How to Actually Meet People in Person. Like, Without the Internet.

couple cuddling together in a booth
How to Actually Meet People Without Dating AppsBRUCE WEBER/ TRUNK ARCHIVE

Remember the days when people serendipitously exchanged numbers in line at a coffee shop? No? Yeah. For most of us, encountering romantic prospects looks a lot more like constant ghosting, promising matches that go nowhere, and a seemingly bottomless pool of options designed to keep us all on a never-ending quest for the next best thing. In short, we’ve basically grown up on Tinder, with algorithms running our love lives.

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But! Believe it or not, rom-com-worthy How We Met moments aren’t strictly a thing of the past—they do still happen today. (And because you’re asking, no, it’s not always creepy to approach a cute stranger in public. And yes, there are ways to talk to another human without seeming awkward or desperate.)

To reassure you and honestly also ourselves, we asked people who met their person *in* person how they did it. Allow their stories to inspire your own brave foray into the off-app dating world—or at least to warm your swipe-hardened heart.

1.“I deleted my dating apps after six years of failure and met my boyfriend at a pre-game for a ware-house rave two weeks later. I asked his roommate if he was single and was told yes, so when I saw him taking a shot with some friends, I asked him to pour me one. We spent the rest of the night attached at the groin dancing. Later, as I was getting ready to head home for the night, I ended up drunkenly tripping and falling down. He helped me up, and we’re still dating a year and a half later.”—Emmy, 28

2. “My partner and I met at a queer bar where I was performing in a drag show. I ‘casually’ grabbed a drink from the bar at the same time as them, we exchanged names, and I went on with my performance—during which I did a jump split, hit my knee, and started bleeding! They like to say they fell in love right then and there. They offered to help me after the show, we closed down the bar, and we’ve been together ever since.”
—Alec, 23

3. “I met my boyfriend at my hair salon. I had just started (nonexclusively) dating a comedian. She invited me to a bisexual comedy show she was doing, and when I invited him to come with me, he dropped that he was also bi. Four years later, we’re still together.”—Tiffany, 38

4. “I met my fiancé at the gym after moving back to my hometown. We made eye contact and started chatting. I took note of when I seemed to run into him most and started going at that time more often. Eventually, I asked him out for a drink. We’ve been together for eight years!” —Melissa, 33

5. “We met at a comedy team audition and I immediately thought he was cute. Afterward, I struck up a conversation with someone near him so I wasn’t too obvious. He complimented my performance and I introduced myself. Long story short, we got engaged four years later.” —Nikki, 32

6. “My boyfriend and I met at a beach bar in the Canary Islands while I was visiting on vacation—his friend came over to hit on mine. I invited him to hang out, and we ended up falling in love in two weeks. I extended my trip twice before deciding to move here. We’ve been living together ever since.”—Flavia, 31

7. “I met a former partner in the smoking room of my favorite Parisian sex club. He turned to me and introduced himself, saying he used to live in L.A. We started chatting and realized we have mutual friends and had even been to some of the same events. Later that night, we went back to my apartment, got about three hours of sleep before going to brunch the next morning, and ended up dating for almost nine months.”—Melissa, 30

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