Irl Dating Meaning And Its Implications

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irl dating meaning and implications

Remote work and working from home may have been major shifts in the employment sphere, but in the world of dating, remote and virtual connections have been normalized since 2006. 

Social media virtualized friendships until friendships started forming virtually. And this has shaped our language, leading to terms like “IRL dating”. In this article, we will uncover its meaning and implications for your love life.

You will also find out the opposite of IRL dating, whether IRL dating has anything to do with long-distance relationships, and whether you can IRL date someone you met online. But first, let’s address the primary question.

IRL Dating Meaning And Implications

The term, “IRL dating” means “In Real Life Dating,” which refers to dating in close proximity. It is also referred to as “traditional dating” and “in-person dating.” All of these terms become more relevant as online dating becomes more popular.

young couple IRL dating looking happy together
young couple IRL dating looking happy together

IRL Dating comes with a few implications. It means that the individuals interact in person at a regular enough frequency to be considered a “real-life couple.” If a couple meets once or twice a year on vacations but interacts over Zoom or Skype for the rest of the year, it is not an IRL couple. We will cover what such a couple would be called a little later.

IRL Dating couples are:

  • In close proximity to each other
  • Hang out together in the same physical space
  • Go on in-person dates
Advantages of IRL datingDisadvantages of IRL dating
Easier to stay faithfulHarder to disclose certain feelings
Feel more connected to your partnerLimited pool of people with similar interests
Physical intimacyAwkward when it comes to approaching and connecting
In-person chemistry is testing/guaranteed upfrontTraveling solo can be hard because you’re used to proximity.

There was a time when “online dating” used to be the term that would need to be specified. “Long-term distance” relationships still need that additive, but in the near future, such relationships might become mainstream, and proximity relationships might need to be specified.

But since most people prefer to date within their country of residence, “short distance” relationships don’t need to be spelled out. For now, the term “IRL Dating” is gaining prominence because there are non-IRL dating couples who live in the same countries and even cities. But what is a non-IRL couple called?

What Is The Opposite Of IRL Dating?

The opposite of IRL dating is “online-only dating.” It can be further shortened into “online dating,” though IRL couples as well as online-only couples use online media to stay in touch. “Virtual dating” is a far more apt term for couples that are not dating IRL.

Is Long-Distance Relationship IRL Dating?

IRL couples can turn into long-distance ones, while long-distance ones can start dating IRL. But it is not possible to be an IRL couple if you’re perpetually dating from a long distance.

As mentioned earlier, IRL couples need to meet and hang out in person fairly regularly to be considered to be dating online. Long-distance couples may occasionally meet up when taking a mutual vacation, but they aren’t dating IRL.

Can You IRL Date Someone You Met Online?

Can You IRL Date Someone You Met Online
Can You IRL Date Someone You Met Online

Since IRL dating implies dating in real life, you might wonder if you can IRL date someone you’ve met online. After all, you didn’t connect with them IRL when you got your date.

You can IRL date someone you’ve met online, through a friend, or in person. The way you meet doesn’t affect whether your relationship is virtual or IRL. Your proximity to the person and frequency of personally hanging out with them does.

To start IRL dating someone from an online dating app, you need to make sure you’re dating within the limits of your city. This ensures that you can meet up with the person you match with. Avoid using online dating apps when traveling because, if you feel the spark with someone you have to live away from, IRL dating can become challenging. Matching while traveling is more appropriate for flings or virtual relationships.

You can use proximity matching for IRL dating and Tinder Passport for virtual relationships. Since virtual relationships are the opposite of IRL relationships, let’s go over some of their advantages and disadvantages so you can decide which settings to use on online dating apps.

Pros of Virtual DatingCons of Virtual Dating
A larger pool of potential matchesNo physical intimacy
You can find people interested in even your narrowest interestsTrust can be diminished because of potential infidelity
There is no approach-anxietyHarder to take things to the next level
No rejection shameFriends might not take your relationship seriously
It doesn’t cost as much moneyEventually, one partner has to move


In a world where remote work and a nomad lifestyle are possible, IRL dating needs to be spelled out. It stands for “In Real Life” dating, which used to be the only way to date until long-distance and virtual relationships became popular. 

IRL dating has its pros and cons, as does virtual dating. Neither choice is objectively superior. You should engage in what matches your needs and expectations.

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Over the years, Stephanie has had her fair share of dating experiences. While some turned out great, others weren't so great. She believes that relationships are meant to be fun, exciting, and full of laughter. She wants to help men and women become confident, attractive, and successful in their romantic relationships.