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Ditch the dating apps: Finding love in the real world with Camille Virginia


Despite an abundance of connectivity in the digital age, finding love online can be elusive. Time on dating apps often be a frustrating roller coaster ride of hope and fear. The ability to bypass the algorithms and spark connections with strangers in the real world might seem like a superpower. However, as humans we evolved to be social to survive.  By reawakening dormant skills and instincts it is possible to open to the infinite possibilities for love and connection hiding in plain sight.

In this episode of Awake In Relationship I speak with author and dating coach Camille Virginia about the benefits of offline dating skills for your love life and social network. We go deep into the foundations of social intelligence and attraction and how to overcome approach anxiety and the fear of rejection when meeting someone new.

Show notes

  • To learn more about Camille Virginia and her work check out www.MasterOfflineDating.com
  • To get a copy of Camille’s book The Offline Dating Method go here
  • Check out Camille’s FREE Offline Dating Dating Challenge: 3 Days to Attract Someone Special in the Real World here.


Episode Transcripts


intro 0:09
You’re listening to Awake in Relationship, a podcast about intimacy, community and culture in a time of great change with Silas Rose.

Silas Rose 0:40
Greetings friends, my name is Silas Rose and you are turned into Awake In Relationship. If you’ve been following the show for a while, you know that I cover in the topic of relationships from many different angles. In this episode, we’re going to focus on the singles in the crowd. If current stats are correct here in the West 1/3 of the population live alone. There are of course many reasons for this. And certainly many of those that do live alone, do so without regret. But I think it’s safe to say that there’s a lot of people looking for love right now, it’s been real good time for the dating apps. But for anyone that’s spent time swiping left or right, it’s easy to become filled with that sense of futility. The return on investment (ROI) really doesn’t seem that great and like many other places online, the algorithm really isn’t our friend. These days, the ability to bypass the algorithm and spark a genuine connection with a complete stranger. almost seems like a superpower. However, it’s important remember that we as humans, evolved to be social as a matter of survival. I really believe that we all have those dating and mating skills inside, it’s instinctual, and with a little nudge we can gain access to a whole new realm of possibilities for connection and love in the real world. In this episode, I talked with Camille Virginia. author and dating coach about the road less traveled, otherwise known as offline dating. In this conversation, we go deep into the foundations of social intelligence and attraction. We also discuss some of the barriers to entering the offline dating game, specifically approach anciety when meeting someone new. Throughout this interview, it became clear to me that offline dating really is a skill set that has many applications in other areas of life. So even if you’re happily coupled, or are happy to go solo there is something here for you about just relating to strangers and being a connector. Stick around

Camille, good morning, and welcome to Awake In Relationship.

Camille Virginia 2:55
Thanks for having me, Silas.

Silas Rose 2:58
Lets start our conversation talking a little bit about your journey into this work. Which really started for you at a young age, I’m thinking specifically with social anxiety.

Camille Virginia 3:11
Yeah, I grew up very shy and introverted. And I’m still an introvert. But it really felt paralyzing to talk to people, I would see my friends connecting with other people in large groups, they could go up and talk to anybody could talk people at the movie theater or the grocery store. And I felt like I missed the memo and how to connect with people because I never felt comfortable doing that I would get a lot of anxiety. And this is before social anxiety was something that is a household term at this point. Especially with the pandemic. So yeah, I just I eventually got sick of it and started pushing past my social comfort zone and trying to talk to strangers and do things that scared me. But I really wanted to overcome this fear. And just by doing things gradually and testing different things, I found a love of connection. And that started to trump my fear of engaging with people.

Silas Rose 4:12
So why focus on offline dating.

Camille Virginia 4:16
Well, offline dating is really just connecting with people in person. And in our world that has become increasingly lonely, even before COVID It’s something that I’m just very passionate about, you know, especially because I know what it feels like to feel lonely and feel like you’re watching other people connect. And you don’t know how to do that yourself. So I want to help people get these social skills back that are actually innate to us. You know, humans were meant to be social creatures, we’re supposed to be surrounded by other humans. That’s what kept our ancestors alive is having that community if you were kicked out of the community you were dead. So really loneliness is just Mother Nature’s nudge to get back to the community get back to the tribe, to be accepted. But for many people, there’s a lot of shame around loneliness, because we just don’t have conversations like this and talk about what it really is, everyone gets lonely. But there’s so many things you can do about it small things that can make a huge difference that anyone can do. Right now,

Silas Rose 5:25
you know, I think a lot of people listening to this podcast, will really resonate with that message of loneliness, you know, we’re 18 months into this global pandemic, I think it’s 18 months, I’ve kind of lost track at this point, certainly in the pandemic has been a real kind of boon time for the dating apps, and online platforms. And so it’s working for them, but I’m not too sure it’s working for us. I know in the early days, you know, I did have friends who met life partners on Plenty of Fish or Match, Has it gotten harder?

Camille Virginia 6:06
I would definitely say it’s gotten harder. People, again, a lot because of loneliness are on these apps for the wrong reasons. And because they’re lonely and not happy with themselves, they’re taking out their unhappiness on other people. So they’re actually treating other people poorly. Not only are they not on the apps, to find a relationship, they’re just lonely and bored. But they are now putting negative energy out into the world by body shaming other people or, you know, there’s racism rampant on the dating apps, there’s just a lot of bad behavior, of course, not by everybody. But as a world gets increasingly lonely and polarized, the apps are one of the outlets for people to take out their unhappiness and aggression on other people. And it’s sad, it’s been it’s been normalized. If you go on an app, you just kind of expect to be sexually harassed and shown a picture that you don’t want to see of someone’s body parts and things like that. And that’s, that’s not normal. That’s not okay. We shouldn’t go to the grocery store and say, Oh, well, you know, I got sexually harassed, but that’s just part of going to the grocery store. That’s unacceptable. And that should not be acceptable online or offline to treat people that way.

Silas Rose 7:24
It’s well known that on social media, that the platforms have figured out a way to basically hack our dopamine system with variable or fake rewards like likes and, you know, different forms of social confirmation to keep us engaged. Do the dating platforms do the same thing?

Camille Virginia 7:46
Absolutely. They’re designed to be like casino games. So there’s a lot of intention. And millions of dollars of study of the human brain and human behavior patterns that go into these, the swiping, the likes, everything that gets you to think that your perfect match is right around the corner are to keep you swiping, to keep your eyeballs on the screen. Even if you have a free version of the apps. So yeah, they’re really designed for user engagement, not user desired outcome, because the minute you meet your partner, they lose you as a customer. So they have zero incentive, they have negative incentive to help you find an actual match.

Silas Rose 8:37
How does that roller coaster ride of hope and fear affect our self confidence and self esteem?

Camille Virginia 8:45
Great question. I mean, I’m thinking back to when I was in high school, and I felt like everyone else had this whole dating and being social thing figured out, I was the one who missed the memo. With a dating app, so you can feel like everyone else is matching, you’re hearing success stories of people who met online, and that can definitely happen. You can meet people online and find fulfilling relationships. It’s just you don’t know what those people went through to get to that? Or if they were lucky. Yeah, it can feel like you’re alone. And you’re the only one that these apps aren’t working for when really I think the amount of people on the dating apps who’ve met a committed long term partner is the percentage is in the single digits. So when you look at the stats, if you haven’t met someone online, you are in the vast majority of dating app users.

Silas Rose 9:41
Yeah, it doesn’t seem like the return on investment is not that great?

Camille Virginia 9:45
Yeah, when you offline date, you’re just tapping into existing opportunities. You have to go to the grocery store or the dog park or the coffee shop or the post office anyway, you might as well meet people. A small in person interaction is huge. And you’re doing these things anyways, it’s very efficient as well as serves your innate need for human connection and fulfillment.

Silas Rose 10:10
So the old fashioned way is what you’re kind of advocating for, it certainly involves a level of risk. And there’s something in the dating world that kind of speaks to this, it’s called approach anxiety. This anxiety is really kind of out sized, in many ways, depending on the person you’re approaching, if you’re really attracted to them, it might feel like you’re about to die. It’s very irrational. Where does that come from?

Camille Virginia 10:37
Well, no one likes to be rejected. You know, again, it’s a primal thing, if you were rejected from society, that meant death. So our instincts are, you know, to be accepted, that’s, that’s what, we get rewarded with a whole cocktail of hormones to have people like us so that we’re part of the tribe so that we can survive. So I would say, I mean, I have trouble approaching people that I’m really attracted to. So there’s a couple things you can do, you can become more approachable yourself, and encourage other people to approach you, which lowers your risk and puts it on them. Or you can warm up by starting to approach people you’re not attracted to, you know, maybe someone much older than you like, just an elderly person that you want to give a compliment to, or the gender that you’re not attracted to. And just start there, you know, start, start going through the approaches, just for no reason, other than the purpose of engaging someone for having a conversation or giving a compliment and take that pressure off of yourself, rather than go up to the most attractive person in the room, and try to figure out what to say to them, especially if you’re not used to doing that. Just start small with people you’re not attracted to.

Silas Rose 11:59
It really does seem like kind of a superpower. There are some people that are just kind of natural at it, that they can form an instant connection with someone and turn that connection into a lover or friend. There’s so many subtle layers of communication that happen in the mating game. And for the most of us, you know, that doesn’t come my instinct. Are certain kind of mindsets that you believe are foundational to offline dating?

Camille Virginia 12:43
You need to be open and ready. Because after going through my own journey, which it took decades for me to learn the skills and the approaches, and the conversation starters and the quality connection tools that I now have, that I now teach and write about, if you’re still holding on to baggage from a past relationship, or you have already decided that you’re not worthy of love, or you don’t want to be annoying to people, because, well, you know, I don’t want to talk to someone in the grocery store. Because what if I annoy them, you do have to get into a place where you allow the magic to happen, otherwise, the magic can’t happen. You know, it’s the Henry Ford quote, whether you believe you can or believe you can’t, you’re right. So, but really, I’ve taken probably three decades worth of conversation and connection skills and developed a simple three step method that anyone can use in my book, the offline dating methods. So there’s lots of different options to choose from, there’s no one line that’s going to be the magical Oh, I use this on everyone. Being in the moment, being present. Knowing that something may happen, this conversation may go somewhere and may not. But you’re okay either way, because you’re just going to show up with your authentic self, engage someone casually and then see if they’re open to taking a deeper, that’s your only job.

Silas Rose 14:07
So much of human sexuality really happens in that kind of non verbal realm. And I’m wondering if there’s something in body language or how we dress that make us more approachable, even magnetic?

Camille Virginia 14:21
I define approachability as creating a safe space for others to engage with you by removing barriers and lowering their perceived risk of rejection. And that’s kind of a mouthful, but what it really means is, be comfortable when you’re out in public. If you look uncomfortable, if you’re got your arms crossed, you’re trying to shrink down. That’s going to be unapproachable. So take a deep breath. Just let your body relax, settle into if you’re in a coffee shop, maybe go into a corner seat where you can kind of see how you’re see the whole coffee shop. It makes you feel more comfortable. You’re not going to be surprised if someone comes up behind you, you know, whatever that means for you. And then absolutely you can wear conversation starters, if you can paint your fingernails a bright color. Or you can wear a pattern or vintage jewelry or a bright color, just something where someone can come comment on what you’re wearing, because what you’re wearing is usually a safe way for people to engage you. Or you can be reading a book or a magazine or something where you’re not looking at your phone. That’s not very approachable. People don’t want to interrupt someone who’s on looking at a phone, we don’t know what they’re doing. But if you’re reading a book, it’s pretty obvious that if I come up to this person, they can pick up where they left off. So those kinds of things are good approachability tips,

Silas Rose 15:44
I am wondering about a woman’s perspective, do women want to be approached?

Camille Virginia 15:50
Most, many women do. You know, I can’t speak for all women. But I have heard from hundreds, if not 1000s of women who say I wish guys would approach me more. And granted, a lot of them are the same women who don’t know what to do when the guy approaches. So they’re a little awkward. But yeah, the easiest way to approach someone is to just keep it casual. Just, you know, comment on the book that they’re reading comment on something that they’re wearing, Ask how their day is going, you know, things like that use what’s around you in the moment to ask a question. And then you know, especially with COVID, we don’t know where people’s social comfort is. So they may answer the question. And then excuse themselves, don’t take it personally. But I would say get into the mindset that when you engage someone, it’s actually giving them a gift of human connection. We’re all human, maybe they’re not in the mood to talk to you right now. But giving the gift starts with giving someone a compliment or what I call a compliment drive by which is simply like, ‘Hey, that’s a beautiful scarf. Have a great day.’ Do that to you know, five people, when you’re out and about one day, and see the looks on their face of like, oh, wow, that’s really nice without the pressure to continue the conversation. And then you’ll start to see that when you do engage people in a positive way, it’s really giving them a gift.

Silas Rose 17:16
So the rpice of entry into the game of offline dating is rejection, is there a way to kind of lessen the sting?

Camille Virginia 17:26
Yeah, definitely. That’s that’s a huge fear from people. So again, when you start with something very casual, like maybe you’re in the grocery store, and someone’s looking at a box of granola bars, and you want to engage them, you know, you could say, hey, are those any good? I haven’t tried that brand? Or do those have macadamia nuts in them? Or, you know, ask a question about something contextual. Something that you can both instantly relate to? The person doesn’t know if you’re asking because you really want to know the answer to that question about the granola bars, or you’re trying to engage them. But whatever their responses is going to give you a lot more information for whether you try to continue the conversation or not. So it’s all about the baby steps, just, you know, walking up to someone and saying, ‘Hey, you’re really attractive’. That’s hard. And a lot of people don’t know what to do with that both the person who said it and the person receiving that compliment, you know, so it can get awkward real fast. And then we can scare ourselves like, ‘Oh, I’m never doing that again’. So if you’re at the dog park, comment on someone’s dog and ask a question, just make it about something other than you and this other person, and by using the things around you. And then you can get more information about okay, well, they answer my question, and then they asked me a question. So they’re open to engaging, I’m going to ask another question. And just take it step by step from there, you have to really be present and pick up, you know, whether this person seems open to engaging or not, and if they don’t, don’t take it personally, again, with COVID, you know, just assume that they’re immunocompromised, and they’re uncomfortable, because of the pandemic, and, and don’t take it personally, they don’t even know you, you can’t take it personally.

Silas Rose 20:48
Well, this has been a great conversation. Thank you so much, Camille. For those who want to know more about your work or perhaps get your book. Where can they go?

Unknown Speaker 22:21
My book is on all the major booksellers and it’s called the Offline Dating Method,3steps to attract your perfect partner in the real world. And it’s for all genders, all sexual orientations. I interviewed and included advice from over a dozen LGBTQ plus community members as well as of course, my perspective as a woman attracted to men. So it’s, it’s for everyone who wants to connect with people in the real world, whether for purposes of a date, our quality friendships, or making new friends, whatever that looks like. And I also have a free offline dating challenge three days to attract your perfect partner. And that’s offlinedatingchallenge.com.

Silas Rose 23:07
Awesome. Thanks. I’ll put those links in the show notes. So thank you again.

Camille Virginia 23:12
Yeah, thanks for having me. Silas



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