Home » News » Gen Z and Millennials Opt for Real-Life Connections Over Dating Apps
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In Philadelphia, amidst growing concerns about loneliness and its health impacts, which has been labeled an ‘epidemic’, there’s a shift in how younger generations are approaching dating. Millennials and Gen Z, disenchanted with the online dating scene, are looking for more meaningful connections. A Harris poll revealed that 30% of Gen Z singles would prefer walking across hot coals to another online date. Michal Naisteter, a Philadelphia-based matchmaker and ‘superconnector’, observes this frustration among her clients, who are tired of trying to form connections digitally.

In response, in-person dating events are gaining popularity. Naisteter co-hosts ‘Date Him Philly‘, where attendees bring friends of the opposite sex who are vouched for, and New York’s ‘We Met in Real Life’ advocates for real-life interactions over app-based dating. This trend is part of a larger movement seeking deeper intimacy and genuine connections, moving away from the superficiality of online dating.

One such initiative is ‘The Feels‘, an experimental event in Philadelphia designed to foster intimacy through meditation, mindfulness, and positive psychology. The brainchild of Allie Hoffman, 40, who was inspired while studying spiritual psychology at Columbia University, ‘The Feels’ aims to offer a structured, yet deeply personal approach to dating, reflecting a growing desire among young adults for more authentic and meaningful romantic encounters.

At ‘The Feels’, Singles Seek Authentic Connections Beyond the Cognitive

Allie Hoffman’s event, ‘The Feels,’ offers an alternative approach to dating, urging participants to engage more with their feelings and less with their intellect. Hoffman steers clear of algorithms, encouraging attendees to focus on physical and present experiences rather than intellectualizing relationships.

The event, priced at $74.50 per person, attracted a diverse group of young singles. Some were tired of dating apps, others were newcomers to the city, and a few were just curious after seeing an Instagram ad. ‘The Feels’ served as a makeshift ‘third space’ – a social setting distinct from home or work, where natural interactions could flourish.

Throughout the evening, participants engaged in a series of intimate activities designed to foster connection. They complimented strangers during 45-second interactions, answered deep questions about sexuality and family influences, and held eye contact with each other for nearly four minutes while Icelandic music played. The culmination of the night was a long, silent hug with someone they had just met.

Chase, 29, one of the attendees referred to only by his first name, appreciated the unmediated, real experience the event offered. Similarly, KD, 42, who is identified by initials for privacy, expressed initial reluctance but ultimately found the experience rewarding, affirming that “everyone here is fantastic.”

Hoffman has successfully run ‘The Feels’ since August 2022 in cities like Philadelphia, New York, and D.C., creating WhatsApp groups for past attendees and sharing insights on relationships and dating. She’s even expanding the team, looking for facilitators with charisma and a commitment to personal growth. A sister event, ‘The Kiss,’ is scheduled in New York, featuring a kiss as the focal point.

Despite initial concerns about gender balance, more men ended up attending the event in Philadelphia’s Maas Building. Hoffman noted that while women often book early and then back out, men tend to purchase tickets later but are more likely to commit.