When Camille Virginia moved to Chicago to be in the same city as her boyfriend years ago, things didn’t quite go as planned. “He broke up with me within a few weeks, and I had no friends [there],” she tells Bustle. Left with a choice between moving back home or putting down roots on her own, she decided to resist her introverted nature and attempt to meet people the old-fashioned way — in coffee shops, at parties, and just walking down the street.
Her friends were curious: how was Virginia, who grew up with social anxiety, making all of these organic connections with people? “I made a powerpoint to send them with a few ways to chat up strangers,” she says. Years later, those slides became The Offline Dating Method. The original book, published in 2019, was geared towards women interested in meeting men, but as Ashley Fetters pointed out in The Atlantic, its tips were general enough that it “could virtually double as a guide for how to talk to and get to know strangers, full stop.”
Shortly after its release, however, along came lockdown, putting an end to the kinds of spontaneous, stranger-based interactions from which the book draws its ethos. With the exception of Zoom dates and strained, distanced park hangs, we stopped meeting new people. As a result, we got even more lonely.
“It’s hard because COVID is acute,” Virginia says, but “loneliness is chronic. You feel it deeply. It’s ever-present, and it gets worse and worse. One study said that loneliness is like the equivalent of smoking 15 cigarettes a day.”
But now, with vaccines widely available the potential for casual encounters to become magical meet-cutes has been restored. The only problem? After a year off, our social skills have gone rusty. As if dating wasn’t nerve-racking enough before,51% of singles are currently experiencing FODA or “fear of dating again” following last year’s lockdown, reports a 2021 Hinge survey of 2,000 global users
If you’re feeling hesitant about getting back out there, here Virginia offers her best tips for radiating magnetic approachability and meeting people IRL.
The 2010s were kind of defined by the normalization of dating apps, but now some millennials have been on them since college, and they’re tired of it. They download them for two months, they get sick of them, they go off, and it’s just that burnout cycle over and over again. How do you think app fatigue is going to play out in the next few years?
What’s interesting, as you were talking, I started thinking about fad diets. People like silver bullets right? They want the one thing that’s going to make them lose the weight, or meet the person, and they just want to be done with it. But unfortunately, both weight loss and the journey of finding your future partner take time — and that’s why they’re harder. You’ve got to screen for the right person, make sure that you’re on the same page. With weight loss, if you dropped 30 pounds in two weeks, you’re just going to gain that right back.
[Dating apps] feel like a flavor of the month situation, which is why I’ve doubled down on offline meeting, because human connection, especially in person, will never go out of style.
After a year of reduced dating, or being too nervous to even think about it, how can people push past that initial fear of putting …….