How to make friends?
September 9, 2012 7:20 PM   Subscribe

Angry and lost. I don't know where to find people to connect to. What can I do?

I've been feeling really frustrated about my situation. Lack of friends have seriously been affecting my life.

I'm 26 and I'm without a single friend. I've turned to craigslist personals, okcupid and internet sites to find someone to talk to or hang out. But I get completely ignored (which is odd because i'm just honestly looking for a friend). I'm not acting desperate either.

I find it really frustrating to go to interesting events or shows by myself. I do not know how to strike up a conversation with anyone. It feels like everyone has someone to talk to but me. I want to converse with another human being but it's so ridiculous that I can't find that anywhere. I recently met up with people who were looking for someone to play music with, and we met up a couple of times - they were nice people - and of a sudden they stop talking to me.

I understand keeping active, being positive but I'm really starting to lose it. I can't even work up the motivation to continue my art or music. I want to go out and experience actual meaningful conversations with people that don't end with awkward results and not hearing from them again. I feel like life is passing me by.

Why are people afraid to talk to me? Am I saying or doing something that's not right?

I'm sorry if I'm vague, but I'll provide any details if needed.
posted by MeaninglessMisfortune to Human Relations (35 answers total) 22 users marked this as a favorite
Dude, therapy.
posted by computech_apolloniajames at 7:25 PM on September 9, 2012 [2 favorites]

I've turned to craigslist personals, okcupid and internet sites to find someone to talk to or hang out.

Don't do this. Get out in the real world. Take a class, join a club, hang out at your local cafe. Volunteer. Go to church if that's your thing.

Why are people afraid to talk to me? Am I saying or doing something that's not right?

There's no way for us to answer this. Therapy is probably your best bet.
posted by desjardins at 7:30 PM on September 9, 2012 [2 favorites]

I just saw your last question, where 20 people told you that you should seek therapy. Have you done this?
posted by desjardins at 7:33 PM on September 9, 2012 [5 favorites]

Based on this and your previous question, therapy is a really good suggestion.
posted by me3dia at 7:33 PM on September 9, 2012

Can you share with us where you live? What state if you are in the US? It might help.

Do you know about Metafilter meetups?
posted by misha at 7:43 PM on September 9, 2012

Ok so the therapy angle got covered really fast, and that's good. As a practical person-meeting, friend-making suggestion, though, what you need is to become part of a situation where you see the same group of people on a regular basis for some shared activity. This might be something like signing up for a semester-long art class at a community college, or joining a young adult group at a church (I don't have any personal experience with this, but I hear Unitarian Universalist churches are great places to become part of a churchy community without having to subscribe to any actual religious creed). Instead of wandering out into the world and hoping some friends pop up and attach themselves to you, you need to stack the deck in your own favor. Make sure it's an activity you enjoy so you'll be an enthusiastic participant. It might help even more if it's a situation where everyone is starting at the same time, so there aren't pre-established social circles. The point is, put yourself in situations where (a) everyone or at least multiple people are new, so making introductions isn't weird or awkward, and (b) you'll see them over and over, so you don't have to rely on a weak potential friendship as the only reason to see each other again.
posted by ootandaboot at 7:48 PM on September 9, 2012 [6 favorites]

Just a couple comments/ideas:

• Don't post in websites like OK Cupid looking for friends; people are looking for partners, boyfriends, etc etc., not someone just to talk to (and if that is what you are looking for there, it may become more isolating to both you and the potential date).

• Are you still working in that job from the previous post? Because that alone is isolating and at this seem very unhappy. Make a major change. Get a job in a coffee shop if it requires that, but anything with more people contact.

• Remember- this is transient. I noticed in your previous post you mentioned friends moving away. So as a reminder, this is just a transient moment. You had them before. You will have them again.

• Try other ways to meet people. Just some ideas, but if is in your area, look for an interest group (you mention art, why not try that?) Or go into Craigslist activities (not personals) and just mention you like art, want to meet people to go to museums with or whatever it is (just one activity) and see who you meet. OR...if you aren't a great conversationalist initially, pick another activity like a cycling group, hiking group, whatever it is you like and with exposure to those people, you will have conversations and often over time, a friend(s).But these things take time.

I don't necessarily suggest therapy, but it sounds like you need some sort of feedback. Or an action plan. Take just one step to change things right now. Call a therapist. Or go put in a job application at a job that has more interaction with people, etc.

Things will get better, OP.
posted by Wolfster at 7:49 PM on September 9, 2012 [1 favorite]

I've been saving therapy as the last option. I've picked up some helpful books that help but when I experience days of loneliness or isolation, my mind runs. Wanting to talk to someone, yet not finding anyone really gets to me. I don't know why it does, honestly. It's not such a big deal.

I'm in New Jersey.

I don't know a lot about metafilter meetups..
posted by MeaninglessMisfortune at 7:52 PM on September 9, 2012

Nthing therapy.

In your previous question, you mention having friends that all moved away. How did you make those friends? Could you try meeting new people in similar venues?

You also mention somewhat staying in touch with friends who have moved. Are you still doing that? Can you expand on that while you look for friends that are in your town? It could make you feel less isolated for the time being.

And yes, things will get better.
posted by dysh at 7:53 PM on September 9, 2012

I don't want to belittle your problem. Loneliness is incredibly painful. I'm sorry that you're going through this. That said, I think you need a paradigm shift.

Being angry or frustrated with the world because it's not giving you friends will not draw people to you.

If you are this desperstely lonely and angry, people can probably sense it. And it's off-putting.

Expecting the people you meet to be your social circle or cure your loneliness will also not help you; it's a big burden and responsibility to lay on people.

The tone here seems very accusatory- it's coming off as "how dare these people not like me and solve my loneliness by being my friend!?" If that's the vibe you're projecting, you're going to scare people off. Plus, friendships take time to cultivate. Plus, sometimes people just don't talk super-frequently, especially if they're busy. There are a lot of variables at play.

Step away from the entitlement and see how you can be of service to others instead of expecting them to fix this. Get a pet. Get a plant. Get a therapist. Join a class. Volunteer. Keep showing up for at least six months. Have many groups so that all of your social needs aren't being laid on one person.

Best of luck.
posted by windykites at 7:56 PM on September 9, 2012 [5 favorites]

Going places where there's no reason to talk to people outside of your social group isn't ideal for you. What you need, in my opinion, is a place to go where you are required to talk to people outside of your social circle.

There are a number of things to do that are set up just for this. Toastmasters is one. It's nominally set up for people to learn how to speak in front of a group, but the way that it's set up also means you have to talk to one another. There are a number of roles available in each Toastmasters meeting (evaluators, speakers, "grammarians," etc.), so you're always socializing.

I laud the benefits of community theater a lot, but that saved me when I was in your place and turning 30 (14 years ago). You can't be in a show without talking to your castmates, crew, director, box office people, ushers, volunteers, etc. I would imagine any other hobby that involves collaboration would work for this.

Get out in physical space with physical people in organizations where talking is a part of the activity. That takes the pressure off of "making the first move." Do something you like to do (bowling? knitting? oil painting? glass blowing? fantasy football? The possibilities are endless, really) and just concentrate on the activity, while getting to know the people around you.

Loneliness can be deadly, and so hard to get over, but it can happen.
posted by xingcat at 8:06 PM on September 9, 2012 [4 favorites]

Well, aside from therapy which I think is a good idea...

I'll nth getting out there and doing something. Volunteer or find a hobby. A book club, classes, helping out at the local museum/library, etc. Find local events and go to them. Try to strike up conversations. Some people may not want to talk, but others will, especially if you have a genuine interest in whatever brought you both there that day.

In addition to getting out into the physical world, have you tried making friends online? IRC, forums, blogs, etc. I don't make friends easily in person, but I have many good friends and acquaintances online.
posted by asciident at 8:09 PM on September 9, 2012

New Jersey you say? QXT's and the Loop Lounge come to mind.
posted by curtains at 8:13 PM on September 9, 2012

Nthing therapy-- a therapist will give you the support you'd get from a friend, without demanding much of anything from you. No reason to wait.
posted by sninctown at 8:20 PM on September 9, 2012

The reason why therapy is so important is that often people can sense unwellness, especially in the forms of anxiety and depression. Even if you are perfectly social and decent and agreeable. Seriously, there are all sorts of little "tells" that tip people off, and especially in the early stages of getting to know someone, that might warn people off. And not because it's like you have the plague or something -- it's more like they're just nervous about getting in over their heads with someone who obviously has some serious problems.

Getting real help will immediately alleviate some of your suffering, because you'll have someone's complete attention and be able to say whatever you want to them. It will take some of the pressure off of these other more casual encounters. Also you can also casually mention of your therapy when you're getting to know someone. Some may disagree with me on this, but when I meet someone in your situation, it always puts me a little more at ease to know that they're getting real help, taking an active interest in improving their wellbeing.
posted by hermitosis at 8:23 PM on September 9, 2012 [12 favorites]

So therapy is the last resort? What does that mean? How miserable and lonely and unhappy do you have to be for it to be time for the last resort? Is the last resort going to be "how I am feeling right now plus 10"? Plus 100? Plus a million? If so, can you really imagine feeling THAT much worse for that much longer just to get to some esoteric time when you deem it okay to try therapy?

Just make NOW the "last resort" and do therapy. Who knows, maybe it'll be a breath of fresh air and you'll kick yourself for not trying sooner.
posted by joan_holloway at 8:42 PM on September 9, 2012 [8 favorites]

Reading this thread has taken my misanthropy up a notch... or ten.

Poster, I have no idea if there's some reason you have trouble making friends that would require therapy to remediate. Neither does anyone else here. The fact that so many people are leaping to the conclusion that you are fucked up and need help underlines how absolutely dead set most people are on believing in Just World Theory. The underlying premise in many of these responses is that if you don't have friends, you must not deserve them. You must be doing something wrong, since the world is just and would reward you with friends if you weren't.

I feel like throwing up when I read someone's suggestion that you must come off as anxious or depressed... with the implication being that people won't want to be your friend if you are. WTF??!?! There are plenty of depressed and anxious people in the world, and many of them have friends. It is NOT necessary to be without flaw, even without serious flaw, in order to have people to talk to.

This could be a numbers thing and just require you to meet more people before you find those you really click with. I also don't disagree with the therapy suggestion, but NOT because you somehow need to fix yourself in order to be appealing to others... ack pppht ptui! Rather, so as to be less lonely in the interim while you look for friends.

I have your same basic problem, in that I have friends but only one close friend that I see in person with any regularity. Maybe some of my reasons apply to you too. I'm an introvert and dislike large loud groups of people. I find most small talk excruciatingly boring and find most people uninterested in the things I'm interested in. And I'm also somewhat misanthropic... and the attitudes displayed in this thread are one BIG reason why.

Good luck. Don't blame yourself. Don't blame anyone else either. Keep trying.
posted by parrot_person at 8:49 PM on September 9, 2012 [9 favorites]

I do believe I need therapy, because I feel like I could benefit from it immensely. Though at the same time, I do feel like I need to be 'fixed' before I'm worthy of a friendship. And that doesn't really make me feel great at all. The problem is, I can't find anyone who is genuinely interested in becoming friends with me. I feel like you have to have your life in complete order before anyone could treat you as a friend. I don't know if I have weird taste or interests, or come off as uncomfortable.. I just don't know why at all.
posted by MeaninglessMisfortune at 9:02 PM on September 9, 2012 [1 favorite]

In your last question you mentioned working really hard, in relative isolation, and sitting down most of the time. What about hitting the gym? I did this last year when in your situation, and it really helped me self esteem wise. I needed a project-- and I got one. I'm the last athletically inclined person you can imagine, but going to the yoga classes and doing the treadmill opened up whole new areas for me. I felt like "a person who tries new things!" I felt like "a person who works hard and doesn't give up!" and "kicks butt!" These were all really positive changes during a time when there just weren't a lot of things in my life for active "being awesome" time. I know that sounds silly and vain but it helped a little.

Another thing that helped was getting a new job. In your last question, you mention not knowing what your longterm goals are outside of freelancing. Maybe given that your friends are all gone, you could find a new job that really grabs your attention and inspires you.

Sorry- I haven't quite addressed the friend question, above. It's hard being lonely- it totally sucks. I don't know if there is any way around that fact. But if you keep doing things that make you feel like you are a person with things to offer, it is natural that eventually the universe will throw some appropriate people in your way. And they will see that about you. You won't always be alone. There are so many other people out there who are looking for someone just like you.

Therapy: it may help clarify some things if you don't have the answers right now. Self help may work for this too. Do you really know your strengths and your weaknesses? This is a great thing about oneself-- whether or not you have other people around to get to know, you still have yourself. Maybe reading fiction might help for this too. Loneliness is good for at least one thing: it gives you time to pause and consider the human condition.

Finally, I wish you luck and I hope you keep posting more about yourself, and what you feel like the obstacle is to keeping friends, if it helps people more clearly answer your questions on here. Sometimes it is bad luck when people don't keep in touch, sometimes it's a matter of perception. Therapy may help sometimes to untangle reality from the perceptions we have about ourselves and our beliefs about how the world works. Just keep looking for new experiences- you're still learning and growing!
posted by kettleoffish at 9:04 PM on September 9, 2012 [2 favorites]

I really wish we'd get to a point where therapy was viewed not as 'I'm broken and need to be fixed' but rather 'having a conversation with someone who has a less biased perspective than all the other people around me'. Verbalising what you're going through to a stranger can be cathartic - most of the time we just need to get all the crap outside of us somehow.

Most of the reasons why relationships don't work is because of stress. If you're always worried about the friendships you're having or not having, that has an effect on your ability to cultivate them. Focus on doing things for yourself - like going to the gym, having a hobby or project - something you can get excited about and then you'll build up friendships from there. And if one thing doesn't work, try something else. Keep trying until something sticks.
posted by heyjude at 9:15 PM on September 9, 2012 [7 favorites]

Hermitosis is correct. I'm reluctant to make friends with desperately lonely people because I fear being their only friend and essentially becoming their therapist. Maybe you wouldn't do this but it's something a lot of people instinctively back away from. Work with a therapist to build your self-confidence and to take the desperation out of the equation.
posted by desjardins at 9:36 PM on September 9, 2012 [1 favorite]

You are not getting therapy to get "fixed". You are getting therapy to understand these questions and statements:

"Why are people afraid to talk to me? Am I saying or doing something that's not right? "

"Wanting to talk to someone, yet not finding anyone really gets to me. I don't know why it does, honestly. It's not such a big deal"

"I don't know if I have weird taste or interests, or come off as uncomfortable.. I just don't know why at all."

We can't answer any of these for you. None of us can. Only you can, and since it's not coming to you on your own a therapist will help you figure it out.

I'm seeing a therapist. More the half of my friends have or are seeing one. I don't consider any of us "broken" or needing to be fixed. Humans have incredibly complicated ever-shifting social rules and patterns. It helps to have someone trained in 'why we act the way we do' walk us through what is going on in our lives.
posted by Dynex at 9:55 PM on September 9, 2012 [3 favorites]

You are looking for what friends can offer YOU; this is just like how you have used metafilter, looking for how the community can serve your needs. Why don't you spend some time giving back to the Mefi community and having conversations with us? Sorry if it seems harsh, but I find a lot of the time people post "I'm lonely" questions and when I look at their posting history they have not engaged or given back to the community and it makes me wonder if that is also how they interact IRL. Maybe the practice here will help your RL interactions.
posted by saucysault at 10:04 PM on September 9, 2012 [5 favorites]

The problem is, I can't find anyone who is genuinely interested in becoming friends with me.

Well, how do you go about it? Friendships take time to develop. Regarding the people that you meet with and then stop talking to you, have you tried inviting them out to anything? Any performances or movies you could go see, casual things that don't involve heavy conversation but become shared experiences? Hopefully you aren't just sitting around waiting for someone to call.

If you can't see yourself doing this with anyone you've met recently, then yes, find an activity you could do on a weekend that will get you out of the house and meeting other people who share an interest in that activity. There has to be something you'd be interested in doing that doesn't cost much money. Fight the inertia.

I feel like you have to have your life in complete order before anyone could treat you as a friend.

This is false. Many people have friends without having their lives in complete order. It sounds like maybe you just aren't finding people who are interested in talking about the same things you are, coupled with the (judging by your last question) depression, loneliness, and lethargy caused by your job, sleeping habits and lack of exercise, and the fact that you're still living with your parents.

I also think you should bite the bullet and go to a therapist. At least try it to see how it feels to be able to talk to someone who will listen to you and offer hopefully more accurate advice than we can with the information we have.
posted by wondermouse at 10:05 PM on September 9, 2012

Ugh, guys…
  • not everyone has health insurance
  • not all health insurance policies offer reasonable mental health benefits
  • not everyone who has health insurance with mental health benefits can afford the copay
And finally, someone who's already anxious about seeing a therapist will be exponentially more anxious if they think they'll need to haggle with the receptionist to take advantage of a "sliding scale."

Dear OP — loneliness is challenging and unpleasant. Social satisfaction depends in complicated ways on your personality, your age, your gender, your education, your interests, your work, your home, and a million other factors. It's impossible to give you effective, custom-tailored advice.

But sometimes even the online company of interested sympathetic strangers on Metafilter can be a bit of relief when something else in your life is bringing you down. So if nothing else, I hope you stick around, dig in, and find out about cool stuff you like. And who knows? There might be a meetup near you somewhere at some point. Lots of Mefites become friends in real life too.
posted by Nomyte at 10:24 PM on September 9, 2012 [7 favorites]

You don't need to have things figured out to "deserve" friends. You deserve having friends now, just as you are! If anything you really need to change your perspective from thinking you need to be fixed in order to be "worthy" of a friendship, that's just hurting you. Also thinking that you can't find anyone who's interested in you as a person, is the other way around as well. You should be deciding if other people are interesting enough for you to want to have them in your life. One way of thinking comes from need, the other way comes from a sense of knowing that you're valuable and have a lot to offer, & anyone would be lucky to have you in their life, & if not, it's really their loss.

Keep going until you find people who meet these standards, & don't stop until you do. I know personally this can be a long hard road, but eventually you'll find at least someone you do enjoy being around, & things will start organically happening (like hanging out & talking), because you both like each other & make time for it. Anyone that it feels like you have to force it, isn't where you should be putting your energy.

Feel free to Memail me, if you need someone to talk to :)
posted by readygo at 10:43 PM on September 9, 2012 [2 favorites]

I can't find anyone who is genuinely interested in becoming friends with me.

That is beause nobody has a vested interest in becoming friends with you personally. Why would they- many people already have a few friends, a job where they know people, maybe a family. Besides that, most people have never met you or heard of you before and have no reason to want to actively put a ton of work in to pursuing a friendship. That is the truth.

The flipside of that is that most people have no vested interest in actively resisting or avoiding your friendship. Most people like to get along with people and many like having more friends, plus there are many people in a similar dilemma of not having a strong social life already. If you are willing to actively put in the work to cultivate friendships, there are many people who have no reason not to be friends with you. And once you start being their friend, they will have a vested interest in staying friends with you personally unless you treat them badly or are really unpleasant to be around all of the time.That is also the truth.

Meeting someone new might not be a big deal to many people because they have other stuff going on, but a friendship- a deep, sincere friendship- still has the potential to develop over time. Many, many people will reciprocate if you make some friendly overtures towards them. This does not mean you will hang out every day or that they will call you every time the group goes out or that every attempted friendship will work. Some will not.

But nobody is going to chase you down and force a friendship with you; friends are not going to fall into your lap. You have to make it happen, and that can take work and time.

As for needing to have your life together to have friends- forget it! I have friends with no jobs, friends with alcohol/drug problems, friends who are honestly kind of annoying, friends who have dropped out of college, friends who have police records, friends who are going back to school at 35, friends who got divorced at 21, friends who are accidentally pregnant and confused... it goes on. Almost nobody has their shit together, they just gloss over it because it makes socialising easier and because you tell your close friends your life story, not everybody you just met. But seriously, it does not matter how fucked up you or your life are, anybody can have friends.
posted by windykites at 1:21 AM on September 10, 2012 [15 favorites]

I still think the best way to make friends is to get out and meet people who have similar hobbies as yourself. Meetup is great for that.
posted by TrinsicWS at 2:28 AM on September 10, 2012

You talk about friends moving away and saving money to move out, which leads me to assume (perhaps erroneously) that you recently graduated from college.

Making friends in college is pretty easy; you have a built-in social structure, you're around the same people all the time, you automatically have shared interests/experiences. I am very sorry to tell you that once you graduate, it gets much, much harder.

I've moved many times during my life, and hanging onto friends long distance, even with the benefits of social media, isn't easy either. I've lost touch with all my high school and college friends and had to make new friends as an adult. Again, it's tough. Lots of adults make friends at work, which is something that won't happen for you as a freelancer.

There's good advice here about finding groups of people that share your interests and interacting that way. Have you checked Meetup? There might be some local artists meeting in your area, which, if nothing else, will give you a professional network.

Having said all that, when dealing with my friends who are mired in depression and can't see their way out, my advice is always the same: Stop thinking so hard about *yourself* all the time. If all you're doing is focusing on yourself all the time and what you're not getting from other people, of course you're going to be miserable all the time. Volunteering is a great way to stop focusing on yourself so much and start thinking about other people. Look up your local Habitat for Humanity or volunteer at a shelter or the Humane Society, if you're into animals.

There are endless opportunities to stop being stuck in your own head so much, even if you can't afford therapy. It takes some work to stop wallowing. I say that as someone who's been there. But I can also say as someone who's been on the other side that no one wants to hang out with somebody who's completely focused on themselves and their problems constantly, so if that's what you're projecting, that's probably why you keep hitting brick walls.

Also nthing getting some exercise. It sounds like a really small thing, but it makes a huge difference. Again, speaking from experience. Good luck. I'm sure you have plenty to offer in the way of friendship; you're just going to have to do the work to figure out what you can offer other people so that they get something in return.
posted by carolinecrane at 4:04 AM on September 10, 2012 [1 favorite]

It's so much easier if you are your own friend, first. As is you don't sound like you even like yourself all that much. But it really is best to get right with you first -- you'll have much more to offer.

Ideally one enters new relationships looking to make the other person's life more pleasant, not from a place of wanting benefits for oneself. Happiness begets happiness, and there is much happiness to be gained in simple acts of service to others.

So why won't these people offer me anything is the wrong question to ask here; instead: what can I offer these people?

Volunteering, and engaging with community groups (theatre, etc), gives you simple, clearly defined ways in which to better your community. In doing so you better yourself, boost your happiness, and become a person who is sought out for advice and companionship instead of a person who only seeks.

Years ago I was depressed, and laboured under thoughts of me-me-me. I am amazed I had any friends at all, and feel deep sadness when I think about my treatment of the world in those days. I got out of it; I made one change and another change, not all of them large, just kept myself oriented in the right general direction. And now that I've grown out of asking what the world can do for me, and being resentful (in your case, angry) that it isn't automatically entitling me, I have all sorts of wonderful people in my life, with new ones showing up all the time. Give, freely and generously and with no thought of reward, and the world will be a different place.
posted by kmennie at 5:05 AM on September 10, 2012 [5 favorites]

Add me to the list of people saying that therapy, while certainly helpful, is not the greatest answer to this question.

Exercise, doing something outside of work that requires socializing, and placing yourself in situations where you are around people your age will help immensely.

I go to "interesting events" and shows all the time. I've never met anyone I'd consider a friend from that: all my friends I know are people I know from college, people I've met at parties, or other things where "socializing" was a required element of the activity.

You describe your life as living at home, working 10 hours a day for a company where you don't have much human interaction, and you live in a town where there is nothing to do. No wonder you don't have friends: those circumstances are not conducive to forming friendships. You have to get involved in things where socializing goes on.

Yes, therapy will be helpful, but that's not the main point, only a means to an end to help you discover for yourself what changes you need to make.
posted by deanc at 5:28 AM on September 10, 2012

Rather than using okc or going to concerts alone, join activities that people do specifically to meet new people or to perform an interactive activity - e.g., volunteering, singles meetup, improv class, drinking liberally groups, book clubs, writing groups ... these things are more interactive than concerts, the whole point is to engage with others who share an interest. I think you'll have more luck with that.

I've been on both sides of your situation. I've been socially awkward, and resentful that other people had friends and I didn't. That anger does come through and it does put people off. I remember a guy who was hurt that he didn't immediately fit into a group - but instead of learning more about the people around him and just participating in the activities, he was sulking and talking about how hurt and angry he was. It's hard to work with that, especially in someone you barely know.

Making friends works best when you start from a place of abundance and security. Therapy and confidence-building work can help you with that.

Having my therapist to talk to regularly really does help. Someone is going to set aside time to listen to me and really try to hear me and help me. That can be awesome.

You know, you could interview a couple of therapists. You can tell them you just want a consultation - it will probably be free - you can tell them what you want to work on, and ask what their approach would be. If you still want to wait after doing that, you can. But I honestly think it would help you.
posted by bunderful at 7:09 AM on September 10, 2012 [1 favorite]

Yes, nthing meetup ( find something local based on your real interests). That way you will have lots to talk about to people interested in the same. Then slowly get to know them and connect. Also try Sierra Club if you are into hikes, a lot of people are regulars and you can see them on a weekly basis and let the conversation grow at a comfortable pace...
posted by asra at 10:02 AM on September 10, 2012

I feel your frustration; I was in the same place at 26. In my experience, the kinds of meaningful conversations and connection you are craving arise from the patient buildup of friendship that comes over a period of years. You start with inane getting to know you questions; you work on and off on hobbies together; you volunteer your opinions in the face of blank stares until you figure out how to show who you are in a way that feels right to you; you go out even when you only vaguely know one person and feel awkward the whole time; you try organizing events that people flake on; you try smiling more and listening more...and slowly, oh so slowly, you meet more congenial company and you find your place. It's work--it can be fun, but oftentimes it is dull, irritating, and seemingly pointless. You are sifting through different people until you find a good fit. It feels a lot like dating. It's hard until you meet the right people, at which point it becomes easy. Oftentimes the true friends you find yourself with aren't the people that impressed you the most when you first met them.

You don't have to be "fixed" before you make friends. You do have to be patient, emotionally available and genuinely interested in their lives. They also have to be willing to give those things back to you; it's not a friendship if only one person is doing the work.
posted by rhythm and booze at 11:39 AM on September 10, 2012 [1 favorite]

I totally understand what you're going through. I'm still struggling with getting out and meeting people, but I'm making progress. Those who have suggested activities that allow for repeated interaction with the same people (e.g. classes, meetup groups, etc.) are completely right. The trick is not to dismiss these things off-hand. Not saying that you're doing that, but I know I certainly did. My social anxiety helpfully gave me plenty of reasons to not do those activities, even though I knew intellectually that those were the best things for me to be doing.

I'd wager that you don't need to be told that classes and meetup groups are a good idea, but rather that you need to acknowledge and figure out what's going on inside of you before you can start meeting people and engage them from a relatively healthy place. You don't have to be flawless friends, though. When I started therapy for social anxiety, I was very hesitant to even mention it to anyone, but you know what? I brought it up a few times and people have always reacted positively, by either a) expressing interest in therapy for themselves or b) sharing that they're already in therapy. My point is, sharing our vulnerabilities gives other people a chance to share theirs, and closeness results.

If you're really opposed to the idea of therapy, that's okay. Take a look at Feeling Good by Dr. David Burns. It has a lot of really helpful techniques that will help examine and change your thinking about social situations. I wish the best to luck to you.
posted by allseeingabstract at 3:13 PM on September 10, 2012 [1 favorite]

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