I don't have and cant keep girl friends ... why?
February 9, 2014 6:46 PM   Subscribe

Since breaking up with my husband a few years ago I resolved to make some female friends. I've never really had girl friends, because I've always had a boyfriend and/or kind of liked doing things by myself (working by myself, writing, starting companies, etc.) I managed to become friends with a few women but I can't get close to them for one reason or another. First, I don't drink or smoke and find the girls I've 'befriended' to have too many vices (they smoke weed, spend time with other friends drinking or partying, have questionable morals (e.g. they are the other woman in their relationship, or have been involved in heavy drugs, etc.) for me to feel like we have a lot in common. I realize.. (contd inside)

I probably need a hobby, but the hobbies i've chosen is where I encountered some these women. I also used to go out a lot and met some of the girls through male friends, or just from making random chatter at a bar.

It's as if there are no girls my age who are just interested in clean fun. Perhaps not drinking makes me too boring? I spend my time writing books, working out, talking to my boyfriend, occasionally going to start up / entrepreneurial events, and I used to go to parties/clubs/karaoke but not so much since my relationship.

I did meet one girl at school (I've since graduated) who was kind of like me in that she was into clean living, but after inviting her out a few times and her declining b/c she was doing things with her bf I gave up on her. I should mention we're fb friends and she seems to make time to do luck and attend events/activities with her other girl friends.

I feel like I will never have a bunch of girlfriends like some women and I can't help but feel i'm missing out on something.

I also tried to reconnect with an old friend but found she was kind of a drunk and her bf smokes weed nonstop. After discussing with her my disappointment in learning my own brother was smoking and then her seeming a little defensive b/c of her bf, we never hung out after that. I mentioned us doing lunch but she never responded. I did however just attend her surprise birthday party as her bf invited me.

Now that my bf is temporarily away, I've come to realize I've failed miserably at what I set out to do after my last relationship and have fallen back into the same rut - lots of acquaintances but none to call my best friend or close friend.

Should I just give up or what could I possibly be doing wrong?
posted by soooo to Human Relations (41 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
Maybe if you stopped judging people for their pastimes, or their partners' pastimes, you'd find it easier to make and keep friends.

I am a great friend and I have lots of friends myself. A key common element between us all is that we don't judge each other. Some of my friends drink, others don't. Some smoke, others don't. Some enjoy weed, others don't. These things don't matter to me. What matters is their warmth and friendliness; that we are there for each other, and that we accept each other for the flawed humans that we all are.
posted by Kerasia at 6:58 PM on February 9, 2014 [74 favorites]

Should I just give up or what could I possibly be doing wrong?

I would never encourage someone to give up on making friends; I think good friends make the world go around. So no, I don't think you need to give up.

As for what you're doing wrong: you sound incredibly judgmental. Other women have "too many vices"? Really? Friendships are built on respect and understanding; you don't have to love every aspect of a friend's personality or condone all of their bad habits, but you do have to see them as a whole person, not a bunch of traits and behaviors.

Finally, making friends seems to work best when it happens organically - when you're actively trying, you aren't likely to see as much success. So my suggestion is to put yourself out there - chat casually with new people, engage in new activities, etc. - but don't go into encounters with the hopes of making a best friend. Those things just happen.
posted by schroedingersgirl at 7:01 PM on February 9, 2014 [7 favorites]

'Clean living' is kinda broad and very subjective, hence a bit judgey. However, if you want ppl who particularly value their health, then surely it makes sense to go to yoga classes or similar, rather than bars, to make friends. Plenty of healthy ppl go to bars of course, and quite a few booze hounds do yoga, but the odds of meeting a 'clean liver' (no pun intended) are surely more in your favour.
posted by jojobobo at 7:04 PM on February 9, 2014 [24 favorites]

First question, as always in these threads: where are you meeting these people? If the hobby you've chosen is one that self-selects for people with "too many vices," then maybe it's time to try a different one. Hell, try a few. You say "the hobby you've chosen" as if you can only have one at a time. I realize there's only so much non-work time in a day, but not every hobby requires an intense commitment. What about a once a week exercise class if you like working out, or a monthly writing group or book club?

Second thing; honestly, you come off as a little judgmental about these women's "vices." I can understand why you wouldn't want to get involved with someone who's currently struggling with addiction, or whose life revolves entirely around drinking and partying. But it's entirely possible to know people who smoke a little weed on the side or get drunk every so often but don't need to do it all the time. I do drink, for the record, but I have friends who do and don't for various reasons, and the things we do together vary a lot. Sometimes I get coffee with my friends who are in recovery. Sometimes I go out and grab a beer with ones who do drink. Sometimes I have movie nights or bake cupcakes with friends who I drink with at other times, because we just don't feel like getting booze that night. On top of the judgmental language, you seem like you're looking for potential friends to do everything together with. Most adult social groups don't work like that.

Finally, I notice you keep referring to women here as "girls." Everyone involved here is an adult with agency. "Girls" is awfully belittling, especially considering the way you're judging these women's pastimes as well. The way you contrast your "grown-up" hobbies like working out and going to networking events with theirs like partying is pretty telling. It's like you're trying to see yourself as older and wiser than these other people with their "vices." Take some time to really consciously think about whether you see these other people you meet as adult women, like you presumably see yourself. If you don't, that's a problem. Find other women you can view as equals.
posted by ActionPopulated at 7:08 PM on February 9, 2014 [34 favorites]

I don't think you're being judgemental at all. If you're not into partying, you're not into partying, and you don't have to hang out with these folks.

Presumably you are in your twenties. It can be tough to make meaningful friends at this stage of life because people are still growing up. And like your "FB friend" who always has time for other people, sometimes people in their twenties don't act in rational or polite ways. They're still working on getting social skills.

My only advice is to stay away from bars if you don't want to hang out with folks who drink and smoke.

Also, why not try Meetup.com or something, and attend a meetup where people are into a specific hobby or interest you like?
posted by KokuRyu at 7:10 PM on February 9, 2014 [11 favorites]

What about hanging out with Mormons or Baha'is or Muslims or other folks that go for the clean lifestyle you're all about?
posted by oceanjesse at 7:12 PM on February 9, 2014 [8 favorites]

Do you live in a city or in more of a suburban area? Age range?

General suggestions: workout group or class-- spinning, horseback riding, yoga, running group (not the Harriers though), hiking group? (I would also avoid softball/Frisbee/kickball given the drinking thing.)

Women's tech group/networking circle? Cooking group or restaurant club? Meetup.com is actually pretty useful in a lot of places, and it might suggest some things that you're interested in. Volunteering-- would you want to volunteer in a library or archive or museum? Political group? Tutor kids/ESL students/citizenship test? Does your college/uni have a good alum network-- maybe they host local events, or you could volunteer to host one? Are you religious at all?

The suggestion above to keep in mind that making friends in one arena doesn't mean they want to be friends/participate in all of the arenas of your life is a good one. Take things as they come, and recognize that sometimes people's lives really are just busy and unpredictable. To be honest, if I have a standing night with friends or a party to go to for an old friend, it will get priority over trying to catch up with someone I've just met most of the time.

I will also say that I don't smoke but I do drink and I sometimes enjoy food that has spent quality time in a deep fryer. I live with someone who rarely does either of the latter two things, but he doesn't judge me for the occasional scotch or wine night with friends-- how people define "clean living" and living well for themselves varies pretty widely and it tends to be a pretty personal subject. I often wish that more events for 20-30 year olds didn't market themselves based on the availability of alcohol as often as they do, but that doesn't mean the alcohol ruins a talk or lecture or whatever even if I'm not drinking that night.
posted by jetlagaddict at 7:14 PM on February 9, 2014 [1 favorite]

Yes, you sound very judgey, but at the same time if you don't drink, it doesn't make sense for you to be friends with people that do and I don't think we can all make you not judgey. (I should put the giant caveat here that plenty of people who don't drink have lot of friends that drink and don't mind going to bars/parties where the major activity is drinking, but you don't seem to be that person.)

Activities you should try: knitting groups, church, running groups, very competitive sport teams (many teams are very drinking focused and you'll want to avoid that), volunteering, church/bible study, art classes

Also, you sound a bit like one of those girls whose life revolves around her boyfriend. I think everyone realizes that as a friend they are going to be playing second fiddle to the significant other, but it's a matter of degree. How much time do you really have to devote to a friendship? It's hard to nurture and grow a new friendship if you aren't spending time together on a pretty regular basis. Long term friendships can more easily survive long stretches without seeing each or otherwise communicating, but a new friendship can't. It'll just wither away. You can't expect new friends to just want to pick up where you left off the last time your relationship ended or your boyfriend was out of town for a few weeks. What I'm saying is if you want to have quality friendships, they take time and commitment just like a relationship. That means your friends might make bad life decisions that you don't approve of and you might have to sit on the phone with them for hours talking about it. It's annoying and exhausting, but it's part of the deal. Are you up for that? Because from your question I'm not entirely certain whether you want all the ups and downs of friendship or just someone to go to coffee with or a movie when your boyfriend isn't around.
posted by whoaali at 7:20 PM on February 9, 2014 [3 favorites]

Some of this depends on how old you are. Are most of the women your age focused on raising small kids? Are people in the final stages of transitioning from 20s to 30s?

As a side, as a mid 30 something, I was turned off by your use of girls. It is one thing to show up at a dinner and say 'hey girls!' to your besties, it is another to use it generically as you did. (If they are over 18).
posted by k8t at 7:23 PM on February 9, 2014 [1 favorite]

To clarify:

I'm in my mid 20's

I don't ever say to them that their drinking or weed smoking turns me off although they know I don't do that stuff, and I would hang out with them if they ever invited me anywhere, but they don't. I think it's because it makes them uncomfortable to be around someone who won't be joining them in taking shots and the like, and that's what they do when they go out.

I've initiated contact but if I get turned down, I figure it's their turn next. I don't want to pester them and seem desperate or anything. Plus, I can and do find other ways to fill my time, albeit it can be lonely. I figure I shouldn't have to make all the effort. I think in the case of my old childhood friend who I haven't hung out with, she just already has a TON of girlfriend and doesn't really need anymore, she's preoccupied with her bf and goes out drinking with her friends.

I feel like everyone already has a clique and they aren't looking for new friends. It's indeed very hard to make friends in your 20's, when you don't work in an office or a social setting and have your job/work space as common ground, etc.
posted by soooo at 7:36 PM on February 9, 2014

I wouldn't take up horseback riding if you want to hang out with the clean living crowd, lol.

It sounds like these women are picking up on your discomfort/ disapproval and no one likes that. You might try meeting people through activities and then asking them to do stuff where you know there won't be opportunity to drink: I go hiking, skiing and watching movies or shopping with girlfriends all the time and no weed or shots are involved.
posted by fshgrl at 7:40 PM on February 9, 2014 [4 favorites]

It's indeed very hard to make friends in your 20's, when you don't work in an office or a social setting and have your job/work space as common ground, etc.

This is totally not my experience. I'm in my mid/late 20's too, I've had long stretches of un and under employment in my current city, and my social life now is mostly great. I am one of the introvertiest introverts who ever introverted, and I'm incredibly proud of how many people I've managed to meet and connect with post-college.

You know how I met most of them? Directly or indirectly through volunteering at an infoshop that is entirely dry. Granted I've gone on to drink with many of these people outside the shop, but there are no illegal substances involved when we're checking in book orders, or re-alphabetizing the shelves, or having conversations among ourselves about how we came to be volunteering at this odd little place.

Infoshops are a super niche thing, I grant you; my answer for making friends is almost certainly not yours. But if you're in a large metropolitan area, I will bet you good money that your little niche thing is out there. That's your common ground. There's no need for your workplace to be that space; lots of people like to keep their work and non-work friends and lives separate anyway.
posted by ActionPopulated at 7:53 PM on February 9, 2014 [3 favorites]

Don't stop after the first rejection, sometimes you legitimately picked a bad time. Three failed invitations would be a minimum if you still are on friendly terms.

And I'd say you're the pop definition of insane: doing the same thing over and over again, expecting different results. You won't find usually find "clean living" people at bars and clubs, but you will at activist events and outdoor clubs/meetups (or pickup sports or vegan cooking classes? -- I dunno, definitely not "clean living" here.)
posted by flimflam at 7:56 PM on February 9, 2014

I think the key here is to find at least one or two hobbies that you can find meetups for, and then go there to meet new people who might become your new friends. If you like the outdoors, that is probably a great place to meet people who are not super into the partying scene, especially if there are meet up times early on weekend mornings. If you adjust your social time outside the party zone, you will probably meet many people who are into the clean living lifestyle.
For example, I love to knit, so I go to a weekly knitting group where everyone gets to talk about how their week has been going and the projects they are working on. If you like to write, perhaps you would want to join a book club? I doubt many book clubs are held in bars while taking shots. You just have to be creative when looking for potential friend groups.
posted by ruhroh at 7:57 PM on February 9, 2014 [3 favorites]

A religious group is more likely to be drug and drink free, if that's a place you'd be comfortable in. You don't have to be religious yourself - there are social groups and volunteer opportunities.
posted by blue_and_bronze at 7:57 PM on February 9, 2014

To have a friend, you have to be a friend.

Are you viewing the people you meet as people - with their own personalities, hopes, fears and needs or just as a package of interests, availability and vices? It did seem like the latter from your question, and although your follow up changed things a little, it still seems like you're after "time fillers" more than friends.

I mean, it's perfectly OK to not want to hang out at bars or around people who smell like smoke or weed! And maybe you don't really have enough in common (for other reasons than their drinking/smoking) to form the basis for a good friendship. In that case, that's fine - move on and try other people.

If I was in your shoes, I'd join some kind of sporting/running club that regularly goes for breakfast/lunch/coffee after the sporting activity. You're not going to become friends with everyone there, but you will definitely meet people who share at least one interest.

I agree that it can be hard, especially at the start and double especially if you're trying to break into an established social circle. You might have to make a bit more of an effort in a way that seems unequal, but if they are someone worth having as a friend, it'll either even out or you'll end up not caring. So hang in there, and don't give up!
posted by pianissimo at 8:24 PM on February 9, 2014 [3 favorites]

The key to building enduring friendships is not expecting them to be totally about you.
posted by spunweb at 8:33 PM on February 9, 2014 [17 favorites]

I have no advice to offer here, but I can offer a bit of sympathy. I have certain friends I'm close to, but every time they introduce me to one of their other friends, they turn out to be heavy drinkers who fill up their conversations with endless talk of the various beers they've tried recently, their month of not-drinking that just ended and how they're so happy to be drinking again, and so on. I'm used to it -- I'm pretty much the token stable, straight-laced person for a lot of my friends -- but it does get frustrating when I meet someone new and can't participate in the conversation. I don't mind that they drink, but I'm in my 40s, and having conversations with people my age I've just met, who just pulled an all-nighter bar-hopping and stink of yeast and just want to talk about how awesome that is, has limited appeal.

I imagine it's the same for people who have no children, when it feels like everyone they meet has kids and won't/can't talk about anything except their kids, and don't want to hang out with people who don't have kids. Or people who all went to college together, and social time with them is all about college and people you've never heard of and so on and so forth, so you're just adjacent to the social activity rather than a participant.

The only solution I've found for this -- and it works well, in all three situations described above! -- is to stick with one-on-one friendship activities. I don't ask my friends out in groups, because they always want to go to bars, so I ask existing friends out for non-alcohol things one at a time. That doesn't help with the new friends, though. Hence I have sympathy, but not advice per se, except that you're not alone.
posted by davejay at 8:46 PM on February 9, 2014 [4 favorites]

So I've done a bit of moving around post-college, the latest move to a town away from my wife, and I know I'm only here for a relatively short time. I'm in my very late 20's, To find friends, I try to be open to all opportunities, I try to stop overthinking every interaction with people, and I invite more than I get invited.

This means I don't say no if something isn't my normal cup of tea. I've gone to coworkers houses to play games for hours - I like board games, but don't usually make an entire day of it. I go to meetups and yelp events I wouldn't necessarily be interested in, and try to engage with people (instead of standing in the corner twiddling with my phone). When I talk to new people, I try to 1) remember their names, 2) ask more questions than I answer, 3) be positive (this is hard for me-- I'm away from my wife in a town we don't want to build a life in, but I'm here for another 12 months so I try to emphasize things I do like).

I 'friend' people on Facebook after meeting them. I used to have a hangup about being 'friends' with someone before friending them, but recently decided I can self-filter or de-friend without guilt so I don't need to worry about it. Lots of events are announced or initiated on FB. I also use semi-private channels (group pages, group messages) much more than public channels once I have an established friend group. This substitutes for in-person daily face to face contact that speeds up friendships in high school and college (as does getting really drunk with someone, but it doesn't sound like you want to use that cheat code :) )

If I'm home for a weekend, I try to make sure I have at least one social outing planned. I did more than that this weekend-- I invited a new group of people to watch Roller Derby, I was invited to a dinner party by 1 person I knew with 7 I didn't, and there made plans to attend a concert this afternoon.

Basically, be positive, do the things you want to do, and invite people along. Eventually, you'll have a few people you know will be up for doing the sorts of activities you're interested in. Pay attention to who you are drawn to (who is interesting? who is supportive? who do you feel energized around?), and try to branch out the friendship from there-- share personal stories, ask about their lives, etc., perhaps in a different venue than the 'activity' venue.

Also, every relationship in life ebbs and flows. I try to offer more favors than I ask for, but asking friends for small favors help people feel valuable and trustworthy.
posted by worstname at 8:47 PM on February 9, 2014 [9 favorites]

I don't drink or smoke, rarely go to clubs and never bars, but find it fairly easy to cultivate friendship. Starting off, the most important factor is that friends like each other. Sometimes this liking comes rapidly -- an instantaneous click upon first or second meeting. Other times it arose as we continuously see each other, usually as part of a large group at first, then in smaller and smaller groups where we learn more about each other, our perspectives, histories, until we cross the threshhold to friendship.

As described, you seem to be going through the motions of friendship -- get drinks, do lunch, talk about relationships -- without the emotional bond that makes two people want to hang out together.

If I don't already like someone, I don't want to spend time with them one-on-one. It's too much pressure. To cultivate friendship is to cultivate your mutual liking for one another -- you are growing your feelings of liking for them, while letting them see you, get used to you, so that hopefully they will start being fond of you as well.

Say you're at a public event with a large group of strangers. Mingle until you have a sense of who you may potentially like. Next move should be upping the intimacy level only slightly, i.e. going to or meeting up at another public group event together. Next move, a house party. Next move, group dinner, etc. Hanging out one-on-one should be the ultimate goal, rather than Step Two. It's a gradual process, and as much a numbers game as dating. And just like dating, either party is free to disengage at any point as incompatibilities arise, until a bond arises that keep them together.

It is harder to make friends as we grow older, as most people will have more relationships and responsibilities and less room for new people. However, the ways of making friends remain the same -- shared interests, time spent together, mutual knowledge, reciprocity, liking /love. If a relationship has much of these, you will have found a true friend.
posted by enlivener at 8:58 PM on February 9, 2014 [5 favorites]

To a certain extent it's a numbers game. Keep trying and eventually you'll find compatible people. But improve your chances by looking in the right places.
posted by Dansaman at 9:33 PM on February 9, 2014 [1 favorite]

Whatever, you're not judgmental. People shouldn't have to be into drinking and smoking weed or cigarettes to have friends.

It is kind of annoying for one friend to be single and one partnered, though, so I'd make an effort to find partnered friends or just be extra nice if you make a single friend and kind of go out of your way not to be always talking about your boyfriend.

I recently put up an ad on Craigslist strictly platonic w4w and got like 5 responses, then messaged like 4 other people who had previously put up ads and 3 replied. Now I have more friend-dates than I know what to do with.

Craigslist gets put down way too much IMO. The best apartment, roommates, job, and friends I've ever found, I all found on craigslist. The only thing I would outsource it for is dating- it tends to be uuuuubbbber focused on sex (okc is really barely even a step above Craigslist and plenty of fish in that regard, but it is enough of a step above that I find it worth it. However, making friends on okc is like pulling teeth.)

Also, just pull up every meetup.com thing you're even remotely interested in and go to a bunch of them every night for a week. Stay for 10 minutes even if you hate it.
posted by quincunx at 9:44 PM on February 9, 2014 [4 favorites]

Take classes and workshops -- you'll find people with common interests and goals, and you'll likely have activities and projects that will lead to conversation and collaboration, which are great ways to find out which people you click with personality-wise, not just on the basis of common interests. For you, I'd recommend business classes, creative writing classes, and health/fitness/yoga.
posted by scody at 11:09 PM on February 9, 2014

I was inclined to just suggest meetups, and I realize this will sound harsh, but I'm genuinely trying to help you understand some of what may be contributing to your difficulty.

what could I possibly be doing wrong?

I suspect one thing you're doing wrong is refusing advice when it's given--even when you ask for it.

Several people have suggested you work on being less judgmental. I agree. In this and other posts you make reference to people being "a drunk," "not pretty," and "a drunkard," just to name a few ways you size up people you hardly know. (By all means, choose who you spend time with, but don't be surprised if this type of language is off-putting to would-be friends.)

Others suggest you're somewhat self-absorbed. ("To have a friend, you have to be a friend," and, "The key to building enduring friendships is not expecting them to be totally about you," are both kindly-worded versions of this.) You continue to threadsit having been told by other users and moderators that this is not a place to chat; this is relevant in that you seem to refuse help from people trying to aid you in understanding what is and isn't acceptable in certain social structures... they do that so you can better take part, not to reject you!

I could give more examples, but truly, I am not trying to beat up on you--I just think you would benefit from ceasing to label people (including yourself) and enjoying folks despite differences (that doesn't mean hanging out in bars, but it does mean not criticizing people because they sometimes x, y, or z). That is not the way to true friendship.*

You seem very intense, and that can be great! I know therapy is so often recommended here, but I must say I think it could really help you. Books can be good, and in conjunction with the right counsel, they can be great. But you need to be heard, it seems, and therapy is a great place to be heard and hear yourself.

*What if you made a friend (or several) and became very close. What would change if that friend had a glass of wine or cigarette in her hand? Would you ditch her? Feel betrayed? Maybe it was her first in years, or ever. My point is that people change. People who meet your criteria now may not always, and vice versa. I guess I didn't exactly hand pick my friends, but we're like glue, and not one of us is the same as when we met.
posted by whoiam at 1:24 AM on February 10, 2014 [13 favorites]

A bit about your "I figure it's their turn next." I can totally understand that line of thought, but friendships rarely work out that way, especially not in the beginning. Usually someone has to put in more effort than the other for things to really get off the ground. I sometimes feel the same way, about not wanting to pester people, but I've found that in my life, someone tends to take on the role of initiator. I had some Serious Talks with a few very close, long term friends back in my twenties about how I felt like I was putting in all the effort and they never initiated hanging out... and honestly, it's been a decade and they have not changed, they are just not initiators. They are super happy to hang out and almost always say yes when I suggest things to do or getting together, it's just their personalities to not be the ones to start plans. I am a lot happier about our relationships now that I've let go of expecting them to be more like me with plan-making and initiating.
posted by banjo_and_the_pork at 2:51 AM on February 10, 2014 [1 favorite]

join a volunteer organization or gym or spiritual community / take a class/workshop where you will be going to do stuff a few times a week and you will see the same people repeatedly as a feature of that. this will help with making friends & having a way to start conversations. church on sunday, or the gym a few times a week, or a class twice a week, or a food coop that meets every week, an art class, whatever you prefer.

i am the same as you about "clean living" and i found that aside from a handful of exceptions i get along better with women who are older than 20s and thus have gotten out of their drink/smoke/fuck whomever youthful partying phase. i met those women by doing the hobbies i enjoy and by being friendly and complimentary toward everyone who was there to do the hobby with me. find activities where your values and priorities are reflected, and you are now automatically spending time with people who share those things. i have two great friends who are 20+ years older than me and both in committed relationships, actually one is married - i am single - we get along well and make sure to meet about 1x a month for brunch in addition to emailing and texting regularly.

as for my friends who are women in their 20s, what we have in common is our professional training and our relationship status (most of us are single) and we make very different choices re: vices but we never judge one another. to make a new friend out of a stranger, you have to behave in a way that the stranger feels comfortable sharing stuff about their life with you - even if the stories aren't things you'd do yourself. judging just kills that openness.

don't confuse "FB friends" for someone who will actually initiate in real life. social networking is not real life. if you want to get to know someone, figure out a few things that they're into (perhaps the common activity where you met them to start) and email or text them a greeting + an interesting thing. get a good conversation going, then send some invites - over text or email, not FB - to brunch, an event, a show, whatever. it's not unlike dating.

be patient, don't expect 100% reciprocation, don't take silence or rejection personally, and have an open and generous mindset about it (to learn ways to do that, therapy!) i think people can intuitively sense desperation and judgment pretty quickly but if you are just being open and kind on a regular basis you will find yourself having increasingly good connections with strangers and some of them are likely to turn into friends.
posted by zdravo at 4:48 AM on February 10, 2014 [1 favorite]

I have acquired pretty much all my friends through volunteer work/political activism and through teaching or taking small, specialized community-ed classes. This is partly because I am more likely to meet people who share my values, partly because I see people over and over to develop a relationship before moving on to friendship (which is tricky) and partly because those types of organizations tend to host semi-parties (potlucks, planning dinners, fund-raising breakfasts, etc) which are a good bridge between working and social.

It also sounds like maybe you aren't meeting people who are moderate drinkers, etc - you're only meeting ones where every weekend is a drunk weekend and every hang-out is at a bar. I think this is very much a subcultural thing - I meet a LOT of people who are occasional drinkers and so on but who have no trouble spending time with me in a non-drunky environment doing sober things. I find it east not to pay much attention to any recreational chemicals they may use in their off hours, since it really doesn't impact our friendship.

I'd suggest clarifying your social values (not just lifestyle values) and seeking out a place to do shared work around them.

Also, I think there are social circles that revolve around couple-dom, where single women are seen as less valuable/desperate/etc, and where it's difficult to make women friends when you are single. When I've observed these settings, they seem to me to be very mainstream/generic and focused on material things (financial success, buying stuff, personal beauty) rather than on shared values (even values that I don't like - I'm not just talking about hippies.)
posted by Frowner at 4:58 AM on February 10, 2014 [1 favorite]

Nthing the idea that if you want friends who aren't drinkers, you have to look in places other than bars.

It's too bad the default social activity for 20 somethings is drinking. (Seemed fine when I was in my 20s, but kinda dumb now.) But it is, so work around it.

> I figure I shouldn't have to make all the effort.

You shouldn't have to make all the effort, but since the connection is more important to you than your new acquaintance, you might have to make more of the effort. You are correct that appearing desperate will work against you, though, you'll have to find a balance.

I think it's fine to not want to hang out with people who are focused on getting drunk and high, but you do also come across as a little abrasive. If you're combative with people you've just met, that makes it less likely they'll buddy up with you.

Of course, the biggest thing is keep trying.
posted by mattu at 6:01 AM on February 10, 2014

I'm going to agree that you're being a little judgemental about the partying, and maybe unrealistic about how friendships develop. I have two babies. The idea of partying makes me want to nap. And yet I have tons of single friends who are out partying every Saturday night, and it literally never comes up. Our friendships are focused on what we have in common; what they do outside of that is really none of my business.
posted by snickerdoodle at 6:16 AM on February 10, 2014 [1 favorite]

When I was your age, I too felt that many of my friends drank to excess, I also was your age in the eighties and it seemed the entire world was doing coke, right, left and center.

I found that I met a lot of my friends at work, and at school. I'd plan on doing activities with them that didn't focus on drinking or snorting. Going shopping, going to a street festival, literary readings, conversational Spanish classes. One of my dearest friends and I would sit in a coffee shop for an entire shift, drinking coffee and shooting the shit. (We'd tip VERY well, so we'd always be welcome.)

If I did go out dancing with these folks, I found that if I took my own car, that I could dip out when things started to get weird.

Sure, I wasn't invited to that ski weekend, but I also wasn't kept awake by that chick who brought a whole 8-Ball to Tahoe and danced around to blaring music all night.

FWIW, I was never judgemental, I just wasn't into being shit-faced, or high, or any of that nonsense, although I didn't say no to a toke in the parking lot after work.

I think it's a matter of being comfortable enough to know YOUR limits, without worrying about what other people are doing.

And yes, I was frequently the sober driver and resident cock-blocker.

I will say that the important people from that period of my life are still IN my life nearly 30 years later.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 6:16 AM on February 10, 2014 [2 favorites]

From this and other questions, it seems that you really struggle with social interactions, knowing what's "normal"/typical, behaving in a balanced way, treating others as humans. The way you see and interact with the world seems warped.

I'm not sure where you learn this as an adult - maybe therapy would help? I know it's cliche, but I think a therapist could help you identify your disordered thinking. Or attending meetups where you'll see and interact with the same people week after week to practice these basic behaviors. Try to let the judgmental thoughts float past without focusing on them, observe but don't intensely judge and analyze. Practice interacting without making judgments and interpreting the world through all of your rules.

The problem isn't with the people you are meeting. But thankfully, you can change yourself!
posted by valeries at 7:01 AM on February 10, 2014 [3 favorites]

This is what service groups are great for. You meet your friends, you hang out while cleaning up a beach or painting a school, and then you're done. If any of them are cool, you can always invite them to more things. But having an activity there will remove some of the intensity of LETS BE FRIENDS and also be something you can do sober with sober people.
posted by klangklangston at 9:15 AM on February 10, 2014

It's as if there are no girls my age who are just interested in clean fun. Perhaps not drinking makes me too boring? I spend my time writing books, working out, talking to my boyfriend, occasionally going to start up / entrepreneurial events, and I used to go to parties/clubs/karaoke but not so much since my relationship.

OH MY GOD THIS SEEMS SO BORING I COULD DIE. Just as boring as me drinking endless Tiger tallboys at The Empty Bottle probably seems to you. It's ok to find friends you actually have stuff in common with! The substance abusing harlots of vice don't really want to hang out with you, either.

Do you like food? Do you have a local "foodie" forum or a chowhound board? Groups that go out to dinner together are a great alternative to groups that go out drinking.
posted by Juliet Banana at 9:51 AM on February 10, 2014 [4 favorites]

"I think it's because it makes them uncomfortable to be around someone who won't be joining them in taking shots and the like, and that's what they do when they go out."

Your thinking may be wrong. As someone who started drinking late in life and as someone who frequently does not drink, my experience has been that people don't care. Sometimes they don't even notice. (Exception: once in a blue moon someone baby crazy wants to know if I am knocked up because that is the most exciting possibility ever!!!)
posted by Lesser Shrew at 10:24 AM on February 10, 2014

Basically every question you have asked here comes down to you being obsessed with "rules". You have predetermined what everyone "should" do and you disapprove of people who don't act that way. Also, you seem to jump to extremes. I get the feeling you think pretty much anyone who drinks is a drunk, anyone who smokes weed is a stoner, etc. Likewise, "heavy" drugs means questionable morals (I'd like to hear your definition of heavy).

You really might want to talk to a therapist about this black or white thinking. Do you ever question your "standards"? Have you ever changed your mind about one? I'm not saying you shouldn't have them; I am saying you won't make many friend if they are this rigid. As you get older you may find yourself mellowing, but that will only happen if you let yourself grow.

That said, your "rules" (in this question and others) seem to run fairly close to culturally conservative/religions standards. I think you said previously that you weren't religious, but they may very well share your values when it comes to interpersonal relations.

If that seems too boring for you, then you might have to actually consider changing.
posted by spaltavian at 10:28 AM on February 10, 2014 [3 favorites]

I've read through most of the replies so far, and there is some good advice in them. One idea I haven't read yet, but will put out there, is that you might ask yourself what you want out of female friendships. WHY do you want lady friends? I mean that as a serious question, because I think people want friends for different kinds of things. Some people like having two or three very close friends whom they can tell everything to. They find it important to know someone in whom they can confide their deepest hopes and fears (and vice-versa). Other people seem more interested in having activity partners. Others like to make friends with people who are in their same career field, or into the same hobby—it's like an identity thing. Maybe if you closed your eyes and imagined your perfect friend scenario, you'd see more clearly which need or set of needs this desire for friendship fills. And if you saw that, maybe it would give you a clue as to the best way to go about pursuing those friendships.

I agree with many others that you should stop seeking friendships in the people you meet at bars. If you are athletic, seeking friends that way can be great. Personally, I've always found yoga classes to be a terrible way of meeting people (ironically, since I think that a lot of people go to yoga w/ some hope of finding community). Women's running groups and cycling clubs, on the other hand, ought to be great places.

Also, FWIW, you say you're in your mid-twenties. I think it's very, VERY likely that drinking and drugging will become a much smaller part of social life in general over the next 10 years—the people who are boozing it up now may not become teetotalers, but a lot of them will become a lot more abstemious as time goes by. Just something to look forward to, I guess.
posted by toomuchkatherine at 10:45 AM on February 10, 2014 [3 favorites]

It seems like you want friends because you think you "should," and because you need something to fill your boyfriend-free time? I don't see any evidence that you actually want friends for the sake of forging a connection with a person. It's gonna be really hard to find non-acquaintance friends with that mindset--people know when they're your homework assignment or your quota-filler.

Do you ever just like a person? Have a conversation that makes you feel connected and happy and like you're vibing with that person? Those are how friendships grow. You have that conversation and because the vibe is great, you find ways to talk to that person more.

If that person is different from you, so what? I mean sure, if that person is a liar or a manipulator or someone who's hurting people, that's not friend material. But plenty of people can have a boozy karaoke party on Friday and hit up a farmer's market on Saturday. There's no reason you can't join them for the latter while passing on the former.

Finding a large quantity of mid-20s women who live completely "clean" 100% of the time will not be real likely, not gonna lie. So if it's not enough that the people are sober when you hang with them, then you might just have to accept that a big group of same-age lady friends isn't in the cards for you right now.

But have you considered that you don't HAVE to have a big group of girlfriends? It's neither mandatory nor, actually, all that common once college is done.
posted by like_a_friend at 10:47 AM on February 10, 2014 [3 favorites]

I don't ever say to them that their drinking or weed smoking turns me off although they know I don't do that stuff, and I would hang out with them if they ever invited me anywhere, but they don't. I think it's because it makes them uncomfortable to be around someone who won't be joining them in taking shots and the like, and that's what they do when they go out.

You may not be saying anything to them about their lifestyles, but you may still be telegraphing your judgment through your facial expressions, body language, or attitude. That aura of judgment makes people feel self-conscious and ill at ease, which, in turn, may drive them away. If you want to continue pursuing friendship with women who have alternative lifestyles to you, I suggest that the next time you go out, you pay careful attention to both what you are saying and what non-verbal cues you are sending to others.

(Personally, I am a social drinker, who has both sober and non-sober friends, but when I stumble across a potential friend who emits that miasma of judgement about me having a cocktail, I won't pursue a friendship with them.)
posted by emilynoa at 11:33 AM on February 10, 2014

What I think Askmetafilter is really good for is smacking you in the face with the cold, painful truth, but you must not get defensive if you really want the truth. Nobody knows who you are, so don't let your embarrassment or other emotions get in the way of your comprehension skills.

I just want to let you know that so many very good, very moral people smoke weed, all day, every day. Your friend's boyfriend may have a medical condition or anxiety that he uses marijuana for, the details of which are none of your business, right?

When you say "questionable morals" that is merely an opinion...I know non-drinking, non-weed-smoking, clean living women who do some pretty immoral things. Smoking weed or blowing off steam from life's many stresses with a shot at the bar doesn't make you immoral.

You may do things that *I* think are immoral~ in fact, looking at some of the questions you've asked, I can point out a few things that I would call "questionable morals". But, I bet if I got to know you and you got to know me, we could be friends. So, don't give up, no. But those in glass houses shouldn't throw stones.
posted by Grlnxtdr at 1:25 PM on February 10, 2014 [1 favorite]

It's certainly your right to befriend whomever you desire, but clearly restricting yourself to 'perfect' people (ie: those without vices) isn't working. I've yet to meet a person who doesn't have a vice of their own. It may not be drinking or smoking, but chances are even the 'perfect' have something to hide - a daily super-sized sugar-laden coffee habit, perhaps?

Do you judge people with vices (such as drinking or smoking) regardless if they do it around you? Or rather, is simply having the vice itself a deal-breaker?

If it's the latter, that might explain why you're having difficulties finding friends. Very few people consider themselves perfect in the way you have implied you are. All of my friends, for example, have at least one vice that I do not agree with/like...but it doesn't mean they're not worthy of friendship---on the contrary, we have a lot of fun and I enjoy the time I spend with them. All it takes is a little planning beforehand. If there's a huge drinking party - I won't go, but I'll go hang out the next day when things are calmer and party-mode has ended. The bonus here is that I get to hear all the great stories (usually funny ones) about the party the night before without having had to suffer through the party itself. It also means everyone is so wiped out from partying that all they want to do is stay in, cook delicious food, play board games/watch movies and socialize---precisely the things an introvert like me enjoys doing with them.

So is it that you don't want to be around the behavior associated with these vices? Or do you consider having one of these vices to be a quantifier of poor judgement? If it's the latter, that's too bad, because you and I have much in common, but you and I would never be friends. Why? Because I have a vice. And even though it's one that you'd potentially never see---you have already judged me as unworthy of your friendship for it.
posted by stubbehtail at 4:15 PM on February 10, 2014 [2 favorites]

If you like to write, don't want to party, and want friends, join a fandom. Write fan fiction.

90% of your encounters will be online, so even if people are drinking or smoking, you won't know about it. There's a built-in topic of conversation, there are regular friending memes where you can meet new people. Friending memes usually list all kinds of possible in-common topics, so you can literally shop for (and be shopped for) people you think you'll gel with.

Finally, if you so desire, it's easy to bring fandom people into your meatspace life. I met my best friend of 20 years in fandom. So that's my advice. Join a fandom, start writing fan fiction.
posted by headspace at 6:25 PM on February 10, 2014 [4 favorites]

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