Fix my life
February 22, 2015 5:57 AM   Subscribe

It seems like there's something about my personality that doesn't inspire affection in other people or the desire to be around me more than once. This makes me feel sad because I like people, feel affection for them and want to be around them. What do I do now?

I'm a 30 year old lady. I have a good career, just started a great new job and moved to a great new city (Sf Bay area). I'm married, but I crave female friendship - Broad City actually makes me cry because I need a friend like that so badly. So my goal for 2015 is to make new friends. I just dont know how to make that happen.

After time and time again of watching this happen my entire life, I've thought a lot about it, tried the standard advice, and made a lot of effort to improve myself. It just doesn't seem to be working. I see coworkers progress from getting lunch once to getting lunch all the time, to hanging out after work, to hanging out on weekends, to being regular friends working at different places. I go out to lunch once and they never are free to go out with me again. Even if we go out to lunch after they get a new job, I never hear from them again even though we're both on Facebook and I like and comment on their stuff. I feel like a friendship should have some give and take. If you're so unintersted in my life to have me on mute, how can we be friends? I see one girl I worked with who I really liked say "You are loved!" on another coworker's status.* Why am I not loved? I see my husbands' friends meet each others' friends and form their own bonds. I meet people once and they are busy for the rest of their lives. I see people I know laughing and talking at a bar and have no idea what they could be talking about. The only women I know who genuinlely like me who aren't family are some of my husband's friends but they are grandmothers (he is 24 years older than me). They are great but I have never had friends my own age, and I want it really bad.

*and yes, I know it sounds like I'm way too invested in coworkers and Facebook. But I'm a social human animal and these are my only outlets to satisfy my need to feel part of a tribe.

The standard advice is i think stuff I already do:
- Making jokes, laughing and smiling easily, not being pedantic, not making "jokes" that are actually cruel or offensive or inappropriately timed, not acting like a robot
- Asking people about themselves and being genuinely interested in their lives
- Being kind and generous
- Being knowledgable about pop culture and whats going on in the world without being like "Comic book guy"
- Taking care of my appearance, not smelling bad, not appearing mentally ill
- I've been in therapy for years, have a good handle on my issues, in touch with my unconscious. - My therapist thinks I'm funny and witty and a nice person and thinks I just haven't found "my people" yet. How do I do that? She says go to meetups for left-wing athiests, but I feel like anyone who actually identifies with one thing enough to go to a meeting about it would be too extreme for me. "I would never join a club that would have me for a member" type of thing.
- I friend people on facebook and post things about myself without spamming or TMI. Same with Twitter.
- I'm not shy. I'm not judgemental. I'm not averse to drinking, pot, sex, dancing, whatever. I don't personally do a lot of that stuff but only because I have no friends, not because I'm against it.
- i can talk intelligently about deep stuff or emotional stuff as easy as I can talk about shallow stuff. I try not to be a snob or a dummy.
- I go to metafilter meetups and meetups/lectures about my profession. Sometimes I make acquaintances but .. Then what? Our conversations never get past that "awkward getting to know you" stage. I always think getting to know each other on social media will work better but it seems like they put me on mute immediately. This only makes it more difficult to motivate myself to keep doing this stuff.
- I don't have a traumatic past, my childhood was relatively normal. My dad was a heavy drinker and we had to flee our house many evenings because he would get really loud, but I didn't get hit or anything like that. I think not being able to have friends over, spending every summer with my grandparents, and needing to keep this giant secret contributed to getting this ball rolling that now can't be stopped. I did have all of these same issues though with making friends. I think I missed out on whatever training people get while I was lying in my bed every afternoon by myself "waiting to die". I remember even in 2nd grade thinking no one wanted to be my friend because I had no friends, so how could this possibly be fixed?
- I went on OK cupid a few weeks ago and made a profile for myself looking for girl friends. Got no bites. I sent a few messages to awesome-seeming ladies and that went nowhere.
- When I do like someone I try to let them know by reaching out to them a lot without being creepy. Maybe I'm not doing this right?

I think whatever problem people have with me is in here, although I don't know:
- Hanging with me I'm often kind of quiet because I don't know what to say next.
- Whatever I come up with to say, people tend not to like it. I can only think of boring stuff like.. jobs, pets, neighborhoods, tv, a thing I saw on Metafilter, or whatever 1 thing we have in common. People seem to get visibly annoyed by these topics, but I honestly don't know what else people find to talk about.
- I think I'm just more comfortable around people I've known forever and therefore more pleasant. But how do I get to know someone that well?
- In moving to the Bay area, I could only afford to move to a place that's far away from SF and any type of fun stuff like bars, cafes, nightlife, hipster regression to childhood stuff ( and I love that stuff). The house I'm renting is really nice and really affordable so I'm loathe to give it up.
- I'm not going to do the whole "show up somewhere every day and be a regular" for that reason as well as temperament. My crippling anxiety at being perceived as a chronic weirdo loner will not let me do that.
- I'm not into sci-fi or fandom or comic books or Jane Austen and the other stuff that seems to bring together people like me. I get bored by stuff that's so very specific and single-minded.
- I'm definitely not a church person. I am really interested in Buddhism but as a middle class white lady schooled in the humanities, feminism, social justice, anti-colonialism, etc., I feel embarrassed about discussing this, I cringe at the sound of my own words. Oh, you like my ancient culture? You find my ancient culture personally useful? That's so great for you.
- And finally, while I'm being honest, I'm afraid of having to deal with people I don't like and getting into relationships of obligation with them. Do people I like feel that way about me?

This is not one of those "How do I be okay with being alone for the rest of my life?" questions. I don't want to be okay with this, I want to fix it. I mean, I can continue on this way, I'm not depressed or suicidal. I just want to find the cause of the problem that's making people not like me, so I can fix it. I like people and I want them to like me back. Would it be bad to email some of the people who decided not to be my friend and ask them why? Solicit critiques from IRL mefites? I really just want to know and won't hold it against them. But I don't want to make anyone feel uncomfortable. What should I do?
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (44 answers total) 38 users marked this as a favorite
I wonder whether your desperation to have a good friend comes off as neediness. Just like in romantic relationships, I'd think neediness wouldn't play well in the friend arena either. I would suggest taking each person on their own terms and not as a "potential future Good Friend". Don't assume you'll ever see them again and don't project an obligation on them to see you again--just enjoy the actual time you have together. You won't have lost anything, because you will have had an enjoyable time. This is the same advice I'd give if your question were about dating.

I also wonder whether there's a clue in your question when you say that your husband is 24 years older and some grandma-aged women do like you. Maybe you just relate better to people older than yourself? Is there a reason you don't want older friends?

Talking about pets, jobs, etc. is totally normal. But you might want to try making more personal disclosures about yourself with people that you want to get closer to, as well.
posted by mysterious_stranger at 6:20 AM on February 22, 2015 [14 favorites]

How much do you initiate? That, to me, was the thing that brought me from "alone most of the time" to "being able to go out with people regularly." I know it seems like it's more "give" than "take" when you start doing this, but I think most people like to be asked, rather than be the asker. If you are willing to invite coworkers out to lunch, then do that! If they decline, they're not going to be long-term friends, but you don't come across (here) as someone who would scare people off.

Finding something you like to do is also very helpful. Something you can do regularly. For me, it's community theater, which instantly gives me a whole cast and crew of people who kind of are forced to hang out with me for a couple of months (SO I CAN WIN THEM OVER WITH MY CHARMS!!). Do you have any hobbies or interests you could work into your "meeting people" regimen? I find meetups difficult because I never know what the folks at them would want to talk about, but if it's a gaming session or a theater thing or doing crafts, I know we can at least talk about that.

Finally, I'd say to not make this so much of a priority. People love being liked, but being liked a little too much can feel strange and uninvited. Ask coworkers out to lunch once in awhile but don't assume it'll be every day, you know?

Good luck!
posted by xingcat at 6:29 AM on February 22, 2015 [4 favorites]

Would it be bad to email some of the people who decided not to be my friend and ask them why?

Yes, this would be a bad idea, they are likely just busy. I don't think OkCupid is a good forum for making friendships. My intuition is that most people who list "friends" as an interest are putting that there as a cover for when people they're not interested in contact them.

The truth is that 30's are a notoriously tough time for maintaining and forming friendships. People are working fulltime, moving, having kids, getting married and divorced, etc. Even amongst my close friends (who are a couple hours away) we're all so busy it's hard to find time more than about 3 times a year, sad but true, and that's been true since our 20's. So understand given your constraints (not going out to social places, and wanting friends your own age), it's going to be more difficult, and perhaps is why you're finding it difficult. I'm similar in age to you and while I want more quality female friendships, when I've tried to nurture new friendships it's been really hard (I have a kid too so my time is even more limited), and then I realize I'm not even keeping up with my existing relationships and feel overextended.

It sounds like you have a lot of fears about relationships with others that could use some unpacking, particularly with being perceived as a weirdo loner (going out to a coffee shop by yourself with a good book, or going to a movie alone will eventually be a pleasure for you). Conversely it sounds like you need to spend some time figuring out what activities you do like instead of what you're not interested in. Are there classes you've always wanted to take? Things you want to make?
posted by lafemma at 6:32 AM on February 22, 2015 [2 favorites]

People seem to get visibly annoyed by these topics

I'm not sure what's going on here, but this part feels like it needs some more explanation. There is nothing inherently wrong with talking about jobs, tv, current metafilter events, etc. So either a) you are reading annoyance where there is none or b) there is some other dynamic at work in those moments, something about how you're approaching that dialogue that might be an issue.

I definitely would not email people who didn't become your friend -- if I received such an email from someone I would feel super, SUPER uncomfortable and not at all ready to give them an honest critique because who knows how they would deal with it? and besides, my reasons for not hanging out with someone might not really be all about them, you know? But if you can find someone who is willing to meet with you and give you some feedback, then maybe that would help. I think there are also coaches who work with people on self-presentation and depending on what your issue is, they might also be able to assist you.

To the actual advice, though: it is not weird to prefer the company of people you know well and to find icebreaking hard work. That's how most people feel. There are two things that have worked pretty well for me in the friend-finding department:

-- making friends online through chatty forums etc. that then transition to real-life meetups: the context gives some shared topic to discuss but it doesn't involve as much asking people to hang out when you don't know each other well yet.

-- activities that are pretty structured yet still allow for a certain amount of personal sharing. For me that's been things like board game nights, tabletop RPGs, improv classes, etc., but other hobbies or skills might be more to your taste. Book club? Photography meetup? It doesn't have to be a meeting about some kind of Cause. The idea is just that you have a guaranteed topic of conversation with the other people there and some rules about what you're doing while you're there; that eliminates a lot of the awkward silences and lets you acclimatize to people a bit before trying for deeper friendships.
posted by shattersock at 6:32 AM on February 22, 2015 [5 favorites]

A possibly less healthy approach than the good advice above, but maybe in the line of what you're looking for, would be to hire someone sort of like a professional wingman. He/she could meet with you on a mock-friends-going-out-for-lunch "date", and then let you know his/her impression. As others have noted, it's inappropriate and difficult for people you didn't hit it off with to give you a "critique," but there may indeed be factors we have no idea about that color people's impressions of you.

Why this isn't crazy: Someone who can give advice needs to (a) interact with you in person and (b) be motivated enough to give honest advice. Unfortunately the people who naturally fall into these categories, like your husband, may be by selection blind to anything that most people find a bit off-putting. I suspect your therapist isn't in a great position here either, because she may not have any natural conversations with you that aren't, well, about you!
posted by cogitron at 6:48 AM on February 22, 2015

I am similar to you, it is not easy for me to make friends, but I do. Here are a few things from your post that jumped out:

1. What do you do? Not, as in work, but what are your hobbies outside of work? Do you garden, spend time with pets, play basketball? Now, I know people always suggest this as a way of meeting new people, which is a great idea, but it serves another function as well - when you meet people at work, if you have nothing going on in your life, you could maybe come across as boring and needy. If you do stuff, then when your coworkers ask you what you did this past weekend, you can reply with a cool activity and seem like you have interesting things going on in your life. And, if you want to get closer to your coworkers, you can mention it IF relevant. If you play basketball, it would be weird to randomly start asking coworkers to play basketball, but maybe one day one person mentions they used to play in college. Then you can say "oh cool, I play every other Thursday if you want to join"

2. Do you ever initiate getting together/outings? Honestly if you are quiet and always just showing up and not saying much, people might just be forgetting to include you.

3. "When I do like someone I try to let them know by reaching out to them a lot without being creepy. Maybe I'm not doing this right?" Again, I think you may be coming off a little lonely and needy. While I am definitely not a role model for making friends, when I meet someone I like, I reach out to them once or twice. Then, I see how much its reciprocated. Some people may like you well enough but are busy with their own lives. And, as much as I hate to say it some people (especially in larger cities i have found like NYC, DC, SF etc) are pretty shallow about social stuff and focus on hanging out with people who are cool, attractive, will improve their social status, introduce them to more cool people etc. It is definitely possible to make great friends, but just keep in mind that not everyone is going to want to be your friend. Just because you like someone does not mean they will like you. Even if they like you perfectly fine to say Hello or chat with it work, they may not be interested in taking it further and your reaching out them a lot appears weird and annoying.

4. "Whatever I come up with to say, people tend not to like it. I can only think of boring stuff like.. jobs, pets, neighborhoods, tv, a thing I saw on Metafilter, or whatever 1 thing we have in common. People seem to get visibly annoyed by these topics, but I honestly don't know what else people find to talk about" My take on this is that you are focusing too much on them on appearing needy. I know people always bring up "how to make friends and influence people" and say to focus on the other person and not talk about yourself, but it is a little bit more complicated than that. If all you do is focus on the other person, and just ask them questions, it makes the other person uncomfortable and you can appear desperate and boring. You have do to a little give and take to make sure the person is interested in talking with you as well.

Good luck!
posted by seesom at 6:50 AM on February 22, 2015 [7 favorites]

Any chance you're stifling yourself a bit in the quest to be likeable? Your take on your interest in Buddhism made me laugh. If you were making jokes like that on my FB feed I would take note: possible member of my tribe. Perhaps invite to next party. There is a lot of fear of causing offence here (it seems) and while that is not in itself a bad thing, if that is going on at the expense of letting your freak flag fly, it's going to make it hard for people to notice the you under the polite and socially acceptable inoffensive you.

I may be off the mark? But that was my knee-jerk, that you have thought about this too much and may now be projecting a persona crafted to be universally likeable. Which nobody will quite know what to do with. Riffing off adventures with a drunk father (just an example) will make some people cringe, sure. But it will make others appreciate openness, wit, ability to rise above, etc. 'Deep' conversations should come with a smidge of overshare, even when you don't know the other person particularly well. Otherwise there's nothing for the other person to take away to feel they know you better.

Your second-last sentence seems telling. Bids for friendship and intimacy come with a risk of offence. Not everybody will like you, and that's totally fine. But you often need to give people something to delight in or take offence at to get to the next level. I know loads of people with very pleasant personas; good conversationalists with good manners and...and those are people I never see out of shared activity X, because my take-away is that they do not wish to tell me about how they are secretly lolzing at their interest in Buddhism and they do not wish to tell me about what went on in their childhood home, because they do not want the relationship to progress beyond chatting innocuously at X.
posted by kmennie at 7:01 AM on February 22, 2015 [31 favorites]

I would definitely encourage pursuing activities that you are interested in - not for the goal of making friends - and seeing if that leads to friendships that way. Im not sure if it's coming off to me this way because you're trying to describe the situation for the sake of this question, but could it be you're putting such a great emphasis on "making friends" that I wonder if it's making you seem less present, and less there for the activity, which could be interpreted as less genuine. Or leading you to talk about "interests" in a way that is not as relevant to the context of the situation, perhaps?

I don't think pursuing your interests in Buddhism is at all weird! It's great because people get into Buddhism classes from a more historical angle, with some "life lessons" on the side, from the spirituality angle 100%, or from the "what can this do for me" angle and stick with it for reasons beyond. Like a church, interests in Buddhist traditions and joining a sangha can provide community, volunteer opportunities, etc. Maybe start by looking into mindfulness meditation community events, as a general term to google?

Good luck!
posted by NikitaNikita at 7:05 AM on February 22, 2015 [2 favorites]

She says go to meetups for left-wing athiests, but I feel like anyone who actually identifies with one thing enough to go to a meeting about it would be too extreme for me.

This stood out to me, and I would encourage you to revisit your assumptions here. Speaking anecdotally, I joined a left-wing atheist meetup group when I lived down south, and when I told my friends I was doing so they pretty much all (even the left-wing atheist ones) had that same assumption and busted out the neckbeard/parents' basement/fedora stereotypes. Honestly, even I was half-expecting this going in, but I went anyway, and the group was a) really rather awesomely diverse - families, older couples, younger people - and b) truly not All About Atheism. We had regular dinners together, and various members hosted parties and other get-togethers. I met a lot of cool people there - it really was more about having a social group than A Place To Hate God.

My point is that you might be doing yourself a disservice if you preemptively decide that groups with a specialized interest (atheism or otherwise) are going to be focused overmuch on that interest. Sure, that could be the case, but until you give it a try you won't know. My general rule is to make myself go to five meetings of a group before I decide if it's for me - that gives me time to start recognizing faces and get a little bit over my initial overwhelming social awkwardness and inclination to decide right away that something isn't for me; maybe it'd help for you, too?
posted by DingoMutt at 7:19 AM on February 22, 2015 [12 favorites]

She says go to meetups for left-wing athiests, but I feel like anyone who actually identifies with one thing enough to go to a meeting about it would be too extreme for me. "I would never join a club that would have me for a member" type of thing.

You are talking yourself out of a potential solution based only on a feeling. Why not try going to at least a few meetups and just see what people are actually there? Maybe they will be too intense for you - or maybe there will be people there who are looking for friends, like you. My local atheist group does have some of those super-intense folks, but it also has people who are friendly and nice to hang out with.

Other suggestions:
* Take a class in something you are interested in.
* Try going out for coffee at a local spot. You imagine that it's going to be a bad experience, but did you try it? Try it. If it completely sucks after 30 minutes, you can leave.
* Look into meetups for other things you are interested in - humanism, museum-hopping, picnics.
* Volunteer for a cause that's important to you.
* Join a chorus

And don't take the work situation seriously. Right now I am on the low end of the lunch totem-pole, but at another point I was a long-timer who newbies would have liked to lunch with. I rarely did so, because breaking the ice was hard for me, too. And I wanted to have lunch with my long-time buddy with whom I could discuss my hunt for a better job.
posted by bunderful at 7:20 AM on February 22, 2015

Nthing that anything you may be doing that comes across as needy is a big turn off for other people. One way to overcome this is to participate in activities that you genuinely enjoy doing for their own sake without any agenda about meeting other people and making friends. If that happens, great. If not, it's never a waste of time to pursue an activity that you enjoy.

Also nthing that not everyone is going to like you or want to be your friend, and that's ok. Something really magical happens when you are honestly able to say "So and so doesn't like me? Meh, that's their loss." It frees you from having to try too hard in a way that puts people off and doesn't make any difference. People also sense that, have more respect for you, and tend to treat you accordingly.

I also highly recommend reading this article about how older folks can make friends. Lots of great tips there.
posted by jazzbaby at 7:23 AM on February 22, 2015 [5 favorites]

Also - we kind of have a fantasy, in our culture, of the female friendship. We tend to feel that if we do not have a circle of girlfriends who we spend a lot of time with and tell everything to.

I wish I could remember where I read this - maybe here? - but it was about a woman who was deeply disappointed at how her life did not have these friendships, until she found out that almost no one really has that kind of friendship - not the Sex and the City kind of relationship, where you see your friends nearly every day and do almost no shopping or household chores alone.

I prefer just hanging out with close friends, but since at this stage of my life most of them have children and families and are not available to go get brunch at a moment's notice, I also have a lot of activities in my life. And doing something fun or interesting with other people is still really satisfying even when I don't know them that well.
posted by bunderful at 7:29 AM on February 22, 2015 [6 favorites]

I think a lot of this is just what it's like being 30-something in a big city. I have several close girl friends who also live in NYC; we're all in our 30s -- but we've been friends since college or grad school. I have a few friends (but not close friends) from old jobs that I still meet up for drinks with occassionally. Even the good friends I have who live a 5 minute cab ride away --- we see each other maybe once every 5 or 6 weeks. Life is just freaking busy. Everyone's married, some have kids now. We're often out of town at different times, or have work obligations, etc. Going out is expensive, but inviting people over means I have to spend my Saturday cleaning the apartment. I want to spend time with my husband, or just lay around in my sweatpants and play video games sometimes. Scheduling among adults is hard. This Shouts and Murmurs is shockingly accurate for many of my friendship interactions.

Becoming close with someone you work with is especially hard, and risky. "Getting close" means sharing things with that person that you don't necessarily share with acquaintances. It's hard to know who at work will be cool with that, who will use it against you to their advantage, who will "accidentally" mention it to someone at the office holiday party. As a 30 year old woman, most of what I talk about with my friends is our relationships, our plans re children, or thinking about moving to a new location - these things are not things I want my workplace to know about.

To be honest, I'd probably be a little put off by the age gap with your husband as well. It's not his age, per se. It's just that I'd wonder if you and I had anything in common, given that you choose to spend the majority of your time with someone 24 years older. It goes the other way too - if a coworker was 40 and her husband was 20, I'd think we didn't have much in common. I know this is a snap judgment, but my available time for friendship is limited, so I have to make shortcuts to determine if the friendship is worth pursuing. Also, most of my friendship interactions happen as couples - dinner parties, etc - friendships have fizzled because someone's spouse was a drag to hang out with or the four of us just didn't click as a group, so I'd be worried about that as well.

I'd: (1) look for friendship opportunities outside of work (join a club or take a class); (2) not bring up or mention your husband's age at least until the friendship has taken hold; and (3) initiate initiate initiate! Don't assume someone's doing a fade out just because they're busy at the first time you suggest -- people are just busy, a lot. It can take several tries to actually arrange a meet up.
posted by melissasaurus at 7:30 AM on February 22, 2015 [7 favorites]

I was going to say to stop trying so hard. Your longing to have good friends may be showing up as desperate and there's nothing like neediness to make people run for the hills. The OKCupid thing is a sign that perhaps you're trying too hard. I'm twelve years older than you and maybe more old-fashioned, but that's basically like cold calling for friendships. Friendships have a courting phase too. It's a slow progression. There is a getting to know you time. For now, it might be best not to invite anyone out to lunch until you're more comfortable with yourself and you get to know people better and they get to know you. Also, there's nothing like having your own life to attract people. If you're doing your own thing and are comfortable eating lunch on your own, and content with your own company, people will be attracted to that.

It might just be me, but I would slow down on the Facebook and Twitter thing. Stop friending people for now and stop commenting on people's photos if you don't see them or interact with them in person. Of course if someone gets engaged or something, wish them congrats, but other than that, give Facebook a giant break. Some people will perceive it as semi-stalkerish if you're commenting on posts when you don't have a relationship in real life. In my opinion, social media is not the best venue to developing friendships and getting to know people.

Left-wing atheists: I'm an atheist, liberal. I'm not ashamed of my beliefs but it doesn't come up in conversation that often. If it does for you, it may be a turnoff. You're probably not discussing it on the regular, but I'm just putting that out there. The fact that your husband is 24 years older, may be a deterrent as well. Some people may not find you relatable because of your lack of faith and the age difference in your marriage. That's not to say that you won't have friends, but some people will judge you for that and that's how it goes.

I do agree with your therapist's advice to join a group that interests you. I have a few close friends who I see monthly, sometimes more, sometimes less. The rest are situational friends -- my running friends, my gym friends, my school mom friends, my work friends. I even have a movie friend. We only meet up to go to movies and get dinner/drinks afterward. When you're married, and working, you're not going to have a ton of time to be hanging out. I find that my situational friends fill my social needs. It might be a good idea to join a group or a gym. Be yourself and let friendships grow slowly and naturally. You probably won't be super close with all of your situational friends and that's okay.

There is a great freedom in acknowledging that some people will not like you. That's the case with every person on the planet. You're not going to click with everyone. Some people are not going to like you for their own reasons and that's okay.

Lastly, understand that it is difficult for just about everyone to make friends when they have moved to a new city. Good luck.
posted by Fairchild at 7:30 AM on February 22, 2015 [5 favorites]

I think volunteering would be a great idea--maybe especially with people in a hospital, nursing home, or homeless shelter who are lonely themselves. You may naturally become friends with other volunteers, but regardless, you'd have the chance to give kindness and affection to others. I guarantee it will make you feel good.
posted by three_red_balloons at 7:42 AM on February 22, 2015 [1 favorite]

The tone of your post comes off as desperate (this is not a judgment, it's an observation). So you are probably vibing that pretty hard and that tends to scare people away. I think people gravitate towards people who sort of have this implicit belief in themselves that they are fun to hang out with. It's like if you just sort of give off the vibe that you are the kind of person that has friends, then people take that at face value. Also, friendships develop organically and sometimes just take time. Definitely just showing up to the same things over and over and just being your funny self helps. I've made good friends just going to the same gym class three times a week year after year after year.

If you make friends w older people more easily, I would do that. What's the problem with it? Good luck and peace.
posted by gt2 at 8:05 AM on February 22, 2015 [2 favorites]

When I say that friendships happen organically and over time - I mean like, if you go to work everyday and have contact with people there on a regular basis, you say casual stuff, comment on work stuff, joke, etc. Eventually you get to How was your weekend kind of stuff, then over time , people start sharing stuff about their lives and people bond. It takes time and regular, consistent exposure to each other. That's why so many people makes friends through work. Because you spend time with each other consistently. Same w clubs and classes and gym classes and event meet ups. It's the constant exposure over time that let's people figure out if they have common bonds.
posted by gt2 at 8:16 AM on February 22, 2015 [1 favorite]

Sometimes I make acquaintances but .. Then what? Our conversations never get past that "awkward getting to know you" stage.
It takes awhile. I know exactly how this feels. I don't know. Part of all of this is related to, I think, a redefinition of what "friendship" is. Until recently (I'm about your age) I thought my girl friends should be like my girl friends from high school and college: always available to do stuff with, knew all my secrets, someone who I could just laugh for hours with and make fudge with and who loved me platonically and said it.

It never worked because Holy Boundaries. The people who wanted THOSE kind of friendships with me in my late 20s, early 30s? They were all really bad at being friends because they invariably had sketchy boundaries or in some cases had no boundaries at all. And the friendships that started out so shiny and awesome somehow ended up in the express lane to Drama Town. Those people all loved creating drama. They probably still do; I don't know, I no longer deal with any of them.

Here's the thing: I am not saying YOU like drama or that you have bad boundaries. I don't think I ever particularly liked that stuff myself, but I think that it goes pretty closely hand-in-hand with those kind of relationships. And after one too many of them I was like "ok, time to reevaluate what I want out of Friends and Friendship," and I realized that I want things like:
- Company: someone to go to movies with, to get a manicure or a pedicure with, someone to have lunch with sometimes
- Support: someone who is going to be excited when I have good news, or who is going to offer to take me for dinner when I've just been dumped, or who will help me move
- Humor: Someone who is funny and witty and sees the works in a kind of bent way like I do
- Smart: Someone who has opinions on something - current events, fiction books, music, etc.

Nothing earth shattering. Nothing intense. Also, I don't particularly want love any longer from my friendships - that is something that takes years to develop. I think of friends now more as "cool person with whom to spend time, someone I care about," not necessarily, "person I want to see as much as I can because they're so awesome; someone I love." This redefinition process has been very rewarding for me because I no longer have so much weight on my Friendships, and that allows for my relationships to grow naturally.

Other things:
- OKCupid is not designed for finding friends. Try Meetup. I have a knitting group and there are ladies there that are my knitting buddies. I like them; they're fun. I only interact with them on knit nights.
- Delete Facebook. It's hurting you more than it's helping right now. I deleted Facebook and my relationships have improved since. I use text and occasionally email a lot more now with friends.
- Pick up a cool hobby, preferably one where you create stuff! Not to meet people specifically but just because it is good for your soul and self worth.
- Be nicer to yourself. You are your own best friend, really, always and no matter what. So be kind to yourself.

Take care.
posted by sockermom at 8:48 AM on February 22, 2015 [24 favorites]

She says go to meetups for left-wing athiests, but I feel like anyone who actually identifies with one thing enough to go to a meeting about it would be too extreme for me.

I gotta tell you, I did basically that - women atheist/agnostics - and very quickly met two people who I routinely see socially now and a bunch more I'm friendly with at meetings and events. I think the vibe is a lot different than a non-gendered organization would be, and I probably would also not go to a generic atheist gathering, but if you can find one for women, especially if their activism is expressed through volunteer work, that's a very different kind of space and I'd encourage you to try it if you can find one that appeals.

If you're in the Bay Area, there's a huge "maker" culture, so pick a thing you like to make or would like to look into making and go check out where people are doing that. Working alongside people can make more interesting bonds right from the start that you don't really get from chit-chat.
posted by Lyn Never at 9:04 AM on February 22, 2015 [4 favorites]

It may be helpful to look for a therapy group, maybe one specifically for women. Doing group therapy would give you a place to practice your relationship-building skills as well as (more importantly) a place to get feedback on your relationship-building skills "in action," in a way that's not really possible in individual therapy (where the therapist is, appropriately, very invested in creating a supportive relationship with the client). It may also give you a chance to see that a lot of other women don't have those BFF relationships, either, which may help you feel more normal.

Your therapist might have ideas on where to find a therapy group, or you could check Psychology Today Group Finder or Craigslist. If you have hospitals or wellness centers nearby, they may also have flyers.
posted by jaguar at 9:05 AM on February 22, 2015 [2 favorites]

You say you feel comfortable in therapy and have most of your issues worked out--would you be willing to try group therapy? You can get objective feedback from how you're coming across in a social situation.
posted by joeyjoejoejr at 9:05 AM on February 22, 2015 [2 favorites]

Nthing that you come off as trying WAY too hard, your husband's age may be hindering you as couple socializing is more common in our life stage, and for single women who want to go out, etc your marriage and location are probably a hinderance. I think volunteering, meet ups, or a shared hobby are your best bets. I've never made a close friend in any of those situations, but I've also never deliberately set out to make friends through those activities. I have friends who have definitely made new friends through all of those things (though typically they aren't super close BFF friendships).

It may be helpful to actually back off from this desire a bit and focus on the relationships you have - with your husband, family and maybe husband's friends if they like you? Now that I have a family myself I find that my friendships are less primary to me naturally (kind of in a very sad way - I am so bummed I rarely can see my BFFs, but life is busy).

To some degree you are just in the wrong life stage to build a Broad City style BFF relationship. I'm in my late thirties married with kids. My close friendships are still mainly with people I met in childhood, college, grad school or in my 20s. Other than that I have a few close real-life friendships with former co-workers. I see these people so rarely it sometimes makes me cry, but they are the people I prefer to look at on Facebook and honestly are mostly the people I choose to interact with on social media (I'm just not that interested in adding new people to that type of interaction so may block a new friend or acquaintance. I also don't really like Facebook that much.)

Social media and ok Cupid are both terrible ways to start friendships. I don't think most people go on Facebook to make new friends. And people go on ok Cupid to find dates.

I think you are also barking up the wrong tree with co-workers. I am serious about my career and have many, many relationships with former/current co-workers and probably spend a great deal of my time on these relationships, but they are professional relationships with boundaries. We talk about work, our field, our families (to some degree) and don't share awkward personal details much. Those relationships grew naturally out of shared interests at work, shared ambitions, and desire to advise each other and keep informed about industry doings. My handful of close BFF type friendships that derived from work were organic - I wasn't looking for friends, we just started talking at work and liked each other, started meeting up outside of work, and usually our SOs hit it off. If someone was trying too hard to have lunch with me I would likely find that a turn off.
posted by rainydayfilms at 9:51 AM on February 22, 2015

I don't have the answer, and in fact I have a version of this same problem myself, but this part of your post struck me:

"My dad was a heavy drinker and we had to flee our house many evenings... needing to keep this giant secret contributed to getting this ball rolling that now can't be stopped... I was lying in my bed every afternoon by myself 'waiting to die'."

I thought that by this point in the thread, others would have jumped on that, so maybe it's not as glaring as I find it. But to me, it's like, "What could possibly have been the cause of death? All that's in this library is this globe, these tasteful posters, THIS BIG SMOKING GUN, and a bunch of dusty books." Especially because your take on your experience is, "I don't have a traumatic past, my childhood was relatively normal." Yes, sure, people have it even worse, but I don't think it's far-fetched that your childhood experience plays into your troubles with connecting. Are you satisfied with how you've dug into that possibility with your therapist?

I wish I had more helpful thoughts to add - I empathize!
posted by daisyace at 10:09 AM on February 22, 2015 [26 favorites]

It seems to me daisyace is exactly right - unpack that casual "oh yeah, we had to flee for our lives at night and each afternoon I waited to die" throwaway with a professional.

With an alcoholic dad, you the daughter may believe you don't deserve friends or that anyone would want to be friends with you in the first place. That belief may be the roadblock. You may have married an older man to work through dad-related issues? I suggest this due to my direct experience growing up with an alcoholic dad and living in fear. I am working through believing I have anything to offer a friendship. And I'm processing my divorce from a much older man myself.

I wish you the best.
posted by Punctual at 10:29 AM on February 22, 2015 [4 favorites]

You said you just moved. Not sure how soon that is-- but I have moved as an adult for jobs and it takes me a year or two to make new friends. I also found that the place I moved to (Los Angeles) had very different "cultural rules" for friendships than the places I'd lived before (Michigan). For example because it is a huge city you might only see a person 2x a month...but they can still be your best friend. And because of this time delay it can take a year to get to know someone well enough that you start to do one-on-one things together. Or learning that because a lot of the kinds of people I wanted to know are not really well-off, and because LA is always gorgeous and you can always go outside, that scheduling a bring-your-picnic-at-a-park party, or a hike, or a "use up your groupon" fun time, instead of "let's go spend money at a bar/restaurant," were higher-yield for me in getting people to attend frequently enough to make friends. These new rules compounded the difficulty I had just in being awkward and introverted anyway. I am not familiar with SF but I suspect it has its own friendship culture and the LA rules might not be in effect.

In your language I recognize a lot of my own sadness and anxiety over being lonely during my first years in LA, and my heart breaks for you, because yes you do deserve friends! I don't have advice other than keep plugging away at the things you have tried, and try to observe other people's friendships and see if there are new SF rules you can adopt into your approaches. Also know, if you've been doing these efforts for a year-- that you're so close to seeing some things bloom for you.
posted by holyrood at 10:39 AM on February 22, 2015 [2 favorites]

You can be the coolest person in the world - but if your alcoholic father taught you to keep your personal life a secret and project a false, happy face to the world, I can almost guarantee you are still doing that as an adult, and it's part of what's making it hard for you to make real friends.

Honestly, I'm also a little suspicious of your relationship with your therapist. With the childhood you so casually describe here, and the depth of your need for/lack of personal ties outside of family, her thinking you're an awesome person with no real issues makes me think you're not being as honest in therapy as you could.

My suggestion: Try being a little vulnerable with people. It's hard as hell when you've been taught to pretend your existence is perfect and you're as happy as could be. But it's also the open door that lets people into your life.

I'm not saying you should cry on the shoulder of your next lunch date. But if you're never letting anyone see any cracks in your armor, there's nothing for them to latch onto or get interested in. You have to be a real person, and real people have bad days, fights with their husbands, cars that break down, toothaches, irrational worries, pet peeves, etc.
posted by kythuen at 11:54 AM on February 22, 2015 [13 favorites]

It seems like there's something about my personality that doesn't inspire affection in other people or the desire to be around me more than once.

Well, you are married, so that's obviously not true. I feel like you are creating a story about/for yourself and how other people feel about you. The reality is that as working adults, most people aren't willing to put much effort into forming new, close friendships. It does happen sometimes, and I think those colleagues you speak of have probably bonded over something specific, or are putting positive effort into it. It seems to me that you are putting lots of effort into thinking about this but there's a negative tone to your post which is also slightly desperate (sorry) that people can sense and even if they like you, it will turn them off. I think you're also somewhat jumping the gun in saying people don't want to be around you. People are busy. Unless there's a special reason to be around you, unless you approach them with joy and positivity and not neediness, unless there's a specific shared experience, it's not likely that people will become close friends as adults. There's nothing wrong with you; I just think your negative approach is probably getting in your own way. Who do you want to be friends with, and why? Don't just randomly pick people and then sulk when they don't respond; maybe you are not suited to being friends with them; maybe you wouldn't like them as friends. Focus on figuring out who you really bond with rather than being upset that "your coworkers" don't want to hang out with you. And stop the negative self-talk.
posted by bearette at 11:58 AM on February 22, 2015 [3 favorites]

I haven't read all the replies yet, but wanted to state my immediate reaction.

"I would never join a club that would have me for a member" type of thing.

So, you wouldn't want to be your OWN friend. You can see how that would be a problem, right? Why are you 1. so negative about other people's interests, and 2. so embarrassed by your own interests? You do not sound very, well, flexible about things. Allow people their interests - maybe try to find out why they have those particular interests.

Because the truth is, it's not the interests that make the person, it's the person. If people "like you" congregate around fandom, then go there. Ask people what they like and why. You will like some of these people, even if you don't like the things they like. Or maybe they will convince you to give the things they like a second chance. Or a first chance - that is my guess. You sure have categorized an enormous collection of things as "boring".

I also agree with the person who suggested you give those women who are older than you more consideration. Why is it so important that your friends are your own age? I don't think there is any certain way that our lives are supposed to go, despite what sitcoms tell you! Invite those women to lunch. Talk about things you like. See what happens. Good luck!
posted by Glinn at 12:23 PM on February 22, 2015 [1 favorite]

Ugh, anon, no answers for you but I could have written this question. I wish you lived near Seattle and we could be friends. I too can't even watch Broad City because I want a bestie so badly.

Feel free to memail me if you want to just grouch about it cause I know just how you feel. There's a woman who I think I could be friends with at my office and I am sooo scared I'm going to fuck it up, haha. It feels about a million times worse than dating.
posted by town of cats at 12:26 PM on February 22, 2015 [1 favorite]

People have recommended volunteering - I have some more specific suggestions based on where I've made friends in my late 20s early 30s:
1) volunteering for an arts organization. Is there a biggish film festival in your part of the Bay? Is there a nonprofit arts space that needs someone reliable to fix their database or staff their front desk?
2) the local equivalents of any "issue" nonprofits you may support in general: environmental? economic justice?
3) volunteering on a local political campaign. I know you aren't in SF proper (which has a ton of interesting folks at the city politics level) but there may be people working on minimum wage campaigns or laying the groundwork for 2016.

You may find, as I did when I first moved to Honolulu, that you will be inadvertently flaky at first as a volunteer until you find the organization that fits you just right, Goldilocks style. I jumped ship from one environmental project for being too rigid and jumped ship from another arts festival for being way too loosygoosy until I found a broader based sustainability-focused organization that honored its volunteers inputs but also gave us enough guidance and structure. I started volunteering with them because I showed up to a public event and awkwardly introduced myself to one of the board members, who promptly invited me to the monthly volunteer meeting.

I've been chastised for only making friends with similar lefty political beliefs but I am so grateful that some of my closest friends have come from working together on projects we believed in. Not everyone I met through volunteering in the arts or in politics have become best-est buddies, there are still cliques and personality differences even in the most well-run volunteer group. I lived in SF in my 20s and I lucked out by jumping feet first into an emerging artists festival coordinator role that forced me to talk to everyone. I am shy but if I have an ulterior motive (here's this great event I'm looking for participants; how can we address the ridiculous amount of waste generated on Oahu; my friend is running for school board) then I am able to talk to really anybody.
posted by spamandkimchi at 12:47 PM on February 22, 2015 [1 favorite]

Joining groups for things your interested really is a good way to meet friends, though -- for example, I met my closest friends through groups for my hobby (knitting). I joined a fiber guild for a while, and I went to local knitting groups, and while it took some time, I ended up with a few good friends, and one really close friend. The thing is, I didn't go into it with the idea of "I am going here to meet my new best friend," I went figuring hey, I'll go do this thing I enjoy, and meet some people, and have a coffee, and have fun.
posted by sarcasticah at 1:40 PM on February 22, 2015

Nthing to back away/delete your Facebook account. Not necessarily because you're overusing it, but because of the negative feelings it generates. Every time you check Facebook, you're getting a big, slap in the face reminder of all the friends you feel you don't have. Because everyone else is posting all the fun stuff they're doing, right? But its difficult to remember that people are curating their lives through those posts, and making them seem (potentially) a lot more awesome than they actually are. It's been proven to make you unhappy. Besides, I've never seen Facebook actually generate a new friendship. I think you're much better off reaching out to people individually, via text or email. That's my two cents (as someone who recently moved across the country and is still struggling to make new friends).
posted by bluloo at 1:51 PM on February 22, 2015 [5 favorites]

Have you encountered people you clicked with right away, but it never went further (if so, why is that? Were you too shy to reach out and be like "I REALLY enjoyed that, you made me laugh so hard at X, and mentioned you're into Y, so maybe wanna do Y-related thing I was gonna do anyway but together in a couple weeks?" Do you self sabotage, which the "wouldn't join a club that would have me" half-joking-half-serious mention tends to get at?)? Or have you never had that spark yet (which the thing about your therapist thinking you just haven't found your people yet might speak to)?

When I relocated, my initial main social circles were via a now-ex and a job I didn't care about, just needed to land on my feet after moving. And, big surprise, while I liked most everyone I met that way well enough to get along fine casually, nobody was really "my tribe" (makes sense). I had plenty I could DO with people, but never felt truly on the same page, really understood and understanding, and yeah that's lonely. It took so long, and when I did find people like that, it was a trickle--1 or 2 at a time and then nothing for months or whatever--and took years and a lot of it was happenstance and being open to the chemistry happenstance provides sometimes.

I did notice it was pretty much never through the initial, didn't-think-it-through-just-fell-in-my-lap pool of coworkers and ex's friends, but while doing things I cared about solo even if nobody else I knew here at the time did (interest-based events and meetups and lectures or favorite public hang outs or whatever, and then once I found a really cool person I admire greatly, people through her, gradually/organically, and events through her that then lead to new people I like too, etc. etc.).

And when it was total sheer dumb luck (once I was walking a dog, not even my dog but I was doing a favor for a friend who was out of town, and this guy who lived only a couple blocks from me just ran into me on the street and I don't even remember what started the convo but the next thing I knew I was having dinner he was grilling out that evening with his toddler and his wife, who is awesome and shared my interests in East Asian lit, linguistics, tomboy feminism, and Persian food of all things), part of it still was about being open/unafraid/bold enough to just say yes to things and be myself and volunteer info about myself so the other person right away got to know me enough to realize we had things in common (I used to think active listening was all you had to do, but the older I get the more I realize for me it was partly a cagey defensive move on my part when younger in that it helped me avoid putting my own personality out there specifically enough to be judged or rejected...and I think it lead to people both finding me aloof/hard to read and just, you know, missing out on the chance to realize we had things in common enough to take it further...not saying you do this, but it's common enough you might want to consider if you do).
posted by ifjuly at 2:29 PM on February 22, 2015

I guess...the thing about "anyone who'd actually join a club for those things is trying too hard for me" makes me wonder if you worry about you come across too much, or that it's hurting your chances of someone recognizing a kinship because you're too guarded/curated. Not saying you do, just, it's a familiar thing to me from people I know here, who worry in a similar way and, while they would never say they're judgey, still are kind of thinking subconsciously in status-driven, face-saving, tension-minimizing mode. And it could just be me granted, but personally I strongly feel a lot of the best relationships come from putting yourself out there and not worrying about that stuff so much. A form of vulnerability and yet also relative invincibility, where you recognize before you even start not everyone's gonna like you if you're really yourself all the time, but that that's fine and life is too short to hide yourself for fear of not jiving with everyone you meet, meanwhile hiding yourself from people who'd see the real you and like that. It's freeing.
posted by ifjuly at 2:37 PM on February 22, 2015 [2 favorites]

In some sense, I am going through these same bootstrapping-friendship-in-a-new-place struggles, and so are a large portion of people our age. One thing I would throw out there is making quality friends is hard. Don't beat yourself up about it if everything you want doesn't fall into place immediately.

The article I always forward people about making friends is this one. The TLDR is that friendship takes three things: "proximity; repeated, unplanned interactions; and a setting that encourages people to let their guard down and confide in each other." Try to maximize those things to the extent that you can.
posted by Noisy Pink Bubbles at 8:58 PM on February 22, 2015 [2 favorites]

So I am a married woman your age in the Bay Area (Peninsula/South Bay) and am out going, friendly and um.... straight forward, I guess is the nice way to say it... Anyways if your town is on my side of the Bay and you want to meet up for coffee someday to chat I'd be happy to. I can show you around and give you honest feedback if that's really what you want. Send me a message if you're interested. If it's any help, I can say that meeting people and forming friendships has been much easier here than anywhere else I have lived as no one is from here (it seems) and almost everyone is a transplant looking for new friends too!
posted by saradarlin at 9:48 PM on February 22, 2015 [1 favorite]

If you say where in the Bay you are, I can recommend potential meditation groups or centers for your Buddhism interest. Feel free to PM me.
posted by namesarehard at 12:44 AM on February 23, 2015 [1 favorite]

The main emotion I take away from your post is desperate, paralyzing terror. And I was honestly thinking to myself, in so many words, "How on earth did the OP become so incredibly afraid of everyone in the world and so paralyzed by the idea of connecting?"

And then I read this:

I don't have a traumatic past, my childhood was relatively normal. My dad was a heavy drinker and we had to flee our house many evenings because he would get really loud, but I didn't get hit or anything like that. I think not being able to have friends over, spending every summer with my grandparents, and needing to keep this giant secret contributed to getting this ball rolling that now can't be stopped. I did have all of these same issues though with making friends. I think I missed out on whatever training people get while I was lying in my bed every afternoon by myself "waiting to die".

Yeah, that's like...the textbook definition of "traumatic past," hon. No wonder you're afraid to join, afraid to not join, afraid to like a thing, afraid that other people will not like a thing, convinced that everyone is just very thinly concealing a fountain of offense and rage. That's what you were raised to think the world is: a terrifying place full of inexplicably angry people.

So that's point 1. Point 2 is that I think you need to unplug from media in general for awhile. Broad City, Sex and the City, Friends...these are *fictions* and the reason they are so popular is that *nobody has this thing in their actual lives.* It's an extremely appealing and comforting narrative that is not really rooted in most peoples' realities (save for an extremely brief period of time in one's late teens and early 20s, if one went to a residential college and then did not move far from that residential college immediately after graduation) (Guess what kinds of people write these shows.)

You've gotten so hooked into the bogus TV narratives and the bogus Facebook narratives that you have rewritten your own actual reality in your mind. You have no friends, nobody can bear to be around you more than once, says the woman with a husband and several actual friends whose only problem is they are Grandmas and aren't in their 20s and 30s like the people on TV. BTW this kind of distorted thinking is really, really common in people with clinical depression and the children of alcoholic parents. So um, maybe re-evaluate just how effective your therapy is? (Child of chronically angry and problematic parents here, so no judgment; I can tell you alllllll about lying to your therapist until she can't imagine what you're possibly in therapy for....)
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 8:45 AM on February 23, 2015 [15 favorites]

Well I just had a bizarre experience where I thought I must have wrote this in a parallel universe where I was married and lived on the other side of the country.

Anyway all I can say is the struggle is real and if you want to memail me and send me your OK Cupid or Book of Face or just email and be internet friends I'm cool with that because you sound eerily similar to me.

I did once place an ad for friends on craigslist and got 3 real responses, one of which materialized past internet word exchange into a real life meeting which went ok.
posted by WeekendJen at 12:00 PM on February 23, 2015 [1 favorite]

Hmm. it is possible you come off as desperate BUT I think it's much more possible that you fear coming off as desperate and therefore present as somewhat detached, i.e. someone not particularly interested in making friends. If I were you, I'd err on the "keep putting yourself out there and being vulnerable" side.

The only thing that stands out in your description as a cause for concern to me is that you don't seem terribly clear on what you're really interested in. It seems like you're trying to guess at what people who might be good friend candidates for you might be into. Stop doing that and actually do the the things you are really interested in doing.
posted by Jess the Mess at 12:37 PM on February 23, 2015 [4 favorites]

You sound like a really nice, funny and self-aware person and I think that if we lived in the same part of the world we would be friends!

The thing to remember is that Facebook is a fiction. In general, you are projecting a fiction of yourself and interacting with fictitious versions of other people's selves. A lot of Facebook is about display - even when you like or comment on something you are, a lot of the time, partly doing it for display because it's a communal forum - you are not necessarily building a real relationship with the poster. That girl who commented "you are loved" on someone else's post, could have done it via text or even (gasp) face to face - but she chose to do it on that medium so that she could be publicly seen to have said it. I'm not saying she didn't mean it, but just that Facebook communications all carry that weight of display to whatever extent. And they should be read like that, not like personal conversations over coffee.

I am not bashing Facebook, it is a really fun online community and I personally spend way too much time on it. But I have seen and experienced for myself how crap it can make you feel if you are even a tiny little bit insecure. Please don't measure your worth and likability through Facebook. But don't feel bad about yourself for doing that - you're not the only one. I have been known to waste a lot of time wondering why my post only got 2 likes and someone else's post got 24. That's Facebook for you.

I think you should hang out more with the people who have showed they really like the real, Meatspace You, your husband's friends. Who cares if they're not the same age as you? My closest friend at work is a woman who is 15 years older than me, we have so much fun together that our ages never come up. Really give it a try before you dismiss them. Maybe they have a whole circle of friends whom they could introduce you to?

I also think you should commit to a few things you go to regularly. A library, a volunteering gig, a gym. It's repeated interactions that cement new relationships and I think it helps if it's something less intense and 9-5 than work. Friendships with co-workers can get a little messy when personal and professional interests come into conflict with each other.

Memail me if you want to talk!
posted by Ziggy500 at 5:30 AM on February 24, 2015 [2 favorites]

I haven't read the whole thread, but join a book club or other Meetup and go regularly. Even if you don't make friends per se, you will see the same people repeatedly and will get to know them. That companionship is a good first step!
posted by cnc at 2:18 PM on February 24, 2015

Hi Anonymous

You sound like a nice person and I am sorry you are going through this. I struggle to make friends too and if you'd like a pen pal then memail me no strings.
I don't have much advice really, but one thing I have learnt is not to to judge yourself by how much others value you, people are strange and can be fickle and flaky for a variety of reasons none of which have anything to do with you. However, if you are like me you may find that social anxiety makes you talk about yourself too much which can be off putting, try slowing down and asking questions more. Don't be afraid of gaps in the conversation.
It is tempting when you don't have much human contact to cram in as much talk as possible, especially if you are trying to make a connection and some how prove yourself.

Good luck, there are good friends out there but it takes time and effort.
posted by RandomInconsistencies at 3:59 PM on February 25, 2015 [1 favorite]

Have you looked into the possibility that you have Asperger's? It looks different in women and would explain why you have trouble figuring social things out.
posted by Pablito at 8:23 PM on January 22, 2016

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