How to Actually Meet Someone Without Dating Apps

Another way to tweak your usual routine to increase your odds of meeting a match? Commit to regularly making a little room in your schedule for new experiences—even if it’s only a few hours each month. “Set a goal to do something you normally wouldn’t every other week or every month, say, where you could potentially meet someone in person,” suggests Chlipala. “Whether it’s attending a networking event, an alumni group outing, or meeting up with friends at a festival—the idea is to make a point to say ‘yes’ to more opportunities than usual.”

Look (and act!) like you’re open to meeting new people.

Both Chlipala and Johnson agree that open and welcoming body language is key to being approachable. If you’re out and about listening to Beyoncé’s “Break My Soul” on repeat with AirPods in, you’ll probably look like you’re busy and don’t want to be bothered (which, fine, in this case, is probably accurate). However, being more in the moment and aware of your surroundings can both communicate to others that you’re open to conversation and allow you to notice (cute!) people around you—people you might want to talk to. Chlipala says that people have become so reliant on apps and the comfort of being on the other side of their phone, they often fail to capitalize on the opportunities in front of them.

Earbuds and headphones aren’t the only way to close yourself off to possible romantic connection. Talking only to your friends at parties and keeping your head in your phone on public transportation or in a check-out line can send the “I’m not interested” message, too, says Johnson. That’s not to say you can never get lost in a true crime podcast on a walk, or that you always have to be open to chatting up strangers, but being aware of the vibe you’re giving off may help you increase your chances of finding a mate in the wild.

From there, start with low-stakes small talk.

You don’t have to chat with strangers about the weather (though, to be fair, climate change makes for stimulating conversation), but exchanging pleasantries or witty remarks when the opportunity arises can be a great way to meet new people and get more comfortable interacting with someone you’re attracted to. Regularly striking up conversations is about developing the mindset of looking for opportunities to make a connection wherever you go, explains Chlipala. Sometimes that might pan out into a date, sometimes (most times, even!) it won’t, but you won’t know unless you try, she says.

“It’s important to honor where you are with your comfort level, though,” says Chlipala. “If the idea of talking to someone you find super attractive makes your palms sweat, practice with a stranger, acquaintance, or colleague—someone you feel neutral toward—until you get more confident.” This can look like a playful comment about a snack in someone’s cart at the grocery store, or asking a friend of a friend what dishes or drinks they recommend at a restaurant bar.

Work through your fear of rejection.

Being rejected by an avatar on an app can be less painful than getting turned down by a real-life human, so brace yourself for the fact that dating in person might sting more than you expected it to. But also remind yourself that you will not be every person’s brand of fun, just like not every person you meet will be what you’re looking for. If a fear of rejection is holding you back from in-person connection, Chlipala suggests building up resilience by continuously putting your situation in perspective.