The Best Advice For Meeting Someone In Real Life, According To Experts

The fact that we even say "meet someone in real life" when we talk about dating reveals a lot about modern relationships. Firstly, the fact that we have to distinguish how we're meeting someone nowadays signifies how ubiquitous dating apps and sites have become. Secondly, it reminds us that when connect with people online, it's not always real, whether you never end up meeting or they aren't representing themselves accurately (or worse, they're catfishing you). Not too long along ago, meeting IRL was the default and meeting someone online was the method you sought tips and expert advice for. But now, with 15 percent of Americans dating online and dating site and app usage having tripled since 2013, meeting someone offline can feel like a lost art — even though research says it's still the number-one way couples are meeting.

I'm more than halfway through App-less April, Bustle's challenge to delete your dating apps for one month. I started the initiative to take a break from the dating technology I've used for three years after realizing it had become the only way I was dating. When I started using dating apps in 2013, I looked at them as a supplement to meeting people IRL. But somewhere along the way, I lost the balance between online and offline. Maybe the dating scene changed, maybe I was too distracted on them, maybe I was on too many apps, or maybe I just got lazy. Either way, I knew it was time for a change in my dating habits, and I found some other singles who were up for the challenge.

I'm not swearing these apps off forever or saying they're bad for everyone, but just like with clean eating detoxes or Sober January, I'm reevaluating my relationship with them. Are they toxic for me? Do I need to change my behaviors on them? Should I be on different apps? Stay off them ~forever~? That all remains to be seen, but for now, I'm feeling good about my break.

Dr. Ashley Arn, lead matchmaker for eH+, eHarmony's premium matchmaking service, has worked with thousands of people over the last decade and is responsible for countless successful couples. She explains that online dating isn't for everyone: "Even a short break can be a great way for you to force yourself into connecting with people a different way, and even figure out if you want to continue down the online/app path at all."

While I definitely feel bored at times (sorry Snapchat, you're just not as entertaining) without my dating apps, I do feel more positive about being single, less distracted, and definitely less overwhelmed by my phone. I'm also kind of excited. I'm not sure what I'm excited for, exactly, but this feels like reinforcement to be the outgoing Aries I know I am.

But what about dating without apps? I didn't do this challenge to take a break from dating, but I think a natural side effect will be fewer dates (I have been on two dates this month, and they were both with people I had met on apps in March). And that's OK! But I should start to adopt new dating habits during my break. So, uh, how do I do that, exactly?

I went out with Thomas Edwards, founder of The Professional Wingman, last November to get tips for meeting people at bars, so I consulted him for App-less April advice. He tells me that people become more aware of themselves and other people around them when they start dating offline. "They see their strengths and weaknesses when it comes to socializing in various environments," he says. "They realize where their comfort zones are and where they should push themselves. Most valuable is how they appreciate the spontaneity and complexity of how relationships are formed, which leads to a greater appreciation when connections happen, even if it doesn't go in a romantic direction."

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Whether you're participating in App-less April or want to focus more on meeting someone IRL, here's the best way to do it, according to the experts.

1. Change Up Your Locations

2. Have An Action Plan

3. Create A Magnetic Personality

4. Stretch Your Social Muscle

5. Use Meetup

6. Expand Your Horizons

7. Pay Attention To Your Body Language

8. Smile At 20 New People A Day

9. Get Your Friends To Fix You Up

10. Study The Qualities You Want In A Partner

11. Say "YES"

12. Get A Wingman Or Wingwoman

Have a wingman or wingwoman — someone to help you and be an objective third party to help you validate choices and boost your confidence in a live situation. — Dr. Ashley Arn, lead matchmaker for eH+, eHarmony's matchmaking service

13. Say "Hi" To Someone You Don't Know

14. Be The Person You Want To Date

15. Make Eye Contact

16. Dare Yourself

17. Be Present

18. Catch Up With Your Friends

19. Do Something You've Never Done

20. Entertain

21. Follow Your ABCs

Want to join App-less April? Share your stories with us by using the hashtag #ApplessApril and mentioning @Bustle.

Images: Fotolia; Caroline Wurtzel/Bustle; Giphy