“Can I borrow your hose?” she asked as he knelt down, scrubbing the tires of his sedan.
It was the summer of 1980 in the parking lot of Baywood Apartments in Newport Beach, California. Richard looked up to find a bright-eyed brunette peering back and eagerly reached for his soap bucket to lend a hand, not caring that his Gold’s Gym t-shirt was soaked with suds.
How had he not seen her before?
36 years later we tease my mother for her opening line to the neighbor guy who is now my dad. But it worked. Car washing led to homecooked dinner which unexpectedly led two single people to a lifetime of shared car washes.
Admittedly sometimes I wonder, “What’s stopping us from meeting people the same way post-80’s?”
3 Ways Happn Helps You Date IRL
With this in mind, I’ve made an effort to use Happn in the way that dating apps are meant to be used: To facilitate additional human interaction rather than replacing it.
1. Discovering missed connections
“Dating apps should be an introduction; not just an endless search engine,” my Happn crush said across the table at Groundwork. And I agree. While I’ve made a conscious effort to make small talk with guys in the coffee shop beyond “What’s the wifi password?” what about the guys who I just missed?
- The graphic designer who works in the corporate office located behind the clothing store I frequent on Abbot Kinney
- The attorney neighbor guy I have never seen even while doing laundry or attending apartment-wide potlucks
- The Venice Beach resident I must just miss daily with whom I share 3 mutual college friends according to Happn?
2. Minimizing the time until you meet in-person
Because the app constantly displays an updated feed of the people closest to you, there is very little excuse not to meet if you’re mutually interested.
When a Happn crush messaged me after we started crossing paths, I was over spending weeks sending the same generic messages in response to “how do you like California?” when he was clearly lived right next to my favorite late-night Domino’s a few blocks away.
Instead we met up the next night at the neighborhood dive bar across the street where he shared beers with me and my friends until we all inevitably gave in to Medium 2-Topping pizza.
Note: There has been the occasional douchebag along the way, i.e. the guy who works in an office building down the street. He agreed to meet if I promised to “The Notebook and chill” after which is not a cuter way of asking yourself over.
3. Showing your true everyday self
“People can’t compete with their own image,” he said while seated across from me in a navy hoodie. Despite the casual attire, he looked like his Happn profile images that displayed a variety of candid closeups that made him easy to recognize.
According to Happn, we had crossed paths dozens of times along Montana Avenue in Santa Monica. Now we were finally meeting in a favorite coffee shop and witnessing each other’s true everyday self.
My voice is high-pitched. He has a slight New York accent. I nervously twirl my hair when I’m thinking. His eyes squint slightly when he smiles. I have workout-induced bruises covering my legs. He knows a handful of the coffee shop patrons, including the young woman in front of her laptop to our right.
“There are nonverbal cues that can’t be captured in text messages,” said the young female therapist who had overheard our coffee shop conversation. As someone who met her significant other through a dating app, she’s an advocate for taking the time to meet in person instead of simply swiping, scrolling and messaging all day.
Make It Happn
By using Happn to discover those nearby with a similar routine and having the balls to meet sooner rather than later, I’m meeting more people in my natural habitat. Instead of spending hours in the front of the bathroom mirror or being photographed in the perfect light, they can see how I look everyday.
Like my mom who pulled up to handwash her old car or my dad whose outfit was drenched when he asked her to dinner. And it’s not that these neighborhood parking lot conversations are being replaced. They simply have more opportunities to happen.
So let’s make introductions and get out the house to meet – whether it’s a car wash, coffee or a slice of post-bar pizza.