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. Today's topic: how to meet people at a party this weekend.
If you deleted your dating apps for Bustle's App-less April challenge, figuring out where to actually meet someone in real life can be the hardest part about dating. You want to be someplace where you're comfortable, but you also want a place that welcomes socializing so it's not super awkward to insert yourself into a conversation. So, why not go to a party? "Parties are a great way to meet people because you never know who you're going to meet!" Nora Dekeyser, matchmaker and dating coach at Three Day Rule, tells Bustle.
Unlike online dating, meeting someone at a party is great because you're not wasting any time. "Little do people know, the average person spends 13 hours per week online dating, and rarely, if ever, actually go on a date from it," she says. "When you're at a party, you're meeting this person in an organic situation. You can see them in their element versus reading what could possibly be just a well-scripted response."
Parties happen all the time, so here are some tips from dating coaches on how you can actually meet someone at the next one you go to:
Rule number one of meeting someone at a party? Always go alone. You were invited to the party so you definitely know someone there. But if you go to a party with another person or end up looking for people you already know the minute you step foot in the door, chances are you're going to stick by them the entire night. In doing so, you'd be missing out on all the fun new people around you. "Start off by walking in solo," Camille Virginia, offline dating coach and founder of Master Offline Dating, tells Bustle. "You can always find your friends later."
The next step, she says, is to head to the kitchen where everyone is gathering. Grab something to eat or drink so you can have something in your hands to busy yourself while you scope out which conversation you want to join. "Going to a party alone is like going to the gym — the hardest part is just showing up," she says. "But once you're there, you're going to be glad you went. And if you're not having fun after trying to talk to several people, then find your friends and hang with them or head on home and feel great knowing you put yourself out there."
"Digital technology has the potential to generate and enrich relationships, but overuse can lead to social isolation," Dr. Jess O'Reilly, resident sexologist for Astroglide tells Bustle. So when you arrive at a party, don’t use your phone as a crutch to avoid the awkward intros and conversations. It's super easy to take out your phone and pretend the air bubbles under your screen protector are super fascinating when there's a lull in conversation. Instead, embrace the awkwardness!
"Awkward moments can fuel passion and connection," she says. "Your fear of the unknown, concerns regarding rejection and anticipation of what’s to come make social encounters more exciting." Besides, if you want to spend the night texting your friends, scrolling through Instagram or checking out Snap stories, you might as well stay at home.
If you're friends with the host, let them know you want to be introduced to their other single friends. You could meet a new potential BF/GF or a new BFF. "Meeting other singles (regardless of whether you're attracted to them or not) will create new social opportunities," Dr. Jess says. "It’s great to hang with your coupled friends, but you might find that your interests are more aligned with those who are single."
Don't be afraid to go in there with a few ice breakers ready. It doesn't matter how lame you might think they are, just go for it. You never know what might happen. As international dating and relationship expert, author, and speaker Hunt Ethridge, tells Bustle, "For me, a couple of good one liner jokes always work. I start by walking up to a group and I'll say, 'OK, I've got a dumb and not-so-good joke for you!' Usually people say, 'Bring it on!'" Here it is: What does a fish say when it runs into a concrete wall? Dam...
"I'll listen to the groans and say, 'OK, I'll let you go now.' If they still want to talk, I'll stay. If not, I'll move around," he says. "You'll find time to talk to them again now that you've already broken the ice."
If one-liners aren't your thing, another way to do it is to ask positive emotional questions. Instead of asking someone the typical,What do you do? Where do you live? Where did you grow up?, ask questions that might elicit positive emotions like,What's one of your favorite childhood memories? What's the best meal you've ever eaten? What's the best city you've ever traveled to?
"All of these questions make people feel good," Ethridge says. "When you're the one that makes them feel good, they'll want to be around you more. When I used to be at parties, I'd ask everyone to say something nice they heard about the person to their left. Everybody says something, everyone feels good and you're the catalyst that made it happen." People do like being around people who make them feel good. So be one of those people!
Paying close attention to someone's body language can give you the signs you need to push forward or pull away. "Look at their body language. Where are their eyes are looking? At you or around the party?" relationship coach Cathryn Mora tells Bustle. "If everything goes well, you shouldn't have any awkward silences. If you do, excuse yourself for a drink and know that this person probably wasn't your future partner!"
"Facial expression is a huge indicator of invitation," dating and relationship coach Jessica Elizabeth Opert, tells Bustle. "The smile is the most epic way people are invited to engage with someone else. They look across the room and will naturally feel welcomed to come over by a smile."
Eye contact on the other hand, might be a little bit scarier to do. But just think, all the other people in the room don't know you're scared. "They'll just assume you're aloof and uninterested, so they won't approach you," Opert says. "But when you make eye contact, it clearly says, 'I see you and you're welcome to come closer so I can get even better look at you.'"
"Conversation interrupters are a great way to create memorable breaks in the back and forth of conversation," Opert says. It sends messages to the brain that throws people off their game and offers a bit of a challenge.
For instance, you ask, "Where you from?" They answer, "California." You playfully respond, "No, you're not. I'm not buying that for a minute." Using sarcasm and wit can stop the typical monotonous flow of some conversations to make it more interesting.
Be genuinely ready and excited to meet new people and let that show. "Try this: Before you even enter the party, take a few moments and remember a time you were really excited," Opert says. It can be anything. Your first plane ride, the day your niece was born, the moment you got the call that you got your dream job. "Step into that moment and channel that excitement. Then when you greet someone, let that excitement show. If you are happy when you meet someone, they will also feel happy."
Who doesn’t want to engage with someone who's genuinely overflowing with excitement to meet them?
Advice about how to meet people would not be complete without these two little words: Be yourself. In this case, Opert suggests to focus on your own passions. Go into every meeting or new introduction with a list of your favorite topics of conversation, the things you love to do and the things you feel incredibly passionate about. "This provides not only an arsenal of conversation starters but also ones you are brimming with excitement, love and energy about," she says.
Whenever you talk about things you genuinely care about, people will just be drawn to you because that kind of energy and passion is super infectious. It's also attractive. Who knows, you might attract someone who's just as passionate about a topic as you are.
I know a lot of these things on this list may seem scary. Nobody wants to leave a social situation feeling silly and rejected. While it's easier to pull up Tinder and start a conversation with someone you matched with, it's just not the same as being physically drawn to someone you're already in the same room with. Confidence is key and practice makes perfect. And if you don't meet anyone at one party, there's always the next one.