Meeting People Offline: How to Turn a Casual Encounter Into a Date

Two people who wanted to meet people offline, eating chicken sandwiches at a baseball game.

Dating apps have made it easier than ever to meet new people and go on dates, but they’ve also made us forget how we ever met people before they were invented.

It’s easy to swipe on your phone and talk to people through a screen, because it takes a lot of the pressure off striking up a conversation with a total stranger in real life. On an app, we can be (almost) certain they’re single, but in real life we have no idea. If someone has already matched with us, then there’s a good chance they fancy us, where as in real life, it’s hard to tell. So meeting someone online definitely has its advantages.

But what if you want to go back to basics, and meet someone the old-fashioned way?

Meeting face to face has its perks too. It’s a lot more spontaneous, and even if you’re just meeting someone in a bar, it can feel somewhat serendipitous too. And, perhaps most importantly, it also let’s you know right away if you have that in-person chemistry that’s essential to any kind of real relationship. 

Here’s a guide to meeting people offline, and turning a casual encounter into a sizzling date:

At a local meet up.
Networking events, book groups, or even running groups can be a great way to make like-minded friends, and potentially score a date. You never know who’s going to turn up, or who else is also keeping their eye out for someone special.

This is a great chance to take part in something you don’t usually do, make new memories, and expand your horizons. Don’t over do it by coming on to half the group, but if there’s someone who you feel attracted to, you’ve got nothing to lose by striking up a conversation and seeing what happens next.

On public transport.
This can be difficult, especially if you’re on a silent train, or the person in question has their headphones in. And because so many women have to deal with creepy guys hitting on them on their way to work, we do tend to be slightly paranoid about anyone who tries to talk to us.

That being said, there is a way to do it without coming across as a creep. Make eye contact first, and see if it’s reciprocated. A smile always goes down well. Next, try to talk about something you’ve noticed about them—for example, the book they’re reading, or ask a question about the bus or train you’re on.  

Open the door for someone.
Opening the door for someone and letting them walk through before you is a wonderful way to make someone feel good. Exchange a smile, and see what happens next.

Don’t reserve this for just the people you’re attracted to—try to do this as often as you can. You’ll put yourself in a better mood, get used to talking and interacting with strangers, and create good karma for yourself. 

Make eye contact.
We live in a world now where most people never make eye contact with people in the street, in coffee shops, and bars. If we have a moment to spare, most of us are straight on our phones, oblivious to what’s going on around us. But this is going to stop you from making eye contact with so many potential singles every single day.

Next time you’re out, try looking up and outwards. If you see someone you like, lock eyes on them. Do this three times, and flash them a smile. This will let them know you’re interested, and give them the go ahead to approach you.

Go to happy hour solo.
Pick your favorite bar or pub, and head in for happy hour after work to relax, enjoy a drink, and meet some new people. You’ll often find people on their own who are unwinding from the office, and wouldn’t mind a bit of company. 

Sitting at the bar is a great place to position yourself if you want someone to approach you. Just make sure you’re not glued to your phone, and give off the vibe that you’re open to meeting people.

Sign up for a singles event.
There are lots of singles events going on in most towns and cities these days, and you can always go with a friend for moral support. I know this is kind of similar to online dating, but it’s more personal because you’re meeting in real life, which always gives you a better sense of who someone is and whether you have chemistry or not.

If you’ve never attended an event like this, try one before you knock it.

Go to a place someone you’re attracted to would go.
It makes so much sense when you hear it, yet most of us don’t think to do this. So take some time to think about the kind of person you’re usually attracted to. Would you find them in a museum, at a yoga class, in the park, at a concert, or maybe at a book club?

More often than not, you’re looking for someone who shares similar interests to you, so by doing the things you love and doing more of them, you’re increasing your chances of meeting someone you might want to date.

Don’t be afraid to strike up a bit of innocent conversation. If they seem interested, you can deepen your intro. into something a little deeper than just chatting about the weather.

Here’s the thing about all of these tips—they only work if you have the right attitude. You need to be confident, and also strong enough to deal with rejection when it happens—which it will. Some people will already be taken, and others simply won’t be interested, and that’s okay. Focus on practicing your conversation-starting skills, and never take anything personally.

Doing this in real life can be more fun than scrolling through profiles on a screen, so be sure to enjoy yourself and see what happens.

Shani Jay

Bestselling Author and Empowerment Coach

Shani is a bestselling author, empowerment coach for women, and self-love advocate. She is the author of Bloom, The Babe Bible, Glow Getter, and Light Up Your Life; and her writing has been featured on many internationally recognized platforms including The Huffington Post, Thought Catalog, and Teen Vogue.

​In 2016 Shani founded The Glow Getter Tribe – a self-love & kindness movement which helps young girls & women worldwide feel happy, confident and beautiful starting from the inside, out.

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