How do I make new friends and hang out with them for the first time?
July 30, 2009 6:01 AM   Subscribe

How do I turn potential friends into actual friends? What is the best way to meet people and go from acquaintances to actual friends that hang out? More inside.

Okay, two years ago I left Michigan and moved out of state after taking a job to be a nanny.

I had friends here including my now boyfriend but due to some major drama my boyfriend and I don't see or really talk to them anymore. I won't bother going into this.

I work in a private home as a nanny so I spend most of my days interacting with kids, which I love, but it has made it difficult for me to make new friends. I seem to have forgotten how to make friends. Or I'm losing my skills at it.

My weekends are spent with my boyfriend and occasionally we hang out with people he works with and they are great. I have been slowly becoming more and more friendly with the boyfriend's friends' wives or girlfriends but I don't want to seem pushy. I don't want to seem weird asking people I've only met a few times to hang out. I mean I know you just have to take the plunge and I normally wouldn't care if people were like 'Whoa, random weird person' but I don't want people at his work thinking he's got a pushy SO haha.

Aside from work, he doesn't have a lot of friends. So I can't exactly count on him for introducing me to people and it's definitely not his responsibilty.

I talk to people when I'm out and about with the kids during the day and when I've had reoccuring encounters at say baseball practice or library programs I do find moms of other kids who I will talk to and become friendly with but it's almost like when they find out I'm a nanny and not a mother, they sort of would rather talk to an actual mom. I could be imagining this. But regardless, it never materializes into an actual friendship.

I am very friendly and close with the parents of our neighbors and the neighborhood kids (I'm a live-in nanny) and also with obviously the parents of the kids I watch. I'm not like socially awkward or anything. I'm known to be pretty funny and talkative. When I was in high school and college I had buckets of friends and seem to pick them up extremely easily.

I think I just want to sort of have my own set-up away from my 'job' and those people connected to that. Most people make jobs at school and work I think and ... the people at my job are little tykes :)

So any advice on where to make friends and how to actually start hanging out with people without looking awkwardly goonish?

I'm mid twenties now. All done with college. My interests are movies, reading, yoga, photography and I am living on Long Island now if any of that sparks any ideas.

posted by mittenbex to Human Relations (12 answers total) 45 users marked this as a favorite
Join a book club, or attend a meetup group -- there seems to be a Long Island photography meetup group that seems fairly active. Try to do a couple of things a week without your boyfriend, and if you meet people who seem friendly, you can say things like, "Hey, will you be at the next meeting?" or "Hey, want a ride to the next meeting?" or "I saw a cool photography exhibit at the local museum, want to check it out with me next weekend?"

Or maybe post an ad on Craigslist to see if there are other nannies who are interested in meeting at the park one day?
posted by cider at 6:15 AM on July 30, 2009

I don't want to seem weird asking people I've only met a few times to hang out.

You won't. But if it makes you any more comfortable, ask them to do a specific thing; play pool; play cards; go swimming; dancing. Really, think of it this way. Would you be weirded out if they asked you to hang out? If not, then it probably goes both ways.
posted by vernondalhart at 6:17 AM on July 30, 2009

A shared interest in photography is a great outlet for making friends. A "photo outing" where you go someplace interesting to take pictures is a nice, low-stress way to spend time with someone. You aren't just hanging out (you've got a task), but there's still lots of down time for chatting, which is the foundation of building friendship.
posted by diogenes at 6:38 AM on July 30, 2009

A week or two ago I was hanging out with a bunch of my friends from my university days - ages ranging from just out of school to 2 years out. And my friend who has just graduated asked pretty much this exact question. My answer was people are shyer than you think. Everything that you're wondering is the same scenario that most other mid-twenties former students find themselves in, especially those who don't meet people through work.

This is a long and rambling way to say that no, you won't seem weird if you ask people to hang out. It's best if you have a specific thing in mind, but don't worry too much about it.

My friend invited this woman she's met like twice to have a Super Nintendo girl's night.
posted by Lemurrhea at 6:40 AM on July 30, 2009

The 20s can be lonely - I'm about where you are, and for one year, I was isolated (both physically and emotionally) from a lot of people that I'd made friends with college.

These people who you say hi to? Ask them to go grab a drink, or catch a movie, or check out an art exhibit, or something. [Almost] every friendship I've ever had outside of college has begun with a social meeting OUTSIDE of the usual communication sphere. People who I know at work and then catch a drink with afterwards, a friend of my wife's who likes modern art and wants to head down to the local museum, etc etc.

This is the kind of thing you're looking for. And don't worry about coming across as anything - most people will jump at the opportunity to hang out with someone new, or do something new.
posted by SNWidget at 6:45 AM on July 30, 2009

If you're a funny and talkative person then everyone will be flattered if you just ask them to hang out! It's totally OK to be like, "speaking of X movie, lets go see that movie coming out next week - give me your # and I'll call you to make plans" when you're hanging out with your SO's friend's wives or something. Most women will be flattered and you'll have a good time, so next time they're doing something they'll think of you, and voila! friends!

Don't think about it too much and just do it once and see how it works out.
posted by KateHasQuestions at 6:48 AM on July 30, 2009

but due to some major drama my boyfriend and I don't see or really talk to them anymore. I won't bother going into this.

Not that you need to explain yourself here, but try to evaluate what happened objectively. This might make a big difference in making future friends, if you are expecting people to be jerky towards you due to past experiences, or if you did something that alienated you from these people. Just sayin.

I agree that book clubs are a great way to meet people and that in order to turn almost-kind-of-friends into friends, you have to go out of the sphere of normal hanging-out-ness. So you need to meet those book club people for a movie, or go for a drink with boyfriend's-coworker's-wife without the guys or something. If people are often suggesting "Oh, we should do that winetasting/free movie in the park/Six Flags trip" but no one ever follows up, be the person to follow up and plan it.
posted by peanut_mcgillicuty at 6:54 AM on July 30, 2009

This is my most favorited comment that isn't about boobies, and it's about your exact question, so I'm going to go ahead and copy paste it in here.

I have a goal to turn all acquaintances I like into FRIENDS. Does it always work? No. Mostly it doesn't. But I keep trying, and when I do get a real friend, it was totally worth it.


You keep seeing them around at parties/school/work/shows/clubs/etc.

You kind of remember their name, and they kind of remember yours.

They're a friend of a friend, but not your friend.

You run into each other, but you've never planned an meeting.


You can call them up for no particular reason without awkwardness.

You make plans together.

You keep in regular contact (how regular that is depends on the people and situation).

You know things about each other, and enjoy sharing activities and proclivities.


Get your number in their cell phone, and vice-versa.

Give them a business card (I use Moo cards with pictures of myself; egotistical, but people don't forget who it's from.

Bring up past parts of your "relationship" in conversation to foster a bond. This is hard to explain, but when I see people I've helped at work out and about I'll mention how I always admire their collection of winter hats or I'm always happy to see them come in. I know a lot of musicians and while they may never have noticed me in the crowd before, it means a lot to them when I say "Your first show was your best show, you should try to bring that energy back," or "I loved those strobe goggles you wore at the Skylab show," or "Your performances just keep getting better and better, I like how you've become less experimental and more rhythmic and tribal and dancable." It's not all about flattery, it's about showing people that you're paying attention to the things that make them special, and appreciate them.

Stalk their address and send them a card. This sounds really creepy, but this is how I turned an acquaintance I'd only met twice into my boyfriend, so in the right context it works.

Stick around in a social circle long enough to get past the awkward new-kid phase. Somehow I've become accepted into the art school scene of my city despite not going to art school or being particularly hip; just keep showing up and being fun times, and eventually people that were just quickly-forgotten faces become familiar friends.

Pester people. Again, this sounds really creepy, but I'll keep trying to get people to hang out with me until I get the hint that they're not into being friends.

Be the one who makes plans to hang out. "Hey, you want to come over, drink some beers, and draw?" "Did you hear Girl Talk is playing in January?" "I'm having a party in a few weeks, here's a flyer." "There's a show this Saturday at The Crackhouse." "This is kind of geeky, but since we both have Saturday free, do you want to check out the new exhibit at the art museum?"

Set up a tradition; a coworker who I'd chat with occasionally has become one of my best friends since we started The G&C Society, a bar hopping happy-hour-club formed around Dollar Grilled Cheese Night at a watering hole.

Return calls, make calls, send emails for no reason, network online, be friendly and personable to EVERYONE, introduce yourself, remember faces and names, take photos of people, hand out flyers for shows and parties like they were your own.

Basically, I pursue friends the same way in a similar way to how I would pursue a comely chap I had a crush on, with less flirtation. Some people ignore the bait. Some people probably think I'm desperate. Some people just ain't interested. But I keep trying, and that's how I've made strangers into acquaintances, acquaintances into friends, friends into best friends or significant others.
posted by Juliet Banana at 7:29 AM on July 30, 2009 [18 favorites]

I've asked the same question previously, and I got some very good answers.
posted by WCityMike at 9:03 AM on July 30, 2009

Dinner party! I've found that dinner parties are a great way to get closer to acquaintances. It's just intimate enough, without having the one-on-one conversation pressure involved in hanging out with an acquaintance for the first time.
posted by lunalaguna at 9:06 AM on July 30, 2009

Second lunalaguna about the dinner parties. Or any parties, really.

For my husband's and my first five or so years in Seattle, we threw about 5 parties per year-- some small, some large throw-downs. Our initial invite list was tiny-- my husband had a few gaming friends, and we had some additional pals from our writing group, but that was about it. As time wore on, whenever we met new people that we liked, we'd invite them to our next party. It was a nice, low-pressure way of developing relationships. Eventually, our parties got big enough that we had to borrow friends' houses to use as venues.

We're now at a point where we're so busy actually hanging out with the people we used to invite to our large soirees that we don't have time to organize them anymore.
posted by palmcorder_yajna at 10:53 AM on July 30, 2009 [1 favorite]

...I do find moms of other kids who I will talk to and become friendly with but it's almost like when they find out I'm a nanny and not a mother, they sort of would rather talk to an actual mom. I could be imagining this. But regardless, it never materializes into an actual friendship.

You're not imagining it. In the suburbs (of New York) where I live, Moms hang out with Moms, and the occasional Dad, and Nannies hang out with Nannies. It's a class issue.

My advice would be to find a small local bar and become a regular.
posted by haqspan at 11:27 AM on July 30, 2009

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