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Smiling man and woman on an "unplugged date." They look at a paper map as they plan their walk through the city.


Eight “old-school” dating tips for connecting with potential partners

Andy Phillips   |   Fri, 22 Sep 2023

There’s no question that we "young folk" rely heavily on digital interactions to make and maintain human connections. Dating apps, texting, and social media give us a peek at a person’s personality, facilitate conversation, and provide a sense of control over our own image. However, even the most plugged-in among us understands that ultimately, nothing can replace the magic of real-life moments that happen without the protection of a digital safety net.

That’s why today we’re getting back to basics with some old-school dating tips. While the majority of singles will continue to meet new potential partners on dating apps like Couple, it can be refreshing to experiment with retro romance after we’ve initially matched.

So without further ado, here are eight ways to unplug from digital distractions and connect in the real world.

Two women on an "unplugged" coffee date. In the foreground are their phones, turned off and set aside.

1) Ditch DMs and devices. Here’s a daring old-school option for you: the next time your dating app pairs you with someone new, ask your match if you can bypass DMing and go straight to phone conversations. It may be a little unnerving to forego the ability to stall while you draft the perfect responses, but there’s something so real about live, unfiltered conversation.

And don’t stop there: on your first date, ditch devices altogether by keeping phones off or in airplane mode. This simple act will ensure that you’re both mentally present and valuing your time together.

2) Write handwritten notes. As an extension of the above, take a break from texting and make the unexpected gesture of passing your date a handwritten note. We’re not talking about a long love letter (that would probs come off as creepy when you’re newly dating, eh?), but jot down a silly joke, thank them for the good times, or mention how you can’t wait to get to know them better. Then slip the note into your date's hand, pocket, or bag for them to read after you part.

3) Walk and talk instead of texting. If phone calls and notes aren’t your bag, ask your new match if you can get to know each other by taking a leisurely stroll in a public and populated place. DMing and texting is great, but there’s something much more magical about having those first few rounds of small talk while walking side-by-side. (Bonus if you explore a new place using an actual map to navigate instead of your phone.)

4) Skip the movie and head to a live event. Movies are a classic first-date option, but they don’t provide many opportunities for interaction. (Silence is golden, y’all.) And, since streaming gives us access to movies 24/7, movies don’t provide a particularly out-of-the-box bonding experience. Shared live experiences like concerts, plays, or readings feel special and can lead to deep conversations and mutual “fandom” after the fact. Plus, they usually provide more moments to connect mid-event.

Man and woman on an old-school date without devices. They sit playing chess.

5) Give GrubHub a rest and cook together. Here’s a fun unplugged event to try with a new partner: cook a meal together. From shopping for ingredients to plating up, the entire process is an adventure in teamwork and understanding. (And no pressure to go to each other’s homes before you’re ready -- plenty of local shops and community centers offer cooking classes for couples.)

6) Play board games instead of video games. Video games and arcades can be great first-date options, but when you’re trying to unplug, why not swap the digital games for board games? Playing physical games together not only boosts face-to-face interaction, but it also helps ease first-date tension. As for where to get your game on, coffee shops and parks are great places to break out the Parcheesi.

7) Star-gaze and chill. In lieu of a Netflix-and-chill date, why not lie on a blanket and look up at the stars? Talk about dreams, share stories, and simply marvel at the universe's vastness together. It’s super unplugged, super romantic, and super conducive to snuggling. (Just sayin’.)

8) Visit museums instead of sending memes. While the well-crafted meme can sometimes spark fun conversations, a trip to a museum or art gallery can offer deep insights into each other's perspectives on history, art, and culture. Plus, the artifacts and artworks can serve as conversation starters, helping you move past the usual small talk.

The truth is that dating without digital distractions can be challenging, especially since we’re so accustomed to being plugged in. But finding time for shared face-to-face moments and heartfelt conversations is critical in sustaining connections we make online. So, for your next date, challenge yourself to unplug and discover the pure magic of old-school connection ... we promise it will be worth it.


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