Your New Best Friend
November 16, 2008 4:10 PM   Subscribe

Have you seen my people? They must be in Melbourne somewhere...

Oh Mighty Hive-Mind, I throw myself upon your mercy...

I've lived in Melbourne AU for two years now and I have a problem. I can't seem to find my friends.

I'm an outgoing fellow (36, married) with a variety of interests and no problem talking to strangers. I've managed to make a bunch of friends here in town, but I'm still searching for the group of people who make me feel at home.

I've tried hanging out at my local and meeting people there. I've tried starting my own clubs (writing group, rock climbing, film viewing, trivia, the gentleman's daily ration society). I've tried finding good groups to join (not much luck). I volunteer for Popcorn Taxi. These efforts have led me to a place where I have a bunch of people I like, and whom I like to pal about with, but no one (save the wife) whom I feel genuinely close to.

I've moved to new cities before. In some, you find your spot right away. In others, you never do. Melbourne seems like the place where I should be able to find my people, so I'm confused and discouraged. I don't want to blame my lack of success on age, or marriage, or on being foreign (although working from home might be a culprit).

It certainly seems like my type of folks would be in healthy supply in such an interesting town, so MeFi can you help me out? Any ideas on where to trawl for interesting types?

Are you here trying to find people willing to join your crazy scheme? I'll probably say yes.
posted by xz to Society & Culture (5 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
I can't really help you out as I'm in Scotland, but I do agree that some cities are harder than others for this kind of thing for no obvious reason whatsoever, so I'm kind of glad to find out that this happens to other people too - I thought it was me - good luck with it!
posted by Chairboy at 4:45 PM on November 16, 2008

These efforts have led me to a place where I have a bunch of people I like, and whom I like to pal about with, but no one (save the wife) whom I feel genuinely close to.

It's an interesting dilemma. I'm in much the same position as you in Sydney... but I don't consider it much of a problem. Maybe I'm more of a misanthrope or something. I've got a big circle of friends here, but none that I'm particularly emotionally close to. Actually, I'm not even sure what you mean by that. I've got girlfriends that I can call up whenever and have a good rant to, and friends that will take me out when I've had a bad day. But we don't, like, regularly share our deepest feelings or anything. What more are you looking for that you're not getting in your current friendships? I'm genuinely curious, because evidently I might be missing out and not even realize it. (I was never the type to have typical "best friend" relationships growing up, so maybe I just really don't get it.)

Anyway, I've been in Sydney for seven years and I'd say that the majority of my current circle of friends were people I met in the latter half of that time. It took me a while to meet people that weren't co-workers or existing friends of my partner. Age, marriage, and foreign-ness didn't seem to impede me at all, but working from home definitely did. It sounds like you're doing all the right things to force yourself to get out there.

Have you tried MeFi meetups? :)
posted by web-goddess at 9:50 PM on November 16, 2008

Response by poster: i didn't know there were MeFi meetups; have to look into that.

i supose i'm talking about a level of comfort and connection. people who you can rant to and who will CARE, not just humor you. and on the flip side, people who feel comfortable really bringing their problems to you. not that i'm looking for problems! it's more, uh, the pleasure of company as opposed to just killing time.

which is how i feel. like mostly i'm just killing time here, instead of living. i'm looking for people who will share their inspiration and enthusiasm with me in exchange for mine.

people who are on the same wavelength as me. not just people who share a particular interest and can handle half a conversation.

i've always liked having a lot of friends around, but i think i may be the type that needs close friends and i'm too dependent on my wife now: not healthy. i'd like to be able to come home with things to share with her.
posted by xz at 10:30 PM on November 16, 2008

Give it time - I've been in London nearly five years, and it's only really in the last year and a half that some of the friendships I have have blossomed into closer, more full friendships.

I think there is a problem in that we often form our perceptions of what a friendship should be like at transitory stages in our life. I know, for example, that I don't have friends in London that I feel close to in the same way as I do to the small group of friends I have from university, or my time in the Territorial Army. I do feel close to them, but just in a different way. The friendship you develop with someone in your late twenties or thirties when you're both working and see each other relatively rarely is very different from the friendships that arise when you go out with the same small group three or four times a week, or the friendships you get from doing strenuous, scary or otherwise difficult things together.

I've also found that it doesn't hurt to actually express an interest and willingness in developing a friendship. I've had friendships that have fizzled out over time because neither party made it clear that they really liked the other person and wanted to keep in touch and hang out with them, whereas I've had (and still have) friendships that have persisted, against all expectations, because at a critical moment, one or both of us actually said 'you're really important to me and we need to keep in touch'.

But yeah, time is a factor. Cities rule for all sorts of reasons, but developing strong relationships isn't one of them - the societal and psychological adjustments necessary to allow cities to function simultaneously repress the natural tribe-forming instincts that humans have, and in Western societies where you are far more likely to be a long way from where you grew up and to not necessarily trend toward ethnically or nationally homogenous neighbourhoods in search of mutual support, those built in support networks aren't often there.
posted by Happy Dave at 3:20 AM on November 17, 2008

"i didn't know there were MeFi meetups; have to look into that."
Check at metatalk (it wasn't named/linked above). Make your own post if you want to get something started.
posted by whatzit at 3:23 AM on November 17, 2008

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