Making Adult Friends Is Easier Than We Think, Harder Than It Should Be
September 30, 2015 8:29 AM   Subscribe

 
I wish there was like a Simply Hired for friends. Not like a dating site, like a specific job application board. Here are the criteria and desired skills and capacities. Apply today. OK congrats you got it. Sorry you didn't make the cut. I'm OK with that. Let's do an inperson interview. Good, I aced it. Now we are friends. Thank you. Here are the co friends. We make a great team.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 8:40 AM on September 30, 2015 [64 favorites]


Yup, and it really really really sucks trying to make friends as an adult, especially as an adult in your late 30s. If you don't have kids, then generally the friends you had who started to have kids have less time to hang out (and rightfully so), you volunteer at places but you're also socially anxious without alcohol so you stop drinking for a while because wow that makes you sound like trouble, and really you realize that everyone who you used to be super close to and knows your past and your personality pretty well lives over a 1000 miles away or in the UK. Your husband is super rad but man you both realize that wow we never spend anytime with anyone else but us.

I hate being an adult who wants to have close friendships but doesn't have any (except for online, I guess).
posted by Kitteh at 8:44 AM on September 30, 2015 [56 favorites]


"...which argues that our social relationships change as we age because of our perspective on how much time we have left."

"Jesse Pinkman?"

-Walter White.
posted by clavdivs at 8:45 AM on September 30, 2015


The problem is that people try to be nice and convivial in random social settings (works, large parties), so everyone is a potential friend until someone says something that crosses an unmarked line. And everyone knows this, so there's that fear of the unknown conflicts, things that will ruin a casual friendship.

Online, I see three factors that facilitate easy pseudo-friendship: 1- easy to escape or ignore someone (until they become a stalker), 2- forums pre-tailored for niches and cliques (like MetaFilter and specific threads/questions), and 3- recorded history of comments and interactions on those forums. It's like we can fill out questionnaires for other members to become our pseudo-friends, without dancing around the frivolous small-talk of real social gatherings.
posted by filthy light thief at 8:49 AM on September 30, 2015 [8 favorites]


"Arielle, who is 25, and yes, my friend"

"Geetika, who is 23, is one of the few new friends I’ve made in New York"

“Outside of this setting [academia], when I meet new people today, it’s usually in a bar or at a party and there’s this rushed feeling where you have to decide right then and there whether or not you can be friends,” says Geetika. “But I think we became such good friends because we’re just two people who get along really well, and we were both really open to each other when we met. Basically, you can’t be friends with everyone. But you should be open with everyone.”


These tiny, baby humans have not yet truly seen the horror of adult friend making. But wisdom out of the mouths of babes and all that I guess.
posted by skrozidile at 8:50 AM on September 30, 2015 [49 favorites]


Making adult friends with kids is not so hot either.
posted by jadepearl at 8:51 AM on September 30, 2015 [14 favorites]


Apply today. OK congrats you got it. Sorry you didn't make the cut. I'm OK with that.

I think a lot of this problem is that we don't have a polite but direct way to refuse friendship, so every attempt at making new friends is a Guess Culture dance of not knowing if that person really enjoys your company or not. The stupid "are they really just busy or is this a slow fade?" problem from the dating world feels even more desperate when making friends. And to me, rejection from potential friends is more hurtful. I'm great at accepting dating rejection--people are incompatible, whatever. But friend rejection feels so personal--it's like "Hey, I don't even want to drink beer and play board games with you."

This also means that we're wary of chancing friendship with someone who is a possible drama bomb, because there's not a real framework for extricating ourselves from their lives if they're not great to be around.
posted by almostmanda at 8:52 AM on September 30, 2015 [54 favorites]


This also means that we're wary of chancing friendship with someone who is a possible drama bomb, because there's not a real framework for extricating ourselves from their lives if they're not great to be around.

This, this, a thousand times this. Because we move so often and often live in very tight communities (as in everyone who is my neighbour works with my husband) we have been burned by both the 'wow, we get on so well, this friendship is awesome' then one of us moves away and it is just not the same when you are trying to do everything by email and promises of visits that never happen.* Or you manage to make friends with someone who is a total drama lama and it goes really badly and you have to worry not just about them but all the blowback amongst your neighbours/community/spouses work and the 'one of us moves away' can not come soon enough.

*I am not on Facebook. Though I am not sure that is quite the answer.
posted by Megami at 8:57 AM on September 30, 2015 [5 favorites]


I suffer from this worry. :/

My husband and I don't have kids. We don't have a dog to take out on a walk. These things help integrate you into a community in a significant way.

I've moved around to geographically distant places a handful of times throughout my adulthood, and so most of the people that I think of as my best friends live in another country. And while I understand that I can count on them in some deep, meaningful way if I really needed someone to be there for me, friendship is also about light-hearted fun, chatting, and being able to actually be in that person's physical presence and feel totally at ease .

I think people in their 30s and 40s (especially) are just SO busy, especially if they have offspring, that there truly is not much time to ADD new friends to their network: these people are barely hanging on to the network they developed in their earlier years. So if you meet someone at this stage of their lives, "making new friends" is probably not even on their radar. It doesn't occur to them to ask that nice, funny, new person at work (or wherever) to join them in some activity.

For friendship to develop between two people, they both have to be open to the possibility. It would be nice (for me) if more people (despite their time crunch) were open to this possibility. Or, at the least, if everyone who was open to making a new friend or two would wear some sort of flashing neon sign above their head: OPEN FOR FRIENDSHIP

[Too bad you don't live nearby, Kitteh, sounds like we're in the same boat.]
posted by Halo in reverse at 8:59 AM on September 30, 2015 [10 favorites]


Having moved almost every other year for about ten years, I've been near constant in my search for cool new people to hang out with. I've gone to just about every kind of social activity/networking event there is to this end, and I've been reasonably successful over the years, but it's especially difficult when your main social pool is similarly transient and always moving away.

Potential friends, if you're out there, I'm still looking for you, and my Memail is wide open!
posted by Diagonalize at 9:01 AM on September 30, 2015 [5 favorites]


Then why does making adult friends feel so much harder than it used to? For one thing, studies have shown that our increase in social network size, after growing during adolescence and young adulthood, hits a plateau between our mid-‘20s and early ‘30s. Friends are lost and gained in almost equal measure during a tumultuous period of moving, getting new jobs, and having kids.

"nor wretchedly because
An only life can take so long to climb
Clear of its wrong beginnings, and may never;"
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 9:01 AM on September 30, 2015 [6 favorites]


I moved cities at 31. Most of my close ladyfriends here were made because our kids went to daycare together, which made us working moms together, with kids who were friends. We'd also all moved here from somewhere else, so were trying to create new social networks at the same time. And we all had a similar, reserved, dry-humor ... thing. I couldn't possibly have planned it, which fills me with horror, but each of them also had a few friends, and now we have a pretty big group of ladies who hang out every six weeks or so.

The thought of doing so again is exhausting, though.
posted by chesty_a_arthur at 9:02 AM on September 30, 2015


I have become exercise buddies with one of my husband's co-workers who is really cool, but I am afraid of transitioning that to "outside of spin class" hanging out because what if I have misread the situation? (The signs are good, though. We have had dinner with her and husband a couple of times.)
posted by Kitteh at 9:03 AM on September 30, 2015


Hm, this article seems pretty insightful to me.

there is a natural assumption that outer circle friends are going to be less stable relationships

True! But I've been very surprised over time at how often it is the outer circle friends that stay with you, where inner circle friends, who were once so close, drift away, grow distant, or undergo such enormous change the friendship doesn't continue. Some of the friends that I never thought of as "particularly close" have become the ones who are the most reliably there, consistent, benevolent, and who have really ended up becoming part of the fabric of my life.

researchers believe that it takes about five years to form a truly meaningful friendship. Close relationships that are formed quicker than that are usually because you’re both in a situation of insecurity.

This is so true. It does go a long way to explain why many of my closest friends are people who I worked with at summer camp, at an isolated outdoor education school, or met at conferences. I've always noticed the way when everyone comes in on kind of an equal footing, away from their home network and newly discovering and experiencing a place without a lot of pre-established ties, it's so easy to form new bonds and become really close friends because you share that sort of disconnection/disorientation from regular life, and it makes you more open and vulnerable. The flip side of this is people who are chronically insecure - the ones who meet you, latch onto you superfast and want to be besties right away - these friendships always seem to me to turn toxic, because they are based not just on a situational vulnerability but on a level of personal insecurity that never goes away, and seem to come with intense demands for loyalty and time.

New friendships among adults are based less on shared activities (like your adult kickball team) and more on self-disclosure.

This could be one reason I've had a harder time making friends in recent years. I'm fairly reticent about self-disclosure, especially at work, where I feel my real self is not all the welcome. But I also think sheer busy-ness is much to blame. Fulltime job, grad school, massive writing projects have all demanded that I stop seeking friend time and have turned down a lot of invitations I wanted to accept. That is a big setback. This article is a helpful reminder that you can just do it.
posted by Miko at 9:08 AM on September 30, 2015 [9 favorites]


My wife and I are in our late thirties and moved to another country over 6 years ago. In the intervening time we've made exactly 4 friends, two of whom has moved away again.

I find it helps being an introvert, because then you don't miss it so much.
posted by brokkr at 9:12 AM on September 30, 2015 [6 favorites]


I am blessed with a large circle of close friends, most of whom live in or around the same city as I do. That said, I've also worked extremely hard - because my friendships are very important to me - at keeping in touch with people. I don't have children, but virtually all of my closest friends do. This is a double-edged sword; on one hand, they're busy and don't have as much time to spend with you. On the other, you have relatively more free time, time you can use to schedule meetups with them, even if you have to do it weeks or months in advance (I get together with three other guys roughly once per season; we call them our Gentlemen's Quarterlies) and you wind up only seeing any given person a couple of times a year. Better that than never.

A few years ago I met a guy through another friend, socialized with him at parties and a few other social events and thought we were ready to become Friends, independent of the other guy. So I called him, left a message asking if he'd like to grab a beer...and never heard back from him. I was a bit put out, but then I found out that right around the time I'd called his wife (who had been having an affair) left him, he had a nervous breakdown and moved back in with his parents, out of town. I have made a few good friends since I left school, but I think I met all of them through my wife or other friends.

> This also means that we're wary of chancing friendship with someone who is a possible drama bomb, because there's not a real framework for extricating ourselves from their lives if they're not great to be around.

I once had to break up with a friend, an old (15+ years) friend, and it was one of the most painful, awkward things I've ever done, even if I'm glad I did it.
posted by The Card Cheat at 9:19 AM on September 30, 2015


My loneliness was a big factor in us moving from Quebec to Ontario last year. I tried very hard to make a go of it in a very Francophone town but I was really never able to find friends and as a result, I realized that I had spent nearly five years almost entirely ensconced in our house and was desperate for live conversation everyday my husband got home. It put a big strain on our marriage because he had to deal with actual live people for hours at work and he comes home to a sad lonely wife who just needs to hear a human voice in the same room with her. I am doing a little better here in Kingston, but there's still a lot of hurdles to overcome in order to get where I'd like to be.
posted by Kitteh at 9:20 AM on September 30, 2015 [12 favorites]


What about via recovery groups? That's one face-to-face, unmediated area where people get to talk to strangers about personal issues. But it seems that many (but not all) Bowling Alone-type articles miss out on discussing it.
posted by larrybob at 9:21 AM on September 30, 2015 [1 favorite]


I went through a weird period about 3 years ago where my two dearest girlfriends moved out of the area. I was pretty rocked by it. Also I am 44 years old, so we're not talking post-college here.

As I am a total dilettante, I have lots of activities in my life that would allow for meeting new people, but honestly, every time I started getting optimistic about someone, they would a) say something racist or b) completely disrespect my sexual orientation/relationship. Granted, it's incredibly non-traditional, but WTF? So, I consigned these folks to acquaintances, because they are members of groups that I actively participate in.

Thankfully, a relatively promising and super talented acquaintance snagged a rugged, lovely, feminist, smart new girlfriend about a year ago who I could not adore more. They are now both close friends, but getting to two people that I wouldn't mind having lunch with individually or together was pretty arduous.
posted by Sophie1 at 9:22 AM on September 30, 2015


Making adult friends once you have kids is tough, and often more or less random: parents who happen to be in the same new mama-baby class or have kids in the same daycare.

But if you're lucky enough to find folks you click with - not just the four-way interactions of two couples, but kids that get along too - that's a rare and wonderful thing. It's happened to us once, and we count ourselves very lucky.
posted by gottabefunky at 9:32 AM on September 30, 2015 [4 favorites]


Most of the new friends I've made? Because of kids.

Most of the old friends I've got in touch with again? Because of kids.

I read part of it as kids being a good proxy; we're not hanging out, it's the kids. Insulation against rejection.

The other part, more honestly, is that children are an anchor, part of that whole strange phenomenon alongside permanent employment and long-term relationships, which leads my friends to STOP LEAVING THE FUCKING COUNTRY. Ahem.
posted by ivan ivanych samovar at 9:41 AM on September 30, 2015 [3 favorites]


Making friends as a parent is weird, there's more opportunity because you see random other parents repeatedly for daycare/school/activities/playgrounds, but it's really hard to break the generic social barrier into Real Talk to see if you are actually friend-compatible with them. I've found that other parents are actually more likely to take some initiative in wanting to do things and get together. We see a lot less of our friends who don't have kids simply because I think they assume we are so busy that they leave the ball totally in court to contact them. No! Don't do that, adults without kids! I try really hard to say yes to the invites that come our way because I want to see these people, but a lot of the time they only ask us to join them for expensive shows or nights out that would cost us a couple hundred bucks for tickets and babysitter. Whereas lunch or dinner out, or hanging out at someone's house, where we're welcome to bring our [generally well-behaved] kid is something we are almost always up for. There's also an idea among people without kids that babysitters are plentiful and cheap. It's not really like when we were kids and there were rando teenagers down the street you could pay $20 a night for. At least, not where we live. Babysitters cost $15-20 and hour and sometimes flake out at the last minute. I make an effort to initiate when I can, but sometimes my brain is just mush from being on all day and I want someone to be like "be at this place at this time and we will converse and be jovial together."

Anyway, it feels like it's super hard to make friends as an adult, especially in New England where we are pretty reserved bunch.
posted by banjo_and_the_pork at 9:47 AM on September 30, 2015 [1 favorite]


I think about this a lot in the context of someone who grew up in NYC and put down some rather permanent roots here over the course of my life. Around when I was 18, lots of people I knew from the internet and from summer programs as a teen and stuff started to move here to go to college and my social life (or at least the potential for one) tended to have these regular injections of new-ish people. Almost exactly ten years later, the Exodus started as a bunch of my friends realized they did not want to remain in NYC into their 30s and have families here.

It's ever increasingly difficult to begrudge someone who doesn't want to live here, but god I just wish I didn't get that anxious pang every time one of my friends here tells me that they're planning to move, because often that move is out of the city, never to return. And while it's fun to have friends I can visit all over the country I would prefer -- in a completely self-serving, jealous way not at all mindful of what my friends actually need and want from life -- that my friends stopped leaving.
posted by griphus at 9:49 AM on September 30, 2015 [8 favorites]


One thing you could do is just get drunk with who you want to be friends with.

Live in Milwaukee, can confirm. Which is why my #1 favorite "I wanna be friends with you!"/"I feel like we're already kinda friends, let's hang out more!" move is covering the bar tab.

At 33, the main hurdle I'm running into is that in my experience, people who are already or definitely want to be parents don't really want to be friends with people who aren't and don't ever want to be parents... and let's face it, statistically speaking, the overwhelming majority of people are going to be birthing or raising kids at some point or another. So at this point, most of my former peers are in the process of building most, if not all, of their new relationships around experiences I very, very actively never want to have (marriage, TTC, pregnancy, adoption, parenting).

To that end, I'm about as interested in trying to participate in a conversation centered on kids as I am in moving to Bolivia, which is to say... uh, not particularly. So I'm an impasse with so many parents my age, right from the get-go -- if I try to talk about my life, they're almost certainly going to start talking about how the fact that they're parents now prevents them from doing basically anything I do, and if they keep circling back around so the topic returns to children and parenting, I'm going to feel awkward because now I have nothing to say. It feels like a divide that can't be bridged, but it's also a divide that puts me on the other side of 80% of the rest of the world.

I'm an extrovert. I miss people.
posted by divined by radio at 9:51 AM on September 30, 2015 [23 favorites]


Why am I not Taylor Swift's friend, we live in the same city, we like making cookies, I mean that seems like a no brainer?
posted by The Whelk at 9:51 AM on September 30, 2015 [14 favorites]


I think about this in the context of Minnesota, which can be very difficult for newcomers. It's possible to make friends, but it takes initiative and understanding.
posted by ZeusHumms at 9:53 AM on September 30, 2015 [1 favorite]


You need more cats I think.
posted by poffin boffin at 9:54 AM on September 30, 2015 [4 favorites]


You folks are my friends, though, right?
posted by DirtyOldTown at 9:56 AM on September 30, 2015 [15 favorites]


True story I was downtown last weekend and someone in a cafe window waved to me and thought "Is that an internet friend? I have no idea what these people look like" but no they where waving to the incredibly attractive man behind me.

Oh well
posted by The Whelk at 9:56 AM on September 30, 2015 [12 favorites]


The friends I really like who had a kid after we moved are always terribly apologetic about having a kid and I am like, "Dude, don't be."
posted by Kitteh at 9:57 AM on September 30, 2015 [1 favorite]


I once spent an embarrassing length of time staring at a man and his child sitting outside of Cafe Reggio wondering if I knew him from a profile photo on MeFi or something.

When it became apparent the man knew I was staring at him and was displeased by this, I realized it was Robert Downey Jr.
posted by griphus at 9:58 AM on September 30, 2015 [78 favorites]


It is wise to say that it's difficult to make adult Friends, but even more difficult to keep them. Most of the people I know who are my age – I just turned 36 a few months ago – have reluctantly resigned themselves either to going to a lot of trouble to make solid and trustworthy Friends or just giving up and becoming homebodies. And the "solid and trustworthy" bit is often the hardest part; it's not terribly difficult to make a Friend, if that's all you want to do, but you very quickly find that there's a big difference between making a Friend and making a good Friend. For example, the instructions for making Friends that can be found in the Sodei Razayya of Eleazar ben Judah ben Kalonymus are pretty straightforward, and if you refer to the proper passages in Sefer Yetzirah as an additional guide, it's hard to go wrong on the technical details; but most of the people I know who go through that long process and finally manage to make a Friend usually find that they've made a mistake somewhere, and their Friend is not really powerful enough for the task for which they summoned it. Even when they find they've made a solid Friend, the hardest part is still to come – actually keeping a Friend. It seems as though the bond forged when the maker inscribes the shemhamphorasch upon the parchment and places the parchment in the Friend's mouth before uttering the incantation tends to fade over time. If that happens, your Friend may go on a rampage, and you can only hope to erase the first letter from the אמת inscribed on your Friend's forehead before it's too late.
posted by koeselitz at 10:00 AM on September 30, 2015 [96 favorites]


True story I was downtown last weekend and someone in a cafe window waved to me and thought "Is that an internet friend? I have no idea what these people look like" but no they where waving to the incredibly attractive man behind me.

Oh well


Sorry, I didn't recognize it was you standing in front of me. I would have said hi.
posted by leotrotsky at 10:00 AM on September 30, 2015 [18 favorites]


Children (have or not) and drinking (do or don't) are turning out to be the big friendship hurdles of my thirties. I mean, the big friendship hurdle is actually the fact that I'm a super-introvert whose need for human interaction is so minimal that I can't reasonably expect people to stick around for the handlful of times a year I actually want to hang out. But if you set that aside, which I have tried very hard to do for the sake of my partner's social needs, it's all about kids and booze. Almost everyone I know our age either drinks (my partner does not and I almost never do, and it's amazing how much social life revolves around it) or has small kids, who are great, but like divined by radio I've experienced a gap there in life experiences that I have not been able to figure out how to overcome to maintain/start friendships.

Also there's mental health stuff that causes a certain amount of havoc in my life and while I try not to let that bleed into my friendships, sometimes it does, and even when it doesn't, how hard I'm trying to keep it from bleeding over ends up being a friendship barrier too.

So basically my social life exists on Twitter now. Seventh-grade me, whose social life existed on Prodigy Pern-fandom bulletin boards, would find this all quite familiar and would mostly just be perplexed at that weird blip in my twenties where I had a social life.
posted by Stacey at 10:01 AM on September 30, 2015 [5 favorites]



I think about this in the context of Minnesota, which can be very difficult for newcomers. It's possible to make friends, but it takes initiative and understanding.


Okay, I read that article. Do people in other states really invite people that they know slightly from the gym to hang out? People that they chat with in the check-out line at the co-op? I had never thought of myself as especially Minnesotan on this front, but if Random Chat person from the gym suggested that we hang out, I would find that very weird. Maybe other people just cultivate closer relationships at the gym than I do?
posted by Frowner at 10:02 AM on September 30, 2015 [1 favorite]


You're allowed to talk at the gym?
posted by griphus at 10:03 AM on September 30, 2015 [10 favorites]


When it became apparent the man knew I was staring at him and was displeased by this, I realized it was Robert Downey Jr.

Ask me about the time my mom asked someone on the street if she knew him from the state criminal courts, maybe a prosecutor? And it was Richard Dryfuss.
posted by The Whelk at 10:04 AM on September 30, 2015 [9 favorites]


You folks are my friends, though, right?

DOT - Totally.
posted by Sophie1 at 10:05 AM on September 30, 2015 [3 favorites]


Gyms involve membership and IDs and in one case, a fingerprint scan, how are these people just inviting friends Willy Nilly?
posted by The Whelk at 10:05 AM on September 30, 2015


I'm 40 with a toddler and I've found it impossible to make real life friends as an adult. I seem to meet a lot of people who ultimately are kind of looking for a family-substitute. Which I totally get, I just don't have the time to sustain that kind of friendship because I and my husband both have close-knit local families of our own. I'm insanely lucky that I have such a great extended family, but I spend all of my family-oriented energy on them. What I have left is purely social. I just want to hang out. I want an NSA friend, basically. I've met people who seem to give off a similar vibe, but I think they are as wary as I am of getting in too deep with a friendship with someone who needs more than you can give them and there's no socially-acceptable way to signal, "It's okay, I'm not going to call you at 8 AM on a Sunday needing an emergency babysitter for the next three days! I just want to go get tipsy with you and talk about TV shows once a month."

So far (my son is only 3) my experience with other parents at daycare is... we don't even talk to each other? Is that weird? I'm there for 5 minutes twice a day and we all have places to be. I totally don't care if my friends have kids or not. I'm not really a kid person despite having one of my own.
posted by soren_lorensen at 10:06 AM on September 30, 2015 [1 favorite]


It seems as though the bond forged when the maker inscribes the shemhamphorasch upon the parchment and places the parchment in the Friend's mouth before uttering the incantation tends to fade over time. If that happens, your Friend may go on a rampage, and you can only hope to erase the last letter from the אמת inscribed on your Friend's forehead before it's too late.

This is the most wonderful of comments.

That said, I encourage all those who are no longer in need of a Friend to reach out to The Friend Trust, who will find reputable and useful work for them in the interim. A Wasted Friend benefits no one.
posted by leotrotsky at 10:06 AM on September 30, 2015 [9 favorites]


everyone is a potential friend until someone says something that crosses an unmarked line.
OMG, if I could only quote 200 things, this would be one of them!

Mrs bitteroldman is excellent at making friends. She has old friends, new friends, friends who pop in from time to time, friends who call on the phone 5 minutes after she sees them.
OTOH, my funeral would probably attract about 20 people (and most of them would show up to support my wife anyway, and not b/c of me).

And I theorize that one of the reasons why is b/c her "unmarked line" is so much farther than mine. And I mean this in a good way - she's not judgmental at all. She accepts her friends for who they are. Sure, she might not agree with how they live, or what they do, but it doesn't stop her from accepting them

I on the other hand, while I like to think of myself as a nice guy, don't just have one unmarked line that's so easy to cross, but I seem to be surrounded by lines. Burp too loud? Cut. Wasting your life (in my opinion)? Cut. Don't tip enough? Cut. Not syrupy sweet to wait staff? Cut.
Unlike her, I can't separate agreeing/disagreeing with someone and accepting/rejecting them

And it becomes a self-defeating cycle where the longer I am without friends, the angrier I get, and the higher my standards become, the easier people get cut, the more I am without friends.

Or maybe I'm surrounded by jerks.
posted by bitteroldman at 10:10 AM on September 30, 2015 [16 favorites]


When I was younger I wanted more friends. Now I'm older and between being a single parent and having dating-type relationships, any people in meatspace who come at me proffering friendship tend to get a who are you and what foul designs do you have on my precious alone-time reaction.

You internet people are great though! I can just flip my phone upside down any time I want you to disappear.
posted by prize bull octorok at 10:11 AM on September 30, 2015 [20 favorites]


I feel very lucky that my friends group has expanded so far in the last two years. I met most of my current friend circle through a local board game group. And that's expanded to eating dinner with each other regularly, which introduced me to friends-of-friends who don't share an interest in board games, and then we start doing activities that they like (going to art museums or camping trips).

(And actually, I met the the first of the board game friends through MeFightClub, Metafilter's gaming adjunct site! Thanks, Metafilter!)

It's a lot of work though. I'm out of the house more often than I'm in it. Nights at home alone are rare, and finding time to do household chores gets harder and harder. It's more of that emotional labor. But it's the thing that makes life worth living, you know?
posted by JDHarper at 10:12 AM on September 30, 2015


You're allowed to talk at the gym?

You betcha - I once asked someone if she could move her stuff slightly so I could reach my locker!
posted by Frowner at 10:12 AM on September 30, 2015 [10 favorites]


I can't separate agreeing/disagreeing with someone and accepting/rejecting them

Ugh, I hate people like this. Cut.
posted by leotrotsky at 10:13 AM on September 30, 2015 [6 favorites]


*Thinks back * actually the most a former friend has vanished from my life was when I stopped hearing from this one guy I kinda dated, kinda hung out with for a year and then I didn't hear back from him for months until a private investigator contacted me wondering if I knew where he was.

Russians am I right?
posted by The Whelk at 10:19 AM on September 30, 2015 [3 favorites]


Do people in other states really invite people that they know slightly from the gym to hang out?

I mean, maybe? Possibly maybe? Under a very specific set of circumstances? Idk. If it's someone you see pretty much every single day and have regular small talk with, someone you wave to on the street when you see them in a non-gym setting, someone who is clear that your intentions are not to date/hit on them, then maybe yes?
posted by poffin boffin at 10:20 AM on September 30, 2015


really though the trick to adulthood friendships is to have one extremely extroverted outgoing friend who does all the work for you.
posted by poffin boffin at 10:20 AM on September 30, 2015 [71 favorites]


really though the trick to adulthood friendships is to have one extremely extroverted outgoing friend who does all the work for you.

*jazz hands*
posted by The Whelk at 10:27 AM on September 30, 2015 [29 favorites]


really though the trick to adulthood friendships is to have one extremely extroverted outgoing friend who does all the work for you.

This is totally true. You need that one person going, "Of course you want to hang out with me!!"

They think this about everyone they know, and that's how groups of friends are made.
posted by leotrotsky at 10:28 AM on September 30, 2015 [3 favorites]


You betcha - I once asked someone if she could move her stuff slightly so I could reach my locker!

If your gym is anything like my old gym, relatively sure you can now ask each other for rides to and from the airport.

While bench-pressing, I once lowered a barbell I couldn't lift onto myself and had to frantically make eye contact with someone else without violating my gym's apparent Code of Silence before I caved in my rib cage. Fortunately, someone noticed and helped and now I wonder if I made a social faux pas by not inviting Helpful Gym Man to the wedding.
posted by griphus at 10:30 AM on September 30, 2015 [6 favorites]


sounds like we could use some sort of Friend Finder for Adults!

what do you mean that's not what adult friend finder is for?!
posted by ghostbikes at 10:33 AM on September 30, 2015 [19 favorites]


really though the trick to adulthood friendships is to have one extremely extroverted outgoing friend who does all the work for you.

*extrovert high-fives The Whelk*

Honestly, I can think of few things I enjoy more than friend-matchmaking. I think I'm prouder of the successful friendships I've instigated than I am of the couple I introduced who are actually getting married in December.

(actually, the downside here is that every time I think about dating I remember that I'd rather hang out with all the people I already like than audition a bunch more OKCupid randos.)
posted by nonasuch at 10:39 AM on September 30, 2015 [3 favorites]


I used to find making grown-up friends hard, but now it's maintaining friendships that seems hard. My guy and I were talking last night about maybe setting up phone reminders to contact our friends, because too often one will reach out and we'll realize it's been far too long since we saw them. And these are the friends we truly like and want to spend time with!

Which is one of the reasons I don't get to as many mefi IRL events as I'd like. Those places are CHOCK FULL of fascinating people I'd love to be friends with (maybe we're just lucky in Boston? I don't think so!), but when would I find the time to see those awesome people again?

Conclusion: friending is hard, even when you feel like you've found a few.
posted by ldthomps at 10:48 AM on September 30, 2015


really though the trick to adulthood friendships is to have one extremely extroverted outgoing friend who does all the work for you.

This is also my networking strategy. I am basically a charisma parasite.
posted by palindromic at 10:51 AM on September 30, 2015 [8 favorites]


I find friends the old fashioned way, by hanging out in bars or talking to strangers on public transportation.
posted by jonmc at 10:52 AM on September 30, 2015 [1 favorite]


Don't tip enough? Cut. Not syrupy sweet to wait staff? Cut.

YUP. Aside from actual expressions of bigotry, treating strangers or people who work in the service industry poorly is my only real unequivocal "oh HELL NO" tip-off when it comes to establishing new friendships. For god's sakes, I've been able to happily and peacefully break bread with actual Republicans, but I will not tolerate the company of a bad tipper under any circumstances. For reasons that are far beyond the scope of my comprehension, I've run into more than a couple of would-be acquaintances who have either (if we're going dutch) attempted to leave a 5-10% tip for no apparent reason or (if I'm footing the bill) verbally criticized me for leaving what they think is an oversized tip. I'm hardly a high-roller, I just like to pop the standard 20% up to 25% or 30% when I can, and I can't bring myself to leave less than $5 unless my bill is even less than that.

On the other hand, if I observe someone leaving what I think is an oversized tip, doing a favor for a stranger, or treating waitstaff with effusive kindness and respect, regardless of gender, age, or appearance, I'm going to think they're a stone fox and sigh a little inside every time I see them from then on. Generosity is the dreamiest of all personality traits.
posted by divined by radio at 10:54 AM on September 30, 2015 [21 favorites]


but when would I find the time to see those awesome people again?

yeah, same. i mean i guess i wouldn't mind meeting new awesome people, REALLY, but i only have so many pain-free hours in a day and 01) it's a fucking downer explaining that to people but 02) you kind of HAVE to because otherwise they're like "welp this person is making excuses because they secretly hate me" and 03) you're basically saying "time to myself is more important to me than time with you" which a lot of people absent chronic pain do not see as self-care but as selfishness.
posted by poffin boffin at 10:54 AM on September 30, 2015 [12 favorites]


...verbally criticized me for leaving what they think is an oversized tip.

Jesus christ my brain is just making adding machine noises trying to tally up the number of social faux pas this encompasses.
posted by griphus at 10:56 AM on September 30, 2015 [8 favorites]


From 2002 to 2007, American adults between 25 and 74 had an abundance of friends.

This must be one of those "on average" things, where if Bill Gates walks into a room full of broke people, every one is a millionaire on average. An *abundance* of friends, my ass.
posted by RedOrGreen at 10:57 AM on September 30, 2015 [2 favorites]


The article was pretty crappy - suggesting finding a drinking buddy for a friend is only useful if your life revolves around drinking. I always suggest the best way is to take up an active hobby that you can become really involved with. A friend is someone you relate to on many levels and if you have people that share an activity you are passionate about the friendship will happen quickly and naturally.
posted by JJ86 at 10:59 AM on September 30, 2015


Making adult friends with kids is not so hot either.

Just 'cause your kid likes their kid doesn't mean you are going to like the other parents, that's for sure. Or vice versa! If you really like another parent chances are good their kid and your kid are either "meh" or hostile.

I've had to accept that I'm not that easy a person to be friends with, in the opinion of a lot of people, so I have my few that I see now and then and lots of friendly acquaintances that aren't going to be more than that. I had more friends when I was younger, but I was nicer and more placatory then too. And less busy.
posted by emjaybee at 11:13 AM on September 30, 2015 [1 favorite]


I was an awkward, bullied kid prone to left-field interests and oddball fixations, and my friendships were always close rather than numerous. In my childhood, I'd have sour-faced guidance counselors recite lines from absurdist scripts, like "You have to be a friend to have a friend!" and "Think of friendship as game, and then play to win!" and other seemingly computer-generated knots of not-making-sense talk. I went through elementary and middle schools dogged by every weird thing I'd ever said and every lie ever told about me and every single solitary bit of that-guy-is-not-like-us, and I used to internalize the slogans they beat into me in the guidance office and the chair at the child psychiatrist's office, thinking I just wasn't doing friendship right.

Then, in the last year in middle school, I was doing badly enough that I ended up in summer school, and I'd have to catch a bus at seven when all the rest of the kids in my neighborhood were dreaming of beating me up or taunting me for my slightly too-easy tears...and the funny thing was that I made lots of friends in summer school, and managed to even become popular in that environment, which was such a surreal experience that I would have pangs of doubt that it was happening, or suspicion that it was like when mean girls would tell me that I was the coolest kid in school and set me up for a simply hi-larious let-down. People liked me in summer school, though they were all shipped in there by bus from places far from my home in Scaggsville, and this was a good couple decades before the internet made distance less of a thing.

In high school, I was bullied, up to a point, until I put on a little display of power and crazy that had people steer clear of me, and because I was terrible at school, I ended up in summer school again, and this time, I made even more friends, and was even more popular, and it's when I realized that the change of venue was a clear indication that all the people who'd told me for years that I didn't make more friends because I wasn't doing friendship right were, in fact, just a bunch of stupid assholes who didn't know what they were talking about. Got kicked out of the public high school as I was failing the ninth grade for the second time, and ended up in a small private school where no one knew me and—yep, made lots of friends, was popular and well-liked, and hell, when I figured out one of the things about me that made me not quite fit in, I came out in high school in the middle of the fucking Reagan years...and everyone was cool with it. Well, everyone but the adults, but that was a whole other thing.

School didn't work out in the end and I dropped out of school and went out into the world to be a person. I made lots of friends, managed to have lots of adventures, and people took my invitations to get in the car and just drive at random for hours or days on end as cheap tickets to a very fun time. But I surrendered to the market forces of cultural pressure, took and aced my GED to become the valedictorian in that testing session, which got me a scholarship to college, so I put myself through college, working a full-time job and at least one part-time job to make it through...and I missed out on that thing where they say that the friends you make in college are the ones you keep forever, because I only had time to really make one friend, and that was a teacher I stalked visited excessively on her office hours.

And I kept on working, in offices here and there. I started out as a pizza boy and operatic supernumerary, but got my first office job in a little industrial park where I worked as the primary quality control agent to a subcontractor to the National Transportation Safety Board, spending my days reviewing copies of CVR tapes so I could certify that they were legally perfect copies of the original and going over stacks of detailed high resolution photographs from crash sites with a high-powered magnifying glass, so, as I was in my little workspace listening to pilots dying over and over, I was closely checking the jagged stumps of avulsed limbs and protruding bones against the originals, complete with the little ID markers they'd add like placecards at a wedding reception to indicate various codes about each item. I worked in the diazo microfilm duplication room, so the lights were yellow safety lights, and I could listen to music as long as I could still hear the pilots dying, and I managed to pay my rent and keep my car on the road and...well, adventures were fewer and farther between.

I moved on and slightly upward, from six bucks an hour to eight, and then a stunning ten, at a new company, but still in a yellow room, albeit without the voices of dying pilots in my ears. For an extra buck an hour, I switched to the night shift, and friendships sort of withered, except on weekends, and working the night shift for ten solid years pretty much narrowed friendship down to phone calls and not much else. I was in a relationship at that point, but it hit the buffers and then it was just me and my dog, though I had the good sense to go back to day shift, but somehow, in that long stretch, friendship, as a thing, had changed.

My friends got married and started to have kids, and I stopped being able to understand their languages, and there was no time anymore, because the baby the baby the baby. I was never very good at being culturally gay, so I didn't really have that fallback position. Other friends were just better at being adults than I was, and would just move on and get better jobs and then better jobs in new cities, and I'd keep making friends, only to lose them to promotions and marriages and the allure of mobility, and I'm trapped, in a way, by having wound up in a nice apartment that I rent for a scandalously low figure in exchange for being the building super, which colors every thought of "maybe I should go live in Pittsburgh" or "maybe I could hole up at my crappy cabin in West Virginia and just become a reclusive writer" with the reality that, if I ever left my place, I could never afford to return to my home town.

In the internet era, of course, I have dozens of active friendships that involve daily engagement and communication, and I'm in touch with family members in faraway places and old friends I've reconnected with, and I have never had this much engagement with this many people...except something's gone terribly wrong.

I work part-time running a tiny community theater in the basement of a socialist grocery store, and the rest of the time, I work as a handyman or builder, and most of the time, I work by myself. I go home, and it's usually just me and the dog and The Waltons in the background so I hear voices that are not NPR voices saying "Trump Trump Trump." Everyone's coupled up, or well out of driving range, and I've managed to create this world for myself in which I am seen as a master problem solver, so that people call and email and text and Facebook message and do whatever that Google Circle thing is and it's always "Hey, can you help me with—" or "Hey, I'm having this problem that—" and I have become a very lonesome and frustrated handyman, which means I've started to shy away when the phone rings, or when my phone makes some little horrible noise to indicate that something is wrong or that someone needs something, and...it just doesn't get any better, does it?

My brother, sister-in-law, and nephew moved back into my area after years in the midwest, and my brother blends in as a normal person, but is an oddity like me, but I've been drafting him to work on construction projects and it's great to have the company and the conversation.

I've asked him if he still hangs out with his friends and how he sees adult friendships and his take is that marriage sort of goes into that slot, which I suspect is true, but for me, aborted romantic relationships has become how I recruit my close adult friends, which means they're invariably male and one of us generally has a persistent gripe about the way things went that make them a little less close than they could be. I like to think I could be a participant in one of those gay marriages I keep hearing about and bitterly attending, but I am apparently really bad at dating and growing a beard suddenly made me terribly attractive to dudes younger than my nieces, who just give me blank, dewy My Little Pony eyes when I'm making some hilarious reference to teen culture in 1983, which is ten years before they were even born and OH MY FUCKING GOD I AM DOOMED FOREVER TO CRANKY SOLITUDE IN WHICH I WRITE THREE THOUSAND WORD COMMENTS ON METAFILTER IN LIEU OF BEING A PERSON AND I'M DOING IT RIGHT NOW.

And I think, well, Mary had Rhoda, for heaven's sake, but OH MY FUCKING GOD MARY WAS TEN YEARS YOUNGER THAN ME AND I AM DOOMED FOREVER AND I'M DOING IT AGAIN!

And when you don't drink, can't afford to go out and do stuff, and everyone's busy all the damn time and you live in a nice little town and everything's otherwise okay but nothing's ever happening nearby, well—thanks to a million years of evolution for dogs, because at least someone's happy to see you every day.
posted by sonascope at 11:14 AM on September 30, 2015 [60 favorites]


It's funny: In the 1950s, the sky-is-falling worry was that Americans were becoming too friendly, too "outer directed", too much "joiners" and no longer independent self-directed individualists. The best-sellers on social relationships were "The Organization Man" and "The Lonely Crowd", if you want to get a flavour for the worries of the time.

And now that people are once again making less friends, the sky is once again falling, but now it's because we're moving away from the patterns of the '50s which were causing the sky to fall then.
posted by clawsoon at 11:14 AM on September 30, 2015 [1 favorite]


Sonascope - I kind of adore you.
posted by Sophie1 at 11:20 AM on September 30, 2015 [9 favorites]


The most stressful interaction I've had in the past year was meeting up with a stranger with similar interests in order to drink beer and talk about podcasts/M:tG/D&D.

I'm going to need a xanax prescription if I ever want to meet up and talk about Mothman with someone.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 11:21 AM on September 30, 2015 [2 favorites]


Working solo from home means I've tried, over the past few years, to really up my game on keeping my friendships solid, because lord knows I'll never meet another human being live and in person again. It also means that I've taken the fade-out of one old friend in particular really personally and hard, and that I've put up with some real shitty comments from another lately, and just generally that the whole endeavor of "being with people" is a mess.

But the article's point about vulnerability and honesty is well-put. It's possibly no coincidence that my friendship with the fade-out lady was at its strongest when, to be frank, one or both of us was in kind of a disaster-phase of our lives. I was actually really excited when I realized that hey, we're both doing AWESOME at the SAME TIME!

But instead of just stewing quietly and secretly wondering if I totally fucked up major or if it's literally just that she can't use GChat at her job, I am instead gonna be honest and vulnerable and write her a card and send it in the mail.

Thanks, baby-human-article-writer. (and OP!)
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 11:22 AM on September 30, 2015 [2 favorites]


I'm 40 with a toddler and I've found it impossible to make real life friends as an adult.

Sunday at dawn, hit the park, put monster in a swing, and you will have so much in common with everyone else who is there.
posted by Mr. Yuck at 11:22 AM on September 30, 2015 [1 favorite]


oh. not to abuse the edit button:

I was actually really excited when I realized that hey, we're both doing AWESOME at the SAME TIME! But instead it seems like that's precisely when we went from talking every day to talking once a week to "hey man I haven't even spoken to you since like July and I know you're not dead..."
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 11:24 AM on September 30, 2015


I am instead gonna be honest and vulnerable and write her a card and send it in the mail.

i'm like 90% sure this is terrible advice but you should do it with cut out letters from newspaper headlines and say THIS IS A RANSOM NOTE FOR OUR FRIENDSHIP GIVE IT BACK OR ELSE
posted by poffin boffin at 11:25 AM on September 30, 2015 [18 favorites]


I'm 31 now, and I can be pretty damn outgoing and extroverted in the uptimes. It's definitely helped in terms of the 'finding friends' part, but as a generally-female-seeming-person, at current there's about a 30% chance that within 1-2 years I'll find out a dude just really wants in my pants. And I'm 31. What the hell.

I like women but I have virtually nothing in common/relatable with the vast majority who I meet out in the world (not wanting kids is also a thing), so while it's great to have them around because, you know, women are awesome, I can't really go anything beyond the most superficial conversations with a lot of the women I meet.

So I get along and have more in common with guys in general. But there's a substantial number of them who try to hook up with me, or I just turn out they're really misogynist and shitty. Dudes are a minefield. Women who share my interest seem to be kinda sparse outside of the internet. So sometimes it's kind of like what's the point honestly.

I have a really good group where I'm currently at and to be honest that's become a decent part of the 'do I want to move somewhere else far away' equation.
posted by nogoodverybad at 11:27 AM on September 30, 2015 [1 favorite]


i'm like 90% sure this is terrible advice but you should do it with cut out letters from newspaper headlines and say THIS IS A RANSOM NOTE FOR OUR FRIENDSHIP GIVE IT BACK OR ELSE

Nope this is a perfect idea and possibly the only thing that will actually work

I might include a fake toe.
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 11:29 AM on September 30, 2015 [2 favorites]


I once spent an embarrassing length of time staring at a man and his child sitting outside of Cafe Reggio wondering if I knew him from a profile photo on MeFi or something.

When it became apparent the man knew I was staring at him and was displeased by this, I realized it was Robert Downey Jr.


And did you become friends?!
posted by schroedinger at 11:30 AM on September 30, 2015 [3 favorites]


"My friends got married and started to have kids, and I stopped being able to understand their languages, and there was no time anymore, because the baby the baby the baby. I was never very good at being culturally gay, so I didn't really have that fallback position. Other friends were just better at being adults than I was, and would just move on and get better jobs and then better jobs in new cities, and I'd keep making friends, only to lose them to promotions and marriages and the allure of mobility, and I'm trapped, in a way, by having wound up in a nice apartment that I rent for a scandalously low figure in exchange for being the building super, which colors every thought of 'maybe I should go live in Pittsburgh' or 'maybe I could hole up at my crappy cabin in West Virginia and just become a reclusive writer' with the reality that, if I ever left my place, I could never afford to return to my home town."

This is me exactly, except for I'm not a super and have no fixit skills and I don't have a crappy WV cabin and the world doesn't need for me to become a reclusive writer whereas on the strength of this comment I think the world would greatly benefit if sonascope did and someone published everything.
posted by Don Pepino at 11:31 AM on September 30, 2015 [5 favorites]


And did you become friends?!

reader, he married him.
posted by poffin boffin at 11:32 AM on September 30, 2015 [16 favorites]


As an introvert misanthrope, I’m immune to this brand of angst — the farther people are away from me, the stronger I become. Reading the article, however, I do rather enjoy feeling like an alien observer.
posted by scamper at 11:33 AM on September 30, 2015 [2 favorites]


And did you become friends?!

Long story short I'm an Avenger now.
posted by griphus at 11:34 AM on September 30, 2015 [17 favorites]


My parents are retired and it seems most of their friends are the cashiers at grocery stores and sample people at Costco. It really is difficult to make friends as an adult. I told Mom to start hanging out in the food court at the mall - that was the best idea I could think of :D She doesn't care to go to seniors clubs and such.
posted by Calzephyr at 11:35 AM on September 30, 2015


I am now being reminded that I am also being a terrible friend to those friends I have professed to care about and miss upthread. There are sporadic texts and the occasional phone calls, but it's weird that sometimes those friends have become eerily silent since I decided to stop drinking for a while.
posted by Kitteh at 11:38 AM on September 30, 2015


gripus is the Fresser and his superpower is eating all the pastrami
posted by poffin boffin at 11:38 AM on September 30, 2015 [3 favorites]


Most of the places I go I know the staff not the regulars. Or the band. I usually know the band.

I only talk to people once I've been drinking. Mostly bc I refuse to take xanax every day bc I need it to work when I really need it.
posted by sio42 at 11:40 AM on September 30, 2015


I find it helps being an introvert, because then you don't miss it so much.

I'm glad that's true for some people, but in that particular regard, I find it doesn't help one goddamn bit.
posted by Flexagon at 11:45 AM on September 30, 2015 [7 favorites]


I find that as I get older and tireder, my introversion turns into a stronger and stronger force in my life. Go out after work? Mingle? Socialize? Interact? Are you kidding?? All I want to do is go home and change clothes and sit with my cats and wait for the day to drip away until I can go to bed and then get up and do it all over again tomorrow. Being a tired introvert is the reason this is true, but the introversion is also the enforcer. It’s simultaneously the thing that keeps my circle small (which, yes, can be lonely) and makes it okay for the circle to be small. It taketh and it giveth.

And other people have mentioned it, but it can't be overstated how much being (happily) childless in your 30s or 40s reduces the friendship pool. First off, potential friends who are parents travel in other, remote circles. You know they're out there, but you're not really sure where. If you encounter them, as the person without kids you are suddenly The Other, the one who wouldn't/doesn't/can't understand what a "normal" (and fully realized) life is like. And if you're unpartnered to boot, you are the figurative fifth wheel. You are not easily incorporated. You're the part that's leftover after assembling a piece of furniture: Seemingly extraneous, and probably not that critical to structural integrity.

Partnered parents you had been friends with before they were partnered or parents don't know what to do with you, except maybe adopt a pseudo-parenting approach to you too and invite you to dinner once a twice a year so that they can go to bed feeling satisfied about your at least having eaten one decent meal recently, with human companions, knowing they have done their part. Then you go back to being the solitary person no one knows how to easily include, comfortable with your at-home clothes and your cats, and you return to being grateful that no one is calling to invite you somewhere.
posted by mudpuppie at 11:49 AM on September 30, 2015 [33 favorites]


I was actually really excited when I realized that hey, we're both doing AWESOME at the SAME TIME! But instead it seems like that's precisely when we went from talking every day to talking once a week to "hey man I haven't even spoken to you since like July and I know you're not dead..."

Crisis Mode is amazing friendship glue. Being happily married, happily employed, and mostly solvent means I don't have much to talk about, really. Other than wanting to overanalyze Hannibal, spit every time I say the name of Steven Moffat, and share ridiculous tales of my tech support gig. Sometimes I think about getting back in touch with old friends but... what would I even tell them? "I'm fine. Everything is fine. I hope everything is similarly fine with you. Yes? Well, that's good. [crickets]"
posted by soren_lorensen at 11:56 AM on September 30, 2015 [6 favorites]


on the alien observer thing, as a childfree late fortysomething GenX grump, I've found that most of, if not all of my friends are from completely different generational cohorts. Personally I find that it's mainly because the younger cohort hasn't yet hit baby/nesting mode and the empty nesters or those close enough to have autonomous kids are insanely thrilled to have their social time back.

most of our closest friendships were forged in the fires of cohabitation (former roommates) or have come about via shared hobbies (cycling teammates, etc.)

I also understand from one of our former roommates that one of the better ways for childfree thirtysomethings to improve their social network is to become an Airbnb host. It's not just the out of towners you wind up getting to know better, but also their in-town relatives and friends, etc. They have leveraged friendships spawned by Airbnb connections to embark upon a 6 month round the world jaunt on a pretty tight budget.

ymmv if you're not willing to sublet a room or don't have the space / time / resources, tho.
posted by lonefrontranger at 12:03 PM on September 30, 2015 [2 favorites]


I'm not sure that I've made any friends through my kids, but I do know that I get a lot fewer invitations to do stuff now.

I mostly just don't understand why grownups don't play as much as kids do. Somehow I slipped out of the world where games of every type were the whole point and I haven't been able to get back there.
posted by mattamatic at 12:10 PM on September 30, 2015


I am sorry that I keep posting in the thread but stuff just comes back to me. I do resent people that do the same thing they would do to me when I have anxiety/depression in regards to making friends: "Have you really tried hard enough?" or "I think you're exaggerating; it's not that bad."

Believe me, I want friends that I can hang out with, whether it's a coffee or a beer or a meal or some mutually agreed upon activity of fun, but when you're socially anxious and shy, even doing the recommended "find group activity to join, then FRIENDS" can seem incredibly daunting.
posted by Kitteh at 12:10 PM on September 30, 2015 [20 favorites]


nogoodverybad, I too am a 31-year old female-seeming (female-being?) type, and I am grateful for my friends of many different types. Marriage has mostly halted the flow of men trying to Nice Guy their way into my pants, but it has also had the infuriating side effect of causing many strangers I might have otherwise gotten along with to either try assimilating me into their personal PTA/HOA/WTF or to assume I can no longer function as a solo individual as I am either infected with or on the cusp of developing raging baby fever and will soon be rendered incapable of adult conversation. My husband doesn't seem to have this problem.
posted by Diagonalize at 12:11 PM on September 30, 2015 [1 favorite]


"Don't believe prior alarmism from social scientists about the decline of friendship! That's been disproven! By the way, now you need to learn social skills that we considered innate in the majority of the population 30 years ago. Do not trouble yourself with the contradictions!"
posted by mobunited at 12:17 PM on September 30, 2015 [3 favorites]


"I mostly just don't understand why grownups don't play as much as kids do".

mattamatic that's a function of the fact that as adults we are personally responsible for paying for things like rent and mortgages and finishing things on deadline like spreadsheets and project timelines and scheduling stuff like 50,000 mile maintenance and dental checkups and and and and...

at the end of the day you're doing a lot more administrative function with a lot less reserve of boundless energy and enthusiasm.
posted by lonefrontranger at 12:17 PM on September 30, 2015 [3 favorites]


You know, it's kind of sad but I do take great comfort in learning from this thread (and similar ones in Ask) that I am not uniquely and pathetically friendship-impaired, but that the whole enterprise of making friends is fraught for a lot of us. I mean, I do have my own specific neurotic issues, but it does really seem that there's a shortage of natural venues in which this can readily happen.
posted by Kat Allison at 12:23 PM on September 30, 2015 [10 favorites]


Yeah, Kitteh, I feel sometimes like Meetup was invented entirely so that if you complain that you don't have any friends and don't know how to make them, people have something to throw in your face. Just keep going to Meetups! Eventually you'll click with someone! As if that were just something I could do for free.

And then I'm like, ugh, maybe it's just that I'm depressed and everything sounds like too much work. But really what's the difference.

Honestly, the only people I know locally right now who feel like friends are the fellow toastmasters in my local chapter. And that's because, somewhat like a recovery group, in Toastmasters you spend a lot of time getting up in front of a group and talking about yourself and the things you care about, and hearing others do the same. And nobody joins Toastmasters unless they're so cripplingly awkward or strange that they feel the need to work on really basic social stuff (OK, and some people join because their English is bad). So yeah, I never thought of myself as the kind of person who would make friends in Toastmasters, and I guess I don't really hang out with them outside of meetings, but I feel friendly feelings about them. I could see myself doing stuff with them. Maybe someday I will.
posted by town of cats at 12:25 PM on September 30, 2015 [8 favorites]


I actually keep meaning to join my local Toastmasters chapter in order to gain some confidence! We have an acquaintance who is equally shy who wants to do it too so maybe two awkward people can support each other!
posted by Kitteh at 12:29 PM on September 30, 2015 [4 favorites]


at 55, I've learned that having friends is a very much ebb and flow thing. Hey, people move around a lot more than did in generations past. Sometimes years have gone by without any friends. Then some years I have too much social life to accept all the invitations. Very good idea to NOT WORRY about not having friends. Develop some interests, gain some healthy habits, explore some obscure areas, or take a walk on the wild side during those friendless times. Doing that will make you a more interesting buddy when the friends flow back in.
posted by telstar at 12:29 PM on September 30, 2015 [7 favorites]


I used to daydream that once the kid gets older I'd be able to drag some of the old half-finished Warhammer Fantasy Battle armies I have in the attic and be able to finish and play them.

Then I found out last week that Games Workshop literally destroyed Warhammer Fantasy Battle over the summer.

And then I realized I had no friends with which I could sputter in a rage with.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 12:33 PM on September 30, 2015 [3 favorites]


And this is why I like my bellydancer friends and troupemates. Built in activities at the ready! Rehearsal once a week and parties! (2 weeks ago, I organized an evening outing to a fancypants restaurant in Baltimore for Turkish Restaurant Week!)
posted by sperose at 12:40 PM on September 30, 2015


Robocop IB, you want to Google "oldhammer."
posted by mobunited at 12:40 PM on September 30, 2015


divined by radio: At 33, the main hurdle I'm running into is that in my experience, people who are already or definitely want to be parents don't really want to be friends with people who aren't and don't ever want to be parents...

We need another Milwaukee meetup soon. ;)

Poffin Boffin: yeah, same. i mean i guess i wouldn't mind meeting new awesome people, REALLY, but i only have so many pain-free hours in a day and 01) it's a fucking downer explaining that to people but 02) you kind of HAVE to because otherwise they're like "welp this person is making excuses because they secretly hate me" and 03) you're basically saying "time to myself is more important to me than time with you" which a lot of people absent chronic pain do not see as self-care but as selfishness.

This does added another level of complexity, for sure. I've been thinking about this a lot; being stuck at home most of the time, and how the loss of daily, just regular social interaction is not good for my mental health. And I'm an introvert! But I can tell it's affecting me. I've been thinking of where and how I can actively recruit more friends and NOT have chronic pain be weird. Then there is the aspect of do you hide it and just come off as really flaky and inconsiderate? But I'm starved for friendship. So much so that while in LA last winter where I ended up in a laundromat folding clothes in the early evening among other human beings is remembered fondly and I didn't even talk to anyone.

I had a good network of friends that all came from work connections, but so many have been fading away. It's not as if they are uncaring and compassionate. Not at all. Most have been exceptionally kind and supportive. But suddenly we have less in common. Or maybe slowly we have less in common. We don't even have bitching about our respective jobs to fall back on anymore as I am not working anymore. And they don't want to waste the tiny amount of free time they have to pencil in someone likely to cancel.

I can't blame them and in truth, even when we do hang out; I don't want to spend the whole time talking about all the medical crap going on with me, but that's also sort of central to my life right now. The only one of those friends who has the same hobby interest as me disappeared for a year, and when we finally talked again, she has decided she is done with the hobby and everything else and is going to move a remote plot of land in another state and live off the grid.

(Also, I'm not a fan of talking on phones, making staying connected even harder).

And so just recently I decided I need to set out and make new friends. I've never actively decided "oh, I need to make friends now." and the logistics seem daunting. Even if I didn't have complicating health issues, I can't help wonder what the hell am I supposed to do? Walk up to people and say "hi, wanna be my friend?"

Maybe we do need a tinder for friendships.
posted by [insert clever name here] at 1:01 PM on September 30, 2015 [4 favorites]


So, one thing I feel like I should note is that while I am a massively gregarious extrovert (left to my own devices, I will befriend the person behind me in the sandwich line; if there's no line, I'll befriend the person making the sandwich), for the first twenty years of my life I assumed I was an introvert because I was a nerd, and nerds are introverts, right? And I always felt so anxious in social situations, and I never knew the right thing to say, and if I didn't know anyone I would panic and hide in the corner.

But in fact I was an extrovert who had terrible social skills. Recognizing and correcting this took overt, conscious effort over a period of years. I still stumble: recently I discovered that two people I work with had been quietly simmering in resentment at the (to their reserved eyes) too-aggressive way I had been presenting my ideas-- my enthusiasm put the off and their own sense of social propriety prevented them from telling me what the problem was.

These days virtually all of my close friends are lady nerds (or dudes with a Lady Nerd Stamp of Approval) and I have been lucky enough to find people who will straight-up tell me when they need introvert recharge time or can't deal with an enthusiastic infodump right now, and who don't take offense at being told the same. I feel like a lot of the trouble with forming adult friendships comes from nobody knowing what the unspoken rules are.

Holy shit is it a relief to have friends who understand that social skills are learned, not innate, and don't require you to cross an invisible etiquette minefield before reaching the borders of Friendtown.
posted by nonasuch at 1:35 PM on September 30, 2015 [20 favorites]


(the other thing that killed my social anxiety was something I call the David Bowie Coolness Pyramid. it goes like this: when you want to be friends with someone but are intimidated because they seem hipper/funnier/interestinger than you, remember that they are 100% guaranteed to feel exactly that way about someone else. And that someone else feels that way about someone else, and so on, until you reach the person who feels intimidated by David Bowie. Since no one can ever be cooler than David Bowie, the pressure's off. Go talk to the cool person-- they'll probably be fun to hang out with.)
posted by nonasuch at 1:40 PM on September 30, 2015 [17 favorites]


What if that person turns out to be David Bowie in disguise?
posted by poffin boffin at 1:42 PM on September 30, 2015 [4 favorites]


As long as you welcomed him into your home and gave him food and wine and a place to lodge, he should reward you when he takes on his true form because you displayed xenia and passed his test.
posted by griphus at 1:44 PM on September 30, 2015 [24 favorites]


I happened into hanging out with a good group of folks in my new city (after being here for nearly a year) by trolling a homophobic bro who was terrorizing the bar I was in with his horrible nu-country jukebox lineup, and so I queued up Darude - Sandstorm in the middle of his set and he exploded in a glorious confetti of fury and confusion. Anyway, we still didn't want to sit next to him, so we moved down the bar and started commiserating with a dude over there about the whole situation, and when I revealed that I was the anonymous troll that pretty much sealed the deal. I hope this information is of use to someone.
posted by invitapriore at 1:48 PM on September 30, 2015 [7 favorites]


Please tell me more about this bar which had both Darude and nu-country in the jukebox.
posted by griphus at 1:53 PM on September 30, 2015 [2 favorites]


this tale has reminded me of the youtube video of the guy playing sandstorm on a tub tunes trumpet so i'm pretty glad about it
posted by poffin boffin at 1:53 PM on September 30, 2015


Sadly there was no local flavor of any kind involved, it was just one of those app-controlled dealies that lets you preempt other people's songs if you pay a little extra.
posted by invitapriore at 1:55 PM on September 30, 2015


i'm looking at the article and just wondering.... is that a photo of drake sitting front side at a runway fashion show next to Diane Von Furstenburg (sp?)???
posted by sio42 at 2:41 PM on September 30, 2015


sio42: yes. yes it is. I was a bit agog at that myself.
posted by lonefrontranger at 2:46 PM on September 30, 2015


I thought that was Anna Wintour
posted by griphus at 2:47 PM on September 30, 2015 [1 favorite]


yes google tells me that it is. i apparently haven't seen a pic of dvf since the time during which she looked liked anna wintour.... (i mean with big glasses they both kinda look the same)
posted by sio42 at 2:57 PM on September 30, 2015 [1 favorite]


yep, looks like it is Anna Wintour; the fact that they're essentially interchangeable in context probably makes that even more lol wtf in my own head, but that's just me.
posted by lonefrontranger at 3:00 PM on September 30, 2015


i moved to a city about an hour from where i used to live, where i grew up in fact. i moved her almost 7 years ago.

do you know how many friends have come to see me or tried to stay in touch?

one. despite me spending quite a bit of time visiting for holidays and gatherings and what not. why did no one ever come here?

and yet when i go to leave for prague it will be "why aren't you coming here so we can say goodbye?". bitches, you haven't said hi. fb doesn't count.

i don't have any family except my mom so i sometimes i worry i will be old and alone.

however, today, i was thinking that in the near future, us internet folks might end up moving closer to one another IRL by circumstance or purpose. we'll take it from the web to the breath.

i mean also hopefully i get married one day and that guy has a family that will do elder support that involves margaritas and tacos. and possibly is rich. but i'd like to think that some crones or just mefites in general would turn into real people one day and we'd all be support for one another in little pockets all over the world.
posted by sio42 at 3:05 PM on September 30, 2015 [2 favorites]


i have enough female friends who are similarly determined to die alone that i'm not really worried about it, also one of them is a nurse who is agitating for me to move next door to her and her 10,000 dogs which seems like a great plan tbh

i'm excited for her to read this comment and yell at me
posted by poffin boffin at 3:16 PM on September 30, 2015 [6 favorites]


Mr. Yuck: Sunday at dawn, hit the park, put monster in a swing, and you will have so much in common with everyone else who is there.

That's what I thought, too, but nobody by the swings seems to want to talk about evolutionary biology or Anatolian archaeology or the politics of China.

So I come to Metafilter instead.
posted by clawsoon at 3:25 PM on September 30, 2015 [4 favorites]


"I JUST LISTENED TO TEN EPISODES OF THE BLACK TAPES," I shouted, waving my son about. "AND I WANT TO TALK ABOUT THEM NOW."
"Daddyy...."
"NOT NOW. THERE ARE DETAILS HIDING IN THE CORNERS THAT GOD CANNOT SEE."
"Daddyyy! Go over there! I'm trying to make friends!"

And that, Officer, is why I am standing behind this tree by the playground.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 3:36 PM on September 30, 2015 [5 favorites]


99% of the talking I do is to people I give money to: therapists, doctors, my hairdresser and cashiers. I don't have any close friends, haven't had a job in over a year and recently moved to a city where I know no one. My family is primarily on the opposite coast and are the kind of people who exemplify "it's better to be alone than to be around people who make you feel lonely." I've been this isolated for awhile now and I'm starting to accept it. I try to make a point to take myself out to dinner on Saturday nights, but everyone's out with friends and dates and I'm alone at the bar eating a burger and reading stuff on my phone. That's how I spent my birthday a few weeks ago.

Recently I've been feeling less and less depressed about this and optimistic that things are going to get better. It's been a tough few years but I'm trying to keep busy and planning to go back to work soon. Even if my weekends stay silent for awhile longer, having the structure of a job will help a lot.

I've learned interesting things about the effects of isolation on myself, but sadly haven't had anyone to talk about them with - this amuses me.
posted by bendy at 4:57 PM on September 30, 2015 [8 favorites]


At least this should bode well for my Peeple profile reviews.
posted by bendy at 5:03 PM on September 30, 2015 [11 favorites]


I will be friends with anyone who makes a jukebox play Darude's "Sandstorm."

ANYONE.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 6:14 PM on September 30, 2015 [6 favorites]


I've never had much of a problem making friends and I was trying to put my finger on why that might be, given what other people say about the difficulties they encounter. That's not to say that I never get lonely, because I absolutely do. I also don't know if my way of doing things comes off okay or crazy or pushy or what. I do know I have results (friendships) I'm generally happy with, so in that sense I'm successful. I think I've kind of narrowed it down:

1. Proximity. I don't think this can be overstated. I think it's very important. I always make friends at my jobs. I'm not friends with every single person I work with and have definitely worked with people I haven't really liked at all, but I generally try to always have at least a good working relationship with people at my job, regardless of whether or not I like them personally. I think there are a lot of people out there who have a similar approach and as long as there isn't a major personality clash, we often become "work friends".

2. Keeping in touch. I've always been good at keeping in touch and maintaining connections. This is what helps my work friends become IRL friends. When I leave a job or move away from a place and I promise to keep in touch with people, I actually do. I've been at my current job for a year and my previous job is in a building only two blocks away from me. I was friends with most of the people I worked with at the last place and miss not seeing them regularly. So I'll arrange a lunch or a happy hour every 4-6 weeks and I always love seeing them and catching up, and I think they do too. Sometimes I'll also maybe pop them a quick email if I see something (like an an industry-relevant article) I think they might be interested in. I use this very sparingly and only for work-related stuff as I don't want to bombard anyone's work email.

I'm also good at organizing things, which I know not everyone is. If a group of friends that I usually do something with haven't been out in a few months, I'll send an email and tell everyone it's time to organize a dinner and then put something together. I realize this is me doing a ton of emotional labor, but usually I don't mind doing it and because it also benefits me, I especially don't mind doing it.

For friends who aren't so nearby, I keep up with them on facebook (more on that below) and for the very few not on any social media, I'll drop them an email, text or phone call every couple of months (depending) to check in/see how they're doing/see if they want to get together.

For new friends, if I meet someone somewhere and they say something like, hey, we should [blahblahblah] sometime, I actually follow up on that. This takes being able to read people and understanding if they mean it or are just being nice (I'm not always successful at this, but I can usually tell), but if someone genuinely seems interested, I'll do my part to keep it going.

3. I have VERY broad parameters (if any) on who could be a potential friend. This is a result of a direct lesson I learned when I was younger and always trying to hang out with the people I wanted to hang out with - people I thought were cool enough or smart enough or whatever social status thing I was after. Until I figured out that so many of the people I was trying to hang out with were assholes. And in wasting so much time and energy on trying to hang out with these people I was neglecting other people who actually wanted to hang out with me. I don't do that anymore. My only real requirements now are the No Assholes Rule and the Wants To Hang Out With Me Rule. I'll ask people to do things or invite people along and if they decline two or three times in a row, I'll assume they aren't interested and stop bugging them (again, being able to read people at least somewhat and pick up at least some social cues helps here).

Bonus: I have a very diverse group of friends of all ages, races, backgrounds, etc. I LOVE this.

4. When I'm on facebook (or most other social medias), I interact with my friends positively. When people say nice things on my facebook stuff, it makes me feel good that they like what I'm posting and gives me warm feelings towards them. I try to do the same for others. (I obviously also try to do this with people IRL, but I think that social media can be a great vehicle for strengthening and maintaining relationships, so I try to use it in a productive way).

5. I go to meetup-type things. One of my favorite hobbies is photography. I'm not very good at it, but I love it. I went on a little photography group outing two weeks ago and made two new female friends, who I'm really looking forward to getting to know better. We already have photography in common and I think we have a lot of other stuff in common too. Which reminds me of another thing I do - I find the commonalities I have with other people and focus on those. It helps that I am already genuinely interested in or interested in learning about lots of different things. I don't always make friends when I do this, but I do a some of the time.

It's definitely a two-way street. Some people may not be interested in becoming better friends or may not feel like they can relate to me, even if I feel I can relate to them (if that makes sense). Which is totally fine. I'll express interest in doing something, but if they flat-out don't seem interested, I won't push them. I am childless and I think it's easier for me to make friends for that reason, mostly because I can be so much more flexible with my time, to help accommodate my friends who don't have that flexibility, due to kids.

What you could do, and what you really should do, is up your capacity to be honest with a new person. New friendships among adults are based less on shared activities (like your adult kickball team) and more on self-disclosure. In the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, authors of a 2010 paper argue that a moderate level of self-disclosure early on in a relationship increases the likelihood that people will become attached to each other. People who share more about themselves with their friends are likely to be more satisfied in their relationships, build new relationships, and receive more emotional support.

I liked this part, and I've found it to be true (for me).

I live in Minnesota and am well aware of how hard outsiders find making new friends here and that makes me feel TERRIBLE. Because I lived in the UK for many years and not only do I know how lonely it can be not knowing anyone, but I also had the very good fortune of moving to a city (Liverpool) that literally has the most warm, open and welcoming people I have ever met, anywhere in the world. People absolutely opened their arms and homes and hearts to me and I will always be grateful for that. I really want to do whatever I can to help people here in MN feel the same, if I can. If there is anyone in MN who wants to hang out or do something or wants a buddy to do something with (personally, I always need a concert buddy, and a museum buddy would be nice too), you can ALWAYS contact me. I LOVE hanging out with people (alternatively, come to meetups - we're going to a movie next week).

this ended up being much longer than I intended
posted by triggerfinger at 6:17 PM on September 30, 2015 [13 favorites]


So there's Tinder and Grindr why not Friendr? Looking for someone at 6:00 PM on a Thursday in the Raleigh area to get a coffee or 2:00 PM on Saturday to bike the Neuse River Greenway.

My husband and I have problem finding and keeping friends because he works nights and sometimes Sundays. The people across the street keep asking us to do things but they never fit with our schedule. Plus I feel like it is harder as a couple to make friends because it is harder to match up 4 people than it is to match up 2. One couple we got to know, the husband was a total bore and my husband couldn't stand to be around him for more than 10 minutes. Another couple we met, the wife had some problems with agoraphobia and didn't like leaving her house but the husband was a great guy who was always wanting to go do stuff.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 6:55 PM on September 30, 2015 [1 favorite]


The kid thing is a big deal, since in my experience most parents self-segregate (and for perfectly good reasons, like swapping child care and being able to have conversations with people who Get It). That does make me really treasure the people I know with kids who don't self-segregate in that way, since how else would I get any kid time? Being an honorary uncle for an hour here and there is genuinely wonderful.

And the older I get the trickier the drinking thing seems to get. Every year a few more people have stopped drinking, which is great except that a lot of social settings get more fraught (not to mention the minority of people who get super judgey about it the minute they stop drinking), and meanwhile other people dial up their drinking to levels that make me not really want to be out with them. Finding cool people who hit the sweet spot feels harder and harder, and it is also incrementally harder to find social settings that work for everyone.
posted by Dip Flash at 7:52 PM on September 30, 2015 [2 favorites]


It's called being a jaded adult.

We can't drop acid/take X and get in touch.

Plus we have elders or kids to take care of.

Of course I'm talking about women.
posted by syncope at 8:00 PM on September 30, 2015 [1 favorite]


What if that person turns out to be David Bowie in disguise?

"For my will is as strong as yours, my kingdom as great. You have no power over me."

For friendship, I am rich in friends due to the find-a-Connecter trick. Woo hoo.
posted by warriorqueen at 8:31 PM on September 30, 2015 [3 favorites]


Partnered parents you had been friends with before they were partnered or parents don't know what to do with you, except maybe adopt a pseudo-parenting approach to you too and invite you to dinner once a twice a year so that they can go to bed feeling satisfied about your at least having eaten one decent meal recently, with human companions, knowing they have done their part.

Alternately, parents invite their friends over once or twice a year because that's how often they can muster up the energy to socialize. I find that as an introvert with a kid, I quickly run out of the energy to talk to people, even friends. And the grandparents of my kid all feel that now that there's a grandkid, we should be getting together more often, so they steal a certain number of weekends a month. Many of my good friends are people I get together with twice a year. We stay in touch other ways in between get-togethers, but also understand a month or two long silence as meaningless. I doubt I'd be a good friend to an extrovert. Maybe you just need extroverted, energetic friends.
posted by Margalo Epps at 8:32 PM on September 30, 2015 [3 favorites]


I used to have a job where a good portion of my time was spent flashing lights in time to Sandstorm (and other club-ish songs). Does that count? I can has friends now?
posted by WalkerWestridge at 8:51 PM on September 30, 2015 [3 favorites]


This thread is both depressing and comforting at the same time.
posted by WalkerWestridge at 8:52 PM on September 30, 2015 [12 favorites]


I made most of my friends in my new city through MeFi meetups, so my experience may be atypical. I've made a few (really good!) friends through work, and uh. Unconventional romantic arrangements, but those are probably the exception, rather than the rule.

The internet is great, is what I'm saying.
posted by dogheart at 8:59 PM on September 30, 2015 [1 favorite]


My wife and I clicked in a very hard, tight way and then dove into blissfull isolation. It felt good to be saved from my wider social anxieties but she was needy, and it seemed to comfort her when I let other close friendships wither. I ignored a creeping, growing sense of responsibility for every aspect of her security, contentment and self-worth. It so happened that she was finding me less and less adequate in any of those respects, so after 20 years the relationship just blew apart. I was suddenly facing the fact that I was in my 50s, emotionally cut loose, traumatized, and depressed. I wandered the streets, going to coffee shops and then, when it got really late, a doughnut shop. I'd lived in a city for 35 years and didn't have single person to call.

The next day, I went to my best friend from college. I'd made some honest efforts over the decades to mantain a connection with him but it was still a bit embarrasing to be showing up when I hadn't seen him in a year. He listened and gave great advice. He let me know I had a place to stay if I needed it. He made sure I came to a few dinner parties. Had me over to just watch TV with his wife and son. He gave me some badly needed contact with normal people.

So now I'm starting over. I find myself having to learn not how to make friends, but having to re-learn how to BE friends. I'm glad to be having the chance anyway, even if I don't have a lot of enthusiasm for meeting new people right now, I'm lucky to have one good friend as a starting point.
posted by bonobothegreat at 9:21 PM on September 30, 2015 [9 favorites]


I find that this sort of thinking devalues acquaintances.

Acquaintances are people with whom you share mutual interests, senses of humor, sports teams, and tastes in whiskey.

Acquaintances are useful for introductions, bypassing HR, and finding a fourth for bridge.

Friends? You get maybe a dozen in a lifetime, and sometimes you don't even recognize them.

Treat them like they're friends, expect them all to act like acquaintances, is all I'm saying.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 9:21 PM on September 30, 2015 [20 favorites]


I'm not sure if it's reading a lot of Hannibal this month or just a phase of being really vexed when my socialising time is occupied by my ex husband, but I have spent some time mentally composing an ask.metafilter question about how to make friends if you mostly want to poke people with sticks and set them on fire, and then go live on an island and throw sticks for stray dogs to chase while you stare moodily at the waves crashing on cliffs.
posted by dorothyisunderwood at 9:26 PM on September 30, 2015 [6 favorites]


Yeah, this entire thread is the reason why the thread the other week about not making friends with work colleagues was so alien to me. It is HARD to make friends with randos off the street! It is hard to make friends as an adult at all! But if you are stuck in close proximity to someone every day for years on end, there are lots of opportunities to turn it into a real friendship, and people won't think you are weird for doing so. Well, except for all the metafilter people in the other thread, apparently. Where DO you people get your friends from then?
posted by lollusc at 9:44 PM on September 30, 2015 [3 favorites]


I'm glad this subject has gained traction over the past few years and come to the fore. Before that, I generally thought I was mostly friendless because I was a loser. Not true! (?)
posted by zardoz at 11:44 PM on September 30, 2015 [4 favorites]


I honestly don't know what I would do if I didn't have Metafilter. I was becoming increasingly convinced that my Facebook feed, which is filled with photos of adults having a blast together at house parties and children's birthday parties and PTA meetings or whatever, is reflective of the fact that I am the only lonely weirdo in the world who calls her husband her best friend.

So... thank you Metafilter for also being filled with lonely weirdos, I guess? Group hug?
posted by ladybird at 1:28 AM on October 1, 2015 [11 favorites]


Where DO you people get your friends from then?

For me it's mainly volunteering and doing stuff in the local arts scene. There are also people I meet through work - partners and performers and local organizers - but I don't work with, and professional friends who I do social stuff with - colleagues in other organizations that I met through conferences and, actually, Twitter, and stuff. I think making friends at work can work well in some professions and at some stages. It becomes harder as you go up the ladder. As a senior manager it's not as comfortable to be friends-friends with people you might have to reorganize, decide on compensation, or in drastic times, fire. And there's not as much side-by-side work to make peer-friends, and you can't really be friends with your bosses in the hierarchy either. Occasionally I can get friendly with people in other departments, but there is less cohort as you move up and that makes it tricky.
posted by Miko at 5:54 AM on October 1, 2015


I know it's difficult anyway, but trying to make friends as an expat when you're not a native speaker...in a smallish city? I'm glad I'm an introvert!

Being picky is actually one of the major hurdles to making friends for me, much more than any of the other reasons. Drinking, movies and parties are all things that Are Not My BagTM.

And then there's the inevitable "how do I contact you?" routine:

Person: Do you have NSAbook?
Me: No, I prefer to do volunteer work for other organisations.
Person: Do you use [insert name of chat app]?
Me: That is not Telegram, so no.
Person: Oh.
Me: Why don't you just email me? Here's my card.

Somehow, email has become this hard thing to do, so when people do contact me after meeting, I feel like they've actually demonstrated they're worth seeing again.

Develop some interests, gain some healthy habits, explore some obscure areas, or take a walk on the wild side during those friendless times.

There's a lot to be said for joining clubs and starting new hobbies as a way of finding potential friends. But again, people in their 30s and 40s with kids have little time to put towards new endeavours.
posted by Juso No Thankyou at 6:41 AM on October 1, 2015 [1 favorite]


Ugh, will you come get Gator Baby Man and then walk the dogs?

Why do you have to suck so much?

My work here is done as P-B's Florida Friend. Also, we met as adults. That seemed to work out for at least one of us.
posted by syncope at 7:43 AM on October 1, 2015


In a nonjoking manner I would like to say that I think a lot of the difficulty making what are being called friends here stems from Anglo-societal alienation and the lack of tethering to what could be called traditional in-groups.

My ridiculous friend who started this thread has previously noted that I personally come from two lets say community traditions where YOU COULD NOT ESCAPE AND EVERYONE KNOWS YOU AND YOUR GREAT GREAT GREAT GRANDMOTHER AND OMG WHAT ARE YOU WEARING? this has been both a help and a hindrance to me making just regular friends due to the fact that I moved what we call away young and came home recently (well for values of that word).

I think there is a very serious difference between having a bond and having what we are calling a friend here. A bond is a deep relationship that could be based on b.s. shared experiences and background or sex or some life experience that is indelible to both people. Most often one does not choose those relationships, but rather they fall on them and what the f are you going to do.

Very infrequently you get to make an actual choice about who you want to pass your life with. A lot of that has to do with the personalities of the choicemakers.

I probably don't need to mention this, but P-B calls me a nurse all the time because she thinks it's funny since I got that degree since I met her, but I'm also ABD in Philosophy which should be evident in this comment due to my language use.

Also, don't move to Florida.
posted by syncope at 8:07 AM on October 1, 2015 [1 favorite]


you are not the boss of me
posted by poffin boffin at 8:11 AM on October 1, 2015 [2 favorites]


Thought about this a lot last night and came back to add that the shame of it all is, that now I've (I really hope) become less of a judgy ass****, and significantly reduced the amount of drama in my life, now that I'm FINALLY ready to BE a good friend... Now it's next to impossible to meet anyone.

Sigh.
posted by WalkerWestridge at 1:20 PM on October 1, 2015


I went to about 8 different schools on three continents before I even started university (and then moved four times in four years following graduation, two of them 1,000-mile moves), whereas my fiancé has been in the same metropolitan area his entire life. We have basically polar opposite social experiences. When we started dating I told him I was doing it mostly to steal his social life. (This was only, like, 23% true. Maybe 25%.) We're staring down a cross-country move next year (mostly for my career advancement and because I can't seem to fucking sit still for more than twenty-four months), and he's giddy and excited for the new adventure and utterly confident in our ability to make new and awesome friends and I'm just utterly dreading having to start over yet again.

I recently had a real wake-up call during wedding planning, when one of the women who's been on my bridesmaids list since we were both about 14 years old told me that she hadn't expected to be asked at all, because she just didn't think we were that close. That was a super fun conversation to have, especially because it was one of those situations where nobody was really at fault, but we just...grew apart, as I became more and more enmeshed in my online communities and her social life turned more and more local. One of the things I realized coming out of that was how much I missed and enjoyed talking on the phone. I'm a really good phone buddy! But I have no idea how to reach out to someone just to be like "hey bored wanna chat" because phone calls just seem so intrusive and idk self-centered* now, and texting someone to ask someone if you can call them seems so melodramatic. I don't say this much, but everything seemed easier in high school.

*Of course I don't think this when someone calls me and in fact love it, but calling someone else feels like demanding that they entertain me. I recognize this may be my issue more than anything else. My friends threw a surprise birthday party for me earlier this year and named the FB chat "Uncomfortable Center of Attention" so y'know.
posted by Phire at 3:40 PM on October 1, 2015 [2 favorites]


Like Triggerfinger I am in Minnesota, so I make a similar offer of memailing me to hangout. I promise that I am not a stalker, or serial killer, but I am more Ask culture. I offer you food, shopping and vengeance.
posted by jadepearl at 4:54 AM on October 2, 2015 [2 favorites]


I have friendships made forty, thirty, twenty years ago and one or two within the past ten. It gets harder as one gets older. If I were not typing this into a phone right now, I would elucidate.

And I, too, despise people who are hard on waiters and always try to tip on the big side, taking enough cash to tip so if paying by card and always make sure the person who waited on me touches it first. And I am not going to stiff the waiter over bad food. I just won't go back.
posted by y2karl at 8:34 PM on October 4, 2015 [1 favorite]


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