Does anybody actually meet anybody else in this town?
August 20, 2006 8:38 AM   Subscribe

I've been living in NYC for three years, and am feeling the most acute loneliness I've felt since middle school. How are you supposed to actually meet anyone in this town?

I've been told that the first year or so in NYC is tough, but three years on and I still have very few friends. Everyone here is "busy," and if they sense that you're not a "busy" person, they think something is wrong with you and shy away from you.

It's really weird, because where I used to live (in the midwest) I always had a lot of friends, and this wasn't an issue. However, I move here, and I find the social patterns are totally different. None of the ways that I used to meet people work in NYC. Additionally, nobody hangs out at their houses, so you can't just go over to a friend's house and expect people to be there hanging out.

I need to find out how to meet people here. The loneliness is killing me. I'm really bad at the bar thing, although I know that's how a lot of people meet each other.

How the hell do you meet and make friends in this town?

I should mention that I'm interested in places where I can meet men as well as women, which pretty much rules out a lot of tech/internet meetups.

(Also, I'm in my late 20s and single, if that sort of thing matters)
posted by kenoshakid to Society & Culture (38 answers total) 17 users marked this as a favorite
(that last part should read "meet women as well as men")
posted by kenoshakid at 8:41 AM on August 20, 2006

Have you tried any online resources like consumating or lavalife? Try volunteering somewhere, or take a night course at a local college/university. In my experience, if you're alone in a big city the last place you should go is the bar scene.

Book readings, speed dating, community sport clubs etc. There must be hundreds of outlets in NYC.
posted by purephase at 8:48 AM on August 20, 2006

which pretty much rules out a lot of tech/internet meetups.
No it doesn't. This is not 1995. The Internet is a hugely powerful social tool, so use it.
posted by riotgrrl69 at 8:53 AM on August 20, 2006

There must be hundreds of outlets in NYC.

I've had that same thought, however, I don't really know where to start.

I should say to everybody - the more specific your suggestions, the better.
posted by kenoshakid at 8:55 AM on August 20, 2006

I've personally noticed a lot of differences between hanging out in NYC vs hanging out in Chicago, or in Denver. I feel like the people I know in NYC (and I've been here 7 years) are much more 'structured' in their time schedules, and therefore you really have to make plans in advance, often to eat out or drink or see a concert, etc, whereas with the social groups I know from Chicago and Denver, it's more spontaneous. Just showing up with food and hanging out at someone's house is more common there. I feel like because it is less structured it's easier to meet people, because new people would just show up unexpectedly and you sort of painlessly expand your social circle that way.

I realize this is just my personal experience and not a blanket generality. But my friends in NYC and my friends in Chicago are always comparing the differences in their social techniques, because according to them it really is different.

In terms of meeting people in NYC, I find it's easiest if you take some classes or workshops, at the gym or local college, whatever. Also volunteering you meet a lot of people. If you live in a neighborhood with a lot of community-vibe, like Park Slope, you tend to meet people at community events. But you're right, it is hard in NYC.
posted by np312 at 8:56 AM on August 20, 2006

Find a place you enjoy being where there are other people--coffee shop, reading area at book store--some place you can sit and relax and entertain your self. Go there the same time every day and stay for a while, 1 hr +/-. On weekends do the same thing though not necessarily at the same time. If that is not possible or not comfortable for you then do something else that repeatedly puts you in the same place at the same time with other people you might enjoy--volunteering, classes etc. I tend to believe that you do not "discover or find" friends as much as make then over time. A process of trial and error and mutual experiences. Good Luck
posted by rmhsinc at 9:04 AM on August 20, 2006

Having just spent three years living in New York City I would suggest a few things:

1. Health clubs. It seemed that every peron under 30 belonged to some health club.
2. Classes. I took, for example, a meditation class at the Tibet Center and met people.
3. Start a group. Use Craig's List to start some kind of group that interests you (e.g., writing, book, movies)

Also, I found that living in New York was nothing at all like the idea of living in New York. I think a lot of people in New York are lonely.
posted by orsonet at 9:05 AM on August 20, 2006 [2 favorites]

One more thing...volunteer at Barc!. You get to wander around Williamsburg with a dog...and when you have a dog, people come to you. Everyone wins! Plus you're helping the dog! It's just one stop out of Manhattan on the L train.
posted by orsonet at 9:07 AM on August 20, 2006

Columbia Bartending Agency and School of Mixology. Fall courses start in October.
posted by purephase at 9:09 AM on August 20, 2006

I think there was a question very similar to yours just a few months ago...someone lonely in NYC. Anyone remember that one? I think that person organized a Metafilter meetup.

Whether or not I'm hallucinating about this other AskMe, organizing a meetup is a good idea.
posted by iconomy at 9:09 AM on August 20, 2006

Maybe I was thinking of this thread. I'd contact Pukadon if I were you.
posted by iconomy at 9:12 AM on August 20, 2006

I just spent a little over a month in NYC for work and yeah--if I hadn't already known people there, I would have been flying solo the whole time.

However. One of my coworkers said that the advice he'd gotten was to find a restaurant with at bar meal service and go in, once a week, the same day each week. Become a regular--it's a place to start, at any rate. Strike up a conversation with the bartender. Have maybe 3 places you like to go each week--increases your odds of meeting folks. Take a book or a magazine--that'll make it possible for someone to say, 'Hey, I was reading that book too!'
posted by gsh at 9:14 AM on August 20, 2006

i would definitely come to an nyc mefi meetup.

i've been living in nyc and environs for years and yeah, it is a weird city. leisure time is very structured, people bail out on things all the time because they're busy, and so on and so on. do you have roommates and not get along with them? are there people you like at your job?
posted by sdn at 9:16 AM on August 20, 2006

I know you've said you'd rule out "internet meetups," but why not give at least one of the New York MeFi meetups a try? Keep an eye on this page - the NY contingent has an event every couple of weeks, and it's not always a bar thing. They're a fun and welcoming bunch (there always seem to be new people in the meetup photos), and it'd be a great way to start expanding your social network.
posted by hangashore at 9:18 AM on August 20, 2006

kenoshakid, I'll be your friend. Send me an email, we'll go for some beers.
posted by Meatbomb at 9:22 AM on August 20, 2006 [1 favorite]

Keep busy yourself. A lot of New Yorkers are there to do something and not just hang out. It's an expensive place to just idle in. Take advantage of your surroundings.
posted by destro at 9:22 AM on August 20, 2006

I've been in NYC for 10 years now - for me the loneliness factor never fully goes away, although it does hibernate from time to time. I second all the advice you are getting here (particularly the online thing), but I'd also suggest that loneliness to some degree or other is a part of life - whether you live in NYC or not, whether you are married or not, whether you are old or young, etc. There are definitely things you can do to minimize it, but you ought to not think of it as a stigma. Loneliness can also be very inspiring... in the right measure, of course.
posted by fingers_of_fire at 9:29 AM on August 20, 2006

I nth the meetup idea. Every time I move to a new city, I find some sort of blog/tech related group and hit up a meetup or two. I find that this works because the people who would attend such events tend to be a self-selecting group of interesting, intelligent people.
posted by youcancallmeal at 9:34 AM on August 20, 2006

I lived in New York for thirteen years and the early times was definitely fallow, friend-wise. Folks at work were far too busy with their own lives to entertain a new friend, if I'd wanted to hang with them. And idiots at bars too stupid. But then fate intervened.

I started an Art Gallery, closed that one on a high note and then opened another, this time along with an underground magazine (HYPE NYC). And then lots of stuff happened. I met people I'm still friends with to this day. If starting your own scene isn't for you, as other folks here have already posted, just get involved.

Good things will follow.

On the other hand, I find it difficult to meet interesting people here in London so recently I've thought about opening an after hours, members only S&M club. I've even scoped out a few small locations under the arches on the DLR, and have taken advise from a Solicitor to find out just how much shit I can get away with here. Might be fun and who knows, I might meet...
posted by Mutant at 9:46 AM on August 20, 2006

I'll trot out my old reliable - MeetIn. Which is like MeetUp, but without all the various and sundry hobbies and interest groups.

Someone posts something.
People show up.
It's the ultimate in 'Let's go hang out."

I'm active in the Tampa Bay one, and it's brilliant.

Good luck!
posted by willmize at 10:07 AM on August 20, 2006

yep, I'm nthing the mefi meetup idea. They are always fun, and it's a diverse group of people (and plenty of women as well as men).
posted by gaspode at 10:41 AM on August 20, 2006

brooklyn kickball
posted by c at 11:31 AM on August 20, 2006

Get involved with ImproveEverywhere.

Start being a regular attender- at a religious institution, at a gym class, at a restaurant.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 12:59 PM on August 20, 2006 [1 favorite]

I would suggest you get a new e mail unless you only use the one listed on Ask MeFi for Ask MeFi--I am not sure if there is any figurative or literal meaning to "youneverdidthekenoshakid " but since your name is "kenosha kid". I assume some one "never did you". It does not strike me as an email address that would generate the initial reaction which might lead to trust and confidence. But perhaps we are not looking for the same thing in our friendships. ( I am assuming that exchanging email addresses is part of many introductions now)
posted by rmhsinc at 1:10 PM on August 20, 2006

rmhsinc - it's from Pynchon
posted by kenoshakid at 1:46 PM on August 20, 2006

I second the "become a regular" idea.

I live in New York, and have for the last 13 years (with a short ill-fated stay in Boston in there as well). Though I have always had friends from school and work, there have been times I was looking to meet new people (usually when I was single). I've never been much of a "joiner," so I'm not typically inclined to do book clubs or classes.

I am a creature of habit, though, and I do like bars, so by natural inclination I would show up at the same bar every few days around happy hour. I would often do the crossword (I later learned that this is a pickup technique some use). Just by being in proximity with people on a regular basis, you will tend to get to know them. Of course this has to be the right kind of bar, but I think it would extend to the right kind of coffee shop, restaurant, or whatever.

You shouldn't feel strange about being lonely here--New York can be the loneliest place on Earth sometimes. And people do hang out at home, you just haven't met them yet--my girlfriend and I and many of our friends do, and I love throwing parties, dinner and otherwise. Maybe I'll see you at a Meetup, if I manage to go to another one and you're there.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that your situation is perfectly normal and you'll be fine once you locate a couple of people with similar interests and inclinations.
posted by lackutrol at 2:03 PM on August 20, 2006

lackutrol, at which bars do people pick each other up using crosswords?
posted by sweetkid at 3:59 PM on August 20, 2006

kenoshaKid--I looked it up after I posted--I just could not figure it out--it is pretty esoteric--I am not sure the advice does ot stand but I now have a reference for it--It could be an interesting story as you explain it to a new acquaintace as you regularly attend/go to something or other--Best of Luck
posted by rmhsinc at 5:46 PM on August 20, 2006

Seconding - Was at one of their events in Philly today (Book swap), and it was 3/4 single women.
posted by Orb2069 at 6:19 PM on August 20, 2006

Honestly, Kenosha Kid, I've always considered NYC the most friendly place I've lived, but I came here for college, so It was narturally a lot easier for me.

I'm in my mid twenties, with a large group of friends here, from all different walks and places. The bar scene here is fun if you're already out with a group, but you really can't meet people that way. Still, I have a number of friends who don't drink, and still hang out at the bars with us just 'cause it 's a fun place to be (we also hang out at eachother's homes quite a bit, actually.)

I'm rambling, so I'll just say this. If you
re really having trouble meeting people, shoot me an e-mail. My group of friends always has somthing going on, and it's usually something out of the ordinary. We're sure as hell friendly, and would love to hang out, and aren't a cult.

So there you go. Hope you do well.
posted by Navelgazer at 7:22 PM on August 20, 2006

Sweetkid, I went to this bar near Columbia (the name was pretty awful--SoHa), and people would sometimes look over my shoulder when I was doing the Times crossword. This would occasionally lead to a conversation. I have the impression this bar has gotten a lot less grad-student-y, so that might not happen any longer. I bet it might at other bars with the right demographic.

Anyway, though I really wasn't trying to pick up girls with a crossword puzzle (?!), I saw something on the Web a couple of years later about how some guys would do just that. I think there was also something sleazy like filling in clues with your number. Sorry I can't be more specific, but I just found it briefly amusing when I saw it.
posted by lackutrol at 7:42 PM on August 20, 2006

Also, remember that the fun people your age in NYC are mostly geeks and stunted "teenagers" who tend to live with roommates. This is the single easiest way to meet people here, and cut down on expenses by almost half as well. If you choose a roomie that's lived here for some time (preferably someone who went to NYU or Columbia or Pace or Pratt or what have you, you immediately have access to a new group of friends.

Also, your neighborhood matters. If you're in Williamsburg or the Village, people will party in their backyards, or particularly on their rooftops, all the time, and they're probably all happy to have someone new at the party. If your on the upper east, however, or Park Slope, then it's going to be harder, as these are family neighborhoods where people are more likely to keep to themselves.

Obligatory Dar Williams quote:

"People found this city because they love other people. They want their secretaries. They want their power lunches."

Nobody comes to New York to be alone. It's noisy, smelly, and tiring. The rent is prohibitively high and the spaces are torturously small. In other words, the people who come here and stay are here because they wouldn't want to live anywhere else, and a big part of that is that, once you get in to it all, it's the biggest small town in the world. But for the most part, we're all as clueless about meeting other people here as you are, which is why we stick together so much with the firends we've got.

I've lived here through 9/11, the Blackout, and the subway strike, and I can tell you that we're just a huge community, and we're all here for each other, including you. You might have to put yourself on the line a little bit at first, but as the saying goes, "Once you've made a northern friend, you've made a friend for life."

And yeah, volunteer at BARC. Williamsburg animal lovers are fun in a class by themselves.
posted by Navelgazer at 7:52 PM on August 20, 2006

I have coworkers and very close friends (neither of whom knew each other before this activity) who belong to New York city informal sports leagues ... where you can be totally inept at playing sports or an amazing athlete - it's just to meet people and I don't think it costs much money at all - maybe $50-$100 a month - I think, but I know they're not that much at all (just to cover auditorium fees, but I can find out if you like). I understand that pretty much regulars are basically people from random walks of life all getting together and playing to meet one another. I know there's volley ball league that meets once a week (my friend Luce has been playing for years, attending when she wants to) and I just found out last week that there's also a dodge ball (!!!) league to join - which I'd consider myself - and I was ALWAYS picked last on the gym team...

heh! Maybe we should all get together a Mefi Dodgeball Team in NYC.

Anyway, it's now late Sunday night so I can't ask my friends info at the mo, but if you're interested (they really do sound like fun) I can email my friends tomorrow or so. Email me and I'll send along the info.

Also, I generally go every so often to the Spring Street Studio - $12 for a three hour session. The crowd is mixed: professionals and those just trying their creative wings. It's fun, but requires a bit of dedication to get some of those folks to chat up. Still, with a bit of fortitude, I've been able to foster some friendships there.
posted by eatdonuts at 8:44 PM on August 20, 2006

Hi kenoshakid, boy, I think you were brave to put your feelings out there and admire you for that. I've been in NYC this time around for 20 years now and know exactly what it is to feel very lonely here. I do agree that loneliness is part of life anywhere and found as I grew older people were busybusybusy everywhere, not like more laid back friendships of the teen years.

People come to NYC to network as part of their career trajectory and often making friends here is less about enjoying time together or authentic friendship than it is about climbing the success ladder or getting laid.

Ok, practical tips...I don't know what you like really...but a handful of ideas are...there's a good coffee shop on the corner of 49th Street and 9th Avenue, called The Coffee Pot, open late, it's a friendly hangout often full of a variety of types from the NY pedicab drivers, who are a subculture of their own and mostly really likeable, to budding actresses, entertainment biz types, writers and the motley Hell's Kitchen crowd. Nice place to meet people.

The Hungarian Pastry Shop near Columbia Uni. is a neat, relaxed hang out. Lots of students and local residents around the university, often tables are shared.

Go to the Broadway Dance Center, 221 West 57th St, 5th Floor New York, NY 10019. Phone: (212) 582-9304, where there is a health bar and hang out there. You might take a class or check out the bulletin board...

Or, at 131 West 72nd St. (On the North side of West 72nd St.) on the 2nd floor is NewYorkSpaces, where you can rent a professional space for as little as 15 bucks an hour and make a group of some kind you'd like to have (Pynchon fans?). Make a flyer to stick up or put up a CraigsList ad for it. I used to have a weekly writers' group there. They have affordable and interesting classes in all their buildings, much more mellow than the more expensive Open Center.

St Bart's Church (I'm Buddhist) has a really active Community Center with lots of interesting things going on, like groups for writers, artists or going to the movies, recovery groups of all kinds, for free. I've met nice people there.

The same goes for the Church of the Heavenly Rest.

Go to Sheep Meadow in Central Park on a sunny day with a frisbee. You'll find people to join you in a game.
posted by nickyskye at 9:40 PM on August 20, 2006

ThePinkSuperhero touched on it, as did nickyskye, but I just have to throw in my two cents for religious institution. Frankly I don't know how people make it in this city without a real community, and I have no idea where else I would have found it if not for my church.

Its not a bar, but I've been out drinking with nearly every friend I have from there. Its not a sports club but I've skiied, golfed, ran, biked, swam, frisbeed in Sheep Meadow, sky-dived, and even vacationed to Vancouver with friends from there.

And, I think, best of all, it is a place that's most truly concerned with real community. We get together at each other's houses. We meet up for meals. We volunteer together, and we worship together. We spend time with each other because we share the common interest of making NYC a better place for everyone (not just those from our church). I think this is a much better way to cement true friendships and build real community than just finding people with common interests. This is finding people with common lives.

Of course, my particular church may not be your thing, but if you're interested in checking it out, drop me a line. Its on the large side, and the majority of us are 20-30 somethings in some line of professional work or the arts.
posted by allkindsoftime at 10:08 PM on August 20, 2006

Ok, here's the deal with the sports leagues in New York:

URL:, this season ends soon but try-outs are end of Sept/ beginning of Oct. Anyone can join but you have to go to tryouts. Bear in mind this has more to do with putting like players together (those who are super athletes get paired with super athlete teams, while the rest of us mere mortals get average or normal players.)
Cost is about $148.00 a season.

As for dodgeball, go to: which also has a huge list of social sports in the NYC area.
posted by eatdonuts at 9:16 AM on August 21, 2006

I second the dance suggestion: find a ballroom or swing dancing beginner class and go to it. There's usually a lot more women than men there...
posted by Arthur Dent at 4:57 PM on August 21, 2006

Thank you for your suggestions. I will be trying out many of them.

We'll see how this whole NYC thing goes. I'm giving myself 1 year. If I'm still miserable by September 1 2007, I'm going to start working out an exit strategy for myself.
posted by kenoshakid at 8:22 PM on August 23, 2006

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