I'm writing because I truly don't understand how I'm ever supposed to meet anyone. I have a theory that before dating websites or apps existed, people actually had to take real initiative when it came to dating. Sometimes I wish I had a time machine so I could go back to the 60s or 70s and just observe actual human interaction. Isn't that sad?
I know there are probably things I could change about myself and my approach to meeting people. I'm picky (though I believe the experience of swiping on an app only augments this pickiness). I'm awkward/lack confidence (even in middle school I remember watching girls flirt with ease and feeling annoyed that the skill was not a part of my genetic makeup). I think I need to find other single friends to be social with to potentially meet someone (my friends are way too couples-oriented). I could maybe try to find some new hobbies?
I've changed jobs, I've changed cities, and I'm an open-minded human being. I haven't made these changes for the specific purpose of finding someone, but I've put myself in a lot of different situations and it still just isn't enough. I will admit I've had the thought of "Oh, everyone meets in grad school," but I would never go to grad school solely for the purpose of meeting someone.
Is there a point where I just need to accept that finding a partner is not in the cards for me? How do people meet these days in a real, non-swiping kind of way?
You do not want a time machine – at least not for dating. Going back to the 60s and 70s would mean dealing with a different set of problems. Some of them would be much, much worse. (Go read some history to remember.)
I know you mean you'd rather live in a world without dating technology, but I'm not sure swiping is your real problem. You've never been quick to make decisions about flirting and dating, even in person. You say you've felt this way since middle school, which means it's just who you are. You're the kind of person who needs time to warm up to someone.
For that reason, it does sound like you'd be happier meeting someone in a class or an ongoing activity. But that doesn't mean you should sign up for grad school. I'm sure there are many grad students who will tell you that dating isn't much easier in their world; sometimes people in those communities are transient, focused on one specific goal, and too busy to connect. Only seek education if you want it.
You're better off focusing on new hobbies and single friends. Pursue activities you really like because it's the best way to meet someone who shares your interests. (Don't pretend you like kickball if you don't.) Also, make plans with single friends who seem fun – people you'd want to see anyway. None of this should feel horribly forced. It's just about pursuing new experiences that will make you happy. That's the best way to bring like-minded people into your world.
Do not give up.
Readers? Any other ideas?