Make me a platonic babe-magnet
August 28, 2008 9:04 AM   Subscribe

I’m a girl. I have zero problems being friends with men. I try to be friends with other women, but they're not having it. I’m doing something wrong. What is it?

I promise I’m not one of those girls who brags about how she can only relate to boys. I have extremely close friendships with three women (one dating back to elementary school, one from high school, one from college) and I talk to them for hours on the phone every week. But none of them live in New York, and I’ve found that my current social circle here is made up entirely of men. I love my guy friends, but I’m dying to talk to an actual female.

First, I’m not a tomboy. I live almost exclusively in dresses, I hate sports, I’m fairly analog about technology, I have no patience for machismo, and I’m unapologetically feminist. While I’m open to meeting lots of other interesting women, I’m certainly drawn to people of either gender who are politically aware, funny, confident, and caring. Naturally we’re not all those things all the time, but for the most part, I want to be challenged and engaged.

Whenever I float a “Hey, let’s hang out,” invitation to guys, they accept, and thusly we are friends. Ta-da! And maybe the uncertain element of boy-girl tension piques their interest, but for the most part, I think we’re both just looking for something platonic. When I say the same thing to women, I am gently, tactfully rejected, or it just never works out after the first get-together. I know part of this is due to the fact that people can smell a desperate plea (however couched in casual conversation) and feel repulsed. For all I know, when I say, “Hey, let’s get a drink after work” what they actually hear is, “I am sick of talking about Gossip Girl and sexism in the media to men who don’t care, please please please be my friend before I go insane.” Which is probably sort of off-putting.

But! I think it’s also that girls might vet friends differently than guys. Maybe I’m rusty when it comes to talking to girls I don’t know, and I’m employing the same guy-befriending tactics on them, and it’s not working. I am literally at a loss to figure out how women meet and befriend each other after college. How do you convey that you want to meet up sometime without weirding someone out? I’m a girl, dammit, I should know this! Re-teach me, please.
posted by zoomorphic to Human Relations (51 answers total) 68 users marked this as a favorite
I strongly relate to your question, and for years (from high school through college and into my 30's), I thought it was some mysterious problem I had. Then, I decided to make a career change and attended grad school - suddenly, I met dozens of women who I felt an immediate connection with, and realized that people who like the things I like and have a similar wordview, in fact, actually like me and wanted to get to know me outside of our school/work situation. Those 2 years were an incredible and affirming experience because I finally felt part of a community. Leaving the field temporarily for stay-at-home parenting has caused me to be plunged back into the world of casual acquaintence, often surrounded by women that I don't really feel connected to in a meaningful way.

As you, I have always found it easier to befriend men, not because I'm flirtatious or a tomboy, but - shrug - it's just easier. Although I still have kept a few important male friends from post-college, being married has made it so that I don't pursue friend relationships with men anymore. In some way I wonder if that has made it easier for me to be available to pursue female friendships - like there's *no one else*, so I may as well give it a try.

Anyway, good luck. Great question, I'll be looking at the answers with interest.
posted by dreamphone at 9:27 AM on August 28, 2008 [2 favorites]

I don't know what you're doing wrong, it all seems right to me. However, you don't mention how old you are, or where or how you are coming into contact with these women. That could be important.

Maybe these girls you've been talking to really don't have a lot in common with you? Or maybe they have a job and a boyfriend and not a lot of time to invest in a new friendship?

Honestly, I find it harder to make friends with girls, but I do admit I'm not the most sociable person alive, and guys do tend to help me along more - even when it's totally platonic, I don't know, maybe they all want to meet my girlfriends or something (ha!). Last year I went back to college (for a second degree, which makes me older than most other students), and I've only made guy-friends. The girls where way more into each other and generally more uninterested in getting to know me. It's okay though, because I've managed to keep my girlfriends from high-school, college, and one even from a job I had. I'd totally go out with you for drinks and to talk about tv and guys or whatever, though. I really don't think it's you, and I don't think you sound desperate or creepy. I can relate, that's for sure, and I look forward to the answers that come up.
posted by neblina_matinal at 9:37 AM on August 28, 2008

I wish I could help you, but I'm the same way. I remain hopeful, however. The farthest I've gotten is lunch with co-workers. I've tried guy & girl get-togethers, shopping (hey, such&such is having a sale after work! let's go be girly together!), and even drinks after work to commiserate about how much work sucks and then potentially begin to talk about other things. These have not worked for me, but YMMV.

I don't think that girls and guys have different befriending methods, like secret codes that were handed out to all the chicks that one day I was home sick. I think that guys are much more casual, though, and there are many more "accepted" activities that guys can randomly gather to do together, like everyone in the office coming over to watch the game.

FWIW, I would not be weirded out if you approached me in this type of situation. But, I might have weirded you out just by saying that.
posted by mitzyjalapeno at 9:37 AM on August 28, 2008

Best answer: "Hey, let's hang out" isn't the usual way women make friends with each other, at least not in US or Canadian society (I don't know where you live, but if it's neither of those places, I'm guessing that it's the same there, too).

This is the core of your problem, I think, along with a little performance anxiety that probably reads as desperation.

Women generally court each other as friends. The first filter is having a few good conversations at book club/work/the playground/in the painting class/in the hallway of your condo. Once you've established a preliminary connect, you move on to something low-pressure like coffee or a drink, then to something like lunch, then to something like dinner before most women feel comfortable opening up to a new friend.

I also think that what dreamphone says is important. If you're not meeting women you already click with, it's never likely to get past the superficial. Joining a community group or a book club or taking part in a volunteer activity are all good ways to meet potential friends.

You can do it. You just need to learn some different friend-making technologies, is all.
posted by Sidhedevil at 9:39 AM on August 28, 2008 [17 favorites]

I think attracting friends is almost like attracting a mate. You have to use romance. You have to make yourself appealing. It's a slow process. People are attracted to people that have full lives and are interesting. You sound interesting to me. Keep it light and small-talky at first. Get a very good feel for the person before you invite them for an outing. Do you think they like you? Do you have enough in common?

You might be onto something when you say you think people are turned-off by an invite. It's a good idea to have several encounters with a person before asking them to hang out. It comes off as less desperate. Let others take the initiative to invite you out. Every time you get an invite for a group outing, go. It increases you acquaintance circle and that can lead to real friendships.

Post-college, a lot of people are looking for friends that will improve their social status. They're not looking for a pal to commiserate with. They're looking for people that will help them look better. Sad but true. That, and busy lives that leave little time for new friendships.
posted by Fairchild at 9:51 AM on August 28, 2008 [1 favorite]

I have the same problem, but I've sort of given up on making friends with women, mostly because it's more work to be friends with women. With guys if we go 6 weeks between activities they don't take it personally.

Also, as more women my age have kids they turn into zombie-moms. Everything is kid-oriented to them. Guys, even those with kids, are more likely to be okay with going bike riding for a few hours on the weekends, without discussing for the entire 2 hours their 6 year old's social life.
posted by small_ruminant at 9:54 AM on August 28, 2008 [4 favorites]

Response by poster: Apologies on forgetting my details: I'm a 25 year old girl who lives in Brooklyn, works in Manhattan.

Sidhedevil and Fairchild- Part of my straightforward, and maybe off-putting, attitude in meeting female friends stems from the fact that people disappear in the New York ether all too easily--I might never see that person again if I don't immediately say, "This was fun, let's hang out sometime." I'd much prefer to allow a friendship time to develop organically, but unless that person lives next door or is dating your good guy friend, you're not likely to run into them again.
posted by zoomorphic at 9:55 AM on August 28, 2008

I'm gonna float this out there as something I've gathered from similar conversations with my female friends. I'm a guy. I am not necessarily saying I believe this, but rather that it is a possibility based on those discussions. Perhaps you are rather attractive - possibly VERY attractive - and the girls you are floating the 'let's hang out' invite to are intimidated or insecure enough to feel self-conscious about your presence. Do you often have trouble with the guys misinterpreting the 'let's hang out' as 'let's date/have sex'?
posted by spicynuts at 9:57 AM on August 28, 2008

I think a big portion of it is that women tend to have closer circles of friends than men do - so the women you're meeting may already have enough friends and don't have the same need/desire to make new ones like you do.

Also, men tend to be more 'event-based' than 'friend-based', so they're much more likely to accept an invitation to do X. Women choose to spend their time with friends first, events second.

Yes, I'm stereotyping, and yes, I know there are many, many exceptions.
posted by widdershins at 9:59 AM on August 28, 2008

I should also say that I've frequently been in your position - I've moved around a lot in my adult life and it's very difficult to make friends as an adult, post-school. Each time the male friends came first, the female friends second. Just give it time.
posted by widdershins at 10:02 AM on August 28, 2008

Random thought from outside the box: Are any one of you responders near zootropic in the NYC area? Perhaps you guys should meet for lunch. :)

(For the record, I'm a guy.)
posted by Citrus at 10:04 AM on August 28, 2008

Response by poster: Spicynuts - I'm cute (I think?), but I'm definitely not model-hot, and definitely not by NYC standards. My guy friends have frequently misinterpreted my overtures of friendship as something more, but that's because I'm a flirt. I tend to diffuse any confusion by calling them by their last names and/or discussing my dating life. This doesn't work on girls. I'm also confident and pretty opinionated, and I expect people to have a thick skin around me sometimes, a personality that fares better with guys than with girls, but I've reeaally dialed that down around women recently.

And I've already scheduled a meetup next month in Brooklyn (come, New Yorkers!) so that's one step, right?
posted by zoomorphic at 10:05 AM on August 28, 2008

Are you single and childless, and the women you're seeking out are in LTRs and/or have children? I've noticed that women tend to segregate themselves in that fashion.
posted by sixcolors at 10:09 AM on August 28, 2008

Response by poster: I live in Brooklyn: no girl gets married at 25. A few of the girls are in LTRs, but for the most part they're like me: dating but not tied down.
posted by zoomorphic at 10:15 AM on August 28, 2008

Best answer: And maybe the uncertain element of boy-girl tension piques their interest, but for the most part, I think we’re both just looking for something platonic.

My guy friends have frequently misinterpreted my overtures of friendship as something more, but that's because I'm a flirt.

The fact that you bring up these issues in a question not related directly to that aspect of your life makes me think that you have a feeling, perhaps unstated to yourself, that those things are important to answering this question. I think you might be right.

You remind me of a woman I knew in while I was a library assistant in grad school one summer. She was a huge flirt and all of the boys loved her. She had a boyfriend but was always hanging out with lots of guys.

The girls hated her.

I think that some people work really well with the opposite sex in the gray-area and maybe use that as a way to make friends in a way that they are comfortable with. In the case of women, I've found that these people often have problems making same-sex friends.

I'd delibrerately work on seeing if you use the same techniques for making friends with women. That might work to scare women off for many different reasons.
posted by Ironmouth at 10:16 AM on August 28, 2008 [3 favorites]

zoomorphic wrote: -I might never see that person again if I don't immediately say, "This was fun, let's hang out sometime." I'd much prefer to allow a friendship time to develop organically, but unless that person lives next door or is dating your good guy friend, you're not likely to run into them again.

This is why I suggest doing something where you WILL see the friend-prospects again, like a book club or a volunteer activity, or a painting class, or working for a local free newspaper, or joining a food co-op. Something where the people talk to each other--taking a yoga class is fun, but there isn't a lot of interaction with the other students. You need the kind of thing where people chat with each other in the downtime.

Because that's how most women in the Northeastern US make friends--tentatively, over the course of several meetings.

And, no, it's not because you're too good-looking or not good-looking enough or anything else about your appearance.
posted by Sidhedevil at 10:17 AM on August 28, 2008

Best answer: I might never see that person again if I don't immediately say, "This was fun, let's hang out sometime." I'd much prefer to allow a friendship time to develop organically, but unless that person lives next door or is dating your good guy friend, you're not likely to run into them again.

I think that widdershins above is right--in my experience, women in their 20s seems to have a smaller circle of closer friends and may be less interested in making new friends. That's how I feel, and I think that's why I'd be a bit put off if I met someone who seemed nice, talked to her for a while at a party, then had her say something like "let's hang out sometime." It just seems... like a request to be friends. And I feel like my life is really full right now--to the point I feel bad about not seeing my current friends enough--so I'd probably beg off or not be very enthusiastic about getting together to hang out. Not because that person didn't seem cool or was too pretty or whatever, just because I feel like I don't necessarily need to make any more friends right now, particularly if I don't spend enough time with the ones I already have.

However, I have in fact made very close friends with women I've met over the past year or two while I've felt like this, so it's not like it's an insurmountable problem. I think you need to scale it back from "let's hang out sometimes" (translation: you seem nice! let's become friends!) to "hey, I've been thinking about seeing movie X this weekend--you know, the one with that director we were talking about?--if you'd be interested, you should come! I probably can't convince my boyfriend to see it with me, and I hate sitting through the ads alone." (translation: here's a specific X event we should go do, no strings attached, no pressure.)

If you focus more on floating specific things to do--bonus points for having it be something that relates to the conversation you've had with them, versus just coming out of nowhere--I bet you'd have better luck. It's less likely to be interpreted as asking them to commit to being a new friend, and more like committing to just a single event. (Then, you just have such a great time at that one event that they want to do another, and another, and voila! New friend.) Even if your plans for that specific thing fall through, you'll then have their email or phone number or whatever, and can ask them to do something else without it being too weird. Just focus more on emphasizing that you're interested in the event you're going to (poetry reading, concert, movie, trying the new restaurant that just opened) and are looking for someone to go with you, rather than coming across as wanting to spend time with them and looking for any event that they'll agree to.
posted by iminurmefi at 10:24 AM on August 28, 2008 [5 favorites]

By talking about Gossip Girl, do you mean 'Oh my god! I love Gossip Girl. Did you see what Blair did last week?'? Or do you mean 'Did you see Gossip Girl last week? Isn't it terrible how all the female characters are all hung up on social status while the male characters blah blah blah blah...'?

Because it sounds like you're interested in having some pretty heavy conversations about life, the universe and everything, and that might be a bit much for a first friend-date. Also, many women that I know are pretty put off by very forward feminism -- they see it as casting judgment on their own choices, or they can't relate, or they just feel guilty because they don't have a detailed understanding of the difference between first and second wave feminism and they probably should because they're girls after all and it should be important to them and OH. MY. GOD. CAN WE JUST GET BACK TO TALKING ABOUT THAT FUGLY SKIRT BLAIR WAS WEARING ALREADY?
posted by jacquilynne at 10:25 AM on August 28, 2008 [2 favorites]

This is why I suggest doing something where you WILL see the friend-prospects again, like a book club or a volunteer activity, or a painting class, or working for a local free newspaper, or joining a food co-op.

Agreed, that's how I've met and kept a great number of my friends.

I live in Brooklyn: no girl gets married at 25.

You don't have to only be friends with people who are just like you. I'm young, unmarried and childless, but I have friends all across those spectrums. When you start doing regular activities where you're meeting people, don't limit yourself just to being friends with those who are the same age as you. I personally find age to be a lousy common ground when it comes to friendships.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 10:26 AM on August 28, 2008 [2 favorites]

Ironmouth is on to something. Women may see you as a threat to the men in their lives. Competition is serious business.
posted by parallax7d at 10:28 AM on August 28, 2008

Response by poster: Sidhedevil: I wasn't trying to suggest this is all because I'm desperately beautiful. Ironmouth has a point that I didn't bring up in the initial post because I know How It Sounds: I'm floundering because I don't know how to make friends without flirting, without toeing the line between platonic and romantic interest. Or alternately, I am flirting with straight girls, and that gets me nowhere.

TPS - This is a good point. I just joined a brick ton of book clubs and already volunteer at an animal shelter. We'll see how it goes.
posted by zoomorphic at 10:28 AM on August 28, 2008 [1 favorite]

zoomorphic wrote: Sidhedevil: I wasn't trying to suggest this is all because I'm desperately beautiful.

No, that was in response to comments that have been or will be made about this, because someone always does make that comment to questions like this and it always Frosts. My. Cupcake.

Ironmouth has a point that I didn't bring up in the initial post because I know How It Sounds: I'm floundering because I don't know how to make friends without flirting, without toeing the line between platonic and romantic interest. Or alternately, I am flirting with straight girls, and that gets me nowhere.

Yes, don't do this. That's not how women in the US usually make friends. I think you're on the right track with the bookclubs and the animal shelter.

Now you have to pace yourself. If you want a "The Game"-style equation, I would say that it's probably a good idea to have four fun chats with someone before you ask them if they'd like to hang out. (With friends-of-friends you can accelerate the schedule a bit sometimes: if you've met your boyfriend's roommate's girlfriend's roommate at a couple of parties, and a bunch of people are talking about restaurants, and she mentions wanting to go to your favorite cool Moroccan place, it would be fine to suggest that the two of you meet there for lunch sometime.)
posted by Sidhedevil at 10:34 AM on August 28, 2008


I accidently referred to the OP as "zootropic" above, rather than the correct "zoomorphic". I'm sorry I hosed that up. I cannot brain today, I have teh dumb. *blush*
posted by Citrus at 10:40 AM on August 28, 2008

I don't know if this is corny or not - but how I connect with people is by saying - hey, are you on facebook? Then once added, a few quick comments, some banter and then taking the next step isn't so bad.

I have a newish friend who when I met her I was so drawn to her I told her, I'm basically going to need you to be my friend. Thankfully, she found that charming.

I say at the root of it all - just be yourself which is ultra cliche I know. I think someone you'd want to be friends with could appreciate your forthrightness.
posted by heartquake at 10:41 AM on August 28, 2008

Response by poster: Jacquilynne - I mean, talking about why Blair insists on wearing on headbands and why Serena's make-up makes her look like a drag queen. I mean, feeling torn on why I'm so attracted to Chuck Bass when he's clearly such a creepy date rapist.

To make this a bit less "What's wrong with zoomorphic?" [a whole new can of worms, mes amis], can we focus on the differences--exaggerated and real--between befriending men and women? Because I can hook dudes without breaking a sweat, and apparently a lot of other women are the same way, and yet we all feel at a loss when we want to hang with each other. Whatever magic I work on men, and it's not 100% flirting, women are so frustratingly immune to it.

Honestly, with all the "I feel ya, sister" responses, I wonder if there's an element of self-sabotage as well? Or perceived threats? Is the desire less sincere than we think?
posted by zoomorphic at 10:43 AM on August 28, 2008 [1 favorite]

I would say that it's probably a good idea to have four fun chats with someone before you ask them if they'd like to hang out

I'll second zoomorphic's comment that about people disappearing all too easily in New York. This place is big, everyone is busy, and people are moving all of the time. Waiting four chats might be fine in sleepy nowherestown, but you need to be proactive here if you're in a friend slump.

I think the key isn't saying "hey, let's hang out," but along heartquake's facebooking and bantering lines, then a "Oh hey, me and some people are doing X thing, want to come along?" That way you're already So Not Desperate because you friends, and things to do with them.
posted by soma lkzx at 10:47 AM on August 28, 2008

This doesn't work on girls. I'm also confident and pretty opinionated, and I expect people to have a thick skin around me sometimes, a personality that fares better with guys than with girls, but I've reeaally dialed that down around women recently.

There you have it right there. Don't change. You have a few close girlfriends. Perfect. Tons of guys love your personality type. You'll be fine.
posted by spicynuts at 10:52 AM on August 28, 2008 [1 favorite]

Ironmouth is on to something. Women may see you as a threat to the men in their lives. Competition is serious business.

Also..this. You may be a guy energy sponge and the girls feel you are eliminating their ability to compete. Screw em I say.
posted by spicynuts at 10:54 AM on August 28, 2008 [1 favorite]

I am literally at a loss to figure out how women meet and befriend each other after college. How do you convey that you want to meet up sometime without weirding someone out?

I'm younger than you (not by much, though), female, and live/grew up in NYC. All of my friends here who I didn't go to school with I met through other friends. We hung out in a group many (many!) times, and then you get to the stage where it's like--why don't I have your number yet?? we should totally hang out!!--and then you're friends, independent of your mutual friend.

I'd say it's pretty unusual to make platonic friends with someone after just one chance encounter. Guys are probably accepting your hang out invitations because they see you as a potential dating partner, at least initially. Even if they don't see your hanging out as a "date," per se, they're probably approaching it as a prelude to one. Once you make it clear that your intentions aren't romantic, you've already put in the friendship time to make future hang outs less awkward. With girls, it's awkward to jump right to one on one hangouts from a one-time meeting--so awkward, in fact, if this happened to me I'd probably think you were asking me out.

I understand what you mean about the transient nature of New York, but I've got to tell you that there really isn't a better way to let friendships blossom except organically. Everyone I hang out with here is someone I either went to school with, worked with, or friends I met through them. If you're looking to expand your social circle, you'd do well to join some kind of group activity that meets regularly (whether that's a sports team, volunteer group, book club, whatever you're into) so you can have regular face time with your potential friends before it progresses to hanging out outside of the group.

(Also: don't feel like you have to tone yourself down around want your friends to be attracted to your true personality. And as I said above, it almost definitely isn't you but rather the situation that's making making friends hard.)
posted by cosmic osmo at 10:55 AM on August 28, 2008 [2 favorites]

Best answer: As another girl with three best friends and a whole passel of male buddies, and a hard time initiating females into either sphere, I think you're correct that there are some gendered social differences at play here, at least for me. Two things:

Girls call me on my shit, and I call them on theirs. I can read passive-aggression or other fucked up behaviors in girls more easily, and tend to read more into their actions. There's almost just "more" going on between us from square one. It's harder work, therefore, to become friends at all, and then again, become deep friends, with a girl. It's always a "relationship," and I mean that on my part as well as on theirs. I don't like to generalize that "Oh, women DO want deep, emotional bonds 100% of the time," because I don't think that's true, but I think the higher incidence of that in relationships involving at least one female leads me to always be wary that one or the other girl in a girl-girl friendship may be seeking authentic emotional connection at any time, and I, as a nice girl myself, do not want to shut that possibility off, do not want to be unreceptive to that need. So, the door to serious relationship is always open for me when I meet girls, and sometimes, going anywhere near it seems like too much work.

Also, I tend to make friends more effectively and more energetically with people I find attractive. I may not know I'm flirting, it may just be my capillaries or my irises doing the signalling, but in this busy life of meeting so many people, somehow the people that stir something in my I don't control get the most positive attention from me.

Them's the breaks, and I think, for me and possibly for you, acquiring casual or serious female friends is simply harder because of it. Thanksfully, old girlfriends just get better and better and more capable of surviving whatever relationship struggles may come. My bff is 13 years sand going now, and it's pretty much a bond for life.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 10:58 AM on August 28, 2008 [2 favorites]

hey 25 year old! if you up the girlfriend ante to about 35-40, you'll find amazing friends who have worked out their jealousies and issues and can chat with you. you may be considered competition on all fronts by your peers right now. :)

love from a former 25 year old who now befriends 25 year olds
posted by citystalk at 11:01 AM on August 28, 2008

ok i checked out your flickr pics. Seems to me there are a good deal of females as well as males mixed into your social outings (can't speak for the gender of the crabs, at least seems to be male). I'm curious as to what it is you feel that you are missing out on, given that the flickr pics show what look to be a whole bunch of attractive, interesting, fun people of both sexes.

Love the staged photo booth pic.
posted by spicynuts at 11:03 AM on August 28, 2008

Do they have facebook? Is 25 too old for that? I see you have the problem with immediately asking women to hang out, which seems like your main issue right away. The best way to let a friendship grow would be over a lot of time without pushing anything and asking to hang out, but you've said that's not really an option except at work I imagine. From my experiences (as a college student) facebook is a good way to turn acquaintances into friends ("Hey! Funny gossip girl status, I totally agree! What do you think about xyz?")
posted by Solon and Thanks at 11:26 AM on August 28, 2008

Or alternately, I am flirting with straight girls, and that gets me nowhere.

perhaps you need to flirt with lesbians, and make them into platonic friends? as a guy, I have no idea if that would work.
posted by jrishel at 11:26 AM on August 28, 2008

Best answer: It bums me out when I see one of these threads, women having trouble making friends with other women. All all the generalizations that follow, like women in their twenties are petty and jealous, women can't be friends with women they view as more attractive, married women with children care about nothing but their home life. I would be lost without my wonderful and ever-growing circle of close female friends, many of whom are in their 20s, very attractive and/or married with kids. Even though these comments are trying to help, I can only think that this advice--to look on some varieties of women as "the other"--or to even think of yourself that way--is counterproductive, to say the least.

I would say I make most of my friends though work, other friends, or regular activities--so agreeing with the poster that says do things where you're guaranteed to see the people again. A short polite conversation one time turns into a follow-up question about That Thing You Were Going To Be Doing the next time, turns into Oh You Want To See That Movie Too turns into I Can't Believe I Got Carded For This R-Rated Movie turns into an inside joke turns into friends.

My other friend without an account suggest doing activities that are likely to have a high concentration of women, like knitting (she's not stereotyping, she's super active in the knitting world herself) or women's basketball.
posted by tyrantkitty at 11:30 AM on August 28, 2008 [1 favorite]

I think the issue is that you are trying to get these women to Hang Out (capital H, capital O) and it's a bit off-putting. Why don't you try just getting informal groups together for a sushi lunch (or something else yummy and a little special) and do it fairly regularly. What will happen is that you will find a few women you naturally click with, and the rest will just remain associates. Take the stress out of it and you will get a better response.
posted by The Light Fantastic at 11:47 AM on August 28, 2008

Response by poster: spicynuts - Sigh! I tried to be friends with all three of those girls in those pictures and nothing has panned out. One girl and I just didn't mesh, the other is tied to her boyfriend's hip and sees me as a threat even though I am unequivocally uninterested in him Like That, and the third is so so cool that it kills me when she doesn't really want to hang out with me. She also has a boyfriend and is very busy, apparently? Who knows. And the salt in the wound: Every single one of the guys in those pictures counts me as a good friend.

tyrantkitty - I completely understand your disdain for this line-drawing. I'm not trying to limn women as petty or jealous, and I balk at that kind of one-dimensional stereotyping. If I'm not like that, why would I assume other women are like that? But I do think ininurmefi is right: a lot of women have a full dance card in regards to female friends, and they're doubly weirded out when some random girl is all, "let's be friends!" out of the blue. It's jarring.

But I know that I'm not turning off everybody, nor are the rest of the commiserating women in this thread. We're clearly capable of netting guy friends, so it's not our foul body odor or habit of spitting while we talk. There's something going on that we're doing wrong (collectively or in our own unique, snowflake-like, alienating ways) that sits just fine with men while leaving women nonplussed. Or it's an overarching dry spell that befalls women in certain places, at certain ages, or in certain mindsets.

The latter conclusion is both encouraging and disheartening. I can do nothing but redouble my attendance at book clubs, volunteering at the animal shelter more, and twisting the arms of my guy friends to bring more of their female acquaintances to our parties. I shall let my friendship flowers grow organically, or whatever, and hope for the best.
posted by zoomorphic at 11:56 AM on August 28, 2008

I don't wonder if it isn't the whole flirting-dynamic-with-men thing that sets women off of you. When you meet women, are you meeting them in the company of other men? It is quite possible that they're picking up on your flirty-type friendships with guys and simply don't want to be friends with That Chick Who Ditches Me To Flirt Whenever A Penis Shows Up. It doesn't even have to be a jealousy issue--it just sucks when you're hanging with someone but it feels like they don't want to pay attention to you because they get more "fun" attention from flirting with a guy. So if it is obvious you like to flirt with dudes, then some women may immediately write you off because they're worried you'd just subject them to obnoxious flirting-as-ditching behavior.

There have actually been a few other questions like this: here (does this ring true?), and here.
posted by Anonymous at 1:34 PM on August 28, 2008

Actually, schroedinger might have a point. I've run into women like that and it IS off-putting.
posted by small_ruminant at 1:42 PM on August 28, 2008

I was going to say that I totally flirt with some of my female friends the same way I do with my male, and that I don't have that problem--of course, the flirting is usually pretty mild teasing in either case. But, also, what schroedinger said--I'd avoid casting myself as The Flirty Gal when around a mixed crowd, for pretty much those reasons.

That being said, I found it very, very hard to make female friends with I was working full time, and have had no problem making female friends since coming to graduate school. Mostly, I really think the quality of girl is better here. I've even found girls to watch Star Trek with--who knew such people existed! So I'd recommend abandoning your current life to attend an MFA program. :)

(Also, based on the questions you've previously asked--including a Sandburg reference and a Kitty Pryde halloween costume--I'd totally be your friend if I was still in the NY area. Unfortunately, I abandoned my former life to attend an MFA program. Those are the breaks!)
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 1:44 PM on August 28, 2008

Response by poster: Shroedinger touches on a good point, but I think I'm almost the opposite--I now ditch guys to talk to girls. I've gotten a lot of hurt accusations from my friends recently who felt I'd neglected them at a gathering to go talk to some random girl no one knew. In fact, I did that at a bar recently and wound up have a GREAT conversation.. with the girl's boyfriend. I floated a lot of girl topics to see if she was interested, and the dude kept taking the bait while she just sat there. Leave it to me to hone in on the one guy who's genuinely interested in Bust Magazine.

And PhoB, don't tempt me. All I want to do is get my MFA in English, and I will at some point, but I want to meet some people in the interim. I can't wait to bask in a class full of brilliant women who signed up for classes on Feminism in Contemporary Cinema. Gives me the shivers.
posted by zoomorphic at 2:07 PM on August 28, 2008

I think it's just the timing that you're getting wrong. My close friend roster is quite full, and only gets fuller as life proceeds... girls partner up and now I see them once a month alone for lunch/drinks and then another time with their mate. People have kids, get cancer, buy houses, and I find I can no longer combine 4 friends into one night, but each requires her own three-hour brunch date. What this means is that when you meet me on volunteer day and we have a great lively conversation, I may have thoroughly enjoyed your company, but we're not yet close enough that I can give you much of my time, because I'd have to take it away from someone else whom I already care about. After a few months, though, someone's going to have a baby or move away, and you and I can start going for drinks after our shift, assuming that we've continued to have great conversations. So just give it more time.

Further, if you ask me to hang out before I've really felt the spark, or before you've learned enough about my life to even know if I tend to be free or what I like doing, unfortunately I am going to misfile you as a person who will probably call me too often (and then I'll feel guilty about turning down your invitations). Once I've made that assumption, I will steer clear of you just to avoid that awkwardness.
posted by xo at 2:09 PM on August 28, 2008

Like several of the responders, I've always had more male friends than female. This ratio has definitely improved as I've spent years working in an industry that is FILLED with women, thanks solely to exposure. I haven't really changed personality-wise, other than becoming less nervous with women. It's true that a brash, teasing personality tends to go over better with guys -- who seem to enjoy the verbal wrasslin', both with women and with other men. But from your description of yourself, I suspect you're a natural galfriend, and you just haven't found a good match or easy opportunity.

It is absolutely true that we tend to make friends over the course of several meetings -- group of friends meets for drinks, dinner with some people, etc. and then you take the scary step of attempting to branch out alone. The courtship metaphor is a good one. I can't think of a single female friend I've made since college that didn't involve a sort of casual "getting to know you" period with an intermediary present (a group of friends, a mutual friend, a work event full of colleagues we know) before we tentatively made moves to do something "just us." Every female friend I have was made through work or via another female friend. I think a big problem is that you are asking people to "hang out" solo right away. I really don't even know if I want to "hang out" with someone immediately, and it's a lot of pressure on a possible relationship, solo unstructured time with someone you don't know that well. It's like going on a first date -- I'd be unnerved. I would definitely couch your invites in the context of an invitation to do something specific. "Hey, you mentioned you liked X painter -- have you been to the Moma exhibit yet? I was thinking of going on Saturday, you want to go together?" Even easier, if there are some prospects at the office, ask a woman at work if she wants to go on a Starbucks run some afternoon as you're walking out the door -- 15 minutes, easy chance to get better acquainted without much pressure. I really think there's something here in the idea that you're going for relationship-based hanging out too early, and you should try for some group familiarity and casual event get-together first.

Facebook is your friend as far as keeping in loose touch with people -- email can be too much pressure, but you can definitely friend someone on Facebook shortly after meeting them and build a small network of casual contact that will create a platform from which you can move to an actual invite and keep you from losing touch with people.

I hate to tell you, but I've built my current (very small) stable of local female friends over the course of YEARS. Making maybe one new female friend a year, or reconnecting with someone. I'm in my 30s, and I still only have probably about four female friends in NYC that I make an effort to see and hang out with separately, rather than merely being casually acquainted. I stopped agonizing over my dearth of female friends years ago. I have the ones I need, and that's enough. So I seem to make friends with guys more easily, so what. It's no personality flaw or a secret anti-woman thing. I know we're all fed this mythology that all women must have a super-tight clutch of girlfriends around to hold them up through all life's indignities and drink and dance and walk through cancer together -- but I've come to view this as just another story someone is trying to sell me, another idea of what a woman is "supposed" to be. I am who I am, I treasure the friends (male and female) that I have, and I don't think there's anything wrong with me. I don't think there's anything wrong with you either. Hell, you already have some wonderful female friendships. You'll find the right girl for you. :)
posted by tigerbelly at 2:15 PM on August 28, 2008 [2 favorites]

I think the issue may just be your communication style. Men and women communicate in ways that are so vastly different, often it seems that they are speaking two completely different languages. Just as most people prefer to converse with people who speak their own language, we like to talk to people who share similar communication patterns.

It seems as though you have what might be perceived as a more masculine communication style, which may make it hard for women to relate to you, and vice versa. Also, the linguistic world of women is chock-full of semantic nuances; in your conversations with these potential gal pals there could be an entire barrage of social cues and clues going over your head simply because you're not used to speaking the language.

I recommend that you read some books by Deborah Tannen, such as "That's Not What I Meant", "You Just Don't Understand" or "Talking from 9 to 5: Women and Men At Work" for more information about male/female communication styles
posted by chara at 2:23 PM on August 28, 2008

Huh, well if you want to hang out we can. I'm pretty chill. I'm married though.

I'm 100% serious.

I made female friends by making my guy friends introduce me to their female friends.

It is really the only way it worked.

Or, sometimes you can make one female friend who will let you into her girl circle. That hasn't happened to me yet.

Why? Who the hell knows.
posted by sondrialiac at 3:54 PM on August 28, 2008

I think part of your issue may be that you are a flirt. Some girls can pull this off and not make other women hate them, but others can't. When you meet a new girl and your first impression of her is that she's hitting on every guy in sight (whether this is your intention or not), it gives a really bad impression. Also, if you are flirting with every guy in the room you run a high risk of inadvertently flirting with someone ex's, bf or current crush, all will quickly kill any chance of friendship. If all the girls know each other, flirting with even one of their bfs will probably do it also.

Another big social difference I've noticed between men and women, is that men talk about topics and women talk about life in general. These are obviously gross over generalizations, but they are often true. So I would stay away from "girl topics" or what you associate with girl topics, and talk about your job, your friends, your family, your neighborhood, relationships, the movie you saw recently, etc. Men often talk about sports, hobbies, interests, etc..

Also, as to your one example. If you get into a conversation with a guy about a topic and the girl you are trying to befriend is just standing there. Try changing the topic, chances are she knew nothing about Bust Magazine and had nothing to contribute. Long group conversation about very specific niche subjects are by their very nature going to exclude many people, so open them up and find topics that nearly everyone can talk about so that they are included in the conversation too.
posted by whoaali at 10:43 PM on August 28, 2008 [1 favorite]

You're 25, and a girl, and you want to meet and keep *new* friends who are about 25, and girls?

I don't envy you.

Let me preface this by saying that it seems like you've built your friendship skills around what works with guys. Unfortunately, for a pretty girl, what works to befriend guys is usually Anything That Doesn't Involve Substantial Blood Loss. Your reference to "thick skin" leaves me thinking that you're in the habit of pricking people-- and for an attractive woman vetting guys, that's a useful sorting mechanism. For a woman who wants to befriend other women... not so much.

If you're a girl, and she's a girl, and she's not yet your friend, and you want her to be your friend, don't fold, spindle, mutilate, or even good-naturedly tease. (Obviously, there are some potential friends who will like this-- but doing this early does shrink the potential friend pool substantially.)

Anyway, you might want to start by doing a quick mental review of some of the basics (optionally, you might start by predicting that I'm going to start piling up generalizations about Women being X and Men being Y, and you'd be right):

Friendships tend to begin in two ways.

a) Fireworks!

And by this, I mean a combination of 1) low mutual threat and 2) high shared interest (either a single shared intense passion or a set of mild but shared sentiments)

b) Sustained exposure

For women, "low mutual threat" seems to be a big, big deal. (For men, seemingly less so, largely because men tend toward the hierarchical and task-oriented-- men establish fairly clear if subtle pecking orders quickly, and then tend to channel lingering aggression and resentment into shared activities. In this way, hostility within the group actually gets converted into a strengthening of the Wolf Pack.)

As someone earlier implied, when you, as a woman, transparently meet a woman with the agenda of Let's Be Friends, the question becomes, Are You Worth the Likely Drama? And the closer the intended friendship, the greater the capacity for drama.

So how do you deal with this?

It depends on how tactical you wish to be, and whether you want to a) become skilled at befriending particular women, or b) become skilled at meeting more women who might turn out to be good friends.

I should note that society defaults toward encouraging people-- especially women-- toward the unplanned, and "just letting things happen". So on reading the paragraph above, most people would probably want to say "b"-- "Don't try so hard, girl!"

That said, both tacks are available.

If you want to get skilled at a), you can:

*become Adventure Girl.
--get in the habit of telling lots of stories
--being friendly and upbeat, and simultaneously appearing slightly oblivious
--- in doing so, you reduce her fear that you are judging her, scheming to get her boyfriend, likely to passionately disagree with her in a way that she finds invalidating, etc.
--do a variety of *different* things, and persistently invite her along
--- in doing so, you take the pressure off her and allow her to feel that you are creating a space in which she can get to know you... without exposing herself too quickly

*become Passion Girl.
--be really open, vocal, and talkative about your particular Passion, X.
---even be slightly obnoxious and monomanic, steering conversations toward X.
--this will demonstrate that a) you're consistent, and therefore, less likely to be a backbiter; b) that you're not primarily interested in her existing friends, and again, less likely to be a backbiter or a social parasite or a user; and c), that you are willing to share some central part of your inner life

Passion Girl is obviously a higher-risk approach; you'll drive off more people, and faster, but you'll also open up people who are a close fit faster.

Note that with both these approaches, a great many people will find you annoying... but you'll also find people to bond deeply with you much more quickly.

If you really want to open people up quickly, you can do things like mirroring breathing, listening for the abstract nouns people enunciate with a stress-- keywords-- and asking about what's important about Keyword K, and using Keyword K in conversation with them, etc. (Go to a bookstore and look up NLP.)

In general, instead of operating from the framework of Let's Be Friends, try Here's What I'm Gonna Do and It's Gonna Be Great-- Come with Me!, or Here's What I Care About!... Both of these put less pressure on your potential friend; take the spotlight off her; and reduce her fear that you will backstab her or hurt her feelings.

If you want to meet *more* women who could be friends, well, you're already taking a smart approach. You just need to pick a venue, and keep showing up. Let people see you again and again. Let other women get used to your face. Using is a very good idea. It's best to combine that with the Passion Girl approach; pick a few things you really love, attend the MeetUps for those things, and be vocal and engaged. Again, I strongly suggest that you have an object other than Let's Be Friends; point your female friend's attention to something other than her own feelings, and she'll feel safer about developing deep feelings and a good friendship with you...

[And here's something I don't recommend, but include just to flesh out the list: For a higher-risk approach, look for a group of friends, and blithely barge in and start yakking. Someone in the group might find you... useful, particularly as a counterweight to someone else. For all you know, this particular group has one friend who has just left town, and so the group has a role that needs filling. If you bond with the group, then the depth of the existing group vibe will lead them into connecting deeply with you. Obviously, this approach is not for the faint of heart, and for girl-girl friendships, I actually don't recommend it.]

Oh, and to echo one of the people above-- if you, as an attractive young woman, want deep friendship with another woman sooner rather than later, you might try hanging out with older women...

Of course, all the above is mere speculation on my part, and could be woefully ill-fitted to your situation or temperament, and/or simply completely and thoroughly wrong.

That said, I hope it helps.
posted by darth_tedious at 11:54 PM on August 28, 2008 [4 favorites]

I'm not one to hate on OPs generally, but from your question and your answers it sounds like you're "collecting" girls as friends. It's not a flirt thing, or an attractiveness thing (my female friends are all attractive flirts and since we all have different taste in men and are very self-confident, it's not a problem), it's the sense that you're regarding these individuals as potential Objects Of Entertainment in your life and not as people. Sort of like the recent question on here about someone asking how to "get a mentor"... um, being approached for the sole purpose of enriching someone else's life is creepy and meeting someone, male or female, who seems more interested in themselves than in anyhting else is even worse. You're very quick to enumerate your attractive quirks and niche interests, why not give some of the women you meet a little breathing room to tell you about theirs?
posted by methylsalicylate at 6:36 AM on August 29, 2008 [1 favorite]

Also: the Adventure Girl and Passion Girl approaches both sound equally unappealing, even less so if you were to find out it was an act!
posted by methylsalicylate at 6:38 AM on August 29, 2008

You say that it usually doesn't pan out after an initial get together, so I guess I'm wondering if you personally wanted to hang out again? Were you genuinely enjoying it and wanting to do it again, or was it part of your desire to make more female friends?
posted by mandymanwasregistered at 11:55 AM on August 29, 2008

Hey Zoomorphic, I'm a girls girl and I'll be your friend.
posted by CharlotteSarah at 6:38 AM on August 30, 2008 [1 favorite]

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