[Note from Frolic: We are so excited to have author Camille Virginia guest post on the site today. Camille’s book The Offline Dating Method: How to Attract a Great Guy in the Real World is out now!]
“I’m so sorry! May I buy your coffee?”
I had paused in the middle of placing my Starbucks order when the man behind me had jumped in to place his.
The cashier held up a hand to him, gestured toward me, and a split-second later, out came his apology and offer to buy my drink.
It all happened so fast, I didn’t register what was going on.
So, like many modern women upon being offered assistance, my immediate reaction was to politely decline, thank-you-very-much.
On the walk back to my apartment, self-bought latte in-hand, it suddenly hit me: I’d missed an opportunity to connect with a cute guy who offered to do something nice for me.
I vowed to keep a more vigilant watch out, so I’d never miss an opportunity like that again.
From Clueless to Connector
After that fateful morning, I started noticing that people – especially men – would use objects, the weather, and other surrounding aspects as excuses to engage me.
I also realized that, along with a little strategic action (more on that in a minute), I had the power to take a casual comment or question and turn it into a romantic encounter – and in many cases, a hot date!
Applying these authentic approaches eventually led to me being asked out by hundreds of men in everyday places – from a Southwest Airlines flight to the greeting card section of the drug store.
And all without ever going online or using a dating app, à la the pre-digital dating era of Sex and the City‘s Carrie Bradshaw.
But as time went on, online platforms and apps started becoming mainstream, I saw that other people weren’t having the same luck in connecting with each other that I was enjoying.
What was happening to those days where people were more inclined to head outside and strike up a conversation with a stranger, instead of sitting at home swiping the evening away?
Did they really go the way of the dinosaur – or, as Carrie might say – the scrunchie?
I couldn’t help but wonder…
Why Modern Dating Doesn’t Have Your Back
With an estimated 8,000 online dating platforms (source: https://www.datingnews.com/industry-trends/online-dating-statistics-what-they-mean-for-future), which often bring out the worst behavior in people (source: http://www.bbc.com/future/story/20180403-why-do-people-become-trolls-online-and-in-social-media), a single woman’s journey to find love can be overwhelming, laden with harassment, and feel like you’re working a second full-time job just trying to get to a first date with someone decent.
As more apps hit the market (even Facebook has now joined that overcrowded party) and the downsides associated with them continue to go unchecked (hello indecent photo of man-I’ve-never-even-met!), it’s easy to assume that technology has permanently deleted spontaneous interactions – i.e. that the days of the “meet-cute” are done and done.
“No one meets in the real world anymore.”
“Everyone’s swiping-over each other.”
“I can’t even remember how to flirt with a guy face-to-face.”
But I’m here to say that the days of random romantic encounters are alive and well – once you know how to spot and act upon them.
It’s true that more people tend to bury their head in their phone rather than chat-up a stranger while out in public, and that loneliness rates for nearly every age group and demographic are sadly at an all-time high.
However, this epidemic of social disconnection has also created a unique opportunity unlike any other in history: an untapped market of millions who are starved for face-to-face connection with each other.
Because eons of our inherent need for social connection didn’t suddenly go out the window with the invention of the iPhone. We’re still programmed to seek fulfillment by being in the physical presence of others – and that isn’t changing anytime soon.
Which means once you know how to co-create even the most casual of connection with someone, they will likely want more of you – and ask for your phone number to get it.
The Journey to Carrie Status
After my own decade-long journey of going from socially anxious to socially confident, I discovered a love of creating meaningful connections with people.
In the process of following that passion, I also started getting asked out by men in the most random places: the bus stop, the train, even the lobby of my apartment building.
Even as Tinder hit the market and people started swiping on strangers more than actually talking to them, I continued to have fun getting dates in everyday places.
One day, a few single girlfriends asked me to create a PowerPoint on how they could get the same results with men.
So I put together a few slides, titled it “How to Let Men Pick You Up,” and they loved it!
Within a year, that presentation turned into a three-hour workshop that I would eventually teach over one-hundred times to single women across Chicago.
After realizing there was a bigger need for these “offline dating” tips than I could accommodate in an evening workshop, I left my corporate consulting job and went full time with my coaching business Master Offline Dating – which has now reached single women in over 100 countries.
As I started introducing myself to people as an offline dating coach, a common response was “So you’re kinda like Carrie Bradshaw?”
Which was funny – because, over the years, life had indeed provided a few strange parallels between me and Sex and the City‘s most famous character…
On the business front, not only did Carrie and I both teach workshops to single women about how to meet men, but we also took ladies out on the town for “wingwoman” sessions to practice in real-time.
Carrie and I have also both written books on our adventures in dating and relationships – and my book editor, ironically, shares the same first and last name as the actress who plays Charlotte (so it’s like Charlotte edited Carrie’s book!).
On the personal side, Carrie and I both moved out of our “single life” apartments to live with a significant other… only to break-up shortly thereafter and move back into our original apartments.
I even went on a date with Sarah Jessica Parker’s bodyguard, who made a brief appearance in the first Sex and The City movie.
And then, of course, there’s the fact that we’ve both met a lot of men in the most random of places.
3 Simple Steps to Meet Men in the Real World
Years of co-creating my own meet-cutes combined with watching the Sex and the City series a few times through, enabled me to spot a few key habits that Carrie and I both practiced which tended to lead to striking-up conversations with handsome strangers in the real world.
And the best part is that you too can apply them to get similar results in your own life.
Here are three simple ways to help you start attracting potential partners – or heck, a new bestie! – as you simply go about your day.
1) Dress for a Conversation
Many of the “good guys” out there are hesitating to approach women for fear of coming off as a creep or being accused of sexual harassment. A way to help skirt this is by giving them something safe to comment on, in the form of a personal statement piece that stands out from the crowd in some way.
Carrie was always sporting the latest fashion (one aspect we don’t have in common – I’m more of a “few classic pieces” kind of girl). Not only did her bold style give others a taste of her personality before she even said a word, but it also provided them with an instant, easy topic to safely engage her with.
No need to don a leotard and tutu, or flower on your shoulder that’s three times the size of your head, in order to catch the eye of a handsome stranger.
Start with a unique piece like a vintage bracelet, or a special pattern like plaid or polka dots, or a graphic t-shirt with your favorite band, sports team, or charity.
My own most-compliment piece of clothing is a Kelly-green coat since the color is striking and rare…
2) Remember: Extraordinary People Can be Found in Ordinary Places
Just because you’re in a casual environment doesn’t mean you’re around boring people. Even the most interesting humans need to buy paper towels and get their driver’s license renewed.
Two of my favorite places to meet men are the airport (everyone’s coming or going somewhere, so they have less inhibition and are more open to connecting with strangers) and hotels (a constant flow of people who are outside of their normal environment and thus more open to engaging).
Carrie met lots of men in casual places – walking down the street, her therapist’s waiting room, even a comic bookstore (maybe not the best example, given who she met there, but you get my point).
One of my own favorite how-we-met stories happened when I was volunteering at a cat shelter in Chicago. I enjoyed a nice flirt session with a cute guy who on the same shift – however, there was no exchange of digits when it was time to part ways.
A few weeks later, he sent me a Facebook message asking me to drinks. Apparently, he regretted not getting my number at our first meeting, so kept signing up for the same shifts as I was in hopes of running into me again.
But since I kept canceling the shifts at the last minute due to a big work project, that plan didn’t work. So he decided to track me down on Facebook, and we went out on a few dates together!
So, be open to meeting great men in ordinary places. Even a cat shelter.
3) Just Go With It
As mentioned earlier, when someone wants to engage you in the moment it will likely be a random topic – so unless you’re getting a “there’s something really wrong with this guy” feeling, just go with whatever he said and help him get the conversation party started.
Think about it from his perspective: you’ve caught his eye and he has just a few seconds to get your attention before you’re on your way and he may never see you again, so it’s likely going to be random (hence helping him out by wearing a conversation-starter piece).
Or just keep it casual and ask yourself “What would I say to this person if I was already friends with them?” For example, that time Carrie was sitting at a Central Park fountain and, after exchanging a few confused glances with the cute man sitting next to her, he simply asked her “Rough night?” She answered, “Bad Date,” – and within minutes they were setting up their own date together.
This “keep it casual” approach was used on me one day as I was walking down the street. A man approached and asked, “Do you know where the nearest pizza place is?” I knew immediately his line wasn’t about the pizza, but I just went with it and responded, “I know a few places actually, what type of pizza are you looking for?”
He smiled, and then revealed – surprise! – that he wasn’t actually looking pizza, but he thought I was cute and asked for my phone number.
So the next time a man says something random to you, pick up where he left off and ask a question back, or tell a little story about the piece of clothing he just complimented – or when in doubt, answer his question and then ask, “So, how’s your day going?”
You Got This
Despite the growing epidemic of digital disconnection, real-world romantic encounters are indeed alive and well. You just need to take a few key steps to help create them.
Head to your closet right now to find the perfect personal-statement piece, keep an open mindset as you hit-up even the most mundane places, and practice rolling with the conversation punches whenever a stranger engages you with a seemingly random comment or question.
Because the modern dating process may have changed a lot since Carrie sipped her final on-screen Cosmopolitan, but your need for human connection has not.
You already have everything you need to step outside your front door and create your own happily-ever-after in the real world, right now. Just be sure to keep an eye out for him (or her) in the frozen vegetable aisle.
About the Author:
Camille Virginia is author of the new book The Offline Dating Method: How to Attract a Great Guy in the Real World, helping single women ditch the dating apps and get the power to meet great men in everyday places. Join her FREE Offline Dating Challenge: 3 days to a red-hot date in the real world.
The Offline Dating Method: How to Attract a Great Guy in the Real World by Camille Virginia: Out Now!
- Discover 100’s of specific + actionable tips (no vague “just be yourself” advice)
- Follow a proven step-by-step system (no guesswork of what to do next)
- Create meaningful connections with everyone (men, friends, family, and more)