If Not The Apps, Then Where?

Online dating sucks — let’s ignore it

Matt Shipley (he/him)  // Communities Editor
C Palomar Robisco // Illustrator

Let’s face it. Online dating apps, as fun as they may seem at first glance, are the worst place to meet a romantic partner. They shower us with ads — ‘The dating app designed to be deleted’, or ‘This love is real and we found it here’ — but it’s no secret that a business model like that would drown the company in weeks. They’re designed to keep you scrolling, always bored, always hopeful, never quite finding that needle in the haystack. Nothing like a manipulative system and a bit of dubious advertising to keep the money rolling in.

But in this isolated, screen-captured world, where else are we meant to go? When all these easy-looking, grab-and-go options seem to be biting at our fingertips, what better option do we have? It’s scary out there. We’ll have to meet someone organically — oh dear — and walk up to them and start a conversation in person — oh lord — and… oh, well. At least it’s better than being at the mercy of an algorithm. Though it will never be easy to look for a relationship anywhere, my unbiased, definitely well-proven tips might give you a head start.

Tip #1: Environment is Key!

You’d be surprised how many people fail this one. If you’re not a rollerblader, don’t loiter around the rink, tripping and flailing and hoping for a savior in a sequined outfit to swoop you off your feet and save you from further embarrassment. Don’t do laps of the Lynn Canyon suspension bridge if you hate hiking, and please don’t go clubbing alone and stone-cold sober (I’ve been there, it’s not fun). Find yourself an environment in which you’re comfortable being yourself. If you’re a photographer, just walking downtown with your camera is enough to spark a conversation. Skiers get the chairlift (lucky jerks). There’s no better way to meet someone than by doing something you both love to do, so go do it!

Tip #2: Be Yourself

Dating apps give us an exclusive opportunity: the ability to sell ourselves as more than we are. We can collect our favorite pictures from years gone by and assemble a rose-tinted view of ourselves — something we really can’t, and shouldn’t, do in real life. The more genuine you are, not only will you feel more comfortable in your own skin, but others will feel more comfortable with you as well. We’ve slowly descended to a world where the worst parts of us are things to be drowned in a forgotten sea where nobody can find them, but take it from me: sexy people have feelings.

Tip #3: Know The Places

There are places where people go to find love, and there are places where people go to get drunk. Never mix the two. It will only end badly. Vancouver has a unique advantage here, though — it’s a big city, but it’s not so big that you can’t get out in the woods if that’s your jam. There will always be people looking for friends at places like the night markets, any beach in the summer, and pretty much anything involving lights at night. For more niche interests, art galleries are more promising than many would think, as well as ski hills (especially Cypress, no better way to meet someone than by sharing a complaint about the cataclysmic lift lines on weekends). The Seawall is a great place to go during the day regardless of the season — there are a lot of people out there who are looking for a running buddy. It gets a bit swarmed with couples when the sun starts to go down, but with any luck, you’ll be on that page by that point.

Really, though, the only concrete rule of looking for love in-person is that once you’re there, you can’t go back to the online scene. Hell, you could meet someone walking down the street, or in a backstreet Thai restaurant, or between the aisles of a public library. The beauty of putting yourself out there in the real world is that whatever happens will be organic. It won’t feel forced, it won’t be helped along by a draconic algorithm, and there’s no guilt of telling five people no after another passes the point of no return. That’s the advantage that real life will always have over the Internet — manufactured simplicity, more often than not, comes at the cost of meaning.

So get out there. Make yourself uncomfortable, then find comfort in the chaos. It’s not easy — it never has been and never will be — but it’s more than worth the effort. And who knows? Maybe, on that road, you’ll find someone who’s searching for that same rekindling of meaning. You’ll never know until you give it a try.

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