Everyone I like likes everyone else I like and no one likes me
June 3, 2016 3:51 AM   Subscribe

How to deal with seeing a glimpse of 'your people' but them not wanting you?

Joining okcupid a few years and answering a bunch of their questions, I finally saw people it seemed like I would connect really well with! Who had the same interests as me and cared about the same kind of stuff! So in my naive hope I started sending off messages that showed interest in their profiles etc. But of course despite a profile that I think is pretty decent and asking reasonable questions people would either not reply at all or the conversation would die out because the other person obviously wasn't that invested in it or I would suggest to meet up and they would disappear at this point.

The thing that really upsets me is that they all seem to have become friends with each other in various constellations and have exactly the kind of life I really need doing interesting stuff with people who get it... I don't think my instinct that I'd get on well with them is wrong because why else would these random people all have made friends with each other?

I don't know what is wrong with me. I think I'm pretty similar to them but it seems like something about me is just less good than them and so that is why they are drawn to each other but I am left out.

The thing is, it really feels like these are my people. Following standard ask mefi advice like going to meetups has never really worked for me because meetups are mostly so generic (even ones that might look highly specific aren't really what I'm after). I feel like I know who my people are but just can't break into their group.

So basically I want advice for how to break into kind of loosely defined social circles that aren't based around a particular specific activity but more just exist by virtue of similar people being friends?
posted by ninjablob to Human Relations (52 answers total) 17 users marked this as a favorite
I promise you that those people are not the only such examples of "your people" that exist. They may be the only such examples that exist on OKCupid right now, but. A) the world is bigger than OKCupid, and b) more people join OKC every day.

I wasted my teens being all caught up in this kind of thing - seeing the clique I thought I belonged to and hovering around the edges hoping they would let me in - and later I found other people, and eventually realized the high school crowd never would have let me in because they were all caught up in their own egos. My real friends were much cooler, and exactly who I needed.

These aren't you people because they aren't letting you in. It doesn't matter how much you have in common with them. Stop wasting your own time and find your real people somewhere else.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 4:21 AM on June 3, 2016 [14 favorites]

There's no magic formula for being socially adept. It just takes practice. Your questions here all have a theme, and you get a lot of the same advice over and over again.

Right now you have this idea in your head that you are unlikable and you're projecting that onto the world. That whole, "everyone else is doing it so easily and no one will give me a chance" vibe is emanating from you. One thing I've noticed is that your asks have an undertone of entitlement. "There are MY people! They're supposed to like me!" That can be extremely off-putting as well.

Your best hope for turning this around is to start acting as if you have the confidence you clearly do not have. You have to stop having that narrative in your head about 'nobody likes me, everybody hates me, I'm going to eat some worms.'

Perhaps stop thinking so much about this kind of thing and go out there and start living. Volunteer giving less fortunate folks a helping hand. Build houses with Habitat for Humanity, or work in a food pantry. Don't do this to meet people, do this to get out of your head and to start seeing that there are people in this world how are having a rough go of it, and who need a helping hand. Start having empathy for others.

You say that the meet ups you attend aren't specific enough. Specific enough for what? If you want a specific meet up, start one. You have to stick with it. 75% of starting friendships is being together with the same people over a period of time. This is why most friends are made at work, school and church. So one thing you can do is to start being in a place regularly.

Be happy. Don't mope around. You have to be 100% okay with yourself. If you're cruising into places like Droopy then of course folks are going to be put-off. It's a lot of work assuring someone that they're okay, and frankly when I'm meeting new people it's the very LAST thing I want to do.

Ultimately you have to be the person you want to attract. You can't fake it, it has to be genuine. Once you feel good about yourself, once you truly believe that you're awesome and fantastic, then others will naturally follow suit.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 4:24 AM on June 3, 2016 [21 favorites]

It's not entitlement it's surprise and disappontment. I think I am an interesting person worth getting to know but observe that the rest of the world doesn't seem to see me that way, which leads me to doubt myself. I kind of wish people would take my word for this rather than telling me I must secretly deeply hate myself but feel that's pretty much a lost battle in a culture that seems obsessed with the idea that if other people don't like you it must be because you don't like yourself.
posted by ninjablob at 4:35 AM on June 3, 2016 [3 favorites]

If they're not interested in you, they're not your people. It has to be mutual. There is nothing wrong with you.

I suggest that you spend more time discovering who you really are. You will possibly find that you are different than the "your people" you speak about. This is why the interest is not mutual.

As you figure yourself out, you'll have new ideas of who "your people" are. You will likely experience reciprocated interest.
posted by frantumaglia at 4:46 AM on June 3, 2016 [4 favorites]

What do you bring to the table that makes you interesting and good to know? Is it in your profile?
posted by corb at 4:50 AM on June 3, 2016 [2 favorites]

Just to clarify because my initial question probably wasn't clear enough: I am interested in advice for breaking into social circles that aren't really based on a particular activity. It's not that everyone in the group knows me and has rejected me, it's more that I suspect I'm not even really on their radar. For instance lots of people might not respond to okcupid messages because they're busy, etc, but because of the nature of it I only get one chance to connect. I feel like I'm slightly too old (30 when most people are more like 25, which probably wouldn't even come across in person because I'm immature), slightly too uncool, slightly too unconnected, etc etc that makes me less attractive as a prospect. If I were good friends with one person and I could hang out with their friends then the dynamic would be different if you see what I mean and I feel like people would be more open to me.

So, the kind of advice I'm looking for might be:
-Find a couple of people I've connected with a bit and make some kind of low key attempts at connecting, eg liking their statuses on fb and if that's reciprocated commenting or something like that
-Think about if there are structured regular events that the people I am drawn to go to, and make more of an effort to go to these, not to try to connect with those particular people but because there might be more of my kind of people there

It might seem like I repeat my questions but they are also often quite specific! I am looking more for skills and actions I can take and less about thinking about my personality defects.
posted by ninjablob at 5:05 AM on June 3, 2016

Maybe this is a generational thing but is social media really the way kids meet each other and form friendships? I have plenty of Facebook friends who I've met only a handful of times - we might comment on each other's walls occasionally but that doesn't mean we're going to be friends...

If I was looking to meet people I'd probably join a steady group IRL - a running club, a quiddich team, a volunteer group, a church/synogogue/meditation group. A place where people converse and get to know each other in person.
posted by noonday at 5:18 AM on June 3, 2016 [11 favorites]

Do I undestand this correctly, you see the group you want to "break into" exclusively via okcupid?
Because as you've pointed out the technical restrictions are pretty severely in the way of any useful plan of action.

Otherwise, yes. You should pick the person who seems most responsive and ask them to join you for *specific low key thing on specific date*. Some kind of open air gig something that doesn't mean a lot of talking.
If they blow you off without offering an alternative date you have to respect that, though. Don't go on contacting if they don't reciprocate, it comes across as needy or boundary pushing.
posted by Omnomnom at 5:20 AM on June 3, 2016 [4 favorites]

In general, even low key contact (facebook likes etc.) is something you should drop if it isn't reciprocated. If they really aren't interested, you'll only alienate them if you keep initiating contact.

Also, your second piece of advice is spot on. Go do that!
posted by Omnomnom at 5:23 AM on June 3, 2016 [2 favorites]

I think noonday is right; you should stop trying to meet people via social media. Also, as Omnomnom suggests, approach one person, not a group. If someone is part of what seems to be a group on social media I think your chances of getting to know them are worse, not better. You need to get to know people individually, and if they have a group, they will introduce you. But a lot of people-- especially past a certain age-- don't socialize in groups. Even if they do, people suspecting you are using them as a portal to a social group may be leery.
posted by BibiRose at 5:35 AM on June 3, 2016

I would caution against your belief that these specific people are "your people." It was a while ago, but I was active in a fandom for a bit and while everyone was friendly and I definitely made friends, I still felt like I didn't really fit in there or they didn't really like me as much as they liked everyone else. And I thought if these people -- who were supposed to be my people -- didn't really like me, I just assumed that's how it was going to be forever.

Then through a combination of volunteering & going to various events of things related to what I was interested in, I actually found my people. It wasn't something I was specifically setting out to do. It just happened. (It was a process of a couple of years, though.)

I don't have a lot of experience with OKCupid, but it does seem like even if people are there saying they're looking for friends, they're mostly interested in dating. It's a dating site, after all. That's not to say you can't make friends via OKC, but that may be some of the resistance you're getting.

But I am a big fan of going to things that you're interested in -- even by yourself (which I know! can be scary) -- and going consistently. Then other people who are going consistently notice you're also there and will begin to talk to you (or you can go talk to them).

(For instance, I have a friend group that developed because everyone would show up at the comic shop after work on Wednesday. Since everyone started to see each other at the same time every week, they all started talking and then hanging out. Some people in this group are early 20s; some are in their 40s. This happened because everyone had a common interest and were gathering in a common place anyway.)
posted by darksong at 5:35 AM on June 3, 2016 [7 favorites]

Frankly stop pushing where there's not give. These aren't your people. You are reading a bunch of profiles that are hitting your buttons, but if there's no interest back then they aren't your people.

I'd suggest stop trying to find "your people" and start with "a person." You gotta start small. Make a friend. You can't force a whole community.

Again, Ruthless Bunny's advice is largely good. People use OKCupid for a bunch of reasons and a lot of them are likely there to get laid, not make friends, and you may be giving them the sort of vibe that suggests you're not there for the same reason.

Spread out, relax and don't push where there's no give. You can't force people to be your friend.
posted by Jilder at 5:38 AM on June 3, 2016 [4 favorites]

Ok, if you want to meet people through social media, how about Instagram? (Disclaimer: I do not have an Instagram so can't speak from experience) Check this article out.

I wanna highlight this from the article: "Over the past two years, Shioguchi said she's met up with 20 strangers through Instagram. Five are now close friends."

Two years, 20 people, 5 close friends. In other words, it takes time and effort, and you're not going to hit it off with everyone you meet.

And also: “You start following someone and liking their photos, maybe leaving a comment here and there,” she said. “I would never directly message someone upon following them right away . . . It’s a gradual thing. You don’t go right for it.”

Again, it takes time, effort, emotional labour.
posted by foxjacket at 5:43 AM on June 3, 2016 [6 favorites]

You've been asking this question in some form or another for nearly two years now here. Have you tried therapy? I find that when I am circling around something for that long that it helps me to talk about it for a sustained period of time with an objective party like a therapist. Best of luck.
posted by sockermom at 5:48 AM on June 3, 2016 [36 favorites]

If you are waiting to meet the right people to do interesting things you have our the wrong way around. Go do the things, go live the life them yippy meet the people. Other people do not magically being you the life and hobbies you want. Also if they aren't "letting" you into their group they are not your people. There are seven billion people out there, this group that doesn't want you is an unimportant drop in the ocean. Go live the life you want, do the things that interest you and your people will appear, and if they don't you are living the life you wanted instead of waiting for others to open a non existent door for you, the only thing stopping you having that life is you, not some people on a website.
posted by wwax at 5:59 AM on June 3, 2016 [6 favorites]

I know what you're talking about, or I can imagine it. I'm older than you but I met most of my current friends on social media, and I know many other people who met their circles of friends that way. (Maybe due to some professional or geographical quirk, I don't know, but it doesn't seem unusual to me.) Not OK Cupid, but other platforms not specifically geared to meeting new friends. But what I've noticed about circles like this is that there's often a random nature to them. To you, the outsider, it seems obvious that all these cool people would be friends with each other and would want to be friends with you too. You assume it's based on interests and personality types. But the members of the "club" don't necessarily see themselves that way. When I think of the groups of people like this that I've known, they're not friends because they have so much in common or they're all just
so cool. It's more like person A met person B at a coffee shop and recognized them from Twitter then they learned they were both friends with person C's cousin, who rented an apartment to person D, who practiced there with his band-mates person E and F, who once worked for person G, who met person H via Instagram and they got married, and so on until they all do cool stuff together every weekend. You can't break in because none of them broke in, they just ended up there. I've never tried to break into a group like this, but what I have done is become friends with individuals who are part of a group, and then I sometimes end up on the fringes of these group events. I still don't think I could become one of the inner circle, because I didn't have that serendipitous entry into the group. But if I cared enough I could probably do a lot more with people in the group, individually and together. I just never tried because I don't like hanging out in groups. If I were you, I would give up on the group idea and try getting to know individuals. As others have said, it's okay if your people are a series of persons.
posted by ocksay_uppetpay at 6:01 AM on June 3, 2016 [3 favorites]

So I take it that you're trying to break into social justice (more specifically, disability and poverty activism) circles that are active on Tumblr and Twitter? Please correct me if I'm wrong, but that's the sort of group it sounds like you're hinting at. If this is the type of group you're trying to break into, there are some things you should consider:

- These groups most certainly have an in-person presence; they've very often all gone to the same handful of undergrad/grad programs in a given city, volunteer for a certain set of organizations, etc. The former is the best way of picking up the cultural capital one needs to be accepted in these groups, but the latter is good too, and probably an option you can look into further.
- You need to do visible, interesting things to be interesting to people like this. People for who intellectual pursuit is important sometimes just aren't interested in befriending people they're not sure can contribute to the discussion. Do you tweet? Do you blog? If you do either of those, do people engage with your work, or do they ignore it? Are you relevant, or are you navel-gazey? Really, are you speaking these peoples' language in a way they would want to respond to? Be honest with yourself.
- Sometimes people who experience oppression on a variety of axes are iffy about getting close to people who aren't experiencing the same issues or whom they can't trust to "check their privilege". Do you think this might be an issue with the people you're approaching?
posted by blerghamot at 6:12 AM on June 3, 2016 [6 favorites]

The thing that really upsets me is that they all seem to have become friends with each other in various constellations and have exactly the kind of life I really need doing interesting stuff with people who get it...

I'm going to guess that you're making assumptions about "people who get it" via overt cultural signifiers that people on OKC are including in their profiles. I am older than you, and while I get the impulse to approach connections in this way (because if my politics/musical interests/favorite writers align with theirs they MUST be "my people") I have found that it doesn't always pan out. It's not because you're "less good than" others, as you say, it's because friendship and love aren't marketing constructs. Having rigid ideas about how you define "people who get it" necessarily closes you off to making connections with people might absolutely "get it," but don't belong to the demographics you've preselected. If your goal is actually making friends, I would suggest that you expand your horizons a bit. Attend events that are of interest to you, yes. Do the "interesting stuff" you enjoy. But try to be really self-aware about how and why you're approaching people of a certain "type."
posted by little mouth at 6:19 AM on June 3, 2016 [10 favorites]

I get the sense people here mostly don't really get what it is like to be a really specific kind of person who is only going to get on in specific settings which basically only exist online

Humbly, I would suggest that it is this outlook that is tanking your opportunities to make friends. Lots of people are like this, you know? I have been reading Ask for 3 years now and I can think of at least 10 people off the top of my head who post here and are similarly specific. I don't say this as a criticism of them or you! Personally I am also an extremely odd duck and have always struggled to make friends and find a group. I have maybe 2 or 3 close friends, including my husband, and apart from my husband none of them live locally to me. My husband is the same way. Ever since I left the college bubble I have not made a close friend or found a "tribe" out in the real world - that's 10 years of doing my own thing with occasional casual acquaintances. And I will tell you, the times I was MOST frustrated and MOST isolated were the times that I felt that I was just too different from the rest of humanity and was doomed to search and search for a person who was out of step like me.

Here's another concerning comment: I feel like I'm slightly too old (30 when most people are more like 25. I promise you that most people in the world are not 25. Most people who are into the things that you like are also not 25. The people who are 25 are the people you have met on OKCupid who you want to hang out with. But apart from that, it shows that you think that your "people" are all younger than you and . . . that's concerning to me. Why is that? And why do you find the difference between 30 and 25 to be so wide? I am 31 and I don't find 25 year olds to be so much younger than me, and even my students, who are 18 and 19 years old, don't really find me to be old (even though them I do find very young). I think focusing on their age like that is another way to highlight how different you feel.

I've overcome this feeling by looking for things in common with everyone I meet. It makes me feel more connected and more friendly/social, even if I don't have a set "tribe" out of it. I go to knitting Meetup, and yeah, none of the people there are exactly like me or are my bosom buddies, but we all like knitting, and that's where I go to get that aspect of my personality fulfilled. I've never found a church that I was 100% in agreement with, but if I find one with a good choir I join and then once a week I can hang out with other people who like singing. My husband, who isn't into either knitting or church, is there for my really weird quirks. We talk philosophy and politics, which I would never do at choir practice. Etc. etc.
posted by chainsofreedom at 6:22 AM on June 3, 2016 [26 favorites]

If I sensed that someone was trying to become friends with me not because they liked me as an individual person, but because they had slotted me and my friends into a category of 'friend targets' without having even met me (or only briefly met me), then, no, I would not want to befriend that person. Because I, like you, want people to want to be friends with ME. Not 'any random person with the same superficially cool-seeming qualities as me who fits the narrative of themselves that they have built in their heads.'
posted by showbiz_liz at 6:27 AM on June 3, 2016 [26 favorites]

Kind of doubt anything useful is going to come out of this because basically no one knows what I'm talking about.

If your communication style here is normal for you, then it is perfectly understandable why you continue to struggle. You're sabotaging the conversation.
posted by yesster at 6:27 AM on June 3, 2016 [51 favorites]

I think it's much harder to break into a group of friends than it is to make friends with individual people. And the only way I've ever gotten involved in an already-existing group of friends is by making friends with one person in that group and then gradually getting invited to various gatherings by that person.

So either way, the advice is the same: stop trying to break into social circles where you have no entry point. Start working on making individual friends. In my experience, you make individual friends by going to every damn meet-up group, club activity, adult education class, film festival, etc, in your area that even vaguely interests you and you keep going until you start to recognize some of the people there, and then you start chatting with them in pauses, and then you ask them if they'd want to go to the farmer's market or go have coffee. And if you have a nice time hanging out one-on-one, you contact them again in a week or so and do it again. And then you do it again as long as they keep reciprocating and saying yes.

It takes a long, consistent effort to make new friends. I'd say, as someone who has moved around a lot--and has had to practice all of this a lot--that it usually takes about a year to 1.5 years to go from total strangers to friends. Is one of your problems that you give up too soon?
posted by colfax at 6:33 AM on June 3, 2016 [7 favorites]

It really sounds to me, from your updates, like you are holding onto something that keeps you from making progress in this area. This is nothing to be ashamed of; we all do it!

I don't know, maybe print out this thread and one or two of the related ones; let it sit for a few weeks and then go over it as if you were someone else seeing it for the first time?
posted by BibiRose at 6:51 AM on June 3, 2016 [1 favorite]

OP: everybody thinks that their situation is so unique and special and the only reason everyone doesn't get it is cause they just didn't EXPLAIN well enough.

Please consider that maybe other people see themselves in you and know EXACTLY what you are talking about, and are trying to save you from the same self defeating patterns.

Please tell me you're in therapy.
posted by showbiz_liz at 6:53 AM on June 3, 2016 [26 favorites]

I don't think you should to find "your people"over okcupid-- you should try to find people to date on okcupid. Even if you might be able to break into someone's social circle, they may not want to date you. There's a whole other set of considerations when you're approaching people in a romantic context vs a casual acquaintance who may one day be a friend.

I feel you on meetups-- in my experience or in my area, a lot of things billed as 'meet ups' are full of a lot of people I don't really click with. There are a lot of new to the city 23 year olds working in marketing who want to go to Dave and Busters or something. Which is fine, but they're not 'my people'.

I think your idea to "Think about if there are structured regular events that the people I am drawn to go to, and make more of an effort to go to these, not to try to connect with those particular people but because there might be more of my kind of people there." is the best one. What kind of people are 'your people'? Are they outdoorsy types? I have met basically 3/4s of my social circle at this point rock climbing. Super social hobby, particularly bouldering. Are they weird artsy people? Get involved in theater or a local arts organization that attracts younger people or take a writing course at a thriving writing center (do a little sleuthing to see who individual organizations are attracting and how active they are). Are you into history, politics etc? Maybe find a trivia team. I think key to all of these things though is that you actually enjoy what you're doing, and you're not just there to make friends with people, because that's a little weird and I think people pick up on that.

I was pretty intentional about this around a year ago when I'd been in my city for nearly a year and still didn't feel like I had a great social group. My list looked like this:

-Rock Climbing-- Try to boulder more than other types of climbing at the gym because it tends to be more social.
-Keep trying out new meetups from meetup.com. I did find a trivia group with people that I kinda click with so I go to that occasionally.
-Take an art class-- I did do this-- it was kinda a bust for finding friends because I was only meeting the few people in my class. That's why I think classes are a little dangerous from this perspective--maybe better to get involved more long term in an arts organization.
-Get involved with a women's biking group that I found on facebook that seemed very active and like it had interesting people
-Reconnect with the people I already knew in the city--go out to lunch or for drinks with them
-Join a community garden

The thing about all of these things is that they're already something I like to do, but they also attract the kind of people I want to get to know. Even if I don't make friends immediately, I'm still enjoying myself and also having social interactions even if I'm not making friends for life. Also, they're mostly more long-term than a meetup or one event, so I can get to know people naturally.
posted by geegollygosh at 7:02 AM on June 3, 2016 [5 favorites]

Some thoughts:

It seems like you've kinda developed friend-crushes on people you've never met IRL. Keep in mind that you might not actually LIKE them in person, and don't invest as much headspace to them.

Don't assume that the only people whom you can have satisfying friendships with are those who share specific tastes with you. Try putting more effort into getting to know the people who are more convenient to meet and who have more room in their lives for new friendships.

If you're highly interested in using OkCupid to form new friendships,rather than only romantic relationships, your profile may need modification. Otherwise people who may be interested in a potential friendship will drop you if they realize they're not romantically interested. (But you're not allowed to turn platonic meetups into "dates" if you do this.)
posted by metasarah at 7:18 AM on June 3, 2016 [4 favorites]

1. Trying to make friends on OKCupid is not the most useful way to go. Most people go there looking for dates. A lot of them will be confused by you trying to make friends with them through that venue.

2. Could you share some examples of how you interact on social media with these people? If someone posts a photo, what kind of reaction do you offer?

Look, I have very pleasant interactions with a lot of people on FB. But it would never even occur to me to invite those people to hang out with me in a social setting. That’s just not how I use the platform.

You sometimes seem to think that you are being deliberately excluded, but that’s not really how grownup social networks work, most of the time. There aren’t usually gatekeepers, or intentional cliques. People are busy and lazy, and they get into habits, so they hang out with the same people all the time. That probably has nothing to do with you, even though it might feel like it.
posted by a fiendish thingy at 7:22 AM on June 3, 2016 [2 favorites]

Reading this question and some of your previous questions, they made me think of this Judge John Hodgman podcast: Episode 181: Amicus Grief.

I wonder if some of the advice he gives on how to approach people and develop friendships, and that people have different perspectives on the matter, might be helpful to you.
posted by needled at 7:25 AM on June 3, 2016 [2 favorites]

Given that people have asked: I barely interact with anyone on social media and have never really done so. It has only recently occurred to me as a thing people might do to make new friends after someone from okcupid suggested connecting on facebook as they use that platform more.
I really think people's input on how to use social media here could be misleading because it is really context dependent and varies a lot between social groups I think! Among the people I know for instance it would be unremarkable to travel to a different country to stay for a few weeks with someone you only know off tumblr.
posted by ninjablob at 7:38 AM on June 3, 2016

Hey, I answered your last question and I think it's cool that you're trying new ways of meeting people.

I have something in response to this question too, I get how it's different. You seem defensive about people pointing out that your questions have a common theme and I think it'd probably be worth acnowledging that they do. But this one has new stuff to talk about, for sure.

So. You've probably read the AskMe questions from people despairing about ever meeting "the one". And the response they often get is, there IS no "the one", there are lots and lots of people out there and you have to meet them and become who you want to be in order that good people find you and want to get to know you, and sooner or later one of them is likely to be someone you fall in love with and vice versa.

Ok well friends are exactly the same. You don't make them by homing in from afar on likely prospects and deciding they are the right ones and waiting for them to notice you. You make them by meeting lots of people, having lots of experiences, getting out there. By challenging yourself, by being there for people, by discovering new things about yourself because of others, by changing, and by noticing which bits of you never change.

What I mean is, you won't know now or in a week if these folks you've found are "your people". You won't know that for sure until one of them sends you a thoughtful note when you've had a life event, or emails you just to tell you a thing you like is out. THEN you know they're Your People. The only way you'll find that out though, is by messaging lots of different people, doing lots of different things, and sticking with it, investing in it. The indifferent ones will fall away, the good ones will stick.

Hang in there. Keep at it. See it as a hobby, not a chore. And see lack of response as progress, and keep going. And don't let ANY of this distract you from working on yourself and discovering more about yourself. You, like all of us, have a long way to go with that.
posted by greenish at 8:05 AM on June 3, 2016 [9 favorites]

Could it be that you don't "look" the way you think?

I looked like the proverbial girl next door when I was in my 20s, which could be a handy disguise for getting along with folks in a rather conservative town, but also meant that it took a bit longer to find "my people". A few years later a coworker told me he assumed I was a "DuPage republican soccer mom" until we ended up sitting next to each other at lunch and had a chance to talk.

I'm not suggesting that you need to do a major make-over or anything, just be aware of reasons that people might misread you.
posted by she's not there at 8:22 AM on June 3, 2016 [5 favorites]

Okcupid response rates are abysmally low for people sending messages. I get on average a <10% response from an initial message. Of the ones that do get a response, <10% of them respond to my follow-up message. The pattern generally trends toward lots of short conversations that quickly die off. Honestly, I don't find this site a productive use of time. Every once in a while I'll randomly strike up a conversation with someone who is unusually interested in talking to me (often because of something specific in my profile) but the numbers will just never come out in your favor. You're better off meeting people through almost any other method. Try getting involved in a organization or activity that where your "people" tend to congregate.
posted by deathpanels at 8:42 AM on June 3, 2016 [1 favorite]

From the standpoint of someone inside a group like that: I was (still am, I suppose) part of a very close-knit group of people who met online and came together around one very specific shared interest (Shakespeare). We welcomed people into our group, but people that came along after the initial spark of that group were never quite as tight with everyone as the initial five or six of us were and still are. There was nothing wrong with them - they're certainly people I count as casual friends/acquaintances, but that original core group of us came together in what was essentially a perfect storm. It was timing, and shared interests, yes, but it was also a stroke of luck that our personalities matched as well as they did. We don't get together much as a group anymore, but we still all stay in touch and travel to see each other (we're scattered all over the country) as our schedules allow.

How did people come in to our group? We started on Tumblr, which is a vastly different environment from OKC, so people could see our public threads and conversations and jump in and add their thoughts. The ones we clicked with ended up coming along for the ride. So maybe you need to reach out into a more open environment than OKC? Our group - the original core and the later add-ons - never would have come together over private messages.
posted by okayokayigive at 9:07 AM on June 3, 2016 [1 favorite]

I had this exact experience when I was online dating. Once I met my wife, though, it became clear: I *thought* I wanted to be with those people and that they were my "type," but in reality they were not my type at all, and once I had a chance to meet some of them, I didn't enjoy them whatsoever.

Once I found my real type (i.e. my wife), it was all comfortable, not forced, and fell into place effortlessly. Still effortless 11 years later.
posted by TinWhistle at 9:10 AM on June 3, 2016 [4 favorites]

I get the sense people here mostly don't really get what it is like to be a really specific kind of person who is only going to get on in specific settings which basically only exist online

LOL you do know this is Metafilter, right? which is like the original "specific kind of person who is only going to get on in specific settings which basically only exist online" place.

We get it, we really do. It's just that the thing you want to do isn't something you can just "make" happen, poof, here's the One Weird Trick and now you're fully in the core group. There's not one weird trick. There's just a hundred thousand completely normal non-trick actions that you have to take over and over again.

I could basically write your post about this very website--or every group I join to follow a podcast, or etc. etc. There's the people who were "in" from Day 1, and it's quite obvious who they are, and they have their IRL friendships and their in-jokes and they interact and send messages and just generally are cohesive, and I'm not part of that. I could be bitter about that except that these people have been building their Thing for sixteen years. Have I put in 16 years of effort on MeFi? Noooope. So I got no grounds to complain.

The best bet is to get in on Day 1 of something. Even better, of your own thing. Is there a thing you do? Could you do it more publicly? Is there a thing you love that doesn't really have its own fandom space yet? Build that space.

But at the same time, a smart thing would be to try and recognize that sometimes in life we cannot have the things we dream of. Sometimes the things we think we want don't actually suit us at all. And sometimes it turns out they don't even exist.
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 9:32 AM on June 3, 2016 [35 favorites]

One of the best ways to make friends is to volunteer for a cause or charity on an ongoing basis.

It's election season in the US and election campaigns are a great way to make a bunch of friends in a short time who will suddenly have a lot of free time to hang out and do other stuff in November.
posted by Jacqueline at 10:14 AM on June 3, 2016 [3 favorites]

You requested concrete steps, so here are some:

1. You say meetups are generic, but people at meetups are not generic. Keep going to in-person events like meetups, volunteering, library classes. Someone you resonate with could be at an otherwise boring meetup. If nothing else, it's good practice.

2. If you want to spend time with certain people with whom you're not yet plan-making friends, you could go to events those people are going to and chat when you run into them. Or even the type of events they might be going to. Just don't be too creepy about it, and respect their space. But catching someone in person has far more weight than an unsolicited okcupid message.

3. If you really think there's a reason you're not likable, there are concrete ways you can work on it. Are you a good listener, or do you barrage someone with nervous chatter about yourself and make them uncomfortable? Do you seem like you're trying too hard to get someone to like you? Do you understand interpersonal dynamics? You can develop your personal interaction skills like conversations and body language. This looks like an interesting read too. How do you charm someone based on their individual characteristics? You may find it a little pseudosciencey, you can read books about personality theory like the enneagram or even The Satanic Witch. You can also work on your personal style - does your outward appearance match what's inside? Is there a way you can be more universally attractive? Are your clothes clean? Do you take care of yourself? Etc.
posted by beyond_pink at 10:15 AM on June 3, 2016 [1 favorite]

This is not how OKC works.

The goal of OKC is not to meet your tribe based on the stuff you each like.

The goal of OKC is to meet people in person for the purpose of going on dates.

The reason these conversations are trailing off isn't because these people are rejecting you, it's because, after a few rounds of messages with no suggestion of a date forthcoming, they assume you are rejecting them.

Also, to an extent, it's a numbers game. Don't worry about the people you messaged who didn't reply. Don't worry if you exchange a message or two with someone who seems nice, and when you broach the subject of a date, they disappear. Those people aren't rejecting you in a personal way. You can't even know if they're active users of the site.

I have to say that, when I was using OKC, I probably had one conversation a week that didn't result in a date just because, like, shit happens. You get busy at work, or that girl you met at the bar actually called like she said she would, or just general inertia of never finding the right time. If you take that stuff personally, it'll kill you.

I'll also add that you can't use "we like the same stuff" as a metric for clicking with someone. My fiance and I like some of the same stuff, but we also like a lot of different stuff. Depending on how we built our profiles, we might never have found each other on OKC. He might have portrayed himself as a metalhead who enjoys UFC and militant atheism. I might have portrayed myself as a twee Wes Anderson fan whose favorite activities are going to art museums and playing the ukulele. But despite all that, we actually do have a lot in common (both in terms of tastes/hobbies and also just as human beings), and despite all the stuff we don't have in common, it turned out that we had a ton of chemistry and were super attracted to each other. You have to look beyond what their favorite book is, you know?
posted by Sara C. at 10:41 AM on June 3, 2016 [1 favorite]

I feel like I'm slightly too old (30 when most people are more like 25

I saw a marked down-turn in my OK Cupid response rate after I turned 30. After that I had a lot better luck dating within my pre-existing social scene. Which I guess doesn't help if you're trying to use a dating app to find a social scene.
posted by Sara C. at 10:50 AM on June 3, 2016

Among the people I know for instance it would be unremarkable to travel to a different country to stay for a few weeks with someone you only know off tumblr.

And I married a guy I met in World of Warcraft. But that didn't happen immediately after I healed his group. The in-between work included chatting, getting added to each other friends lists, questing, dungeons, figuring out TeamSpeak, emailing, texting and that was just to get to the point where we started considering meeting in person.

OKC isn't THE place to meet friends, just like WoW isn't THE place to meet spouses. It does happen, but it takes MUCH more work and emotional labor than meeting someone at a RL meetup, because it's so much easier to ignore a message onscreen/onphone than it is to ignore an actual human happily and enthusiastically particpating in a common activity. I'm not saying that the Internet is a bad way to meet people, I just think that if your goal is in-person friendship, it starts you further back than the starting line would be for people who go out to in-person events.

I'd take that OKC person's advice and use Facebook. Yes, it can be awful, but that Events section is golden when you want to see what cool things are happening out there that your circle is interested in.

Best of luck to you.
posted by kimberussell at 11:06 AM on June 3, 2016

Hi ninjablob, it sounds like your time on OKC has helped make you more aware of the qualities in others you'd like to emulate in yourself. There's nothing wrong with that (the drawbacks to using OKC for that approach, however, have been well explained above). I think you really need to challenge yourself to get 'out there' somehow, showcasing these qualities from within yourself.

Seeing the qualities you want in younger people suggests to me you're seeing potential qualities that have gone unused in yourself, and you're lacking some social skills for also seeing these qualities in people of your age cohort. In your 30s that's okay! It's okay to want to 'find your tribe', it's okay and natural to want to experience social connection. I gently suggest you need to give some time and attention to what's blocking these admired qualities from flourishing within your own life, and focus on addressing that. Then, when you can glow more fully and with greater ease, you'll start attracting 'your people' into your life (especially if you're going through the motions of at least a couple regularly meeting groups IRL). No one explains that over time, it does take more work, skill and effort than we might have prepared ourselves for by this age (and *especially* if socially isolated or awkward growing up). With intentional time and effort, it is possible, and it will mean challenging yourself to really put yourself 'out there' and engage with people, even though it means being vulnerable and taking risks. Good luck!
posted by human ecologist at 11:12 AM on June 3, 2016 [2 favorites]

Agreed about Facebook. I've gotten a lot more integrated into IRL groups I'm a part of because we have small-scale semi-private Facebook groups about shared interests, use Facebook events to announce gatherings, etc. I have at least 5 friend who were basically acquaintances before we both joined a particular Facebook group. Though, even there, the way we became closer was by hanging out IRL as facilitated by Facebook. Not via me liking their posts repeatedly.
posted by Sara C. at 11:16 AM on June 3, 2016

[peeking at previous questions] I feel like you are (not on purpose) presenting us with a puzzle from which there is a piece missing. Do you have any formal or suspected diagnoses that might be running interference with your socializing? Social anxiety -- depression -- sitting somewhere on the autistic spectrum?

FWIW I have found Facebook magical -- I've re-connected with old friends I'd drifted apart from (I moved out of the country for some years in my 20s; it was kind of lonely when I returned -- at one point I came back to Canada for Canada Day and could not, in my own hometown, find anybody to go out with for the evening. I had a good enough time at a pub chatting with strangers and watching the fireworks, but left realising the gravity of what leaving the country meant), I've met new people from various interactions on FB, I've thrown many excellent parties that relied on a FB "event" page. I know FB/social media doesn't work this way for everybody, but, don't rule it out.

There are some messages here and in your previous questions which you are not quite grokking, hence the curiosity about a possible autistic spectrum issue. For example:

It's not entitlement it's surprise and disappontment. I think I am an interesting person worth getting to know

...but there is a little bit of entitlement in "I think I am an interesting person worth getting to know." Your question about how to live a happy life alone fetched up a lot of mentions of people living relatively isolated but very interesting lives -- somebody suggested Emily Carr's memoirs; good grief, imagine chumming around with Emily Carr before she was famous. You keep avoiding the question of what it is that you have to offer in a friendship. There is more required than "be fairly intelligent and have an interesting inner life" required. Friendship requires labour, it requires giving of yourself, and making bare the genuine you and being willing to risk having that rejected.

I have a friend of a friend on FB who periodically posts about anxiety -- not just generic links but often her real experiences with it. At one point I sent her a note thanking her for doing this; I said it beat the hell out of most people's constant stream of "my life is 100% wonderful all the time!" lies, and it was quite a tonic for anybody else with similar struggles. She replied very graciously; wasn't sure if she was overdoing it, was happy if it helped just one person, etc. An old friend once posted something about his depression spiralling out of control. I haven't seen this person in years, but I turned on FB chat and started a conversation with him and asked if there was anything I could do; if he was at a point where he needed a doctor I'd drive into town and take him and sit in the waiting room and so on, etc.

I'm sure a lot of people have made similar responses to those two. If you have 'friended' any number of locals and posted 'feeling pretty lonely -- anybody up for grabbing a coffee?' you might be pleasantly surprised by how good it feels to reach out. Even if all you get in return is empathy, it's still good. Going through a rough patch a few years ago I posted: going through a rough patch, etc, with some details. It was an enormous relief to unburden myself of the pretence of everything-is-great-for-me, and a lot of people shared stories of their own rough patches, which was a lot of "hey, your life might be a bit of suck right now, but it's totally normal." Although it's not a topic one should go over incessantly/regularly, there is, contrary to popular belief, no reason to keep the fact that you are suffering to yourself.
posted by kmennie at 11:38 AM on June 3, 2016 [5 favorites]

The thing that really upsets me is that they all seem to have become friends with each other in various constellations and have exactly the kind of life I really need doing interesting stuff with people who get it

This stood out to me because if you were trying to join my friend group and I sensed that this was your attitude it would be really offputting to me, especially the bit where you claim to "need" to do things into which you haven't put any effort. The "interesting stuff" these people are doing doesn't just happen, it takes a lot of work! It takes the emotional work of bonding and the logistical work of planning and sending out emails and stuff. If I felt like my friends and I had created a situation where we had a bunch of cool things happening (meetups, board game nights, whatever) and someone wanted in on that because they felt they "needed" it but weren't willing to do any of the work, that would make me cranky. Contributing to a group of friends takes work and it doesn't seem like you're willing to do that.

Relatedly, and in as gentle a way as I can manage, you asked a very similar question just a few weeks ago and it sounds like you didn't take much if any of the advice given there (yes, I'm aware you say these are different circumstances). That was another situation where you asked for help, people gave it, and then it seems like you didn't take their advice because you didn't want to do the work. You're looking for people to tell you how to make people be friends with you without you putting in effort and that's not going to happen and when people make the effort to tell you that you ignore it.

If people sense that you are trying to jump in on their existing networks, networks that exist because of effort they put in to create and maintain them, and that you aren't willing to put in effort on your own, it's not a surprise that you feel like they don't want you around. Take a look at what you're actually offering -- do you ask people about themselves? Do you create opportunities to hang out? Do you listen when other people talk, or try to steer the conversation around to something about yourself? I'm not trying to be mean or rude, but it seems like when you envision making friends you think about jumping into a fully-formed group with pre-existing activities and interacting in exactly the ways that will make you happy. The fact that you do have something to offer doesn't matter if you aren't willing or able to interact with a group of people in a way that's beneficial to them.

Making friends isn't necessarily rocket science (although trust me, I know it can be hard!) but it does take effort and compromise and it sounds like those are the parts you're not willing to do, and not even willing to acknowledge need to be done.
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 11:49 AM on June 3, 2016 [16 favorites]

OKC is for dating. Not making friends (usually). How on earth do you know that all these people you see on OKC are friends with each other? Are they in each other's photos? Do you know most of them in real life? If you do, why are you hitting them up on a dating site?

Also, I don't know that it's possible to 'break in' to a group of friends like you seem to want to do. Friendships, especially close knit groups, tend to happen organically and are based on a long history of shared experience.

The key to making friends is repeated, regular contact in an at least semi-social setting. This is why it's so much easier to make friends when you're in school. You see the same people every day for so long that after a while, you get to know them and some of them will start to become your friends. I've met close friends because we went to the same club night every week. My best friend and I met because we worked together.

The people I know who have a large 'tribe' tend to be people that *DO STUFF* that other people want to be part of. Throwing parties, hosting quiz nights at a local bar, organizing themed photoshoots, having a regular cocktail hour at their house once a week, things like that. If you can't break into a group, draw them to you :)
posted by ananci at 12:02 PM on June 3, 2016 [4 favorites]

I spent 1.5 years on okcupid feeling exactly the same as you. Then I met my boyfriend on there and he's my favorite person in the entire world. And meeting him made me forget the hundreds of unanswered messages. I'm glad they ignored me.
posted by shesbenevolent at 12:27 PM on June 3, 2016 [1 favorite]

The quickest way to friendships is offering to help. Offer up a couch to sleep on, a few hours to edit/write code/give a ride/make a poster/help set up an event/build something/do research, etc. I have no idea about the group of people you are interested in, but giving an offer of help is a great first step.
posted by Vaike at 1:11 PM on June 3, 2016 [3 favorites]

...and have exactly the kind of life I really need doing interesting stuff with people who get it...

It sounds like you want to be these people.

You know how you create an interesting life? You create, plan, and produce the events yourself. Have a party with a specific theme. Announce a pub crawl. Start a poker night. Start an improv theater. Found a juggling school. Start an archery range. Or whatever fits the interesting stuff you want to be doing in your life. Some of the people who come to these events will become longtime friends because of shared experiences, not just shared interests.
posted by ImproviseOrDie at 1:25 PM on June 3, 2016 [6 favorites]

I've honestly been reading ask metafilter for years, and so have pretty much absorbed all the standard advice anyway and it hasn't really worked for me I guess. If it seems like I'm rejecting stuff out of hand it's mostly because I've already tried it and found it didn't work for me.

I will have to go on my own path from now on and follow my own instincts about things.
posted by ninjablob at 3:34 PM on June 3, 2016 [2 favorites]

I think following your own instincts is probably the absolute best thing you can do in this situation.
posted by instamatic at 3:56 PM on June 3, 2016 [1 favorite]

I think there's something you should think about before you defer to your own instincts:

As kmennie said upthread, there's a real piece missing from how you describe your experiences. You've asked a lot of questions here, but it's hard to get a sense of who you are, except that your relationships are pervasively lacking. You're demonstrating a telling lack of insight about your own side of the interactions you have with others. You don't offer up or are willing to answer information about what you do and say with the people you're trying to connect with. I don't really see how you can move forward at all without understanding who you are and what you do, rather than what people do to you.
posted by blerghamot at 5:55 PM on June 3, 2016 [12 favorites]

[One comment deleted. OP, if you are finding nothing helpful here, best just to close the page, ignore, and carry on.]
posted by taz (staff) at 3:40 AM on June 4, 2016

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