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How to date offline

MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

If you have ever tried online dating, you know it can be exhausting, demoralizing - the endless swiping, the conversations that go nowhere, the emotional roller coaster of really clicking with someone on the app and then you get to the date, and there is just nothing. There is, of course, another option, you can meet people to date in person. That can seem like a bit of a lost art these days, but Marielle Segarra, host of NPR's Life Kit, is here with some helpful tips.

MARIELLE SEGARRA, BYLINE: A lot of us, and I will include myself in this, have this tendency - when we're in public, our heads are buried in our phones or maybe in a book. Jayda Shuavarnnasri takes a different approach.

JAYDA SHUAVARNNASRI: If I'm sitting at a restaurant, I'm trying to take in my surroundings. I'm trying to notice what's in front of me. I'm not just engaged in my phone. And with that, I look more approachable. But I'm also noticing who else in the room is approachable.

SEGARRA: Shuavarnnasri is a sexuality and relationship educator. And she says if you want to meet people to date in the wild, outside of a dating app, one of the first steps is to be present wherever you are, whether you're at a bar eating lunch or browsing the stacks at the library or getting ready for another attempt up the wall at your rock-climbing gym. Now, let's say you do notice somebody. You think they're cute, and you'd like to be talking to them. Let's keep this low-pressure, OK?

SHUAVARNNASRI: The goal of engaging in a conversation with someone isn't to get the phone number, secure a date right in that moment. The goal is to just have a pleasant interaction.

SEGARRA: This is important - right? - 'cause you don't want to come at people too intensely. And it's easy to do that if you haven't met anyone you like in a while. But you don't know this person yet. Don't get caught in a fantasy or in a scarcity mentality.

SHUAVARNNASRI: When I work with folks of shifting from, like, that scarcity into, like, abundance, like, abundance is, like, have a lot of good interactions. Have a lot of pleasant moments in your life. That feels abundant to me, right? That feels like, yes, I can go out, and I know how to talk to people and feel good about it. It could be two minutes. It could be two hours.

SEGARRA: So how to start the conversation? She says you could lead with a simple question like, hey, have you tried the food here? Oh, you got the rosemary bun. How is it? Or let's say you're at a rock-climbing gym. How long have you been climbing? Or just make a comment about something around you. Pay attention to how the person responds. If they're giving you short answers and not engaging, let it drop. We're never entitled to someone else's time, even if we think they're attractive. If you're not sure if they're interested, give them an out. Like, by the way, if you want to go back to reading your book, totally fine. Or...

SHUAVARNNASRI: Are you OK that I'm talking to you right now or would you like some quiet time? And that gives you a very clear indication of whether or not that person is feeling shy or if they're interested in you.

SEGARRA: And then if you have a good conversation, maybe at the end you ask if they want to stay in touch. Shuavarnnasri says she'll often give the other person her number instead of asking for theirs. If they seem hesitant or they say no, you might feel rejected, but maybe we can reframe this.

SHUAVARNNASRI: I love when people know how to say no. I love when people say, no, I'm not really interested in that. I'm like, cool, thanks for making that clear. And so for me, rejection also saves a lot of time so that you can spend your energy engaging with folks who also want to engage with you.

SEGARRA: And just remember, your worth is inherent. It doesn't depend on whether or not someone wants to date you. Oh, and, you know, plenty more fish in the sea. For NPR News, I'm Marielle Segarra.

KELLY: And Life Kit has more tips for your love life. They've got episodes about flirting, long-distance relationships, even how to break up. You can find all of them at npr.org/lifekit.

(SOUNDBITE OF MIGUEL SONG, "HOW MANY DRINKS?") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

Marielle Segarra
Marielle Segarra is a reporter and the host of NPR's Life Kit, the award-winning podcast and radio show that shares trustworthy, nonjudgmental tips that help listeners navigate their lives.