A first world problem if there ever was one.
March 24, 2014 2:10 PM   Subscribe

How do I get my friends to be friends with each other?

For some inexplicable reason, it turns out I'm really popular all of a sudden and I just made about five new friends all at once, and am attempting to juggle going out with all of them. It's hard to fit it all into one week and still have time for work dinners, dates etc. They'd all probably like each other. I honestly just want them to start hanging out in a group so its easier for me to schedule my life. Is this a thing people do? Should I throw a party and invite all of them? Or just invite them to an event and say "some other friends of mine will be there?" Should I try to get two of them to be friends first and then keep adding a new friend to the group occasionally? Is this why people form bowling teams? What if they like each other more than they like me?

I honestly don't know what I'm doing because until now I spent a lot of my life hating everyone, help!
posted by quincunx to Human Relations (27 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Throw a dinner party.
posted by erst at 2:16 PM on March 24, 2014 [3 favorites]

Best answer: FRIENDSHIP IS NOT TRANSITIVE. Just sayin'.
posted by SkylitDrawl at 2:17 PM on March 24, 2014 [23 favorites]

"Hey, Friend A, want to go do Thing B? I was also going to invite my other friends C, D, and E."

Be prepared for the possibility that they might not all like each other - not saying it's impossible or even improbable that they'll like each other, but trying to force people into a friend group if it's not happening organically tends to be a bad idea.
posted by UncleBoomee at 2:17 PM on March 24, 2014

Definitely throw a party!

But don't be upset/disappointed if they don't really click with one another. In my experience, just because Person A and Person B like Person C, doesn't mean they'll like one another much at all.
posted by schroedingersgirl at 2:17 PM on March 24, 2014 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Throw a bunch of dinner parties, and/or other small group events in that vein. Just one isn't going to be enough.

That said, I have this one friend who has this other friend, and it's pretty obvious that my one friend wants the both of us to be good friends independent of her. But me and the other friend really don't have anything to say to each other. It's nothing personal, we just don't have a lot in common, and the repeated weirdly double-date ish invites make it seem like when your parents kept trying to set up play dates with their friends' kids.

Usually for me to bond with a mutual friend, I need to discover something HUGE that we have in common. It can't just be like "you're both brown haired professional ladies" or whatever. I actually once made the jump from mutual friend to really close with someone because I realized they were also a mefite!
posted by Sara C. at 2:27 PM on March 24, 2014 [3 favorites]

You also might want to hang out in smaller groups so people get more interaction with each other. The rest is pretty hard to predict.
posted by futureisunwritten at 2:32 PM on March 24, 2014

Best answer: I've had big parties where it turned out my friends already knew each other - M & L go to the same church! S and P's daughters are in the same MMA class! But they still didn't amalgamate into one big friend group. Maybe if your friends are very unattached and don't have their own friend groups this will work but in my experience that doesn't usually happen, at least not with adults. So: parties/dinners/happy hours are indeed the most likely way to do it. But don't expect much.

Oh also if you do have a party or dinner, consider encouraging your friends to invite another friend - this way they know they'll have someone to hang out with if they *don't* click with your other friends and you're busy (with your other friends). Plus you might like them.
posted by mskyle at 2:35 PM on March 24, 2014 [2 favorites]

Invite 'em all over for something; keep it small and low-key. Don't be too disappointed if they don't all bond, though. If they're all at ease around each other, that's enough of a victory. It might take a couple of attempts for any sort of casual friendship to stick, but don't force it. And keep in mind that some of your friends may prefer one-on-one time no matter how well they get along with everyone else, so you may not be saving time in the end.
posted by Metroid Baby at 2:38 PM on March 24, 2014 [2 favorites]

When is your next birthday?
posted by St. Peepsburg at 2:42 PM on March 24, 2014

I've done stuff like this before- I think it's fairly common practice in expat communities (which I almost always seem to find myself a part of.) Just invite them all to an event where there are things to keep you occupied (dinner being an obvious one, bowling if you like that type of thing, etc.) so you don't have to stare at each others' faces. It's unlikely that all 5 of them will hate one another. It's equally unlikely that all 5 of them will become besties. It'll be obvious who jives with each other and who doesn't. Just take note and don't invite two who hate each other to hang out the next time. (A mistake I once made on a weekend trip because they seemed to get along the first time they met.)
posted by Enchanting Grasshopper at 2:48 PM on March 24, 2014

Best answer: I think of the difference between a casual party and a dinner party as a question of hosting & how much orchestration has been done in choosing guests. For big parties, where it's just a celebration of something (like for your birthday maybe) you might just invite everyone, and not worry about whether they got along or even talked to each other over the course of the evening. BUt the point of a dinner party is often to select particular friends of yours who you think will have an interesting evening together - they may not end up being best friends, but you think for one reason or another they'll at least have a good conversation. ANd who knows, maybe they'll get along well enough to stay in touch independently (or at least friend each other on Facebook).

So if you can see your various friends getting along for an evening, by all means invite them for some kind of event. Dinner, board games, bowling, a TV/movie thing, a book club or hobby-based club - or you could just invite a group out for brunch, or a picnic as the weather gets nicer. All kind of depends what you're into and what your friends enjoy... The only thing to keep in mind is if you're the host, you may have to sort of keep track of whether anyone seems left out or uncomfortable. (That's one good reason for a game or something that guarantees involvement from everyone.)
posted by mdn at 3:05 PM on March 24, 2014

Best answer: As with dating, it's easier to integrate disparate people when there is An Activity instead of just a drink or a meal where conversation is supposed to drive itself.

Dinner parties (or a more casual homecooked dinner for 3 or 4) work because there's a more upgraded sense of intimacy in someone's home, and your guests have the mutual bond of being (invited) interlopers in your space.

You have to do the work of being a leader and planning movie screenings and weird food events and poker nights, but as your friends see more of each other, the frequency of interaction will give them natural opportunities to acclimate to each other.
posted by itesser at 3:09 PM on March 24, 2014

Best answer: It's definitely possible, and I agree that it's better around an "activity." Also it can work better when you introduce people two at a time - i.e. you have two artsy friends so you all take a painting class together. Or two friends who like sports so you go to a game together.
posted by radioamy at 3:39 PM on March 24, 2014 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Unfortunately I just turned 26, three weeks ago. I guess I could throw a really late birthday party, but that's pretty lame. One of *their* birthday parties is coming up, maybe I'll just invite all my other friends to it. Jeez.

Some great tips and advice guys, thank you! I definitely take the "friendship is not transitive" point and I will try not to force things awkwardly.
posted by quincunx at 4:00 PM on March 24, 2014

You don't have to do it all. It's okay to say that you're busy, or tired, or just "can't" hang out this week. Blame work if you feel like you need an excuse. Most people will be cool about it.
posted by rakaidan at 4:47 PM on March 24, 2014

I think Metroid Baby is wise. I do sometimes like meeting friends of friends in the low key ways people have smartly suggested upthread, but I often prefer one on one hanging out. I have one friend who always invites other people along, I'm sure in a totally well meaning way, but it always kinda feels like she's implying that just seeing me isn't good enough for her.
posted by mlle valentine at 4:48 PM on March 24, 2014 [1 favorite]

I have the same problem, I understand how hard it makes to schedule your life! Some of my friends have known the others (from coming to my parties) for ten years or more but they don't click. You can try but sometimes it just doesn't work, I suspect because most of us are one-on-one types. Good luck!
posted by Bunglegirl at 5:02 PM on March 24, 2014

You don't have to throw a birthday party to throw a party. Just throw a party. Pick a theme if you must.
posted by Jacqueline at 5:24 PM on March 24, 2014 [2 favorites]

Best answer: I throw interesting people parties. I invite people I think are interesting, whether they are friends or people I'd like to get to know better. I tell everyone they're welcome to bring the most interesting person THEY know as a guest.

Everyone is always flattered to be asked and it is a good premise to get people talking to each other as you have preemptively declared everyone interesting and they want to find out what's interesting about each other. Plus when people do bring a +1, you get to meet some very unusual people!
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 7:39 PM on March 24, 2014 [3 favorites]

Best answer: I've recently found myself in a related situation. In the past few weeks, a few groups of friends from totally different circles (all at the same university) have collided due to a few previously unknown mutual connections. Now, instead of hanging out with my architecture friends, student government friends, and graphic design friends separately, we all hang out together! This is great, and pretty much everyone gets along really well. Obviously not everyone is besties, and not all of us hang out every time, but the transition has been pretty smooth. I think the suggestions here are all good. I'd definitely suggest having some kind of activity to do when you are together. One of the first times friends from all my circles hung out was trivia night at a local restaurant where each table is a team. This was great, and helped avoid any awkward pauses in dinner conversation. Also, drink together.
posted by rensar at 7:49 PM on March 24, 2014

Best answer: My brother managed this through weekly barbecues for years. People could show up or not, no pressure - everyone knew he'd be there grilling every Monday if they wanted to join. It would be 3 people one week & 30 the next. So, many of my brother's friends became friends just because they bumped into each other so many times at his house.

I think it worked because of the repetition and because there was no hard-sell. He didn't tell them to be friends, he just arranged a regular common activity.
posted by jenmakes at 8:14 PM on March 24, 2014 [4 favorites]

This year Easter is on 4/20. If you can't find a reason to throw a party that weekend, then I don't know what to tell you.
posted by rtha at 8:43 PM on March 24, 2014 [1 favorite]

Have some low-key evenings and invite a smallish group. In my day it was pizza and X-Files. Another fun thing was to get a crowd together to go to happy hour some place.

Some people will make it, others won't. No stress, you'll do something next week.

Another thing I used to do to stay connected with friends was to meet at the grocery store for some one-on-one time. We'd hang out for about an hour and get our shopping done.

You don't have to go nuts, you have a whole lifetime to get folks together.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 5:40 AM on March 25, 2014

Best answer: I'm about to try something relatively similar, by throwing a board game party. Another friend is doing it with a murder-mystery party next month. Both give us all something to do, and if we click, we click. If we don't, then we'll just invite them over one-on-one later for something else instead.
posted by PearlRose at 9:07 AM on March 25, 2014

I would try introducing people who have the same interests. They're more likely to become friends, or at the very least be friendly.
posted by sam_harms at 10:05 AM on March 25, 2014

I do what jenmakes's brother did, except I held a monthly potluck instead. My goal wasn't to get all my friends to bond with each other but to ensure that there was a regular opportunity to see anyone who was interested in seeing me... they can't really get pissed that we don't hang out if I'm inviting them to my house every month. There's still time in my life for other smaller get-togethers and that's cool too.
posted by metasarah at 11:54 AM on March 25, 2014

Response by poster: Thanks you all. I marked a ton of best answers because they were all good. I think the trick is some kind of physical or mentally consuming activity at night, with booze. Games are great for this because you have a built in excuse to need more players!

You were all very helpful!
posted by quincunx at 6:34 PM on March 25, 2014

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