Making Friends
July 9, 2004 8:47 AM   Subscribe

How do you make friends?
posted by the fire you left me to Human Relations (31 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
If you're married, over 30, have kids, and belong to a different socioeconomic class or political party than most of your neighbors, then you don't.
posted by mecran01 at 8:50 AM on July 9, 2004

Dale Carnegie has some suggestions.
posted by ChasFile at 8:51 AM on July 9, 2004

Shared activities are the best predictor of friendship -- or so I'm told.
posted by ph00dz at 8:54 AM on July 9, 2004

I've always found "making" friends difficult...friendships just seem to happen, based on common interests, common background and shared experiences. The best way to "make" friends, therefore, is to increase the pool of people with whom you might discover these common attributes. And that turns your question into making "acquaintances," which is a matter of introducing yourself to people, sharing a little conversation about one another, and seeing if the magic happens.

I disagree with mecran01 about friendships once you're married and over thirty. They're harder to develop, because one of the bases of friendship is shared time together (which is why people make so many friends in college), and they're qualitatively different, sometimes more about business than past relationships, but not impossible by any means. I've got great friends I've made in this phase of life.
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 8:57 AM on July 9, 2004

get drunk together! ; )
posted by dmt at 9:25 AM on July 9, 2004

I find the lack of responses to this post disturbing...
posted by mecran01 at 9:47 AM on July 9, 2004

I wish I knew. Once you get out of school it gets hard. I've become friends with some of the girls I've dated, and I guess I'm "friendly" with a few people from work. Outside of that any attempts at friendship always feel forced and never seem to go anywhere. Of course, like many people on the Internet, I'm a socially awkward introvert who doesn't find meeting people in general to be very easy.
posted by willnot at 9:51 AM on July 9, 2004

I'm very socially gregarious, so that helps, but here are some quick ideas.

Ask friends to introduce you to their friends. Friends of friends, and friends of friends of friends, etc. Then there is common interests/hobbies, etc. I've met a number of good friends through that route. Also volunteering. I'd also say that creating something, music, writing, a play, photography, a website, etc. can bring people to you- people who might want to see your work, or collaborate with you, etc. That's just a few off the top of my head.

There is serendipity, but you can help it along ;)
posted by gen at 10:02 AM on July 9, 2004

Booze is good. Sounds flippant, but it's been working for me for years. Just have to watch your blood pressure.

There's also friends you make via obsure shared interests online. I sometimes find these relationships evaporate suddenly with no bad feeling, they just dissapate.
posted by Flat Feet Pete at 10:05 AM on July 9, 2004

What stupidsexyFlanders said. I think part of the reason it gets harder as you get older is that your life and identity are more defined, less open to the possibilities (and changes) that real friendships bring. Think about all the friendships that have faded because you just went different directions. Once you get to a certain age/stage, this happens almost pre-emptively.

So you have to actually make an effort -- even go out of your way -- to do things that can increase your acquaintance pool, and let the magic happen from there. One interesting little sub phase of my life in the last two years was when I was attending open mic nights at an art loft put together by some late 20somethings in my town. Just attending that increased the number of social connections I had.

Another thing I've noticed: it's easier to make friends when you have at least one reliable activity partner to plan events with. You can then issue invitations knowing at least one person will come.
posted by weston at 10:11 AM on July 9, 2004

what weston said - people seem to be passionate about the arts, and if that's your interest, there will be others that you'd be more likely to hook up with. conventions/gigs/open mics/whatever. being in a band, i've made hundreds of friends that way.

also, by not trying too hard. let the balls develop...
posted by triv at 10:17 AM on July 9, 2004

A sad but true answer: Spawn offspring.

The parents of your children's playmates are your new golfing buddies/crochet club members. Entire social networks revolve around who gets matched up in the same nursery school class. Hell, you might end up being the one Sealing The Next Big Deal.

For the rest of us: Volunteerism (humanitarian and/or political), religious or social clubs, academic and alumni networks.
posted by PrinceValium at 10:18 AM on July 9, 2004

I've found that playing sports (even ping-pong or foozball) with other guys will lead much more easily to friendship than will hanging out or talking. I've made many more friends at work through sports and games than through working together or being located on the same floor. If coworkers aren't an option, you might want to look around for area sports leagues (or possibly fiction workshops, dance classes, etc.)

Otherwise, just be friendly to everybody. Don't feel like you have to talk a lot if you're introverted, just be friendly. Take the plunge and ask people to do stuff with you (drinking, movies, etc.) Sometimes you'll get stuck doing things with people you don't really like, but it's hard to separate the wheat from the chaff without really getting to know people, and it's not really the end of the world to spend an evening with people you don't like.
posted by callmejay at 10:24 AM on July 9, 2004

Play team sports. I joined a baseball team in a local rec league a few years ago and immediately made 15 new friends.
posted by vito90 at 10:24 AM on July 9, 2004

Oh, and sometimes it's helpful to find one friend who's really outgoing and then steal all of their friends.
posted by callmejay at 10:27 AM on July 9, 2004

invite people you don't know well along when you have a casual outing planned.

next week, my "core" group of friends are going to the outdoor film festival, so i sent emails to about half a dozen people i know well enough to have emails for, but don't really know, hoping to get to know them better.
posted by crush-onastick at 10:28 AM on July 9, 2004

I was one of those who made most of my friends in college, but now that I'm temporarily out of school, I found the best way to make friends, as people have said, is to invite them to an indie movie/rock show/art opening, etc. For example, my roommates play in a band, and I made a ton of friends from work just by pimping the band and inviting them to shows.

Whatever your thing is, it's a good idea to chat with people you work with, see everyday, etc., find out what their interests are and if they match yours, inviting them along to your mutually interested activity should come naturally.

If you're less extroverted than that and not opposed to making your friends online, places like the-shall-not-be-named Livejournal have city-centric communities where organized meet-ups are held.
posted by Zosia Blue at 10:39 AM on July 9, 2004

Have a scheme, people love to share in schemes.

I do exactly what cruch-onastick does. I plan stuff, or just decide to go to things, and invite everyone I know who is in the area. I also talk to strangers, a lot and have been known to say "we should be friends!" to a lot of them and then try to actively pursue that. Little crap like tossing notes to people to say "hey your website is cool" or asking questions after reading their blogs "you live in San Diego, I'm going there, what is there to do?" or even the more basic "where did you get that dog/car/inner tube/laptop?" are good ways to start. Follow up with people you get good feelings from.

I often stop by and visit people when I travel, and would rather stay with someone I didn't know very well, than get a hotel room. Large activities are often better than just "hey, let's you and I go to a movie" because they're rarely mistaken for dates, if you don't turn out to like the person, you're not stuck with them, and you can meet more people as your friends bring their friends. I have a regular fourth of july get together at my place, it rarely has more than 10-15 people there, but I always meet new people, learn new things and often make longer term friendships.
posted by jessamyn at 10:48 AM on July 9, 2004

Get a second job waiting tables at a restaurant with servers who look interesting. Instant friends. And drinking buddies. And drug connections.
posted by jennyb at 11:05 AM on July 9, 2004

omg worst suggestion ever. I wouldn't wait tables again for all the friends and free drugs in the world.

Also: buy a dog, and bring it to where ever other dog people bring their dogs. Instant friends.
posted by ChasFile at 11:23 AM on July 9, 2004

callmejay and vito90 are right about team sports. I must have met half my friends by playing in various football (soccer) teams. The rest are people I was at Uni with or friends of friends who became friends themselves if that makes sense. I suppose if you're not into sport you might achieve the same thing through AmDram or joining your local residents association and that kind of thing.
posted by squealy at 11:43 AM on July 9, 2004

Evening classes can be good places to meet people too, especially if you suggest going to the pub afterwards.
posted by squealy at 11:50 AM on July 9, 2004

Also: buy a dog, and bring it to where ever other dog people bring their dogs. Instant friends.

I've never found this to be the case, unless you're talking friends that you only talk to in the dog park. I've had a dog for the last ten years, walk him about 10 times a day (no kidding) and live right next to an offleash park. I've never gotten a friend out of it, though I rarely take a walk where some stranger doesn't talk to the dog or ask me about the dog. If my dog could talk, he'd be the most popular "person" I know. Since he doesn't, he leads a quiet life with pretty much me as his only friend. (Maybe I should fire his ass.)
posted by dobbs at 1:13 PM on July 9, 2004

What is this "friends" you speak of. Will it harm me if I make it? Do you eat it or hang it on the wall?
posted by damnitkage at 1:42 PM on July 9, 2004

I've always wanted to start a business renting puppies for the afternoon to people new in town, to make friends with. And babies (for guys).
posted by gottabefunky at 1:46 PM on July 9, 2004

renting babies?!?!?!??!?!

(I know you are kidding about the babies, but there really is dog rental in Japan.)
posted by gen at 3:05 PM on July 9, 2004

Friends? Um... IRC?

Oh, you mean in real life. Talk to people. Listen to people. Make a comittment to get together with some of these people. Call them, ask them if they want to go to a game/movie/dinner rinse. Repeat.

Don't say things like "you're retarded."

Um. Pretend you like people.
That's about all I know.
posted by Grod at 3:11 PM on July 9, 2004

One of the reasons I tolerate the high rents to live in an urban area is that I generally meet more people who live or work closeby, and more of the people I meet are open-minded, cool, and amenable to making friends. I don't live in a suburban area where most people are concerned with raising their families. If and when I have a family to raise, perhaps I'll do that, but for now, I enjoy the enhanced social atmosphere of the City.

I'm not saying you can't make friends in the suburbs, but it's really a numbers game. There are more elligible people here in the city than I know what to do with. Half an hour away, in the deep suburbs, it's a real accomplishment to find anyone who's *all* of the following: educated, tolerant, fun, and has time to hang out.

I'm really not trying to be a snob. I think I could make friends anywhere, but as I'm a bit shy, I find the city atmosphere gives me the extra push I need to make it really work. I've been through periods of isolation and desperate effort to scrape a social life together. Nowadays, I can barely juggle all the people I know.

So I guess my answer is: move.
posted by scarabic at 5:03 PM on July 9, 2004

La Rochefoucauld wrote many maxims related to the topic:

It is impossible for us to love anything without some respect to ourselves; and we only consult our own inclination and our own pleasure when we prefer our friends to ourselves. And yet this preference is the only thing that can render friendship perfect and sincere.

We are strong enough to bear the misfortunes of others.

It is easier to be wiser for others than for ourselves.

We give nothing so liberally as our advice.

The love of new acquaintance comes not so much from being weary of what we had before, or from any satisfaction there is in change, as from the distaste we feel in being too little admired by those that know us too well, and the hope of being more admired by those that know us less.

It is more shameful to distrust one's friends than to be deceived by them.

As uncommon a thing as true love is, it is yet easier to find than true friendship.

A true friend is the greatest of all blessings, and that which we take the least care to acquire.

I would agree most with the last. Making a true friend is a rare event and maintaining a true friendship becomes a harder task the older one gets.
More people settle for the appearance of friendship as time goes by.

What Grod said is the best concise summation of any practical advice on the "how to" of the matter.
posted by y2karl at 2:11 AM on July 10, 2004

The advice in this thread generally answers the question "How do I make acquaintances?" which was not actually posed.
posted by joeclark at 11:59 AM on July 10, 2004


friends come from acquaintances. IME you cannot make a friend. the people you know either become them or they do not. as you get older, the energy required to make friends of acquaintances is either long spent, or better spent on the friends you already have, or on your spouse or on your career, or on the vagaries of being a grownup.

so, you make time for your acquaintances; discover which among them enjoy the same activities you do, and if either of you has the emotional energy to spare, you get a new friend. if not, at least you've had some pleasant evenings.

on the other hand, some people don't elevate the term "friend" to something exalted. and as far as they're concerned, anyone who they hang out with a couple times a month, enjoying the same thing is a friend.
posted by crush-onastick at 5:56 PM on July 11, 2004 [1 favorite]

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