Some people may want to meet someone for their New Year's resolutions, but I also know a lot of people who wan to get tone down their online dating addiction or get off their dating apps completely (OK, just for a month, let's be real). The two don't have to be mutually exclusive. Although most of us rely on our phones to meet people and go on dates, there's no reason offline dating needs to die out. There are plenty of ways to meet people. The problem is, it's scary. I get it — I find all dating scary and talking to people I don't know in the real world is my worst nightmare.
But, oftentimes, people become more aware when dating offline — and that's a good thing. "They see their strengths and weaknesses when it comes to socializing in various environments," Thomas Edwards, founder of The Professional Wingman, tells Bustle. "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."
It's all about pulling off the band-aid and just getting used to talking to people. Once you get out of your comfort zone, it gets way easier. Here are some ways to meet people if you're taking a break from your dating apps.
1. Pick Up A New Hobby
If you go and out and do more of something you like — which a lot of us try to do in January — you already have common ground with people you meet there. And it's easier to start up conversations than you think. Just be curious.
"When working with clients who have social anxiety, I always suggest taking a 'curious' perspective and suggest asking people about themselves," Boston-based clinical psychologist Bobbi Wegner tells Bustle. So if you're at say, a running club, and want to start talking to someone, just start asking questions.
2. Check Out Adult Museum Nights
I think that adult museum nights are not only super fun, but a great way to meet people with a similar interest. Plus, they're a pretty quirky thing to do — and that's a great jumping off point for conversation.
"Another strategy is the time-tested advice to find common ground," personal and professional coach Karen Garvey tells Bustle. "Finding something in common can be as easy as figuring out how you both came to be at the same event at the same time."
Just asking someone how they heard about an event can be an easy conversation starter.
3. Phone A Friend
There's always the good old-fashioned way — being set up on a date. But that's quite an intimate thing for someone to do, so most of your friends aren't going to go for it unless you ask them to. If you ask, you'd be surprise how many people might be willing to play matchmaker. Plus, the people you go out with will be pre-vetted.
4. Go To More Parties
Along with asking a friend, it's time to stop ignoring those Facebook invites. January is when we all want to hibernate, but if you actually go to more social events, you can take advantage of all those opportunities to meet people offline.
Volunteering lets you give back and get exposed to a whole new group of people at the same time who care about the same cause you do. Just don't be afraid to interact with people you come across in real life.
"While running your daily errands, at a cafe or on your morning commute (whether it be on a train platform, parking your car, or even waiting to cross the street), force yourself to smile at the intriguing stranger next to you and simply utter the word 'Hi.'" Lori Cheek, founder and CEO of Cheekd, tells Bustle. "You really have absolutely nothing to lose except an opportunity." A smile can go a long way.
6. Check Out Meetup
Have you used Meetup? It's a great site with plenty of events and outings going on that you can just turn up to. A whole group of people from there used to come to a comedy night I played regularly — and I always noticed they were so friendly and open to anyone who joined on their own. Find one that sounds interesting and tag along — but then make sure to put your phone down and make yourself actually talk to the people there.
"Unplugging is a great way to practice being mindful of your surroundings and really diving into whatever you're doing in the moment," Janna Koretz Psy.D, licensed psychologist and founder of Azimuth Psychological, tells Bustle. If your eyes are glued to the phone, you're going to miss who's around you.
7. Walk A Dog
I'm not a dog person. But my friend is — and whenever I go dog walking with her, 900 thousand people come up and talk to us. I don't get it. But I swear, if you want to meet people just take a dog to a park. It'll happen.
Dating offline is really intimidating if you're not used to it, but once you jump in it'll get easier. Just don't be scared to start up conversations — and remember, a smile can be a great ice breaker.