATIONSHIP EXPECTATIONS.
I’m not saying lower your expectations, but it’s hard to find something you want when you don’t actually know what that is. Are you looking for someone to hook up with a couple nights a week? A steamy one-night-stand to gab about at brunch? A potential ~forever person~? Figure that out before you begin your IRL quest for love (or sex, or like, or whatever).
2. MAKE AN ACTUAL EFFORT TO GO OUT MORE.
The definition of “out” is up to you—it could mean anything from taking more solo trips to the grocery store or more nights Out Out with your friends. The beauty of the apps is you can do all your flirting from the couch, in sweats. Deleting those apps means you have to get your ass off the couch and talk to people with your voice. You can definitely still do that in your sweats. That’s your call.
3. AND WHEN YOU GO OUT, TRY TO GO SOMEWHERE NEW.
Maybe it’s true that your go-to Friday night bar is your go-to for a reason. But rather than waiting on someone magical to show up there and whisk you off your feet, like your life is a poorly written rom com, you’re better off switching up your routine. It’s that simple: If you want to meet new people, you have to go to new places. Start small. Maybe you stop at a different coffee shop on your way to work, or make a goal to go to one new restaurant every month. Worst case scenario, you find a few new places that you like and have some fresh experiences.
4. SET ACHIEVABLE, ONLY SLIGHTLY SCARY GOALS.
Mustering up the confidence and courage to approach someone cute in public is way easier said than done, which is where goal-setting and accountability come in handy. Make a rule that by Valentine’s Day, you’ll have introduced yourself to at least three new people you find attractive. Maybe it’s the hot, disgruntled bartender at your favorite spot, or the guy you always see leaving the gym at the same time as you. Unless you’ve got self-confidence oozing from your pores, this is gonna suck. But only for a little while. The more you get used to walking up to strangers, the easier it’ll get.
5. CRAFT YOUR OWN (NON-CREEPY) PICKUP LINE.
Most of the anxiety associated with approaching a cute stranger comes from having to think of a clever, flirty thing to say that doesn’t also sound like a cheesy pickup line. Nip that anxiety in the bud by coming up with a go-to phrase ahead of time. The best lines are simple and direct, like, “We kept making accidental eye contact from across the room so I thought I’d come say hi.” Avoid anything ultra-specific (kinda creepy) or anything that sounds rehearsed. People are weirded out by stuff that doesn’t’ sound genuine. Be yourself!
6. ASK A FRIEND TO SET YOU UP.
There is nothing more a smugly coupled-up person loves to do more than set up her single friends. It’s annoying and awful, yes, but also it could actually work. A few dating apps are trying to replicate this old school practice by giving friends control of your swiping, but 1. you’ve deleted the apps, remember? And 2. not even the cleverest apps can top the effectiveness of the IRL set-up. If you’re a woman who dates men, ask one of your friends who’s in a relationship if her boyfriend has any single friends you might like.
7. JOIN SOMETHING.
Not to sound like your mom every time you call her to complain about never meeting someone, but you really should join something. Can be anything you want: a neighborhood running group, a trivia team, a short cooking class, whatever! Join a group related to something you already know you love to meet like-minded people, or join something that’s unlike anything you’ve ever done to meet the kind of people you think you wanna date. Your call. This is especially great for people who aren’t in school, and no longer have the luxury of meeting a slew of new people every semester.
8. GO PLACES ALONE.
Don’t go anywhere you feel unsafe (and leave if you start to feel that way), but going somewhere alone is fun, and also makes you way more approachable. It’s intimidating to walk up and introduce yourself to someone who’s surrounded by friends. My personal recommendation is to bring a good book to a bar with a good happy hour and read while you drink and snack on fries. Even if no one catches your eye or approaches, this is a lovely way to spend an evening.
9. MAKE A “NO PHONES ALLOWED” RULE WHEN OUT IN PUBLIC.
You deleted the apps to spend less time staring at your phone. Don’t negate all the effort of trying to meet someone IRL by going out in public and gluing your eyes to your phone the whole time! No one’s going to say hi if you spend the whole time at the bar tapping through Instagram stories. Put the phone away, and only take it out if you really need to (spoiler: you won’t need to).
10. DON’T DEPRIVE YOURSELF OF DATING APPS IF YOU REALLY MISS THEM.
There’s literally nothing wrong with meeting someone online. Maybe it turns out what you really needed was a sabbatical from dating apps, not an all-out deletion. If by June or July, you find yourself missing the soothing feeling of swiping through faces and the exhilarating buzz of getting a match or message from someone new, download an app or two. You can try to meet people in-person and be on Tinder at the same time. If anything, that’s just upping your odds.