I seriously need to meet some new people and get out of the house. Can you help me develop some new hobbies that will enrich my life and put me in social situations?
June 27, 2009 6:21 PM   Subscribe

I seriously need to meet some new people and get out of the house. Can you help me develop some new hobbies that will enrich my life and put me in social situations?

I have a number of interests, but they are mostly either quite expensive (traveling, home design) or won't really help me become more social. Truth is, I'm not really sure what things might be of interest to me, and I'm rather shy and hesitant to try something new.

I'm seeking general or specific suggestions for how to become more involved in life and less of an observer. For example;

--What types of things did YOU get involved in to help you get out of a rut?
--Where did you meet your closest friends?
--Are there event lists or sites that have been particularly helpful to you?
--What is the "standby" activity that you turn to when the weekend arrives and you are bored/lonely/haven't made plans?
--Are there any web sites that list a lot of hobbies?
--How far in advance do you try to make weekend plans?

posted by mintchip to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (22 answers total) 40 users marked this as a favorite
Try bicycling. I'm sure there's a recreational group near you, and there will be plenty of people from all walks of life who ride together on a Saturday or Sunday morning (here in Philadelphia, it's the BCP. Don't know where you live!). If you enjoy it, maybe you can even join a competitive club and race, where you'll meet all sorts of people.
posted by The Michael The at 6:36 PM on June 27, 2009

Try your local school for adult education, which may be part of a university or an independent entity. If you're in a good-sized city, they will offer arts, language, cooking and other hobby courses on evening or weekend schedules, with low prices, short schedules and low homework requirements. See what interests you! I just took courses at the Boston Center for Adult Education, and met some great people.
posted by Countess Elena at 6:41 PM on June 27, 2009

I'm kind of in the same situation (hence metafilter on sat. night...) but one thing I'm doing that I hope will help is taking some classes at the continuing education center at the community college. Get a brochure and browse through it-- maybe you'll find something interesting.
posted by jschu at 6:51 PM on June 27, 2009

I'm the originator of this post. Additional info: I have very little time during the workweek so mostly I'm looking for ideas for the weekend. Thanks!
posted by mintchip at 6:55 PM on June 27, 2009

Are there any groups on Meetup.com of interest in your area? I know you said you are shy, but the structure of a meetup might help - and you will always have what you are meeting up about (knitting, books, whatever) to talk about.
posted by jb at 7:00 PM on June 27, 2009

meetup.com seems promising, though I've never attended a meetup.

Take a class—a cooking class, a martial arts class, anything you're interested in. It's less explicitly social, so you can take things at your own pace, and you'll be learning something new.

If you've made someone's acquaintance, and would like to know them better, just ask them to do stuff. Mention in passing that you're going to a museum exhibit, or a walk in the park, or to grab a coffee, and ask if they'd like to come along. Possibility 1: they'll decline, and you will have lost nothing. Possibility 2a: they'll agree, and you'll make friendly conversation, but won't discover any great bond with each other. Possibility 2b: they'll agree, you'll make friendly conversation, and perhaps discover common interests you never would have imagined. People can surprise you.

Art-show openings come to mind, if you have any interest in art—there's the social lubrication of the alcohol (without the meat-market/alcoholic aspect of the bar); there's music (but it's not so loud you can't have a conversation); there's a built-in topic of conversation (the art). Of course, gallery scenes are as varied as bar scenes—ranging from total punk-rock dives to hoity-toity butlers-and-champagne stuff. So, if at first you don't succeed, adjust accordingly and try again. (It's usually the weird underground places in old factory buildings and shit that are the coolest, which you aren't going to find by looking up "Galleries" in the phone book. Ask around. Look for flyers. Figure out where the local art-school kids show their stuff—not because you're necessarily looking for galleries that show student art, but because that's the easiest entry point to the network of by-and-for-artists galleries. And those are the cool ones.)

Additional information would be helpful: How big is your city/town? Are you totally new there, or do you already have some acquaintances? How do you know those people? How do you feel about bars? How old are you? Are you male or female?
posted by ixohoxi at 7:21 PM on June 27, 2009

Seconding things like Meetup, and Continuing Ed. I move around fairly frequently and use things like this to make non-work friends. I know you say you don't have much time during the workweek, but spending one night a month at something like a book club can help you make friends to do things on the weekend with.

The problem with weekends is that's when most groups and such DON'T have anything going on. However going to the Farmer's Market is always good. And you can always join a Church. When I first moved to a new state my dad urged me to find a church...for social reasons, not religious ones.

If you don't mind a girly hobby, scrapbooking places often have Friday Evening / Weekend 'crops' where people get together at the store to work on their projects. Yarn stores often do the same for knitting or crochet...and in my experience you're always welcome to work on a project there any time.

Getting involved in a sport is good too, whether it's a group sport or an individual one. I've had luck in the past by taking Tae Kwon Do at the local YMCA, and my mom just recently picked up archery of all things and it's quite literally changed her life.
posted by Caravantea at 7:38 PM on June 27, 2009

More than meetup, I've used couchsurfing to fulfill my need for new people, travel, and exploring events that I wouldn't have otherwise. I feel like I keep mentioning it in posts, but it really is what you make of it. How does it meet your goals??
- You can meet up with people who travel, learning about their home, your home, and the places in between
- You can be active in your city/regional group, as well as for ones in your favorite activities. Maybe involvement means just knowing others by the forums, maybe it means going to activities. It's totally up to you.
- It makes travel cheaper and more fun. I use it to hang out and to stay with people both near and far from home.
- Most of your visitors will want to come on the weekends, as you wanted.
- It helps reframe the "arrrrgh meeting people" into "hey, I can help someone out" or "hey, I know a grreat place for X in Y city."
- There are lists of events, and they are usually easy to join get to and have fun with. This IS my stand-by activity, when everyone else is out of town, or I just need to get OUT of my suburb.
- Yes, I've used it to meet people who I now think of as "normal" friends. I've also found people I already know who are also members.

I joined meetup and couchsurfing at the same time, when moving to a new country. The meetup account has been deactivated, but I "run" the CS group for my city.
posted by whatzit at 7:50 PM on June 27, 2009 [2 favorites]

I started learning how to tango about a year ago- it was a great way to meet other people- if you dance with someone often enough, it is easy for them to feel comfortable and trusting of you. I am sure learning other dances like swing or salsa would be similar. If you are shy about going, you could try taking classes first and then heading out when you feel more confident.

Often dances like salsa and tango are held at bars, but because you are going to dance, it isn't odd to go alone. When you take a break from dancing you can get a drink and chat with fellow dancers.

Another way to meet people is to join a city sports league- a lot of them will take people that sign up by themselves and put them on a team. Since everyone doesn't know each other, it is easy to make new friends.

Personally, my main activity is rugby and my team owns a pub- if I don't have plans for the weekend, I can head down there and meet up with my teammates and hang out.

I used to be rather passive about making plans- I guess I assumed that if people wanted to hang out with me they would ask. Finally, I made the obvious realization that wasn't necessarily going to happen. I started asking people to do things all the time (like getting groups of people to go try swing dancing or even to meet for a happy hour) and I didn't worry if people said no. If fact, people assumed that I was much more popular because I kept trying to organize things. My social life has vastly improved because I learned to not worry about people saying no to hanging out with me.
posted by Caius Marcius at 7:54 PM on June 27, 2009 [1 favorite]

I'm in a knitting group that meets on Sundays in a coffee shop. If you know how to knit or crochet or are interested in learning, there are lots of knitting groups around that you could join. The way to find them is to go to join Ravelry, go to groups, and search for a group for people in your area. They should have a listing of local groups.

My knitting group is all women, and we're mostly in our twenties or early thirties. I used to go to one that was more diverse in terms of age and had several male members, so it depends.
posted by craichead at 8:08 PM on June 27, 2009

Dancing is good! I would suggest one of: contra, english country dance, scottish country dance. Contra is probably the easiest to get into. These are formation style dancing (think square dance), and are generally extremely social. The general etiquette of these dance styles also tend to encourage dancing with a different partner every time, as well. They're pretty easy to learn, and you don't generally have to worry about where your feet go or stepping on peoples' toes.

There are groups doing these dances everywhere, and you're bound to find a relatively active group somewhere nearby where you live. Classes/dances generally cost money, but it's usually on the $4 to $10 range, so not horribly expensive. The people may not all be within your age range, but I haven't met a group so far that hasn't been welcoming and friendly.
posted by that girl at 8:19 PM on June 27, 2009 [1 favorite]

I'd 2nd (or 3rd??) social dancing. In my case it was swing/Lindy Hop. If you have at least a little rhythm, are not a complete social misfit (i.e., stalker/mass murderer type) then Lindy hop can really be a great scene to get into. The music is fabulous, the dance itself is wonderful ... it can be complex or it can be simple and you can still have fun. Don't get me wrong ... learning to Lindy can be a challenge and you have to overcome a fair bit of self consciousness in the beginning, but persevere and you'll be doing swing-outs in no time.

And the social scene is basically built in. Every woman I dated for 3 years I met doing Lindy ... even married one :)
posted by mcschmidt00 at 9:46 PM on June 27, 2009

I beat people with sticks.

Sometimes I go camping with 12000 of my closest friends.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 9:47 PM on June 27, 2009

Firstly I have to disagree that travelling doesn't help someones social life. I've posted about this before as a repsonse to this post, but travelling is what turned me from the kind of person who had not a lot of social confidence into a more social, outgoing person.

For me, this is what changed my Saturdays from wondering what I was doing to actively making things happen. Ask people at work what they are doing, have a look online to see whats happening, invite people along... sometimes you just have to make it happen yourself. Give people notice, 3 - 4 days and don't worry if people can't make it, it can be disheartening but people are busy.

But don't sit back and wait for life to happen.
posted by Admira at 10:53 PM on June 27, 2009 [1 favorite]

Volunteer to help organize a science fiction convention near you. It worked for me, several years ago, and I have stayed involved ever since. It is where I met all those who are now closest to me. The convention weekend itself will also serve as an opportunity to meet people and get involved in a wide variety of interest groups you can get involved in.
posted by Matt Arnold at 11:36 PM on June 27, 2009 [1 favorite]

Some comments on some of the comments.

1. Beware of the nerd factor in any group you participate in. Apart from computer nerds, there are, for example, also bike nerds. Unless you want to spend your entire time talking about derailleurs and the pros and cons of Shimano vs Campagnolo, gravitate to people who just enjoy the activity, rather than the techo details of it.

2. Evening classes.... great for meeting people, but in my experience, no-one likes to hang around afterwards and chat. Everyone is tired from working during the day, and just wants to go home (though perhaps this is just a consequence of where I live, Canberra.)

3. +1 dancing. In my darkest hours working in Sweden, being swept around a dance floor by a wonderful Swedish girl at the monthly folk music & dancing sessions on Skeppsholmen, was the highlight of my time there.

Whatever you pick, just ensure it involves actually talking with people!
posted by flutable at 6:05 AM on June 28, 2009

I beat people with sticks

Heh. I don't beat people with sticks, but, like Kid Charlamaine, I got involved with the SCA almost 20 years ago, and its totally fulfilled my social needs ever since. I met my husband and virtually all of my closest friends via the SCA.

SCA stuff happens mostly on weekends. You can travel around to events in diffferent areas and meet lots and lots of people from wildly different backgrounds.
posted by anastasiav at 7:28 AM on June 28, 2009

A few more thoughts:

The nerd factor has been mentioned, but also don't be afraid to celebrate your inner geek. Nothing can get in the way of meeting lots of great people faster than trying to be or remain cool.

Off the top of my head, activities that have fallen into this category for me have been:

Continuing ed (Italian class, kick-boxing, whatever), Pick-up sports (lots of communities play pick-up soccer or softball and in my experience if you know that soccer is played with feet and which end of a bat to hold you have enough skill to participate and have fun), dancing (many communities have contra-dancing nights), board gaming and role playing (the activities where I've met some of the most fun people ever, we celebrate our inner geeks together).

Other activities I've done less with , but seem likely:

Crafting communities (knitting, quilting, etc), martial arts classes, possibly music or dance lessons, gardening groups,

Finally there is the category of activities that combine good works with good friends:
Church groups, neighborhood associations, political action groups, volunteering at the soup kitchen, etc. I can remember having a great day just helping rebuild erosion control measures in a local park. I wasn't there to build my social circle, so we didn't keep in touch, but if I'd been new in town or whatever there were a few folks in that one day I could have seen keeping in touch with.
posted by meinvt at 9:19 AM on June 28, 2009

After we moved to a new area we immediately started throwing parties. We built a house and so the first two parties were for a) the neighbors to apologize for the disruption it created and let everyone see it (there were frequent tourists during construction) and b) for all of the people who worked on it. Huge parties. Great food. Plenty of booze. Then we experimented with themes and yield, hosting several more parties for the whole neighborhood with appropriate benefits (fireworks on July 4th, haunted house at Halloween, Santa at Christmas, etc.). Now we hold two annual parties celebrating the longest and shortest days of the year, with attendant rituals, and interweave smaller dinner parties. We invite literally everyone we know (along with random people we happen to meet) and encourage everybody to bring friends. The upshot is that we get invited to other people's social occasions and our circle keeps widening.
posted by carmicha at 12:29 PM on June 28, 2009

I'm not into sports, but I know lots of people who have met tons of people by joining co-ed sport teams. If my roommates weren't on about 3 soccer teams each, I would try and find some sport to join just to meet some new people.
posted by whoaali at 2:17 PM on June 28, 2009

Seconding that girl, re: contradancing. We started doing in a year and a half ago and have really enjoyed it as a family. We see the same faces + new ones every weekend. Some of them involve potlucks before or after the dance, or going out to eat afterwards. My husband has really taken to it and has gone so far as to join the board of one organization and has started producing dances. A bonus is that you can travel all over the US and find dances to attend. Here's a link to get you started.
posted by jvilter at 4:23 PM on June 28, 2009

When I moved to a new city, I started volunteering. But be careful what they want you to do -- you don't want to spent three hours stuffing envelopes or entering data into spreadsheets while sitting in a lonely cubicle.

The most rewarding volunteering that I did (and still do) was to find a non-profit that is involved in community organizing. I got my facilitator and mediator training through that and started working in a number of contexts around the city. Even if you don't meet new friends through that (which might also happen) you will get a ton of social interaction with strangers and this helped me a lot to develop social skills, to learn how to speak in front of a group, etc. If anything, it puts some extra skills on your resume. ;-)

I don't know where you live, but some neighborhoods have neighborhood management teams that consist of residents of that area. The one where I live organizes tree planting events, block parties, garbage clean-up, and also doubles as a neighborhood watch. This could be a great way to get in touch with close neighbors and will expand your social circle.

Joining Toastmasters might also be an idea. I have never gone to one of their meetings, but friends of mine really like it.

Good Luck!
posted by Bearded Dave at 8:31 AM on June 30, 2009

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