How To Meet Someone This Weekend If You Don't Drink

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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. Today's topic: how to meet someone when you don't drink.

As someone who's lived and dated in New York City for years, I'd be lying if I said alcohol didn't play a huge role in my dating life. Most of my social outings (dates or otherwise) tend to revolve around drinking, so I understand why dating when you don't drink alcohol might seem tough. According to data from relationship app Hinge's book IRL, 59 percent of people said grabbing drinks was their top pick for a first date activity, and it's not really a surprise why — most folks like to have a drink to calm their date-induced jitters, plus grabbing a drink is a lot more casual and low-key than having a full-on dinner date.

Because alcohol is such a huge part of the social and dating scene, if you're a non-drinker, it's understandable to worry that you might have difficulty meeting new people IRL without getting your drink on. — especially if you've mostly been relying on dating apps to meet people. But the truth is that there's no reason your no-booze preference should hinder your love life or your ability to meet new people. "There are virtually no challenges non-drinkers face when dating, unless you're someone who relies on alcohol for liquid courage," Thomas Edwards Jr., founder of The Professional Wingman, tells Bustle. "A true advantage for non-drinkers is their minds are always clear enough to make consistently great decisions."

No matter why you choose to abstain from alcohol, you shouldn't be ashamed of that decision, nor should you let anyone else make you feel weird about it. (Plus, if a potential partner has a problem with you saying 'no thanks' to a drink, they might not be the one for you, anyway.) If you're a non-drinker and looking to meet someone IRL during App-less April, Bustle's challenge to delete your dating apps for a month, sans alcohol, here are seven things to keep in mind.

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If you've made the decision not to drink, you shouldn't sweat it if someone plans a hang-out at a bar, because they're still a good place to meet a potential date. "If events, dates or other experiences are happening at bars, you can still go there and instead, choose options other than cocktails, such as coffee, hot chocolate, or even mocktails," Edwards says.

Another great idea? Research some activity-focused bars (like an arcade bar or one that has shelves full of old board games), then suggest your squad meet there so you'll have something other than drinking to keep you entertained all night.

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This advice might sound cliche, but getting out of your comfort zone is always going to help you meet new people. If you're feeling like your love life is a little stale and you want to increase your chances of meeting someone new, look for something relevant to your interests to get involved in, whether that's a fitness group or book club. "See if there are experiences you can enjoy with other people based on your passions and interests," Edwards says.

Regardless of whether or not you drink, giving off an approachable and confident vibe will help you meet someone IRL, no matter how you spend your free time. According to body language and nonverbal communication expert Patti Wood, M.A., there are a few key moves that can help you seem more confident and approachable in public. Be aware of your body language: Wood says showing your palms and uncrossing your arms are both signals that you're open, honest, and confident.

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Regardless of whether or not you drink, giving off an approachable and confident vibe will help you meet someone IRL, no matter how you spend your free time. According to body language and nonverbal communication expert Patti Wood, M.A., there are a few key moves that can help you seem more confident and approachable in public. Be aware of your body language: Wood says showing your palms and uncrossing your arms are both signals that you're open, honest, and confident.

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While it's true that no New Yorker would touch Times Square with a 50-foot pole, playing tourist in your own city is actually a great way to change up your social scene and potentially meet new people. Even if you want to skip the tourist traps, simply checking out a different neighborhood and trying a new restaurant, coffee shop — or yes, even a bar — with your friends is a fun way to spend your weekend, and also provides you with the excuse to chat with those around you (for local recommendations, of course).

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If meeting cute strangers is the end-all-be-all goal of your nights out, why not skip the confusion of 'who's single, who's not' and go straight for an event where you know there will be eligible bachelor/ettes? "There are always singles-focused events where you’ll be 'at the source' for meeting other singles," Edwards says.

Recruit some friends to tag along and make your evening all about connecting with people IRL — whether they become a friend or a romantic connection, it doesn't hurt to make some new acquaintances.

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Once you get sucked into the dating app world, it can be difficult to remember how you used to meet people. But let's not forget that meeting people through friends is still very much a viable option, and it's an even better idea for anyone who's a non-drinker. Assuming your friends know you and your alcohol preferences, they can set you up with someone who's on the same page as you, or at least is cool with your non-drinking ways. The best part? It doesn't even have to be an awkward blind date scenario: simply help your friend co-host a fun party and use it as a means to chat up some new people in a setting you're comfortable in!

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To be totally honest, if you're at an alcohol-centric event and sipping a booze-less soda, there's a pretty good chance no one will even notice you aren't drinking in the first place. But if they do notice, there's no need to make a big deal out of it: just explain to whatever degree you're comfortable with, shrug, and move on. You don't need alcohol to have a good time and let loose, and if you let your personality shine, there's no reason you won't attract someone.

No matter how you like to spend your weekends, it's totally possible to put your dating apps aside and learn to meet people IRL. Whether you drink or not has nothing to do with your ability to make real, lasting connections with people  — as long as you're comfortable with who you are, you'll attract others who have serious long-term potential.

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