How To Meet New Friends, People Organically, Offline In Real Life, Near You, In Your Area Without Dating Apps. Tips For Classes, Meetups, Volunteering & More


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

As an online dating photographer and consultant, I always tell clients never to abandon offline channels (friends, events, classes, social functions etc.).

Depending on where you live, how old you are and what you are willing to prioritize in life, meeting people whether for dates or meeting new friends can be tough. Chances are if you are reading this, you have had some challenges with meeting people due to busy schedules, new in town, social anxiety, remote location etc.

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

Practice Talking To Strangers

There is no way around this, many people who struggle to meet others often times struggle with communication. Insecurity, stuttering, eye contact, nervousness etc. – you name it, talking is at the root of many anxiety issues people have when it comes to social skills (so much there is a dedicated Reddit thread r/SocialSkills).

These days, apps are dominating the way people engage with strangers (apps to order food, meals, clothes, coffee, get you to/from work etc.). It’s quite possible to go about your day with minimal human contact and that is rather unfortunate.

Having the guts to talk to strangers is tough, there is no way around it. Rather than talk to random strangers and deal with the fear or rejection or judgment, fine tune your approach to people who are likely to willingly receive what you have to say.



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, start your own volunteer cause. It’s much easier to talk to others even strangers over something you both have in common.


Go Offline, Do Things the Old Fashioned Way

Many activities have been expedited and made more convenient through technology but what’s gained in efficiency has been lost in social engagement, improvisation, spontaneous conversation etc. Instead of using an app to order food, place an order to go in person and wait for the food or better yet learn to eat alone at the bar or restaurant.

Ask the cashier or bartender what they recommend, what’s popular, what’s seasonal. Need to buy some new clothes? Avoid ordering online and find a local retailer and shop in person. Ask a worker for advice on fit, color, sizes etc. Instead of taking a private Uber or Lyft, take public transportation. Sit at the end so others are more likely to sit next to you.

Talking to cab drivers, security guards, barbers etc. can help provide a gentle and lesser intimidating ways to talk to people outside your comfort zone.


Dress with a Purpose

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.


Expand Your Activities, Hobbies

Many folks I come across in my line of work often have few hobbies and interests and of those, most are individual activities (reading, drawing, playing instrument, video games etc.). I am not advocating stopping these activities but mixing in some new hobbies that are more communal will go a long way to making it easier to find activity partners, relate to others.

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, get a dog instead of a cat, work from coffee houses or grab coffee instead of getting one at work or home, take a new route every so often, explore a new neighborhood.

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.


Mix Up Your Routine, Habits

Many people get accustomed to doing things only one way for efficiency reasons be it safety related, what Google Maps says or fastest route available. In order to get out of your rut, you should start with changing 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. Sit at the bar and communal tables, ask a stranger for directions vs just Googling it. Do something different each day.


Become A Regular

I don’t advise becoming a regular at a singles bar but it doesn’t hurt to dip your toes into a place known for having many singles. These places can feel like a seen and a place for narcissists and shallow folks. I much rather focus on going to places one would enjoy – any bar can be a singles bar on any given night. Usually places that are more relaxed and casual are easier to initiate conversations with others.

Having a familiar face helps established a sense of trust either with the person or said establishment. Knowing what to order, where to sit, what the secret items on the menu are or just knowing a name is all it takes to spark a conversation with someone. Bonding over dishes, cocktails, music etc. is a great way to make new friends and possible dates.


Alternatives To Online Dating

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:

Alternative To Online Dating Apps:

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.

For other helpful online dating tips check out my blog for more helpful advice:

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

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