Boston filter: How do I make new friends?
July 6, 2013 3:30 PM   Subscribe

Trying to put myself out there and blossom socially!

I've lived in Boston before. Last time, all my friends we're single, up for anything, and available most of the time. Now I'm back and it seems like everyone's coupled up and on limited time frames.

I'm usually pretty good at making friends and I know it will take time, but I was looking to gain some insight and constructive criticism on how to get out there and meet people.

To start, here are a few things I've done so far:
Meetup, okc (for dating) - is it weird to reach out to girls and see if they'd be willing to grab coffee? Go walking? Etc. (straight female here), I'm on a softball team, and.... I don't know if there's something related to mefe around here??

I'm frustrated mostly because I feel like I'm sitting around most weekends with nothing to do..
posted by melizabeth to Society & Culture (26 answers total) 16 users marked this as a favorite
If you can get tickets, go to Red Sox games. Seriously. Sooner or later, everybody in Boston shows up at Fenway, and only half of 'em actually watch the damn games. When I lived there, I never could tell if the Fenway Faithful were a church, a group of baseball fans, a political club, a business entertainment venue, or a dating site. I concluded, that for various values of seats and costs, the Cathedral of Boston was simultaneously hosting some of each...
posted by paulsc at 3:42 PM on July 6, 2013

Keep an eye out for MeFi Meetups.
posted by michellenoel at 3:58 PM on July 6, 2013 [3 favorites]

Softball is a good start, since you'll be on a team of people who you can talk to about a specific subject. What else do you like? I'm into theater, so I joined a bunch of community theaters, and now I know more people than I know what to do with.

There are bowling leagues and running clubs and tours that you can volunteer to give (Boston by Foot has a great group of people who love the history of the place). You can volunteer at a museum or rip tickets for shows. You can take a part-time job in the South End in a coffee shop and meet the locals.

There's a ton to do in Boston, and though we have a bit of a rep for being somewhat chilly, people are generally very nice and very willing to help a newbie learn about the area.
posted by xingcat at 4:20 PM on July 6, 2013 [1 favorite]

This is so hard.

I'd email anyone you know with ties to Boston and tell them you just moved there and are looking for new friends - they'll e-introduce you to folks, you can go get coffee or a drink and hopefully you'll click with a handful.

Ask people from work to go get a drink/coffee (start with people who are not of the gender you date).

Search your Facebook for friends in Boston (yay for graph search!) and see if there is anyone you haven't seen in awhile or forgot was around. Reach out to set up a catchup dinner/drinks (you have a little grace period since you just moved here where you can bluntly say - "I just moved back and I feel like I hardly know anyone!" and people will take the hint and start inviting you to things).

The coupled up people are hard to get last minute, but you can usually see them if you plan a week or two in advance.

The thing with getting older is that most people are no longer in a default friend group where they don't have to make plans and know that they will just end up hanging out at a bar or someone's house or whatever. Everyone makes plans 2-7 days in advance, if not more. So you can still be busy every day/night, but you have to reach out earlier.

Have a dinner party and invite over everyone you know.

You'll start getting return invitations once you start making them.

Take a structured class where you will see the same people weekly - pottery, rock climbing, a running club, whatever you are into.

Obviously accept every invitation you get to anything, and once you are there ask for people's numbers if you meet someone you'd like to see again.
posted by amaire at 4:50 PM on July 6, 2013 [3 favorites]

I am not from Boston, but I am in Boston right now. (Vacation, woo!)

Be on the lookout for MeFi meet ups in the IRL section: do you have alerts set up?

And on preview: what amaire said.
posted by RainyJay at 4:53 PM on July 6, 2013

Strangers at Sox games are pretty friendly in a town that has a reputation for being sort of unfriendly, but the odds of making actual friends there are low. It's a fine thing to suggest doing with new or potential friends, though! I think what you do is find some situations and make yourself a regular presence long enough to meet the other available people, and then either 1) invite people to do things, or 2) get invited to do things. That softball team likely has the one social planner person who tends to arrange the after-game drinks, so be sure to join in when that happens. I'm a lousy at inviting people to stuff, but got invited to a lot of stuff by the captain of a Boston-area dart team I joined. This person was superb at inviting people to do things-- they would organize dinner out, movie nights, a couple of big house parties every year, the occasional ski trip or camping weekend-- and superb at meeting people. They places this particular person found the other available-to-hang-out people were their teams for darts, flag football, and YMCA basketball; work; grad school; and their regular watering hole.
posted by Dixon Ticonderoga at 5:08 PM on July 6, 2013

Where in Boston are you? I'm also a single female with tons of coupled up friends, and I have way too many things on my to do list at all times, Boston is great!

Honestly, people here are so friendly and there are many many great communities. If you're into sports, join SBS or BSSC. I made a ton of friends by joining a Crossfit gym. I've met a ton of friends through cycling. Meetup is good, have you had any luck on it?

It all really depends on your interests. I could give you a list of places to go and meet people at if you told me what you were into. I'd start by searching for your local interests (knitting? cycling? glass blowing? woodworking? brewing? hacking? backpacking? sailing?) and find the facebook groups/websites/meetups/shops/clubs for them and go out and get involved in those communities.

Feel free to drop me a line if you have more questions or want to know where all the good coffee spots are.
posted by carmel at 5:26 PM on July 6, 2013

Hi, I'm new to Boston, too! Feel free to memail me, I'm up for coffee or a drink or something.
posted by woodvine at 5:41 PM on July 6, 2013

I'm in Boston! Feel free to MeMail me if you want and we can get together sometime. :)

Also, the Boston MeFi crowd is fun. There's a bi-weekly trivia meetup at Tommy Doyle's in Cambridge. I've haven't been to a trivia night yet (Monday nights are difficult for me), but I hope to attend one soon! The next one is this Monday, July 8th.
posted by The Girl Who Ate Boston at 6:14 PM on July 6, 2013 [2 favorites]

I'm a native son and I still have trouble with this. Other people have already covered a lot of ground with suggestions, but there is a pretty regular trivia meetup that happens at Tommy Doyle's in Harvard Square. I haven't been in a long time, but that has to do with gym scheduling--the crowd is really cool.

Also, if you want to put together something yourself, maybe all of us who are chiming in here will come, too. :)
posted by Kosh at 6:16 PM on July 6, 2013

Really depends on what you like doing, but some suggestions:
  • Nerdnite, a monthly bar meetup where people give talks about interesting things (look for Nerdnite Boston group on Facebook)
  • If you like outdoorsy stuff, AMC Boston organizes hikes, bike rides, etc.
  • Various adult classes like Cambridge Adult Education.

posted by justkevin at 6:29 PM on July 6, 2013

Thanks for all the ideas! Please keep them coming if you have more to contribute.

I live in Somerville. Some hobbies I'm into are hiking, cycling, softball, canoeing/kayaking, camping, etc. I'm always down for trying new things though!

I'm hoping to meet you all at Tommy Doyle's though on Monday!
posted by melizabeth at 6:40 PM on July 6, 2013

Sunday Night Film Club?
posted by mkb at 6:51 PM on July 6, 2013

Doesn't this look like fun? How to find Contra Dances near to you. You do not need a partner to attend.
posted by jvilter at 6:58 PM on July 6, 2013

This is the contra dance for someone in Somerville. Tomorrow night, then off till September.
posted by mr vino at 7:15 PM on July 6, 2013

Was in a hurry and did not elaborate. If you start to go to dances, you'll see the same people over and over again and you'll begin to make friends. There are lots of dances near Boston for you to check out and if you try one and it doesn't feel right, don't give up. Dances tend to have personalities, even though a lot of the same people go to most of them. I think a lot of it has to do with who runs the dance and the hall and just - I don't know - voodoo, maybe?

There will be a lesson at the start of the evening and the caller will teach each dance and then continue to call until most everybody has it. I've noticed that there are a LOT more younger people dancing in the east, as opposed to Los Angeles, where I am. When you're first starting out, stick with the older crowd - they aren't so full of tricks and twirls for the most part. But one of the nice things about Contra Dance is that old and young dance together.

The dance in Somerville may be over for the summer, but there are lots that keep right on going.
posted by jvilter at 8:56 PM on July 6, 2013

Riffing on the contra dance suggestion a bit: A different way to get involved in social dance, with a distinctly different vibe from contra, is swing dance - and Boston has a hell of a scene. It centers on Swing City, a weekly dance, usually with a live band. They always start with a beginner lesson and it's very welcoming. Such a cool scene and something that, if you take to it, can really become a big part of your life.

The best place to find event listings (I think) is the free mag Improper Bostonian, available in boxes on seemingly every other street corner. . It lists dance, performances, music, book and literature, talk and lecture, museum, and food and drink events every week - so whatever your interest, you can find something happening that it would be cool to go to.
posted by Miko at 9:09 PM on July 6, 2013

I've been here for most of the last four years, and yeah, it can be rough. Boston has a decent music scene. If there's a kind of music that you're particularly interested in, there's probably a scene here, and that means shows to attend. For some of the genres the fan base is small and dedicated, and showing up a few times can get you an in to a new and different social scene. In my case this means dance music, but there are also plenty of other kinds of music happening as well.
posted by 1adam12 at 9:46 PM on July 6, 2013

There's also MIT's square dancing club, you'd have to sign up to take a course once the year starts again, but it's a great way to meet people of all ages.

Rock climbing might be up your alley, Boston area now (or maybe soon? Not sure if the camberville one is done yet) has 4 gyms.

I believe Nerd Nite still happens in Cambridge.

If you're in to building things/skill share there's a pile of different workshop spaces, e.g. Artisan's Asylum.

There's a sizeable fire arts community if you want to learn to spin poi/staff/hoop.

But what' I'd mostly suggest is pick a thing you like to do, do the thing a few times, and you'll start to know the people who do it. Plus learning new skills is fun in and of itself, so even if it doesn't generate a big friend group, you still benefit.
(On a side note, personally OKC was blegh for me for Boston dating.. eventually met a guy through totally separate means though, and did meet a few friends through OKC, so hey)
posted by nat at 10:11 PM on July 6, 2013

Somerville has a large number of community organizations that are pretty active. Volunteer for a good cause that you care about and you'll meet good people that share at least one of your interests.
posted by driley at 11:28 PM on July 6, 2013

I know AMC- Appalachian Mountain Club is based in Boston. Find their local branch and go hiking. The crowd may skew older but it depends on the level of hiking/activity you do. If you go regularly you will end up knowing people, plus it's a good way to get outside.
posted by bquarters at 3:49 AM on July 7, 2013

Theatre @ First is a good group of folks - besides the sorts of things you think of for a theatre group (acting, directing, set-building, ushering), they're also always looking for folks to volunteer for back-office stuff like helping create programs or even just random office work. It's a very sociable, fun group of folks ranging in age from college-aged to nearing-50 with a few outliers in either direction. A good gender mix, too.
posted by rmd1023 at 8:45 AM on July 7, 2013

Ooh, another hiker! A few of us sometimes organize mefi hikes both local (aka Fells or Blue Hills) and far (The Whites).

The trivia thing is also fun!
posted by canine epigram at 2:04 PM on July 7, 2013 [1 favorite]

I moved to New York a year ago knowing very close to nobody at all, and cycling and contra have been very effective ways to meet people. I think these are the key elements that make both cycling and contra good for making new friends:

- you see the same people repeatedly (contra more so than cycling)
- there's something to do which gives you an excuse to not talk if you have nothing to say, but there is also unstructured time when you can chat if you want (special case: people work up an appetite and have a reason to eat together)
- it's socially acceptable to struggle or fail, and to give and receive help [1]
- there is a continuum between the formal group activity and hanging out as friends, like informal rides outside the club and traveling to other dances

So maybe that will be useful in evaluating other ideas you may have. But my specific advice is, stick with the cycling and try a contra dance!

[1] It's weird how people seem to like people whom they've helped. It's like there's some crazy back-rationalization going on, where they observe themselves going out of their way to help you and conclude that they must therefore like you. Or maybe it's just a selection effect, where people who already sort of liked you are given an opportunity to interact with you more. I don't know. But the phenomenon definitely exists, even if I can't explain it.
posted by d. z. wang at 3:16 PM on July 7, 2013 [1 favorite]

Oh, speaking of the Blue Hills, I know Trailside Museum down in the Blue Hills has various volunteer positions.
posted by rmd1023 at 3:25 PM on July 7, 2013

Maybe it's time for a hike!
posted by Miko at 3:46 PM on July 7, 2013

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