Finding a new wolfpack(s) -- Looking for advice on finding mentors, professional, exercise or party friends
December 26, 2010 10:44 PM   Subscribe

I'd prefer to not be a one-man wolfpack, but I am rather introverted and take some time to get close to people. Due to friends' babies/marriage/moving for jobs I've found I'm in my 30's now and am looking for a new group of friends to run with. My best friend (also my last close adventurous homie) has been ensnared by a female. And she's ready to breed. So after I fulfill my Best Man duties, I probably won't be seeing him too much anymore and am looking for advice on how to find new friends in four areas: exercise, professional, party or mentors.

(I'm not here to get in an argument about friends who get married and drop off the face of the earth, I'll definitely keep in contact with him and spend time with him whenever I can but you know how it is when people get married; they often don't hang out with single people as frequently. I can see it already happening with this guy since they've become engaged; she's leading him around constantly.)

I'm trying to look at this positively, as an opportunity to meet new people that can help teach me new things, but it's really got me depressed. Anyway, this message isn't about the depression, it's about finding new friends, something I've wanted to do for some time and I think this last marriage will be the official last kick in the pants... I have about 6 months before "D-Day" so I'd like to start planning accordingly.

It feels weird, but I feel like I might need to be a bit more strategic with seeking out new friends. It seems like there's four categories that I'd like to fullfil (these definitely can overlap and double up with good people):

* Exercise / physical activity friends - I've made some improvements in my physical shape and found that having people to participate with or scheduled appointments/events helps a lot with my motivation

* Party/travel friends - I'm not dead yet and still enjoy going out once in a while and seeing the sun rise.

* Professional - Networking and career folks would be cool. None of my friends worked in the same arena (tech/development). I suppose I could probably find these kind of people at various tech events so this is probably the least critical of my three areas

* Mentors - Similar to the previous item, I really feel lacking in this arena. I've done a lot in my career but really don't feel like I have a lot of people I can turn to for professional guidance and advice. I don't mean to sound like a douche, but I'm probably the most successful of all my friends and sometimes asking them for gets responses that aren't very thoughtful or understanding of my work environment, their advice often is a rap lyric or some sort of joke from a movie... it seems like the equivalent of asking someone who is just motivated by the most basic needs of life (money, shelter, etc.). They don't understand the politics and motivations of people in my profession. I don't blame them, but would really like to find a good mentor or two and I have no clue where to begin looking for one or how those types of relationships get started in this day and age.

I've looked through some of the archives and Meetup seems to be a popular answer. I've tried Meetup in this area but I think that's more of a 2005 option... most of the groups on there now are either for political or religious motivations (athiests, tea baggers, etc.) or niche interest groups I'm not really into (crocheting, etc.). Is there a modern site? It might just not be happening in my city.

I've also started poking around Craigslist looking for groups with little positive results.

Bulletin boards have been pretty fruitless.

I'm looking for other ideas on where to find people that might be open to new friendships in these arenas... which seems especially challenging when your in your middle ages... so many people are already married off or happy with their relationships they have. Any advice?

Thanks for any help you can offer.
posted by jkl345 to Human Relations (19 answers total) 26 users marked this as a favorite
What's your passion? Pursue it.
posted by philip-random at 11:07 PM on December 26, 2010 [1 favorite]

Best answer: A suggestion to find exercise buddies - Join a training group or a league. When I moved to San Diego I made wonderful friends prepping for a marathon with Team In Training. Spending hours every weekend training with the same people allows you to build strong bonds. Team in Training does running, walking, cycling and triathlon events.

I have a special bond to Team in Training because it raises money to fight the disease that took my uncle. However, you can find a wide range of charity beneficiaries. And if fund raising isn't your speed there are plenty of training groups that don't have a charitable aspect.
posted by 26.2 at 11:18 PM on December 26, 2010 [1 favorite]

I don't think you will find what you're looking for on the internet. You have to get out and do these things, that's where you'll meet these people. For exercise friends, join a few sports teams. This should also net you a bunch of party friends.

For mentors, just talk to a lot of senior people in your industry and ask them questions. This is something that grows organically. Finding someone and trying to get them to be your mentor right away is like asking someone to marry you on the first day. Just ask someone a question, and if they like you, they'll say something like, "And if you ever have more questions or want to talk more at another time, please take my card." And then you talk more at another time, and it grows from there.

Finally, you said you don't want to get into an argument about married friends, but I do think it's important to say something like this, and it can be said without arguing.

Most people eventually get married. Unless you want to make a bunch of new friends every few years or only have friends from the relatively small pool of single people who are 30+, it might be worthwhile to figure out why your married friends seem to be dropping off the face of the earth. Because that's not always the case. Half my friends both male friends and female friends are married and I see them just as much as I ever did.

You seem like a guy who can take frankness so I will be perfectly frank - you come across as a man who has a great deal of simmering contempt, dislike, and disrespect for women. "ensnared by a female" "she's ready to breed" "she's leading him around constantly."

Now that may not be how you ARE or intend to be but that's what comes across, at least here. And I think your friend's wives may not want be around you because of that. Not because they are married and you are single. If you tried to change that aspect of how you come across, I think you might see significantly less face-of-the-earth dropping from married friends.
posted by Ashley801 at 11:29 PM on December 26, 2010 [103 favorites]

Best answer: I dunno about mentors, but as for party friends, have you thought about buying a motorcycle? Or a classic car? Or an airplane (or even a share of an airplane)? Because lots of good time folks collect around objects of common interest, and worth.

And you know what? When those objects of common interest have worths north of 6 figures, in USD, the people collecting about them might be just the kinds of folks you'd love to have as mentors...

Don't get me started on sailboat freaks.
posted by paulsc at 2:14 AM on December 27, 2010 [2 favorites]

You do know you don't have to lose this friend, right? Make friends with his fiancee, she's probably a pretty awesome person if he likes her so much. And since he sounds ready to "breed" as well, you might find a grand meaning in life as Uncle jkl345. Yeah, it's not going to be lighting farts in the man cave if you hang around with couples, but aren't you looking for new friends and experiences?

As for looking for a mentor, why not become a mentor yourself? You've found success, why not share it ahead? Join Big Brothers Big Sisters or something and pass along your energy and know-how. In fact, spending your time volunteering is a fantastic way to beat off depression -- animal shelters (actually kinda depressing, so nm), Habitat for Humanity, United Way....those are great places to find new friends who can lead you to new interests.
posted by motsque at 7:06 AM on December 27, 2010

I can't really help with the professional/mentoring aspect, because I think it needs to be developed principally in your workplace, and depends a lot on the culture there.

But ... in terms of just finding a group of friends, I'd look at community organizations. You need to find one that matches your interests, but if you live in an area where one exists and you can take the time commitment, you might want to consider the volunteer fire department / EMS. At least in the places where I have been involved, it tends to get a good mix of younger, middle-aged, and retired folks, and typically it's not hard to build social relationships there either. Also, you seem to be looking for single male friends, and, well, the numbers on most FD/EMS departments tend to lean that way.

It would be a big commitment (the running not-really-a-joke where I am is that "it's not a resume line, it's a lifestyle") but I've found that it's always given me the combination of friendship / esprit de corps and community involvement that I've needed to be happy.
posted by Kadin2048 at 7:30 AM on December 27, 2010

Before you become friends with anyone, drop the contempt you have for the rest of your species, and perhaps you'll find yourself attracting a new crowd. On preview, I'd be wary of befriending you because the disdain and disrespect you hold for women inicates to me that you have a lot of issues you haven't worked out yet, and why should anyone be friends with someone who can't even muster up basic niceties for the people around them!

Ashley801's advice is spot on. I doubt strangers on the Internet are going to be able to tell you what you want to hear.
posted by patronuscharms at 7:32 AM on December 27, 2010 [3 favorites]

Best answer: Some things just change as you get older. Right or wrong, fewer people want to go out partying like that as they get older. And as a group, they trend toward less normal. So you either have to work really hard to find normal drinking buddies, or tolerate drunks, or be the old guy who hangs around younger people. All of those work, but it isn't as easy to do as when you were 23.

Think about ways to combine what you like with what they like. Organize a vacation to a cabin or to a tropical/winter paradise for you and as many of your existing friends as who want to. Everyone is in the same place for a long weekend, and everyone can indulge in whatever. Maybe your friends who wouldn't be willing to go out drinking on a normal Friday night would be more than willing to head out during the trip, knowing the family is nearby. And so on.

And do like my dad and uncles did, and my friends do now- embrace the different kind of fun that hanging around in the backyard or garage can be.

Mentors: take up golf. This is almost always a good way to combine schmoozing and fun. And it takes up a lot of time. It is a great thing to make into a hobby because unlike some of the other "rich-guy" hobbies, socialization isn't a distraction from the main event. If you are a motorcyclist or pilot, you are either doing OR socializing. With golf, it is a leisurely stroll through a park, interrupted (ruined?) by hitting a ball every few minutes.

I dunno about mentors, but as for party friends, have you thought about buying a motorcycle? Or a classic car? Or an airplane (or even a share of an airplane)? Because lots of good time folks collect around objects of common interest, and worth.

That is true. I have tried to engage in certain hobbies and passions like these, and found that most other participants are definitely there to make friends. Which is great if that is what you are looking for.
posted by gjc at 7:44 AM on December 27, 2010 [2 favorites]

Seconding the advice of @philip-random. As we get older, it's harder to make friends for the same reasons that you are losing your own friends. Think about specific individuals who you would like to be your friends. Chances are, they are attractive to you because they are confident and driven by something that inspires them. They aren't looking for friends. Instead, chances are that they are chasing something that motivates them.

People are attracted to inspiration and passion. One of the most difficult, yet effective, ways to make new friends is to selfishly find and/or pursue your own inspiration and passion. Your pursuit will lead you to new friendships that would not be possible without the common/complimentary passions that you share. It's a paradox.

This little bit of practical advice from Scott Adams and this AskMe thread might also be helpful.
posted by ajr at 8:30 AM on December 27, 2010 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I agree with Ashley801's comment.

Also, re: keeping in touch with married friends: I've had success with making standing plans. Of course, peoples' schedules are busy enough that we maybe only get together once every other month. But I have two standing plans each month, the first Tuesday for pub trivia and a middle Sunday for afternoon games (we're nerds). About half of us make it half of the time, so... we keep in touch.

It also gives couples the option of attending together or separate, and having things "on the calendar" just seems to smooth things out all around. Particularly if these are standing plans established pre-marriage.

So start a monthly poker/Dominion/charades night?
posted by lillygog at 9:24 AM on December 27, 2010 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Hm. I don't totally agree with Ashley's comment. It may have validity, but the sheer number of people who seem to agree via favorite-ing can also mean that none of you favoriters want to admit that jkl, too, has a point. I have seen what he's talking about as well, and I have no resentment towards women. Frankly I like them a lot better than most men, and I'm a straight male.

In terms of exercise, I like the sporting things that force people interaction. For example, martial arts, some kind of gaming, social/ballroom dancing. Another thing which may or may not appeal to you are arts classes where again, you must interact (like improv comedy or acting).

Also, I'm not suggesting just up and moving to a new location, since often when you do that you know nobody in a new place, but I think some cities are just friendlier than others, in general.
posted by bitterkitten at 10:02 AM on December 27, 2010 [1 favorite]

bitterkitten, I doubt that any of us disagree that when friends get married the way we socialize with them changes; where we agree with Ashley801 is that it seems unlikely that someone who refers to a friend getting married as him being "snared by a female" is going to be popular with too many of the women in his social group.

Yes, I understand that AskMe is a place where people vent, but jkl345's word choices really display a lot of attitude; instead of (understandably) being bummed that his friend doesn't have as much time for him, it becomes "she's leading him around constantly." jkl345, dude, consider for a minute that he wants to spend time with her because he loves her!

So one of the things that is going to help you build a strong social network, jkl345, is for you to stop being a jerk about women. Otherwise, you're going to have to try to assemble a posse out of bitter woman-haters, and nobody wants to hang out with those guys. Not even the other bitter woman-haters.

Nth-ing the folks who are encouraging jkl345 to join leagues, formal or informal, and clubs for the sports activities he enjoys. It's a great way to meet new people as well as getting to do sports.
posted by Sidhedevil at 10:24 AM on December 27, 2010 [2 favorites]

When your buddy gets married, you're not losing a friend -- you should think of it as gaining (at least) one. Not only your friend's new wife (surely your buddy would marry someone cool!), but the kids they have. My friends' kids are now also my friends, since they seem to combine in one person everything I love about their parents.

Or, what everyone said.
posted by phliar at 11:32 AM on December 27, 2010 [3 favorites]

Well, I'm midthirties and I moved across the country five years ago. To make new friends I joined a volunteer group, which has worked out really well and I've made some good friends and they ate friends that probably would exercise if I asked. A single friend of mine made her friends through a bowling league. Any tightknit group will do for making friends of all stripes, but first you have to find the group. Try lots and lots of groups until you find one that fees right.
posted by bananafish at 12:04 PM on December 27, 2010 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Also for running exercise buddies try the hash house harriers (described as a drinking club with a running problem) they have chapters in almost every city in the world and it's a good place for a young single guy to make friends.
posted by bananafish at 12:07 PM on December 27, 2010 [2 favorites]

FWIW, as a female, I didn't seen anything wrong with the comments about the fiance - probably because you are the best man and I assumed she's okay with that, and because you do not see the friendship ending, just changing.

Just thought you were venting with humor and bitterness about one more friend being married.

Hash may be the way to go. All of the hashers I know are in fact married, but there are plenty of single people involved and they do like to par-tay.
posted by Lesser Shrew at 3:45 PM on December 27, 2010 [1 favorite]

If you're not planning to breed yourself, try looking up your local Childfree group. They tend to be full of adults who still want to go out and have fun.

Volunteering is another great way to meet people and make friends.
posted by Jacqueline at 6:45 PM on December 27, 2010 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thanks everyone for offering your feedback, especially those of you who offered real solutions to the question.

I totally forgot about Hashers! It looks like an awesome solution, as well as pursuing some of the league sports or niche collector interests I've always wanted to try. Now that I'm doing ok financially I can probably splurge a bit on some of these hobbies (I live pretty Spartan/frugally) or allocate time to do some volunteer work.

While I appreciate Ashley801's well-written thoughts, I believe it's a misreading of the situation/tone and derailed several other posters. In retrospect, it was my fault as I probably should have worded the late night question differently and maybe not spoken with such a hyperbolic and snarky tone -- I do still keep in contact with my married friends, they just have different priorities, especially with kids, and our time spent together changes drastically. I do my best to keep up ties but sometimes is very difficult when they're so busy. I pretty much like all of their wives and husbands -- I introduced three of them to each other. I really like lillygog's suggestion to set up some sort of standing 'date' like poker or trivia nights; I think that's a good option to try to keep in touch.

I'm going to look into a bunch of these ideas -- I never head of "childfree" groups (not that I'm totally against kids, just not right now for me) -- thanks so much for all your time and suggestions!
posted by jkl345 at 9:33 PM on December 27, 2010

If it sounds at all interesting, I suggest getting involved with your local burning man related group. Assuming you're in or near a city of some kind, you'll probably be able to find some interesting people to hang out/party/create art with.
posted by darkshade at 12:35 PM on December 28, 2010

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