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February 3, 2007 10:23 AM   Subscribe

How does one make friends in LA?

I'm a person whose life is considerably better when I have social interaction. I've been in LA for about 8 months now, and I'm still frustrated that I don't have a consistent pool of people to do things with.

My situation isn't aided by the fact that both of my jobs don't facilitate meeting people on a consistent basis... it's difficult to make friends at auditions or on gigs or when you're working from home.

My groups of college friends in LA have been a bit disappointing -- one group I realized I've grown away from, the other I enjoy doing things with but already have a very established group of friends already (so it's been difficult to become an active member or a tagalong).

My biggest frustration is that when I do meet new interesting people, I find it nearly impossible to go from "oh hey, i'll call you if I have a party" to something more -- something I think which enhanced by the intrinsic flakiness of the Angelino lifestyle.

I've started taking classes at IO to meet new people, people tell me I'm an affable guy, I live with my girlfriend so I'm pretty sure I'm not intolerable.

Is it just part of the post-school crappiness-of-being-a-grownup? I've never really had a problem finding a girlfriend, why are friends so much more difficult?
posted by dentata to Human Relations (25 answers total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
 
Try Meet In?
posted by necessitas at 10:55 AM on February 3, 2007


I had a similar experience in LA when I lived there (1990-1994). I would go to parties and meet people but inevitably they either lived too far away (read: The Valley to my Santa Monica) and it was tough to travel 2 hours, or they were in The Industry and lost interest in me since I was not (seriously!).

It is tough, but 8 months isn't a long time. Don't get discouraged and try to meet with people of similar interests (pottery, sports, Metafilter, etc).

Good luck!
posted by terrapin at 11:41 AM on February 3, 2007


Summer is coming, and the Weds Nite BBQs are a great place to meet nice, creative folks in the NE part of LA. You'll make new friends even quicker if you bring something unusual to grill or a special dessert and then hand samples out. Or, if your home can accomodate it, offer to host! They have a myspace page where you can learn more. Also, sign up for WNBBQ maestro Gus' G-Loop mailing list to stay informed of other fun events on this side of town, again here's a myspace page with a subscribe button.
posted by Scram at 11:56 AM on February 3, 2007


I find that LA is easy to meet people, but hard to connect. Most of my close friends here I knew before I moved. The rest I met through ultimate frisbee. Do you play a recreational sport?
posted by mzurer at 12:14 PM on February 3, 2007


LA People Connection
posted by Guy Smiley at 12:39 PM on February 3, 2007


In LA, a tremendous amount depends on where exactly you are in L.A. Santa Monica is not Hollywood. Manhattan Beach is not the Valley. And then complicating that is the fact that everyone is from everywhere else.

My actor friend has a ton of friends ... but all of them live in and work in Hollywood, in and around Melrose. And while he knew these people when he was in the Valley, he didn't really make the connections with them until he, too, moved to Hollywood and started spending the majority of his time there.

So, my advice is don't take the shotgun approach, and try to stay local to your area first.
posted by frogan at 12:54 PM on February 3, 2007


Best answer: I moved to Los Angeles after having lived up and down the eastern seaboard for most of my life. Unlike any other town I've lived in, I found that I had to endure a long, hard adjustment period in Los Angeles, again, unlike anything I had ever experienced before. Then I had a watershed moment where everything sort of "clicked", a low point for me personally, and ever since I've better understood my place in this town, and its been an exciting and entertaining climb ever since. Far from just sharing "my story" - which ultimately has nothing to do with "your story" - let me share some pointers.

1. Having a girlfriend when you just start out in LA will hamper your ability to make friends socially. You know I'm right.

2. Keep your expectations low, and try to compartmentalize your socializing. The more professional the work you do, the less "let's go have a drink after work" mentality there is going around, at least I've found.

3. Try socializing in a scene where you have something in common with other people there - whether its a musical trend, a particular habit, a particular spot, whatever. Try to participate! I can't stress this enough.

4. Try to appreciate the "fuck you" mentality prevalent in LA before it actually slaps you in the face. If you're not from around here, like most people that are not, well, it's a lot to expect to have friends and to know people and to be entirely comfortable. In fact, you should appreciate not getting your ass kicked or walked on by anybody else. I know, strange. But the city doesn't lend itself to the kind of openness (both physically and psychologically) that a city like New York is embued with. Walk down the street say, somewhere in Manhattan, and you're chances of meeting someone cool or bumping into something neat is pretty high. What a great town to be a free spirit in! But walk down a street in hollywood, and you'll be lucky to not get hit up for money, check out some freak, see some tranny taking a shit on the sidewalk, or wonder about a line of eighteen year olds waiting in line and paying 30 bucks to get into some club with two ferraris parked outside and play ms. hot shit.

5. Ironically, kids in LA are very tender and can't take criticism. They love candy - sugar, blow, whatever - and are often the victim of their own scruples, and more often than not, like to bark - but have low self esteem. 90% of the people I meet one-off have at least one incredibly fucked up story to tell, something i usually cant relate with. Do not slow yourself down just because everybody else is.

So at the end of the day, fuck this town. But I love it, and Im going to get mine. Its easy to fall into a blur, and you just got to take it one step at a time, starting with tonight. Hard work, perseverence, loyalty, can be huge, trust me. And good people are out there.

Ahmet Ertegun once spoke of success in the industry as "put your head down and hope you bump into a genius".
posted by phaedon at 1:27 PM on February 3, 2007 [4 favorites]


Good lord. It never ceases to amaze me how many people seem to loathe everything about LA and apparently take great joy in hating it, loudly and at length.

As someone mentioned above, I do think that industry people tend to befriend other industry people, but I don't think that there's some kind of shunning going on (of course, there are jerks in every industry, and in every city, EVEN New York. For instance.)

It's just that working in the business is weird and often consuming, and it's nice if your friends know what you're talking about.

Also, if I may be honest: you know how it's hard to meet someone to have a romantic relationship with if you're stuck in the mindset of "Everyone totally sucks!"?

It's not that unlike how meeting new friends works, I think. If your baseline mindset is "Everyone in LA sucks!" people are probably not going to be drawn to you. I know I have not pursued friendships with neat-seeming people who mostly wanted to talk about how much LA sucked. Bitter, negative people are not much fun.

I'm not a dude, but my impression of my guy friends is that they make new pals through The Doing Of Things, often related to sports. Do you like to hit golf balls, or play basketball?

There are also heaps of mixers here. I'm more familiar with the industry-centered ones, but I'm sure there are similar things for whatever kind of business you're in.

Since you live with your girlfriend, why not take advantage of the inherently less-skeevy factor of a dude who has managed to convince a girl to stick around, and throw dinner parties? Make it a point to invite new people every time, or you can do the thing where you invite two couples, and they each invite two other people.

Good luck!
posted by thehmsbeagle at 2:06 PM on February 3, 2007


Best answer: I was a private tourguide in LA for years, so if you want to know of any advice on how to get around or places to go, you can feel free to write my e-mail address. For all of the things that drove me nuts about the town, I also have a deep love for it and can actually say I miss it a lot more than I'd expected to.

phaedon has some points. However, there's a big key thing here... there are many different LAs. And in particular, there are two main categories of residents there... there are the people who came to LA to "become" something (thus the "Fuck you, it's all about me" attitude -- nobody says "I want to move to LA and make friends and raise a family & be a part of the community."). And then there are the people who are natives... who grew up in Southern California. Whose grandparents and parents live nearby. Los Angeles is more than a "fuck you" town, it's also HOME to a lot of people. So just try to recognize that difference. There are people you should ignore & not take seriously... or just plain mock. But don't let those people inside, just take them for face value & don't expect any more. There are also good, nice, genuinely kind-hearted people who deserve a chance though, so try to figure out who those people are. If you go around treating everyone like they're in the "fuck you" camp... then you're going to be putting yourself into that camp too. You'll be acting like a jerk.

There are also some wonderful, INCREDIBLY TALENTED & SMART people in LA. Problem is that everyone has their guard up and nobody knows who to trust. So many people are full of crap, it takes time to break through to the genuine side of people sometimes. That is always a shame. I moved away, thinking "People here are full of shit, I can't take it anymore" but now when I go back I realize that in many ways I was actually not giving some people enough credit & I took some things for granted. And that was my own fault. I regret that.

If there is something you enjoy, find ways to pursue it & then you'll meet peers. Even if just to be social. I am a jazz singer and I ended up finding an amazing community of musicians there who were incredibly supportive and became like family to me. I have yet to find a group of people to replace them where I now live. If you like to write, take some courses. I met a lot of people through UCLA Extension classes. Take an improv course at the Groundlings. Go to lectures or comedy shows.

There is SO much in the Weekly... you have chances to see and do things that people outside of LA could NEVER see, and you never know who you might start up a conversation with! See who's playing at Cafe Largo. Watch the ever-horrible Marty & Elayne at the Dresden. Go to readings at Book Soup. Get wacky and join a dodgeball team. GO HAVE FUN. While you're having fun, other people will be alongside you. Some people will let their guard down. That's how friendships develop. Even if you only go out for a drink with them a few times, if you're a cool person to hang out with you will slowly start finding a social circle developing for you in time. I promise.

And anyone who doesn't try to be your friend? Oh, fuck 'em.
posted by miss lynnster at 2:22 PM on February 3, 2007 [2 favorites]


And I agree with hms beagle... people who go on about hating LA are being simple-minded. It's like people who walk around saying the French suck... it's an easy generalization made by people who want to feel superior. LA is a complex place with many layers and many different sides to it. No major city filled with people could ever be one dimensional, especially a place as big as Los Angeles. You will find whatever you want to find in it -- both good & bad. That is, if you open yourself up and look.

I live in the Bay area now, and I've dealt with a lot of "Oh, you're from LA? Well, we won't hold it against you. You're in God's country now" bullshit since moving here. Whenever someone tells me they hate LA, I've taken to asking them about the last time they visited it. Nine out of ten times, the answer is "Oh, I'd never go THERE."

Well, ok, so thanks for your expert opinion on the City I spent 18 years of my life calling home, then. Dork.
posted by miss lynnster at 2:34 PM on February 3, 2007


Some close friends of mine moved from the Bay Area to LA and are now in the "Industry." One thing they've told me about being in the industry is that there's almost no work/life separation. So I wouldn't take it personally if industry people don't get back to you -- they're not necessarily uninterested (or shallow, for that matter).

(FWIW, miss lynnster my friends love LA and I've loved being down there whenever I've visited them. So there is at least one Bay Area person who doesn't hate LA!)
posted by treepour at 3:03 PM on February 3, 2007


And I agree with hms beagle... people who go on about hating LA are being simple-minded

exactly right. People here are so much friendlier than people on the east coast it blew me away when I first moved here. I met some of my best friends in the world when they randomly invited me to join their kickball game at the park.

The entertainment industry contains pretty much the same ratio of jerks as every other industry in the world. Beyond that, it's full of amazingly smart and creative people.

The "native/non-native" distinction is also complete horseshit. I know SO many great people that moved here from other places, many of them to be in the "industry."
posted by drjimmy11 at 3:09 PM on February 3, 2007



4. Try to appreciate the "fuck you" mentality prevalent in LA before it actually slaps you in the face. If you're not from around here, like most people that are not, well, it's a lot to expect to have friends and to know people and to be entirely comfortable. In fact, you should appreciate not getting your ass kicked or walked on by anybody else. I know, strange. But the city doesn't lend itself to the kind of openness (both physically and psychologically) that a city like New York is embued with. Walk down the street say, somewhere in Manhattan, and you're chances of meeting someone cool or bumping into something neat is pretty high. What a great town to be a free spirit in! But walk down a street in hollywood, and you'll be lucky to not get hit up for money, check out some freak, see some tranny taking a shit on the sidewalk, or wonder about a line of eighteen year olds waiting in line and paying 30 bucks to get into some club with two ferraris parked outside and play ms. hot shit.

5. Ironically, kids in LA are very tender and can't take criticism. They love candy - sugar, blow, whatever - and are often the victim of their own scruples, and more often than not, like to bark - but have low self esteem. 90% of the people I meet one-off have at least one incredibly fucked up story to tell, something i usually cant relate with. Do not slow yourself down just because everybody else is.


Also, these are works of fiction. If the author has ever visited Los Angeles, it was in a parallel universe from the one I live in.
posted by drjimmy11 at 3:11 PM on February 3, 2007


You are right drjimmy... I think I sounded way too defensive the way I worded the native/non-native thing. I don't think you have to be a native at all. It's just the difference between people who are genuinely thinking of LA as a home & those who aren't perhaps. I'm not sure how to word what I mean, but I know I didn't word that well & I apologize for that.

Regarding the industry people... I will say that I had to get out of the industry because I didn't like how people treated eachother in it, and I didn't want to work 10 hour days anymore. And once I was outside of it (working fewer hours for a lot more money!), I grew to really like the people I had worked with in the business a lot more. I think the stress of entertainment work can bring out people's ugly at times & I was happy to be out of that.

I also agree that #5 was totally ridiculous. I find people in San Francisco a MILLION times more hypersensitive than in LA. If anything, I've had to watch it because my skin is thick & I'm used to being more direct than works here. I found constructive criticism to be more appreciated in LA... as is a smile. I'll smile at strangers here and they want to know what's wrong with me. I've started doing it just to fuck with them. I'm starting to find a lot of entertainment from it.

I used to think that people in LA were superficial... I used to always complain... "I hate it because when people in LA smile at me or compliment me I don't know if they mean it." But now I've realized... I would far rather be around smiling people who compliment me than people who don't ever DO EITHER. Whether they mean it or not doesn't matter, it's just a lot nicer. And now I realize that a lot of people in LA actually DO mean it. There are a lot of kickass nice people there.

There are a lot of losers & assholes too. But that's everywhere. LA is really no different.
posted by miss lynnster at 3:37 PM on February 3, 2007


Whatever you're interested in, there's probably a Meetup group for it in LA.
posted by the jam at 3:47 PM on February 3, 2007


I loved and miss LA, and I think, next time I move, it will be back there. I also had a hard time making friends in LA, but, eventually, what worked there is what has worked everywhere else -- joining groups of like-minded people. Taking classes about subjects I found interesting. And just giving it time. After a certain age, people seem to get a lot less social, because they have already got friends, family, and jobs to worry about, and it takes longer to meet people and get to be buddies with them.

On the other hand, LA is a fantastic place for doing things alone. Great museums, fantastic movie revival houses, etc. So make use of those until you start making friends.
posted by Astro Zombie at 3:56 PM on February 3, 2007


I just had this conversation last night. None of us could come up with any answers.

But, I just moved to LA, live on the westside, am not a flakey person, and want to make new friends. I'd have sent you an email instead of writing this comment, but you don't have an email listed in your profile-- I do, however, so contact me!
posted by holyrood at 4:11 PM on February 3, 2007 [1 favorite]


fascinating, i didnt intend my comments to be treated as "the top 5" most overlooked truths about los angeles, nor did i mean to sensationalize any particular aspect of living here... but that is how i read into the question. im obviously sympathetic to some pretty weird life experiences.

is that these perceptions are just absurdly relativistic? i mean, am i just totally out of the loop if i were to say something like, "well i went up to berkeley and i really found the people to be really nice and normal, compared to los angeles?"

by the way, the marty and elayne shout-out rocked. missed that the first time.
posted by phaedon at 4:16 PM on February 3, 2007


Sounds like it might be a nice idea to put together an LA (I realize how much ground that covers, but even if a few folks from your area show up, it might be great) meetup pretty soon. The MeFi/MeCha meetups seem to be pleasant events.
posted by lilywing13 at 5:47 PM on February 3, 2007


Well, I think that the initial perception of a place is different than when you actually are there a while. When I first came to the Bay area, I had SUCH an idealized perception. I thought people were nicer, that everything was just perfect & I couldn't wait to leave LA & be in this beautiful, cosmopolitan place I felt I belonged so much more. But then you live somewhere a while and you start seeing beyond the first impression. You start accepting the darker sides too (and every place has them). And socially, you start noticing patterns. And then I started ask around about the things I would notice... & find out that my first perception was actually just naive. There IS no place that's perfect. And LA is DEFINITELY not all bad! I'm probably the only person on the Earth that actually goes to LA to decompress. Actually, I find people in SF to be FAR flakier... but perhaps it doesn't help that my main client is a company founded by hippies.

Marty & Elayne actually know me by name. I've actually sang with them & their blasted out sound system. How frightening is that?
posted by miss lynnster at 6:28 PM on February 3, 2007


Oh, and LA is definitely a microcosm that IS completely unreal in some ways. That's why after I go there to decompress but I haven't decided to move back yet. Even when I lived there, I needed to spend time outside of it on a regular basis to keep a healthy perspective.
posted by miss lynnster at 6:32 PM on February 3, 2007


What's the question again? LA vs SF? Ugh, that argument is tired.
Making friends in L.A. is not so different than any metropolis. You and your girlfriend should try hosting a dinner party, bbq, drinks, whatever, and invite some people you think might be interesting. Repeat as necessary. The person/couple you like no doubt has other friends worth meeting. And then it's friendsville.

I lived half my life in LA, half in SF, if it matters.
posted by artdrectr at 8:29 PM on February 3, 2007


I agree. It is tired. Why can't we all just get alooooonnnnng? Each city should be appreciated for how truly great it is... no good reason for weird passive aggressive competition. No place is perfect, but every place has its own unique treasures. The trick is... finding what they are for you. And it takes time, that's all. Keep looking. Don't give up. Friendsville awaits.

Good suggestions , artdrectr.
posted by miss lynnster at 12:38 PM on February 4, 2007


I've lived here in LA my entire life; my parents are natives too. I smile sincerely at people on the street, strike up conversations waiting in line pretty much anywhere and despite all this, only have a few close friends.

LA MeFi meetup? I'll help!
posted by ApathyGirl at 2:59 PM on February 4, 2007


Count me in for an LA MeFi meetup also! :)
posted by starscream at 6:18 PM on February 5, 2007


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