- Andrew Burton/Reuters
- Dating apps are now a common way to meet people, though there are many who prefer not to use them.
- People have various reasons for not using them, from saying they’re a waste of time to preferring natural, in-person chemistry.
- Here, 21 people reveal why they don’t use dating apps – and how they meet people instead.
Though dating apps are a common way to meet people these days, there are still many people who prefer to meet romantic prospects in real life for the first time.
According to a 2017 report by Statista, 61% of Americans aged 18-29 and 44% of Americans 30-59 are currently using a dating site/app or have used one in the past. However, a 2018 survey by polling platform The Tylt found that almost 84% of millennials would rather find love “in real life” than online.
“Meeting people ‘in the wild’ makes conversations more organic and easygoing,” Maria Avgitidis, founder of Agape Match, a matchmaking service based in NYC, told Business Insider in an email.
Avgitidis said that meeting in person provides an opportunity for exploration, curiosity, and a different kind of sexual tension. “More significantly, you’re not hiding behind a screen and turning a soulmate into a pen pal,” she said.
Here, 21 people reveal why they don’t use dating apps – and how they meet people instead. The answers have been condensed and edited for clarity.
1. Charlene, 40
“I’d been in long-distance relationships up until a few years ago and had no desire to try dating apps since becoming single. My friends use them, and their complaints about the quality of matches, the dilemma of too much choice, and the buildup of chatting with someone for weeks only to meet in person and not have chemistry completely put me off of dating apps. Swipe and chat my day away on yet another app? I don’t have time for that!
Luckily, I’m an extrovert who’s OK with alone time, so being by myself and striking up conversations is my zone. Meeting men is easy because I’m living my life and doing what interests me and, luckily, since they’re there, too, it’s something they’re interested in, as well.
I think men can sense that I don’t have an agenda – I’m not focused on dating just to date or find ‘The One,’ but am interested in connecting with people and cultivating knowledge and building relationships (not just one Relationship with a capital ‘R’).”
2. Supriya, 29
“I am not a fan of dating apps at all! Though a lot of my friends use them and narrate the fun experiences they’ve had, the idea doesn’t resonate with me – they’re nothing but an algorithm.
I think the probability of meeting a person through friends or family at a party or a get-together is more convincing to me. Meetups for like-minded people with common interests sound great, too. Meeting someone in a situation like that sets the tone and a topic for conversation, whereas my friends who use apps get so nervous about how they’ll be perceived on their coffee date!”
3. Chris, 29
“I can’t stand dating apps – it takes the whole chase out of the equation, which is the fun part for both parties. I used one for about a month and people would respond once or twice, then never message back again. It seemed like they were on there to get validation, but not to follow through with actually going out. It was a big waste of time.
I meet girls at the gym – which is a healthy habit anyway! – and it works out great. I feel in my element there, and that is where your self-esteem is most high, in your element or place or expertise. I highly recommend it.”
4. Sarah, 34
“I don’t use dating apps because I don’t think they are an accurate representation of the person. People tend to overdo it with the apps and only tell you the best parts about themselves, which inevitably leads to disappointment when you find out they are a slob or have anger issues. I think apps are actually ruining dating for everyone, because they create unrealistic expectations.
Instead, I make it a point to go to events where I can meet new people: friends’ birthday parties, coworking spaces (and all of the events they put on), and honestly, I sometimes just give my number out to men I meet at coffee shops or grocery stores.
I’ve had great success, and there is way less pressure versus all the back-and-forth and eventual meeting that happens on dating apps. Now, I’m dating a guy I met at a picnic my friend organized a month ago.”
5. Angelique, 24
“It seems like everyone in my generation/age group is using some sort of dating app, but I don’t see it as an authentic way of connecting on a deeper level with someone. I dabbled with Tinder, and, wow, was I overwhelmed! I was forgetting what stories I told to who, what plans I had with who … so I deleted the app and made more space on my phone, which was way more important!
I’m an outgoing person who has interest in many activities – slacklining, surfing, snowboarding, running, biking, hiking, etc. I actually met the love of my life through slacklining at the beach – which was the most authentic and organic way it could have possibly happened. Her name is Erika, and we now live happily in Berkeley, CA.”
6. Holly, 53
“I don’t use dating apps because my town is small, and I worry that my dating profile would become public knowledge. There was a time when I was on Match.com and dated someone for over a year. For now, I’m tired of online dating.
I have this belief that if I want to meet a man, I need more women in my life, because all women have a man or two whom they are friends with, but don’t want to date. So rather than going online, I mine my friends, new and old, to see if they know someone I might like. It’s a much better way to meet new people. I’m not lonely, so getting to meet new men is a fun way to spend a free evening.”
- Reuters/Bernardo Montoya
7. Lisa, 47
“I don’t use dating apps – quite frankly, I’m too busy and picky. I consider myself a success-minded, ambitious person, and my main complaint with dating sites is that sifting through prospects becomes added work. When you reach a level of success and you’re in business, you become pickier about who you want as a partner and rely more on introductions and after-work social gatherings to meet people.
I maintain my energy in such a way that I attract fun, interesting people everywhere I go. Meeting someone that I’d be interested in romantically wasn’t ever an issue for me. I guess it’s one of the benefits of being a teenager in the ’80s, and in my 20s in the ’90s, when flirting was mastered as opposed to relying on an app or profile pic. Most people I know who are earning over $150,000 per year aren’t wasting time on dating apps.
I’m a love-life coach and met my boyfriend face-to-face over two years ago while out in the world! It was a Sunday Funday. I was at an outdoor marina restaurant and when his friend recognized me from Facebook and called me over I said hi to the man who is now my boyfriend. I sat down next to him and started a conversation – imagine that!”
8. Anonymous, 31
“Dating apps work for a lot of people, but they aren’t for everyone. As the novelty wanes, users tend to cycle them on and off, which leads to a high volume of matches who have gone inactive.
Instead, it’s much more fun meeting people the old-fashioned way – actually socializing. Go out with friends, have a good time, and speak to people that take your fancy. There’s no pressure to perform – just have fun with people you’re comfortable with and meet new people on your terms. It’s fun, rewarding, and allows you to meet all kinds of people.”
9. Liz, 28
“One time for 24 hours, I tried dating apps just to see what they were all about, but I prefer to meet people organically, at the gym, bars, volunteering, and through friends of friends. I haven’t found ‘The One,’ but I’ve met people all those ways. Just put yourself out there!”
10. Anshu, 24
“I don’t use dating apps because, to me, it aims for what I call a “bed relationship,” when my purpose is to search for a long-term relationship. (I used one or two platforms and most of the messages were asking to have a “bed relationship.” After those experiences, I stopped.)
Instead, I meet people through classes (I am a yoga master) or conferences, where I get to know them, get to know more about their career, and so on. It is more secure than just using dating apps and wasting time. In fact, I used this approach and met someone in a yoga class.”
11. Audrey, 39
“I’ve tried several dating apps, but abandoned them a few years ago. I find there’s a lot of sifting through chaff involved – kind of like real life, really, but with more people who are in it for a one-night stand.
Also, all that swiping gets tedious after a while, and most people can’t piece together a compelling profile, so it’s not even like you get an interesting read!
I still find meeting people through friends is the best way. Or, through social causes – volunteering for a charity, etc. – I recommend that as quite an effective method to meet like-minded people. Otherwise, I don’t think people should rule out watering holes. I’ve found a couple of long-term partners that way.”
12. Stacy, 27
“I’ve tried apps in the past, but never actually met anyone that I would want to meet in person. I think this is because I tend to become attracted to people after developing an in-person connection with them. I don’t have crushes on celebrities, pictures of people, or people I’ve met only once, so it makes sense dating apps wouldn’t work well for me.”
13. Chelsea, 26
“I’ve made two attempts in the last six years at using dating apps. First Tinder, then Hinge, and both lasted, at most, three days. My main issue with app dating is how uninteresting, or word-smithy, people are. I swear, it’s like pulling teeth to get more than a sentence or two.
I also find that similar to most online culture, some people are willing to share FAR too personal information too soon. So I’d say it’s not working out with apps, for me, at least.
I thrive in organic environments with naturally developing relationships from acquaintance to friend to potential partner – I’m past my one-night-stand days.”
14. Sherry, 40s
“I got burned out from too many disappointments – personal ads in New York Press a couple of times, Nerve.com, then OkCupid. It wasn’t all bad, but still, whether out of frustration or because I actually met someone promising, I’d take breaks. And, after too much feeling bad, both for rejecting and being rejected, I quit all together.
A few years ago, I met someone organically, and it was amazing. We were together for over two years, and then situations changed and, well, now I’m single again. This time, I think I’m just going to accept singleness and maybe someday I’ll get lucky.”
15. Scarlett, 22
“I’m old-fashioned and personally believe dating apps ruin our view of relationships. With apps, we too easily dispose of people and are quick to get into new, meaningless relationships. In my experience, dating apps have made me feel like if things don’t work out with someone, I can turn to the apps.”
16. Lauren, 29
“My roommate and I debate this topic all the time, since she is a dating app user. I tried Bumble for a minute – that wasn’t too terrible because I felt like I was a bit more in control of my fate. But, overall, I hate them. I think they’re a load of bull.
They feel so insincere, photos never actually look like the people when you meet them, and when you finally connect with someone, the conversations are severely lacking. These dating apps are also very taxing on one’s self-esteem. It’s rough to take a look at an empty inbox, especially if you’ve swiped someone and you’re waiting for them to match with you. You also base so much on a simple swipe left or right motion and very rarely get a chance to see how the person acts when they’re not “on display.”
I’m a big fan of meeting people at concerts, bars, networking events, and through friends. If I meet someone somewhere I frequent, at a concert of a band I love, or through a friend, I feel like there’s already some sort of established level of commonality. I met the guy I’m currently with through a friend of mine, and he’s honestly wonderful.”
17. Teresa, 29
“I went on Tinder for three days once, and I found it pretty horrifying. I’m all about encouraging the IRL trend.
I enjoy the thrill of random encounters, spontaneity, and romance that unfolds organically. Sometimes, I meet people through work connections, but mainly through social events and a pretty large global community of awesome people and entrepreneurs who love dancing, celebrating, and house music.
And yes, having a relationship in NYC is possible. I always recommend that people do what works for them! Spending less time with eyes glued to a phone screen can’t hurt, though.”
- James Alcock/Getty Images
18. Eva, 39
“I do not use dating apps because of the overabundance of bad dates and strange people I have met over the years. I have used Tinder, OkCupid, The League, and Hinge, and they really are all the same in both San Francisco and Los Angeles.
I have had luck meeting men by random encounters – from bars to supermarkets to on the street, and, guess what? They are weird, too.
I also seek out Meetups for fun alternatives for meeting people. I would recommend trying some real-time opportunities. It’s much better because you can get an actual read on someone, as opposed to chatting through an app to a photo from God knows when.”
19. Lauren, 23
“I’ve never signed up for a dating site or app and have been in and out of relationships since apps became popular a few years ago.
Personally, I believe in naturally meeting a person and having the confidence to make that connection in-person from the start. I’ve found success doing this by attending or joining social events or groups, having the guts to actually introduce myself at a bar, and – most recently – being set up by a mutual friend. I’ve been with that same ‘set up’ guy for one year now and could not be happier!
My advice would be to stop hiding behind a screen and seriously put yourself out there when trying to meet new people! You’ll be surprised how impressed those on the other side are when you make that first move in ‘real life.’ Try intramural sports, professional development organizations, or volunteer groups!”
- Flickr / zenjazzygeek
20. Jacki, 26
“I’ve never been on a dating app or site of any kind. Although I love swiping for my friends, it always bothered me how superficial the process seemed when thinking about it for myself. Also, I get creeped out enough in real life – I don’t need to invite that into my pocket.
Instead, I’ve had success finding people by going out and being active: going to a bar, meeting new friends, joining a running club, etc. Do what you love, but make it a social experience, which helps attract people who are interested in the same things. I’ve seen apps work for friends, but in my book, nothing beats the old-fashioned way.”
21. Sherina, 37
“I don’t use dating apps. I have before and was meeting men who just wanted a quick fix – I don’t mean sex, but just having someone so they aren’t lonely. Each time I used apps, it was because I felt bored or lonely.
I believe in the law of attraction – you attract who you are at any moment. I haven’t used apps in over a year and focused on my happiness, and wow! I get approached by men often and I don’t even try. It’s true. When you aren’t looking, it happens. I am currently not dating, but it feels like I have put myself out there more than previously!”