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.
If your method of meeting new partners has primarily been through dating apps, Bustle's App-less April, a 30 day challenge to delete your dating apps and focus on meeting people IRL, is undoubtedly going to push you out of your comfort zone. It may seem anxiety-inducing at first glance, but it's really a call for singles to take a step back, evaluate their dating habits, and give offline dating a real shot. During this process you may find yourself broadening your dating horizons and most importantly, taking risks.
" I love Bustle’s idea of App-less April," Raeeka Yaghmai, certified coach, dating and relationship expert, and CEO of Dating with Confidence™, tells Bustle. "While I am a firm believer in the benefits and necessity of using online dating apps to date successfully in the 21st century (and I myself found the love of my life on OkCupid), I also believe that many times women can simply hide behind dating apps and think they are actively dating. But in reality, they’re really just cruising. What I mean is, they swipe to the right or left not being intentional about dating and wishing Mr. [or Ms.] Right would magically appear." Instead, it takes more than that.
"Some haven’t done the inner work of dating, like really knowing what they want in a relationship, what they want to experience, and what kind of love life they want to create," she says. "And some might be afraid of rejection or getting hurt so they just keep scanning the profiles. Many even decide if there is chemistry or not just by looking at the photos, and that’s no way to find amazing, authentic, mind-blowing love! So giving up digital dating (as I call it) for a month and looking at dating from a whole different perspective — initially meeting people IRL — is a great way of anchoring to who you are and what you want. And successful dating is all about putting yourself out there intentionally!"
Here are some ways you can build confidence as you step out of your comfort zone and take positive risks in the dating world, according to Yaghami.
When I'm swiping on Tinder and going on casual dates, my guard is up. To keep myself from getting hurt, I put an emotional wall up and I sometimes am not truly myself in my interactions with potential partners. This drains my energy and I am sure my dates can pick up on this. Yaghami advises us to practice vulnerability during this challenge:
"The truth is an intimate relationship is not possible without vulnerability," Yaghami says. "Put yourself out there! Take an improv class or a dance class, or maybe even take yourself out on a date to a fancy restaurant. Maybe vulnerability could look like telling your friends you truly intend to find love and being honest about it with yourself and with them. It usually feels like something you are not so comfortable with, so challenge yourself: fight the urge to protect yourself from being vulnerable and do it anyway."
Being bold and taking risks also extends to our body language. "Go out to public places — coffee shops, restaurants with common sitting areas, social gatherings, gallery openings, meetups (try meetup.com) — and practice looking at men [or women] and smiling. It’s a great exercise in practicing flirting, getting comfortable being in your own skin, and building confidence. And as a perk, you never know... maybe that cute [person] you smiled at happens to be single and will come over and say hi."
Because taking a risk starts with taking a big leap, Yaghami says that we can manifest taking risks by initiating conversations. "The best way to start up a conversation is to ask [them] a question, she says. "For example, if you’re in a coffee shop, ask [them] what coffee they recommend because you want to try something new or because you haven’t been to that shop before. They would love to help you, and from there you can engage in a conversation. At the very least, this exercise helps you put yourself out there and engage with men [or women] IRL!"
Dating can feel intimidating, so we sometimes bring our friends to give us a feeling of confidence. But Yaghami says this is a practice we need to drop. "This time, don’t take your girlfriends," she says. "Go by yourself and see what comes for you. Move through the discomfort of what would people think or what you think they would say about you (remember #1, vulnerability!). Do what I call the “theater technique” — show up as if you are the hottest in town. And then apply tips #2 and #3 above."
Yaghami firmly believes that in dating, setting an intention is crucial for attracting and manifesting it. "It’s time to get honest with yourself and the world," she says. "Own your desire for wanting to find true love with a quality man [or woman], and then let your friends and family know. And if you’re willing to take this one step further, let them know you wouldn’t mind being set up and going on a date with someone they suggest. After all, you don’t have to commit to [them] if you don’t feel it’s a match. Either way, you get to meet a man [or woman] in real life."
Now get out there and take some of these risks! You'll never know what could happen unless you give it a shot.