How I've Been Meeting New People After Deleting My Dating Apps
by Kaitlyn Vagner

Even though dating apps are most popular among Millennials, according to a recent SeatGeek survey of 1,000 singles, 95 percent would rather meet people IRL versus online or on an app. That's why for the second year in a row, Bustle is deeming April, "App-less April" and encouraging our staff and readers to delete their dating apps for 30 days and meet people the old-fashioned way: offline. With participants tracking their progress and tricks and tips from dating experts, we'll be helping you feel empowered to meet people IRL all month long.

Bustle's App-less April challenge to delete your dating apps for a month has inspired me to reflect on the role that dating apps have played in my life over the past few years. I now understand just how suffocating they had become in my life. Dating apps are convenient and easy; talking to new people is as easy as simply swiping right. They confined me to using my phone to engage in social interactions. Instead of venturing into the world, I was relying on what felt safe and familiar. In social settings, I am a naturally shy person; the thought of boldly approaching a stranger by myself is body shaking and anxiety inducing.

By using dating apps as my primary means of meeting new people, I was doing myself a great disservice. I was unintentionally sabotaging ability to meet people. I've missed out on new experiences, exploration, and meeting enlightening individuals — all for the sake of swiping right and left. I was depriving myself of the opportunity to grow as a person, as a friend, and as a partner. Living in a virtual reality world has been a toxic aspect of my life, and App-less April gives me a fresh slate the chance to reflect on how I can attract amazing, quality people into my life. Deleting my dating apps means that I must now make a mindful, concentrated effort to meet people in real life.

"I suggest a break to my clients all the time," says Ravid Yosef, dating and relationship coach, tells Bustle. "Sometimes our energy is what's attracting others and if we don't have enough self-care in our life or get obsessive with our notifications, we start looking for validations outside of ourselves. Which in turn attracts the wrong kind of attention."

This month, I'm pushing outside my comfort zone so that I may open myself to meeting new, interesting, like-minded people. Now that I have ditched my dating apps and made the commitment to break from my old habits this month, here are six ways that I have been meeting new people:

During App-less April, my hope is that I meet new, like-minded individuals that I can share experiences with. The only way I can achieve this is by making the effort to put myself in spaces with people who share my interests. One of the most important qualities a friend or partner absolutely must posses is an open-minded attitude towards sexuality.

My city has a vibrant kink scene, and I have started to plug into it. I've researched my local kink organizations and initiated conversations with my friends who are involved with the scene. As I am discovering, being involved the kink scene opens the door for me to engage in intellectual discussions, meet-ups, and parties.

As I have learned, Happy Hour is the perfect place to meet new people in my community. Attending a Happy Hour denotes a willingness to be social and engage in conversation with others. The people I've met at Happy Hour are just as interested in making new friends and engaging in conversation as I am.

Those Facebook events that I've been blowing off for months? I'm now including them as part of my social calendar. By doing so, I am strengthening my friendships and inserting myself into spaces where I can meet new, awesome people!

Facebook is a social platform to stay in touch with friends, but it is also an excellent medium for meeting new people. I have taken the time to press "Like" on pages I am interested in, so that I can learn about their nearby events.

One of my passions is fitness, and by attending the free classes at my local gym, I am opening myself to meeting people with similar interests. Group fitness classes are all about camaraderie and bonding — we are all sweating and enduring a brutal workout together.

I'm now meeting people through friends and my social network. I'm opening myself up for my friends to play Matchmaker and set me up with a cute guy they think I would click with. I'm finally placing trust in the idea that my friends know my personality and would not lead me astray.

Meeting new people has taken time and effort, and staying away from the brutal temptations of my dating apps hasn't always been easy, but I am confident that I'm on the path towards manifesting positivity and love into my life.

Join the campaign and share your stories with #ApplessApril and ​by ​tagging @Bustle.