How did you form real friends at your 30s.
December 9, 2010 12:32 PM   Subscribe

What are my blind spots, mistakes that I am not aware off. How did you form real friends at your 30s.

I live in US for 10 years now; been constantly moving like every year or two. Miss having a good circle of friends. All my friends from college have moved to different countries, married etc. I haven't seen them in years. Nobody inivtes me to anything. The accquantences I make locally seem to wither away due to my work which requires constant moving. I am Male, 31, single, never been in an relationship, I work like a horse like most immigrant do, became debt free few months back, have a decent job that pays good. Dont know why nobody calls me, even if make serious attempts to be in touch, I seem to have good conversations on the phone. but nobody calls me.
My incoming call is zero, outgoing 3000 minutes. I think everyone hates me, but I dont ask them money, I try to help if I could(people come to me only if there are extreme problems like accident, car trouble, health issues etc). I can live by myself although I breakdown twice a week when this builds up. I know this stress can kill me or definetly shorten my life, I have no relations, no gf. I hate to be the guy who is all grumpy but seriously whats the point of having a good job or ur apt if cant have a single person to call me or be friends with. Nobody inivtes me to anything. I dont do drugs, smoke, I guess nice guys finish last and get lost(atleast in my case)! Losing hope in this world!

p.s This was very embarassing to putt it out like this, but I had to, as I am alone here.
posted by daveg02 to Human Relations (19 answers total) 23 users marked this as a favorite
No problem with the embarrassment - you have a common problem, and it's aggravated by frequently relocating.

I suggest looking at what interests you - a hobby, the movies, whatever - and find a local user group that meets regularly, say, once a month. Don't go with the expectation of meeting people, go for the enjoyment of it. Meeting people will happen. It will help if you get involved in setting up activities - you'll have no choice but to interact with people.

Also, consider volunteer work. Getting involved in groups that need people to help - to actually physically do things, and be in places with stuff at the right times, and so on - is a great way to do something that will make you feel good about yourself and meet people.
posted by Xoebe at 12:43 PM on December 9, 2010 [2 favorites]

First off, congrats on being debt free. That is pure awesome. Not having debts can make it easier to ease into social situations and niceties that others who have many bills to pay must balance, and decide between a social event or a telephone bill.

I was once in a situation like you-- I would go off on business for many months at a time, and I never knew when I was going to be back, or how long I would be gone. This made relationships all but impossible.

If you don't have control over your job, and you will continue to move every 1 or 2 years, then you will have to go out on a limb and be very pro-active as far as meeting new people. The good news is that your work will constantly expose you to new people; the bad news is that your work will constantly expose you to new people.

What do you like to do? Hobbies? Are there any social groups in your area that participate in those hobbies? Do you like the outdoors? Join the Sierra Club. Volunteer on a weekend for a worthy charity or local event. Go to the library and see if there's anything interesting coming up in their calendar, like authors coming to speak, or a book club or something.

If you're feeling adventurous, sign up for a group vacation geared toward single people. Have you ever tried dating online? and have worked for some people.

Sorry you feel so alone right now. Just know that a lot of people go through this as well, but in order for you to get out of this slump, 95% of this is on you. Get out of your comfort zone and you may be surprised by the results.
posted by ehamiter at 12:53 PM on December 9, 2010 [1 favorite]

How many people are those thousands of minutes worth of outgoing calls going to? It sounds like you might be kind of desperate for a friend and thus smothering every casual acquaintance that comes your way.

It sounds kind of Rules-ey and game-playing, but if you want people to invite you to things, they have to want to see you more often than they do now, and if you're constantly calling them or inviting them to things, they might feel like they already see too much of you.
posted by jacquilynne at 12:54 PM on December 9, 2010 [2 favorites]

Think about what you have to offer other people, and be frank and honest with yourself. If you aren't extremely good looking or wealthy (like most people), you need to be interesting to other people. Don't expect others to be charitable towards you with their time and company. You need to have something to offer, and you need to market yourself to them.

So take the things you're interested in and do something with them. Like to read? Join a book club. Think you're funny or can act? Take lessons, or go to an improv class. Want to help people? Volunteer. Do you have strong political views? Join an organization that supports those views.
posted by BobbyVan at 12:58 PM on December 9, 2010 [1 favorite]

I know this may be an uncommon answer (except for me, because I say this all the time): try therapy, at least a few sessions. Because you're question's not, "I'm totally cool with life, but feel like I could get out more, what could I try?" You feel alone, you feel like people hate you, you're having breakdowns of a sort or another. All this is disordered thinking to some degree, and a therapist can help you with that. My therapist didn't help me FIND friends ( I'm pretty social as it is), but helped me strengthen the relationships with people I did have in my life and learn more about what is fun for me socially and how to look for that. Just how to relax and have fun and not think of all my relationships as some sort of marker for my worth. Find a therapist and enlist their help into building your self esteem, and then the social relationships will follow.
posted by sweetkid at 1:00 PM on December 9, 2010 [7 favorites]

I guess nice guys finish last
I think everyone hates me

It's frustrating to be alone, and sometimes it's hard to make friends. But the attitude above will NOT help you to attract people. Volunteering is great because you meet people, and also because it can help you realize how fortunate you are. (Which can make you more content, which can help attract people to you.)

Also, if you have a good job, why can't you go visit your friends occasionally? This could help in a couple of ways: you get some love from your friends AND when you're having conversations locally/getting to know people you present as both a person who has friends and someone who travels. (Both of these are usually attractive.)

Good luck to you!
posted by cyndigo at 1:01 PM on December 9, 2010 [3 favorites]

Because you're question's not, "I'm totally cool with life, but feel like I could get out more, what could I try?"

oh God. *Your*, not "you're." The hell? Sorry.
posted by sweetkid at 1:11 PM on December 9, 2010

Along with sweetkid's suggestion, I propose weekly massage, yoga classes, and definitely meditation. Don't like the idea of yoga? Then go for a morning or weekly walk/hike someplace scenic - even big cities have green spaces - go find one.

Basically, I urge you to start a healthy routine of self-care.

When I do the walk/hike thing by myself, I load up my phone or mp3 player with podcasts or lectures I want to listen to. I suggested the massage because there are all kinds of good chemicals released in your body via therapeutic touch, and these are the same or similar to what you get from emotional intimacy, which you are lacking right now.

I also thought the outgoing 3000 minutes sounded unreasonable. I think you should seek better avenues to self-soothe yourself through this time.

Your described lifestyle isn't conducive to a thriving social life. Take other measures to create what you need to feel happy and stable. One day you'll finally settle down in one place and this worry will be behind you.
posted by jbenben at 1:13 PM on December 9, 2010 [4 favorites]

Don't be so hard on yourself. I'm a pretty social, outgoing person, as are a lot of my friends, but I don't know a single person who could move every year for ten years and not feel lonely at the end of it. And as you get older, and people your age are more and more settled, it can get harder to make friends in a new town.

It sounds like you've been prioritizing work, and it sounds like this has given you a lot of success. (Congrats on being debt free! That's a huge accomplishment, and definitely something to be proud of!) If having stronger social relationships is important to you, could you prioritize this higher now? I don't know how easy it is to find a new job in your field, but maybe you can look into changing to a position (at your company, or at a new company) that won't involve moving for several years. This might mean taking a pay cut, or not having quite as much responsibility. It's hard to step back from work, but it sounds like your job makes it really hard to form close relationships; you have to prioritize whatever is most important to you.

As a single data point, I've made two major moves in adulthood, and both times it too 4-5 years before I felt socially settled in (before I felt like I had close friends I could cont on, rather than just acquaintances to hang out with).
posted by pompelmo at 1:50 PM on December 9, 2010 [1 favorite]

If you decide to join any clubs or volunteer groups, see if you can find some that have multiple offices nationwide. That way when you are getting ready to move, you can ask if there are contacts in the next city that you can get started meeting right away.
posted by CathyG at 1:55 PM on December 9, 2010 [1 favorite]

I very recently had a similar problem in that I had to move to a new city where I did not know anybody. I had the same advantage you have (disposable cash) and the same disadvantage you have (introverted personality). Here is what I did: enrolled in short group psychotherapy workshops (every large city has these); participated in classes at Landmark Education (most large cities have these); went to esoteric spiritual groups (every large city has these). I sometimes viewed this as renting friends. If you want a HOWTO the definitive text is Dale Carnegie How to Win Friends and Influence People.

If you go the meetup dot com route I would stick to small groups where they have to spend money. They will always be happy to acquire another non-mooch warm body. Groups of "singles" &c tend to be a bunch of self-absorbed narcissistic hipster assholes who are not worth the effort of getting to know. Ditto for people who hang out in clubs. You might want to do some introspection before getting heavily involved in any activity so that you are grounded in self and understand what types of activities you truly value.

Most people in my zip code make friends at the office, at the church, and/or at the gym. I never socialize with workmates, have lost my faith in my nihilism, and strongly prefer to work out in my living room so none of these really work for me; in spite of my handicaps and disadvantages, I do not get lonely even though nearly all of my close friends now live at least hundreds of miles away from me. Abraham Maslow had some terrific insights on how it is perfectly O.K. to establish a temporary intimacy with a person who modern life is about to take away from you for good. Good luck and mazel tov man!
posted by bukvich at 2:32 PM on December 9, 2010 [3 favorites]

Dude. After college, it takes like ten years to make really solid, true friends. I moved to the Bay Area in 1999 and attended grad school here (which helped me meet a thousand people), and still, it's only been the past two or three years that I began to feel like I really have a solid community full of deep and lasting friendships. My advice to you is to get a job for which you don't have to move every other year. You're debt-free; now's a good time. In fact, any job should understand that while twenty-somethings can move every year, around age 30 people start to look ahead toward settling down, so your current company might be able to help you be more stable, too.
posted by salvia at 2:51 PM on December 9, 2010 [1 favorite]

I dunno, I guess you have to be comfortable with your own company before you expect other people to invite you over. You say that you break down every other week from the loneliness and that's not a good thing. You can go out and join clubs and gyms and other things and still come home to a lonely house and break down. You have to learn how to be comfortable with yourself first.

I say this as a forty-something person who's moved quite a bit in my adult life and know how hard it is to establish relationships with people in a short amount of time. But, trust me, it's *much* easier get to the point where people will invite you places if you're not desperately lonely. The only way to not be desperately lonely is to be okay with being alone.

Someone suggested therapy, maybe that's a good place to start...
posted by patheral at 3:24 PM on December 9, 2010 [5 favorites]

You probably aren't going to form the sort of friendships you formed when you were younger. Youth is youth.

But you can go place and meet people. For instance, go to MetaFilter meetups and meet the sort of people you are hearing from right now. Put your location in your profile and select the "Receive IRL alerts?" option in your site preferences. Male, 31, and never been in a relationship, and lonely would not be weird around here.
posted by pracowity at 7:29 AM on December 10, 2010

CathyG beat me to my answer! Unfortunately I can't think of a good specific thing to suggest for you, since my advice is to develop a social hobby/skill that people are doing in groups all over the country/world - and I don't know what you might like.

For me, this is traditional music and dance - I started playing Irish music and doing social dancing (contra, specifically) in Alabama in the late 1990's, and every time I've moved since then, I've wandered the new area meeting groups of people who are into Irish music or some kind of dance (swing, scottish, contra, salsa, etc), in now 6 different states. By the time I moved to my current city, I already had some contacts here from crossing paths elsewhere who welcomed me into the local groups, and everyone in my workplace was alarmed to find 50 people at our 1-year housewarming party. "How do you know so many people so fast??" But it was people I dance with, people I play music with, and people my husband does art with, pre-formed communities we were quickly integrated into. I'll admit making real friendships takes time, but it's great to have an instant pool of people to start from, and again, the network is all over the country - I'm back within a couple of states of where I was 14 years ago, and seeing people again who I'd only been staying in touch over email.

Anyway, this applies to any skill that you develop that gets done with people and you can walk into a new group, display your passable proficiency, and instantly have lots to talk about, including not just dorky dance stuff but any kind of thing that there are likely to be classes for, workshops, special facilities, etc - painting, ceramics, photography, yoga, climbing, Crossfit... All depends on what you might be interested in doing.
posted by aimedwander at 8:10 AM on December 10, 2010

Sorry to hear about this - I can relate and most definitely feel your pain. I just hit 30, am single, and like you, have a career that requires me to move every 2-3 years for work. Not sure what's best for your situation, so I'll tell you what's worked for me and hope you can gain something from it.

First off, I know you're lonely, but I really think you should make being happy in your own skin a somewhat more immediate priority than building relationships. It sounds like you're kind of desperate to be around people - I can totally relate to that, but it can smother and scare off the very people you want to be around if you're not careful. Therapy can make a huge difference with this.

As for meeting people - it can be a challenge when you just moved somewhere new, but I've gotten quite good at it (and I'm a total introvert!). But in order to do that, you'll have to step out of your comfort zone a bit. Get out as often as possible and never turn down a social invitation! If your job keeps you so busy that you don't have any free time, you need to take care of this ASAP. is good for finding groups (I have found mid-sized activity oriented groups are best - think hiking, photo groups, sports, etc). One thing that helps is to find a weekly activity that fits you well - I go to an art class and a couple of happy hours religiously every week.

Also, maybe you could do more to maintain friendships after you move? I'm not usually a huge proponent of Facebook, but setting up a profile was probably one of the smartest things I ever did. Most of the people I consider my closest friends are spread all over the world, and being able to chat with them from anywhere has made things far easier.

One more idea - maybe you can socialize with your co-workers who also (presumably) move frequently? Virtually everyone in my field does the moving every 2-3 years thing, and while most are married, none of us have "roots" in the traditional sense. As a result, we tend to have very close friendships and a certain sense of camaraderie.

Finally, maybe it's time to consider a career change? I personally love my job, but cannot see myself doing the moving around thing past my 30s. It sounds like you're just now getting out of a bad financial situation so maybe changing jobs right now isn't an option, but this is something you could at least start working towards.

That's a bit more than I intended to write, but hopefully it helps!
posted by photo guy at 5:15 PM on December 10, 2010

From this study:

"We're getting a better understanding of loneliness, that it's more of a cognitive issue and is subject to change," said Christopher Masi, MD, Assistant Professor of Medicine at the University of Chicago Medical Center and lead author of the study.

Specifically, the four interventions that helped people break the cycle of negative thoughts about self-worth and how people perceive them were the most effective at reducing loneliness. Studies that used cognitive-behavioral therapy, a technique also used for treating depression, eating disorders and other problems, were found to be particularly effective, the authors reported.

"Effective interventions are not so much about providing others with whom people can interact, providing social support, or teaching social skills as they are about changing how people who feel lonely perceive, think about, and act toward other people," Cacioppo said.
posted by blueyellow at 7:50 PM on December 10, 2010 [2 favorites]

I think the stuff about having to be OK with yourself before you can have friends or relationships is nonsense. That just perpetuates this feeling that 90%+ of people out there are in fact A-OK with themselves and balanced and there's something wrong with you. It's not true! I've read this so many times and I'm exasperated, I just don't think there should be another impossible barrier put up there: "first, make sure you are in some kind of mental state where you are comfortable with being lonely and not having any friends or family to support you." Come on. We're human beings here. Who's going to arrive at a point where they feel fine with that?

What about joining: a sports league, some kind of league (I mean it can be silly, DC has them for skeeball for crying out loud), a hiking club, something on Meetup, a church, a volunteer organization, etc. Whatever strikes your interest. Or what about inviting groups of people to activities yourself? Such as getting a group together to go to a restaurant, or hiking, or to a ball game, whatever people might like to do.

I don't think you should take it personal that nobody calls you. A lot of people don't call other people. There are more distractions and technologies to get in the way than ever. When I was in high school talking on the phone with friends for an hour was normal; when I finished college, calling up people to chat just to catch up was normal. Now nobody does that. The fact that people DO call you when there is a serious thing happening in their lives tells me that they really do value you as a friend. I just really don't think you should take it personal and think people hate you. This is 2010, where you can have 400 friends on Facebook and nobody to actually talk to when you feel down. Believe me!
posted by citron at 9:22 PM on December 10, 2010 [2 favorites]

daveg02, you're not the only one who feels the way you do. Everyone feels lonely, even if they're hanging out with friends sometimes.

What admirable qualities do you think a 31-year-old man should have? What kind of daily habits would he have? Now, go be that person!

You didn't mention your hobbies/interests. Pursue them. Or learn first-aid, how to dive, wall-climb, play German boardgames, blog, geocache, program, etc. Or go learn something new from (free) courses at a college, community center, church, Home Depot, etc. Visit new places/events in your city. And "a mind needs books as a sword needs a whetstone."

Seriously, this affects our moods: Exercise, even a short walk is better than nothing. Eat healthy, with enough fruit and vegetables. You'll feel better about yourself. Eat crap, and you'll feel like crap.

People will like you more if you like yourself. Everyone loves an interesting person who can enjoy himself whereever he is.
posted by jayne at 7:38 PM on December 13, 2010

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