Whether dating apps are causing a "dating apocalypse" or are merely the easiest way to get a date, there's no denying these tools have been total gamechangers in the dating scene within the last few years. And even though dating apps are most popular among millennials, according to a recent Bustle survey with dating app Happn of over 1,000 dating app users, 78 percent of women and 85 percent of men still want to meet people IRL. 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.
When it comes to meeting people in real life, it can be overwhelming to know where to start — but that's what Bustle's App-less April, a challenge to delete your dating apps and meet people in real life, is all about because so many of want to do it, but get too bogged down in swiping.
But if singles nights and speed dating just seems a bit much for you, you may want to start looking around during all the activities you already do — and that includes commuting. A survey of 1,000 Millennial New York men and women aged 18-34 by Friendthem, a social connectivity app, looked into how people felt about subway flirting. Over 85 percent of New Yorkers expressed desire to give a business card or cell phone number to someone on the subway— which is way higher than I would have expected— but only 36 percent of those surveyed have been bold enough to do so. Interesting, right?
And the good thing about doing something in person— and taking a break from dating apps — is that you can feel them out right away. Instead of, you know, talking to someone for five weeks on Tinder but within six seconds of meeting them in real life knowing that you're not interested. "The biggest advantage to meeting potential dates in real life is getting to experience their vibe right away, which is something no online dating platform can deliver," Thomas Edwards, founder of The Professional Wingman, tells Bustle. "This increases your odds of making good choices on who to go on a date with. There's no better way to gauge attraction and chemistry than to be physically present with someone."
It's too true. Here are the tips and conversation starters for meeting someone on your commute, whether you're riding the subway or stuck in traffic on the bus.
Chatting with someone on the subway isn't going to do any good if there isn't a way to continue the conversation off the subway. "If there’s some good conversation and you’d like to see them again, trying to exchange numbers using your phone could take longer logistically especially if you’re not sure when you or the other person will be getting to their stop," Edwards says. "Instead have your business card ready, which is perfectly acceptable in this circumstance as it’s easier and seamless."
If you're used to chatting with new people, you'll be in a much better position to strike up conversation with someone on the the bus, train, or ferry. Why? Confidence. "The most effective thing you can do to give yourself a confidence boost is talking to other people prior to approaching that person you’re interested in," Edwards says. "If you stop by a coffee shop before hitting the subway, talk up the barista. Smile and make eye contact with people as you walk to the station. The goal is to get you in a chatty mood and socially warmed up, creating momentum and making it easier to chat with whoever you’d like."
It's a great way to figure out if someone is returning your vibe. "Locking eyes with someone, especially when you’re constantly looking down at your phone, can feel intimidating and requires confidence," Millennial Love Expert Samantha Burns, a licensed mental health counselor, relationship counselor, and dating coach, tells Bustle. "Eye contact allows you to determine if someone is safe, attractive, and whether you want this person to approach you. If you spot someone you’d like to chat with, make sure to glance over and make eye contact three times and flash a smile, which gives the green light signal that you’re interested."
If someone has their headphones in, is reading a book, and clutching a coffee while avoiding eye contact with every damn person — then leave them be. No matter how hot you think they are. It's important to respect boundaries, even when you are trying to meet someone in real life. "The idea is to be direct but not too direct," Edwards says. "I would always recommend just saying 'hi, my name is…,' but because it may typically be quiet, it’s important to not be so overt about your intentions, to avoid the creep factor as this isn’t something that typically happens so expect them to be a little guarded initially." It's walking that line between being bold and considerate.
Who doesn't like a compliment? "Say, 'I noticed your watch, or ring, or shirt — it's beautiful, or interesting, or something I've been wanting to find," Tina B. Tessina, aka Dr. Romance, psychotherapist and author of How to Be Happy Partners: Working it out Together, tells Bustle. "If you get a polite 'thank you' and the person looks away, he or she isn't interested in talking." And if they respond with a question, you'll know they want to keep talking.
Notice that they have running sneakers on? Ask them if they're training for anything. Recognize a certain sports team logo? Ask if that's where they're from. If you can see something about them that related back to your interests, that's your conversation starter.
There's safety in someone who you see on a the same commuter route over and over — you'll probably look familiar to them, too. Then you can talk about what you're seeing around you. "Start up a conversation about whatever is going on right in front of you," dating coach and licensed marriage and family therapist Pella Weisman tells Bustle. If you ride the same line that always stalls at the same spot — or always had someone eating the same smelly food — you can open with a joke about that.
My mom was right. She told me to ask questions whenever I'm nervous in a social situation and it hasn't let me down yet. "The sage advice to open doors by encouraging others to talk about themselves holds true, but the key to its success is for your questions to arise from genuine interest and curiosity," personal and professional coach Karen Garvey tells Bustle. "A question that genuinely interests you about someone will resonate as being authentic and lend itself to a conversation." It's a great opener and will let you gauge how interested they are.
Try not to get too bogged down in what you say, it's more about coming up with an excuse to say something. “No one ever remembers the first thing you say to them,” Relationships expert Benjamin Evans tells Bustle. “What you say doesn’t actually matter — most people can’t remember the very first thing their partner said to them. It just needs to be interesting enough to get their attention and authentic enough so you don’t come off as a fraud.”
And the weather is always a safe bet. It's also a way to ease in and get a vibe about whether or not they're interested in— you can always retreat quickly.
A lot of people find their commute the worst part of their day, but it doesn't have to be. Keep your eyes peeled and you may find a dating opportunity on your way to work.
Join the campaign and share your stories with #ApplessApril and by tagging @Bustle.