Should I switch from meeting people online to in person?
March 2, 2018 1:36 AM   Subscribe

I've been trying to meet people online for five years and am still friendless and single.

For five years, I've used Craigslist (both the platonic and romantic sections) and dating sites to try to meet people. If there were friend making sites, I would've been all over those, too, but the only thing close to that I could find was Craigslist's platonic personals.

So far, things haven't worked out with friends I met online because either they faded away, or seemed shady, such as the person who wanted to start a business with me without getting it licensed, or the person who said while we were hanging out that he associates with people who are in gangs.

The handful of relationships I've had have mostly been very brief. Every relationship went a similar way: they would, for a short time, seem very interested, then would stop being affectionate or even showing interest in our conversations. They seemed to have contempt for me. They'd do things like keep me waiting for hours on dates, if they bothered to show up at all, even though they'd be so invested at first. I'd suffer through the rest of the relationship until they'd finally dump me.

I almost never get messages, and when I do, it's pretty much always just "hi" or something like that. I almost never get replies to my messages.

A lot of profiles say very vague things like "I like to have fun," so I don't feel like I tend to get a good sense of what these people are like. The few who are more specific don't seem to be looking for someone like me. For example, a lot of people say they want someone who is passionate about music, or passionate about sports. I don't care much for either of those things. I'm more passionate about things like arts/crafts and reading, but nobody seems to want someone like that. I don't mind if a partner has different interests than I do, but it seems like on dating sites, people want a clone of themselves.

I have a lot of other things stacked against me. I'm Pagan, but everyone wants either a Christian or an Atheist/Agnostic. I'm very fat with other traits society considers unattractive, such as acne everywhere (no soap or medicine I've tried so far has worked). I don't see many fellow fat people online and the hordes of thin people mostly don't want to date someone who's fat. I never see anyone who is as unattractive as I am, but maybe I'm biased because I find a wide range of people attractive.

I just joined a couple of in person communities, but some annoying logistical stuff has been getting in my way so far, such as being stuck at home waiting for UPS to deliver stuff for me to set up my new apartment overlapping with the time frames when I can do these activities.

I don't feel hopeful that I can get anywhere meeting people in person because I don't know how to talk to people when I don't know what they're interested in. For example, I know my mom watches a lot of TV, so I'll ask her, "What have you been watching?" and we'll go on to have interesting discussions about her shows. I've read that people don't like being asked what they like to do in their free time, so I don't know how to find out what they'd like to talk about. Websites don't usually give me much of an idea of what people are into, either, but I get a little more of an idea than when I'm faced with a real life stranger.

All day, every day, I fantasize about being involved with multiple groups in my community, having a rich network of friendships, hosting people at my apartment, bring people together to learn from each other about subjects we're interested in (i.e, psychology) and do service projects in the community. I'd like to not just be decently social, but to be a caring leader, someone who initiates plans that are fulfilling for people. I fantasize about having a partner who is affectionate with me and actually cares about what I think and feel (and I'd do the same for them).

The reality is that I don't feel like I can even start a conversation with someone, and I spend all of my time alone, fantasizing about the kinds of relationships I'd like to have, desperately combing through platonic or romantic ads/profiles and checking my inbox for hours on end. I have passions, such as psychology, animals, Pokemon etc. but I admit that I haven't spent much time on them because wondering if I'm going to be lonely for the rest of my life and that my life will turn out meaningless eats so much of my brain.
posted by Eevee to Human Relations (30 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
I've met people through There is generally no creepy factor and less worry about not having a good time since I do things I like whether or not the people are friends material. There is no pressure to show up again if the meetup isn't what you like, and it's free.
posted by waving at 2:53 AM on March 2, 2018 [19 favorites]

It's kind of a cliché on this site, but some kind of therapy might really help you. The things you're saying here hint that maybe you're a little depressed, and suffering from a total lack of self-esteem, and are (maybe unconsciously) avoiding social situations. I mean, I can understand that occasionally you might have to wait in for a delivery, but the fact that it's stopping you completely from getting out to do the things you'd planned to do suggests that there's something more going on.

Speaking as someone who spent an awful lot of their early adulthood alone and wanting but fearing/avoiding human interaction, a lot of this sounds familiar. It's easy to visualise massive changes to your situation, and to be disappointed that you just don't have the energy to make those things happen; that's all part of the cycle of setting yourself up to fail, which confirms the bad feelings you have about yourself. You've got to set yourself tiny steps, forget about the long term, and start giving yourself credit for every baby step towards a less lonely life. And, as I said, therapy might be a way to discuss/think about this stuff.
posted by pipeski at 3:01 AM on March 2, 2018 [11 favorites]

The other cliche (because it's true) is volunteering. If you want to be around other people while having a positive impact (and a common thing to talk about) then it totally fits your needs/wants. Why not try at an animal shelter or with a large organization that places volunteers if you live in a large city (i.e. New York Cares). Also what about Metafilter meet ups also, and/or dating sites other than Craigslist?
posted by bquarters at 3:36 AM on March 2, 2018 [15 favorites]

Part of the issue may be where you're trying to meet people. I wouldn't recommend Craigslist these days - large proportion of sketchy people as you're finding out. Dating sites are fine for dating but not great for meeting people platonically and often focused on superficial things. Meetup is a great idea. You could also go to Facebook and search for your town name within Groups to see if there are any local groups focused on an interest. I'm sure you'll find Crafts groups for example.
posted by peacheater at 3:45 AM on March 2, 2018 [9 favorites]

Try a sports league - it doesn’t have to be very physical (we did bocce) but it’s a great way to meet new people without the requirement of heavy conversation.
posted by DoubleLune at 3:58 AM on March 2, 2018 [2 favorites]

Craigslist is not the venue you want - I think a lot of people these days wouldn’t seriously consider it for finding dates, and wouldn’t even think of it for finding friends. The best way to go about meeting people is to find an existing social gathering, either online or in person. Meetup, Facebook groups, hobby-specific online forums, groups at the library, that sort of thing. It can feel difficult to work your way into an established group, but if they welcome newcomers it’s ultimately low-stakes since you can spend a little time getting acclimated while other members carry the bulk of the socializing.
posted by Metroid Baby at 4:06 AM on March 2, 2018 [6 favorites]

Also, making friends and finding dates is hard! Your difficulty in doing so is absolutely not a reflection of your potential worth as a friend or partner. It is normal and not a personal flaw.

Also also, I find it odd that “what do you do in your free time?” is supposedly a question people don’t like being asked. Try phrasing it as “what do you do for fun?” or “what are you into these days?” My “free time” is often spent trying to decompress from the day, but “for fun” is the stuff I like talking about.
posted by Metroid Baby at 4:17 AM on March 2, 2018 [4 favorites]

Eevee, your situation sounds really hard. I am always asking new people what they enjoy doing outside of work, and so far they are happy to tell me so I think that is a safe topic. What do you enjoy? What is fun for you? If you don't already know (and that is okay, because life is an experiment and it may take a while for each person to figure out what they enjoy), then try to find out and then go find other people who also enjoy that.

For example, I love movies. The vast (vast, like 99%) of my friends are big Netflix fans. I am okay with Netflix but I have tons more fun going to see movies in a movie theatre. I moved to a different country recently and last night I went to see a movie, alone, at a wonderful 1928 movie house that is run by a nonprofit. You can buy a annual membership, which I did, which gives you a small discount on each movie. More promisingly, the nonprofit is run by volunteers. I am pretty sure I will volunteer. When the movie was over, I went to the cafe and even though it was not board game night, there were some young nerds at two different tables (mixed genders!) playing board games. Now, I don't play board games but I kind of want to and this place seems like it might be an okay place to try that out. Even if that doesn't work for me, the movie-theatre part will.

I am looking for my various "tribes" in my new home, and started with movies because that is something I always enjoy. It just makes sense to me that the best way to find new friends I will click with is by looking for people who enjoy the same things I do. I am also checking out local libraries, with are the heart of a community and an incredible locus of activities that are often free of charge. A friend of mine is active in the Sims online game community and is exploring meeting some locals in real life after establishing a connection with them online.

I am on OK Cupid and two different people in my new location wrote me asking if we could be friends. They asked in a kind of random/desperate way. But friendship doesn't work like that. Friendship requires meeting over time and having various experiences together. There is no such thing as an instant friend, although I have had instant crushes on some people who eventually became good friends–and others who were flakey disappointments. That happens. That is just part of life. So please don't give up, and don't be discouraged if it takes a while to develop friendships. And do consider therapy. My life is a zillion times better thanks to a couple of therapists I have seen. Best of luck!
posted by Bella Donna at 4:31 AM on March 2, 2018 [12 favorites]

Making friends really is very hard! I would suggest, as an intermediate step, that you try to get to know more people. A lot of them will be people you don't even like all that much, and will never particularly connect with, which is totally OK! Some of them will be much older than you, or married, or too weird or too normal.

People have already suggested volunteering and sports leagues as good places to meet people, and I think these are great suggestions. Here are some more:

- A musical group, like an orchestra, choir, or band
- An activist group
- A church or religious group - if you're not already in an-person Pagan group I think you might find a place for yourself at your local Unitarian Universalist church.
- A job (a part-time job if you already have a full-time job)

I firmly believe that the way for shy or awkward or introverted people (I have been all these things at varying points in my life) to make friends is to SHOW UP at a place where other people also feel an obligation to SHOW UP, ideally at least once a week. This is what makes regular volunteer (or paid) gigs, sports leagues, and musical groups so great for getting to know people.

Also you have something to talk about built right in, i.e. the work that you are doing.
posted by mskyle at 5:04 AM on March 2, 2018 [10 favorites]

I'm not trying to rush people into friendship. I respect people's boundaries. I'm sick of people making negative assumptions about me online.
posted by Eevee at 6:05 AM on March 2, 2018

I've read that people don't like being asked what they like to do in their free time

What? No. Whoever wrote that can go jump in the lake. Most people's favorite subject is themselves: their interests, hobbies, families, memories, likes and dislikes - as long as it isn't too personal, the easiest way to keep a conversation going is to steer it toward the other person!
posted by The Underpants Monster at 6:12 AM on March 2, 2018 [3 favorites]

Meetup can be good for this, depending on the types of meetups available to you. Sometimes logistical stuff does get in the way but it's fine if you can't go to a group every week! You can show up one a month or once a quarter and still get to know people and practice being social, no one is going to get mad that you're not there every week unless it's some sort of very specific group where that's necessary. Sometimes my anxiety brain is like "you skipped a meeting of the thing, so now you can NEVER GO BACK OR SPEAK TO THOSE PEOPLE AGAIN" but it's bullshit, Anxiety Brain is a jerk, don't listen to Anxiety Brain.

For whatever it's worth, my best routes to friendship have come about via special interests shared online that have transitioned to offline. For example, being involved in a fandom for a particular book or TV show, or a forum about something you're into (maybe Pokemon!) for a while, might then naturally lead to a "hey, are any of you in {x area} and do you want to maybe get together for coffee some time"? (Or ice cream, or a walk, or to play Pokemon Go, or watch a few favorite episodes of your TV show, or whatever.) That does rely on you making those connections somewhere with a big enough group of people that some of them are likely to be in your area. On the upside, it means you have a built in thing to talk about when you do get together, and maybe you spend your first few hangouts talking like 85% about Pokemon, but as you get more comfortable you can transition to a more general friendship with those people. I kind of imagine a Metafilter IRL meeting might go like that, actually, although I've never been to one - maybe you can suggest one in your area!

Having said all of that, it makes me sad for you that you are so focused on the future you want to have that you're not able to spend time with the things in your life that you enjoy that can make you happy right now. I'm sure you know this, but in case it's helpful to hear it from an outside voice: You deserve to enjoy the things in your life that are good and enjoyable for you right now, not only when you have developed a community to share them with.
I hope you can find a way to get your brain to ease up even a little bit on worrying at this problem, so that you can go ahead and enjoy reading or thinking about animals/psychology/etc. on your own.
posted by Stacey at 6:25 AM on March 2, 2018 [4 favorites]

I could have written a similar post a few years ago. I also once tried Craigslist platonic section for friends and had a similar experience to yours so don't take it personally.

The thing that jump-started my social life was getting an extroverted roommate but that might not be for everyone.

This site helped me a lot: It has a lot of tips for socializing and making friends.

Most of my friendships now have come from just finding groups related to something I'm interested in and then just showing up. Show up repeatedly, even if you don't make friends right away. Some groups may legitimately not work for you but I've found that if you are patient and people see that you are genuinely interested in the topic / being part of a group, they will become more friendly. Don't worry if you have to miss once in a while due to logistic stuff. Just keep showing up when you can. Volunteering is also a great idea.

On the other hand, don't just wait for other people to make the first move. If you talk to someone and they seem interesting, ask them to hang out sometime. Maybe something related to both of your interests. Often once you make one friend they can introduce you to their friends and things will become much easier.

I'm still looking to improve my social skills and make more friends so I'm thinking of taking an improv class. As an adult, I find it's kind of an ongoing thing and it can take time. So, again, don't feel bad about yourself if it takes a while.

Sorry I have no advice on the dating front. I'm still working on that one too!

Hope things work out for you soon!
posted by seraph9 at 6:50 AM on March 2, 2018 [1 favorite]

It was at the top of the list here, but I'll reiterate that meetup expanded my social group immensely. Not going to a meetup, but rather going to multiple events over the course of months (years) - in particular regularly recurring events. In my case it was a weekly trivia group and hikes which I found the most conducive to making new friends. But I also did various other things. As a follow-on I had to get more comfortable with the fact that people just ask to friend on facebook and make an effort to keep in touch. If a group of three people are having a good conversation at bar trivia and a movie comes up that one of you wants to see make an immediate suggestion that three of you go see it soon! Help make plans. People will decline, but many others are just as much looking for a connection.
posted by meinvt at 7:28 AM on March 2, 2018 [3 favorites]

Not your direct question but have you seen a dermatologist about acne, there are relatively recent very strong treatments. I had serious acne and it's is a significant element in social relationships and can be addressed.
posted by sammyo at 8:01 AM on March 2, 2018 [1 favorite]

You mention reading- any book groups you could join? Sometimes local libraries run them? A good chance to meet with people and legitimate discussion topic for exploration that everyone has signed up for.
posted by Heloise9 at 8:33 AM on March 2, 2018 [1 favorite]

I have a friendship theory. I think there are three major parts to friendship. One, is familiarity. How many hours have you spent with them already? How many shared experiences do you have? That's why school is perfect - most people at school have started to spend time together and share experiences, and have a lot of incentives to interact.

The other is a common desire to be friends. You can want to have this, but it might not be there even on your half. If you know anyone that you are familiar with, but don't feel like calling them to watch tv together or grab a bite to eat, you might not have that desire to be friends. Both people need this, and it's pretty much outside of your control.

The last part is continuing to see each other. It's possible to have long-distance friends, but realistically, your best companions are the ones you see on at least a weekly basis, for a few hours. Talking every few days in some form. Again, this is hard to get right, and that's why many friendships never take off or fade into obscurity.

So, in terms of recommendations, that's why many people recommend meetups, sports, or clubs, because you need to get some base familiarity, and then you can see people again. However, outside of the meetup - it might feel like they are only acquaintances. It takes a lot of things aligning to find a friend, but asking someone to share some non-club related event or activity is a great step in the right direction.

The last thing I'll say is that all of the above takes time. A year of shared experiences, a few non-club activities, and continued exposure over years. And many will fall apart or drift apart or never start for the reasons above. I used to get very discouraged about this (I typically spend my time investing in work more than friends) but I have learned that friends aren't a permanent thing - all friends come and go. Try to enjoy the people around you, and on those days when you are feeling particularly lonely - try to call family, or look for another meetup, or take a nap.

Cheers :)
posted by bbqturtle at 8:41 AM on March 2, 2018 [3 favorites]

Oh dear— I was nodding along to bbqturtle’s comment but your comment put it into a different perspective for me that I don’t agree with. I care very very much whether my friendships last. I will work as hard as I can to ensure that they do! But human lives change and ebb. Friends move away, their goals change, your goals change, someone gets married or has kids, someone gets really sick and has to pare down... The biggest lesson I learned during my twenties (and one I personally find very encouraging) is that (a) departures are a normal part of friendship but (b) departures are not final and permanent; often people find their ways back into your life, sometimes with more real friendship than before.

So that’s how I read bbqturtle’s comment— that one does care, quite a bit, but it’s one of the things in life one doesn’t have control over. But deep engagement with the people who are in your orbit is something you can seek and it’s completely reasonable to want it from at least some of the people you’re trying to befriend.

Loneliness is the worst. I’m sorry you’re going through it. I am also trying the Meetups and Politics techniques encouraged above, and I personally have my greatest success finding friends in online communities so I love the idea of going to a Mefi meetup...
posted by peppercorn at 9:28 AM on March 2, 2018 [2 favorites]

Making friends as an adult can be so difficult for everyone. You're not alone! I wish I had a magic formula to fix this but there are so many factors. Keep trying different things and please don't get down on yourself -- so many people are busy and overwhelmed by life and would love to have you as a friend but are just not ready right now due to work, family, life, etc. demands.

I agree with others that Craigslist and OkCupid are generally more about meeting dates than making friends. I, too, have been put off by desperate friend messages (you clearly don't send them, I just mean in general.) There have been times on OkC where I've been clear about just making friends only to have said the said new friend hope for more. That can always be the case for anyone but even more so with online dating stuff.

I know you deal with some mental health challenges -- you're in good company there. :-) How about joining a support group for people who are also dealing with it? You may not necessarily find your bff but you will be surrounded by people who understand what you're going through and can give you ideas and support through the hard times.

It's not necessarily going to start friendships but you'll be around people if you become a regular at a coffee shop. For example, if you go every Tuesday afternoon from 3 - 4 p.m. and drink a beverage while you work on your computer. You can make small talk with the baristas who will get to know you and your order. Sometimes being around people like that can make you feel lonelier though so I understand the pros and cons. You could also make a goal to visit one new coffee shop a week to check out the scene and vibes!

Since you mention Pokemon, perhaps you could attend events at your local comic shop? I see there are a bunch in your town so maybe they have an adult meet up! I wish I lived closer to my favorite shop because they have fun Ladies Night programs and the like.

You are down on yourself a lot here -- I understand because I struggle with self-esteem at times, as do so many of us. Therapy and medication have helped for sure. When I look for new friends, I am not focused on their religion or size or anything like that. I'm looking for people who have shared interests and values plus an open mind and a positive attitude towards life. I want to express my compassion on how it's harder if you don't fit into societal norms. I think though that your negative self-image might the bigger challenge here because you might be assuming rejection in various scenarios and acting less open and confident, which makes people think you're not interested in them! Having someone you care about give you honest feedback about the vibes you're sending in different situations can be awkward but ultimately really helpful. I've gotten better thanks to it and most of us can, however self-aware we think we are.

You have so much to offer and I know the friendships and dates will eventually work out. Also, FWIW, online friendships and communities are just as valid and legitimate as in-person ones. There are lots of benefits to being in person but please do remember you already have friends and a community!
posted by smorgasbord at 10:01 AM on March 2, 2018 [1 favorite]

If you're fantasizing about getting involved in community groups, go out and find those groups! You definitely won't meet those groups just by spending your time online.

Meeting people - and creating a social circle - is hard work, but it's way easier to do so in person.

This sounds obsessively organized, but when I moved to a new city, I started a list of every group I could consider joining -- starting with things I already like to do with people (e.g., board gaming) and continuing down to stuff I'd never tried but had been told was fun (e.g., karate). Then I went through and started checking out those groups until I found the ones that fit. It was awkward at times and slow, but I eventually found a niche. (I never have made it to karate lessons.)
posted by steady-state strawberry at 11:11 AM on March 2, 2018 [2 favorites]

I just saw that you said you are sick of people making negative assumptions and I hope you don't think this is another one. It isn't meant to be - it is just another perspective.

I am very self-contained and really feel like I don't need relationships outside of my husband, family and few close friends. I sometimes make new friends inadvertently, because we are thrown together via education, work or even just the gym but I very rarely, if ever, make friends by actively trying to make friends. Throughout my life I have also had multiple people 'try' to be friends with me. How this inevitably turns out is that I develop an aversion towards them and feel the need to avoid them whenever I can. Often I can just feel a need from them - it isn't always about 'respecting boundaries'. People are so much more subtle and complex than that. A lot of the time insecurity and need is palpable, and I end up being resentful that they want so much from me when I don't owe them anything and when we are so early in our relationship. That sounds very selfish but I bet there are a lot of people like me out there.

My advice would be to focus honestly on yourself and what you enjoy. It is a cliche but you need to develop yourself, develop your hobbies and interests and make your life with yourself more important than your need for other people. Join clubs or groups who do things you actually enjoy. Set yourself a challenge that you can be proud of achieving. Go to a community education class etc. It is possible that while you do these things, friendship will come more naturally. You sound down on yourself - I think that maybe trying new activities and hobbies might also help in this regard.
posted by thereader at 11:36 AM on March 2, 2018 [5 favorites]

[Couple comments removed. Eevee, I totally get that this is a difficult dynamic you're trying to sort out but you need to take whatever is useful in the answers you get, ignore the stuff that's not useful, and not get into back-and-forth scraps with folks in the thread. If someone's answer strikes you ass off the mark, just ignore it and focus on the stuff you're getting something useful out of.]
posted by cortex (staff) at 11:52 AM on March 2, 2018 [1 favorite]

That's so funny, reading your question I was flashing back to about 2 years ago when i posted a platonic personal on craigslist and made an okCupid and plenty of fish for platonic friend searches and then continuing on reading the description of yourself you sound like this girl i see all the time at rollerskating (she wears a pickachu hat!) that is always there by herself like me and i thought is that you? Maybe i should go talk to her next time i see her! (but sniffing around your blog, and post history i don't get the impression that you are in Phila and thus not the same person).

So anyway, based on your stated interests, I would say to check out events at the library and to just keep showing up to something (gaming meetup, public pool, 5am birdwatching in the park, whatevs!) you enjoy. I like skating so i just go to "adult time" roller skating when i can and i became a "regular." In all honesty, it hasn't evolved into any outside of rollerskating friendships, but even the limited social exchange is nice and rewarding. Another thing that has gotten me noticed and started conversations is...wait for it... picking up litter on my city block (just try not to be negative like ugh people are such animals! in the conversation). I talk to people very different than me and who do very different things so it's good variety. Making friends out of school is really hard.
posted by WeekendJen at 12:03 PM on March 2, 2018

Hi! I just finished reading your very, very well written and thoughtful blog. First, congratulations on your new apartment! Second, know that I went through the whole online dating adventure here in NY before finally finding my husband, so it can happen.

But in the meantime, what about volunteering at an animal shelter? I know that most of them here are desperate for volunteers to help socialize cats - they just want people to feed them and hang out with them in the cat rooms (the usually rotate the cats in and out of cages and let a certain amount of them to roam free). Several shelters have the same people there, so the cats tend to know them - and they, in turn, are able to tell potential adoptees about their personalities. You would meet a lot of people and get to spend time out of the apartment with animals you love while also volunteering. This sounds like something that might be really wonderful for you if you're able to get to something like this via bus.

The other option might be is getting involved with a Trap, Volunteer, Neuter, Release program. They have them all over. This is basically a group of people that volunteer to catch stray adults to be neutered/spayed or baby kittens, volunteer to foster them if they're too little to be cared for by their mom if the mom can't be located, and then releasing them again. It's a huge program here and it's a group of very committed and like-minded volunteers that all know each other.

Since I know you wrote how much you wanted to get your own cat, this may be a way to do it without a long time commitment (if you think you'd be able to give the cat/kittens back to be permanently adopted out) involving vet bills, etc.

I'm really rooting for you!!
posted by dancinglamb at 12:32 PM on March 2, 2018 [3 favorites]

Yes; my local shelter is always looking for kitten wranglers! I'd be there right now if it was closer to public transport.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 1:07 PM on March 2, 2018

I feel like I have seen this "don't ask people what they do in their free time" advice somewhere too, and I think, IIRC, it's not that people don't like the question, so much as it's a hard question to answer, being really broad. The example you give of "what are you watching lately" is a great example of how to make that a useful, and more clearly answerable question too.
posted by pixiecrinkle at 1:39 PM on March 2, 2018 [1 favorite] is better than a dating site for making friends. It lets you ignore the weird cliche "so... what kind of person are you?" questions and move straight to "what about [topic x] do you like best?" If you've got the time and resources (incl emotional resources), attend as many meetup gatherings as you can stand - get a sense of what kinds of topics draw the people you'd most like to spend time with.

Embrace awkwardness. Skip right past "what kind of questions are good conversation starters" (those lists are for extroverts who like conversation for the sake of itself) and pretend you've been asked a question that you want to answer. Keep it appropriate to the topic (if you're at a boardgames meetup, say what you like about Risk or Talisman or chess; if you're at a crochet crafting meetup, mention your favorite yarn) and use what you like as a conversation starter.

"Hi; I'm Eevee; I like Platinum best but I miss some features from Crystal that I wish were included in later games. Do you have a favorite?" (Adjust as appropriate; I know almost nothing about Pokemon games. I have never played a Pokemon game that cost money.)

I agree that the dating sites' approaches to non-Abrahamic religions is terrible. (There are Pagan meetups, but they may not hit the right tone for you.) When I have profiles on active social sites, I make it clear that I am devoutly Pagan, not agnostic, not "somewhat spiritual;" I have a religion and it's an important part of my life. I don't expect it to be important to a partner, but I won't spend time with someone who can't respect it.

Don't worry about finding people who like you, or (twitch) who would be willing to spend time with you if you adjusted who you were to their preferences. Look for people that you want to be with. Those will be people who want to spend time with you - you don't strike me as someone who wants to spend time with people who aren't enjoying themselves. Maybe start with finding people who are doing things you enjoy doing, and figure out later if they're people you want to spend time with.
posted by ErisLordFreedom at 5:02 PM on March 2, 2018 [1 favorite]

I think what people don’t like (or at least I don’t) is when people ask, “What do you do for fun?” As pixiecrinkle notes, thats’s very broad, and I always think it’s a gotcha question — I feel that if I say something like “I go to the opera,” which I do, people will say, “That‘s what you do for *fun*?!” (This has actually happened, actually, so it’s not hypothetical.)

I think people do like talking about their hobbies, although it can be difficult to figure out how to ask what their hobbies are. But if you try a meetup, that will be way easier, because you’re all there for the same reason and that’s a great starting off point for a conversation.
posted by holborne at 6:28 PM on March 2, 2018 was made for people who are socially isolated to make friends more naturally in person.
posted by ticktickatick at 8:41 AM on March 3, 2018

I want to address the appearance attraction factors you mentioned. There are basically two ways to handle the fact that you feel unattractive physically according to social norms.

1) Develop oodles of confidence in spite of it.
2) Change your physical appearance until you reach a threshold that makes you feel confident.

For most people, #2 is easier. Barring a rare metabolic issue, it is far easier to lose weight than completely flip your mindset to be overwhelmingly confident in spite of your weight. Most people who lose weight express increased feelings of confidence and happiness.

Acne is also a hard one because acne looks and feels like a raging infectious disease...on your face! Even people with acne have a hard time finding other people with acne attractive. I had cystic acne for years that finally resolved with anti-androgen medication. (That article also describes other options if prescription is not an option.) But acne was one of those things that I had to clear up to gain confidence. No amount of therapy was going to overcome oozing puss pockets on my face.

There are a lot of good recommendations here. But I wouldn't give up trying to lose weight and clear up your skin. Weight and acne can be barriers to entry in a visually-oriented human social network.
posted by ticktickatick at 8:54 AM on March 3, 2018 [1 favorite]

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