How To Meet People Organically Without Dating Apps: Offline Tips, In Real Life Classes, Meetups, Communal Tables, Volunteering, Group Activities & More

Dating apps are not for everyone and even if you do decide to give dating apps a try, you should never abandon trying to meet people in real life. Even if you meet online, you still have to communicate, plan dates, have conversations, read body language etc. – all skills you need to practice offline.

Online dating is not so much a shortcut as it is another channel. Alternative to online dating are key not just for dating but for maintaining a healthy, social, active life.

As an online dating photographer and consultant, I always tell clients never to abandon offline channels (friends, events, classes, social functions etc.). You will never know who you might at any given time.

One of my favorite quotes is from Professor Dean Ellis, USC – Never turn down an invitation, to meet up with someone, you’ll never know who you might meet whether it’s a friend, colleague, business partner, or spouse.

What To Do When Online Dating Doesn’t Work…

No one tip is 100% certain; applying all the tips may not work right away. Over time, with practice and persistence you can start to meet people if you are genuine, approachable and interesting.

Similarly, dating apps are merely a channel, many people who don’t have success on dating apps may have characteristics that might make it hard to meet people offline as well.

It’s important to be mentally, emotionally available as well as ready to be open and giving of yourself. Those are have trust issues or not in a good place should not expect to have someone lift them out of their rut or be their everything (best friend, partner, mentor, spiritual leader etc). 

It’s likely you have spent enough time on dating apps to give up on them or at least take a break so here are some ways to reset your life and increase opportunities to meet others offline.


Keep Busy, Catch Up On World, Local Events, Travel

First and foremost, you need to have things to talk about if you ever meet someone you are interested. Most people fail at keeping conversations going because they run out of things to talk about. Watch the news, read independent papers, listen to podcasts – have things to talk about.

The more you stay indoors and don’t try new things the harder it is going to be to start and keep up with conversations.

Whatever you need to do to source material from wherever you can to keep things lively, varied, fresh and relevant. If you don’t have the money to travel, that is fine. The best stories are from human connections and experiences not necessarily tied to how far you traveled or how much you spent.

Day trips and hikes, weekend roadtrips, or traveling to remote areas work. Research lists, go to places you have never been, talk to locals (they will never see you again), ask for tips, wander aimlessly.

Dress with a Purpose, Style

Instead of wearing what is comfortable or easy for you, mix it up a little. Your body is a canvas full of space for opportunity when it comes to drawing eyeballs. Wearing a t-shirt of a local brewery, travel destination, sports team, band etc. can oftentimes bridge the gap when trying to initiate conversation.

Add some flair – wear a nice scarf, get an interesting watch instead of a generic Apple Watch or sport some cool eyeglasses instead of your contacts.

Put some additional effort into your appearance – you’ll never know who you will meet and you don’t want to look sloppy or like a mess in case you do meet someone interesting by chance. Looking approachable is the first step in becoming approachable. Make sure to your hygiene practices are not self-sabotaging your efforts.

Meet Through Friends

Talk to people even if you barely know them. Meeting someone in common accelerates the validation process. Even if you are not interested in said person, they might be a good connector or have friends you are interested in meeting. House parties are great for meeting people as they are filled with two degrees of separate and trying to figure out how people know each other is a great way to build relationships.


Volunteering at nursing homes is a great start. Many people do not have as frequent visitors as one would like. Making a difference and doing a great deed while overcoming your fear or speech can be a mutually beneficial relationship. Check job boards, Craigslist, newspaper ads, non-profits, park and recreation websites, event calendars and more for one off or recurring opportunities to volunteer with seniors.

Volunteering with a cause you care about is another way to meet people with similar interests. Whether your passion is education, food, nature, homelessness, environment etc, find a group, venue or organization that is looking for volunteers.

If there isn’t available opportunities, start your own volunteer cause. It’s much easier to talk to others even strangers over something you both have in common. Make sure you volunteer at a regular cadence so you can build familiarity vs. doing something one off (which can work for holiday and religious purposes).

Become A Regular

It can be a bar, cafe, restaurant, park, grocery store, local venue – doesn’t matter. I get approached by people who recognize not by my work but rather just being a regular. Talking to bartenders and patrons next to me makes it easier to strike up conversations down the road.

Group Activities, Classes, Meetups, Co-Ed Sports

Join a gym, take a class, research alumni events in your area, join activities with colleagues at work, ask friends for help with meeting people in your area, look for meetups, join a sports league or get a dog instead of a cat so you force yourself to go outside more. Explore Craigslist, school boards, company intranet, Nextdoor or neighborhood Facebook groups.

While these are easier said than done, many of these are easier to do in bigger towns and cities. Sometimes getting a fresh breath of air can force you socialize than if you stay where you grew up and never left.

Sit At Communal Tables & Bars

Avoid booths, corner seats, backs to people. Open up. Ask for a menu, ask if someone is sitting at the free seat. Talk to the bartender. Ask for recommendations even if you have an idea of what to order (be sure to be specific, what you like, don’t like, curious about).

If you sit at communal areas, someone will likely ask to see a menu, ask about what you are drinking (if it is interesting), ask to watch their stuff (if you dress well and are non-threatening) or might ask to take a photo if they are celebrating something.

Work From Coffee Shops and Co-Working Spaces

Take a break from the office or home office, sit in places with other people. Have cool, fucking stickers on your laptop. Ask someone for the wifi password even if you know it. Ask someone to watch your stuff as you go order something from the cashier or go to the restroom (but don’t take too long).

Do Your Own Chores – Groceries, Laundry, Errands

The more you rely on apps the less human contact you will have and the fewer opportunities you will have to meet others. Delete apps, order in person, talk to service folks, wait in line.

Take out the airpods from your ears! They make you unapproachable and douchey.

Get Out There, Do Something Different

Change things up when it comes to routes you take to/from work, neighborhoods you hang out at, places you frequent etc. Research places to explore and use those as a guide to navigate new parts of your hometown.


Do Something On Your Own, For Yourself

Don’t be self-conscious about going out on your own. Go out to dinner by yourself. Go to a bar or jazz club by yourself. Grab dinner at the bar. You may have to share a table with another single, you might have to rely on someone for information or advice rather than a friend or your phone, you may actually have to talk to someone you don’t know for a change.

Be confident in your own skin – ACT LIKE YOU BELONG!

Final Thoughts

Taking baby steps is an important way to start to meet people. While much of the planning and preparation to be able to be ready to increase your chances for this can take place online, you have to practice leaving the home to maximize your chances for success.

Expanding your passions, interests, curiosities coupled with maximizing your time outside and in public places will help bridge the gap to meeting people even if are not the first to engage in conversation.

Will going to one Meetup, two volunteer events make a difference? Possibly not but over time getting yourself out there will move you closer to meeting new people.


Related Reading:

How To Meet People In Real Life:

Never Stop Meeting People Offline:

Dating in San Francisco:

For those that are seeking specific places, opportunities for meeting people offline, I offer tips during online dating photo shoots. These shoots are natural, relaxed and taken like a friend would if he/she was good with a camera. Based in San Francisco but travel regularly to NYC, LA, Chicago and overseas.

About Eddie Hernandez 

Eddie Hernandez is a professional photographer specializing in natural, candid online dating photos. Featured in the SFGate, ABC7News, East Bay Express, Salon; contributor to Good Men Project, Plenty Of Fish and Meddle. In addition to photos, he provides guidance around app choice, bio optimization, messaging techniques, wardrobe advice and date ideas.

Dating Profile Critique

For those of you who are remote or virtual dating help and are looking for an online dating profile critique you can read more about my services here.

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Online Dating Frequently Asked Questions (Photos, App Choice, Wardrobe, Messaging, Bios and More):

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