I need a new social life, pronto.
July 7, 2008 8:51 AM   Subscribe

My social life is falling apart and I don't know what to do to fix it.

A few months ago, a long-term relationship I was in ended. Right around that time, my best friend found a boyfriend and now all she wants to do is hang out with him. I get invites to come over for dinner and stuff, but they never want to go out or do anything "social." Another good friend I hang out with is moving five hours away in a few weeks. I have a few other friends, but they are at least an hour away and married, which I know shouldn't matter, but it freaking does.

I feel like I have to rebuild my entire social circle at once and I'm feeling overwhelmed and kind of depressed about it. Oh, and I'm completely single. There aren't even any possibilities currently on that front.

So, my question is, of course, how do I meet people? But more specifically -- how do I make a new social circle? Also, is there anything I can do to make myself more "attractive" to potential friends? The thought of having to initiate all these new friendships that I need is completely daunting.
posted by als129 to Human Relations (17 answers total) 49 users marked this as a favorite
1. Join stuff - clubs, volunteering, sports teams, yoga, whatever.

You'll meet people. Really.
posted by k8t at 8:59 AM on July 7, 2008

Ooooh, been there. The best way is to start being active in your community by taking a yoga or art class, reading in your local cafe or just getting out of the house. Once you meet new people start having game nights or bar nights or any kind of night that will get your random friends that you meet all over the place to be friends with each other. I have gotten real good at being friends with one other person but it's much harder to translate that into a group of friends so I totally understand. Best of luck!
posted by janelikes at 9:00 AM on July 7, 2008

Having been the single friend with only married/dating friends, I fully understand why you don't really want to hang out with them.

Any friend prospects at your job?

I would volunteer. The summer is an awesome time to volunteer, there are always groups organizing fundraising softball games/picnics/etc. Also, there are usually music festivals and that kind of thing that need volunteers. Not only would you meet other volunteers, you'd meet participants. Joining any kind of group is your ticket. Plus, it always ends up being super fun. Or at least that has been my experience. if volunteering isn't your cup of tea, maybe look into other social groups like a book club/bookcrossing meetup. My sister started a bookcrossing meetup and met loads of really interesting people that way, some of whom became her best friends.

as for making yourself more attractive to potential friends, I doubt you need to do much. Just be yourself, be interested, and just go out looking for fun. Approach it as though your goal is to occupy your time and widen your interests. Finding a new friend group will happen naturally. :)

Good luck!!
posted by gwenlister at 9:04 AM on July 7, 2008

Classes are perfect for this. Especially if you give it some thought and find a subject that you'll especially want to be involved with and that has an interactive component. For example: in a beginning art or art history class, you will find people who want models or who are willing to pose (for photos or sketches), who will want to go out shooting pictures together (can be safer and more fun than going alone), or who will want to go gallery-hopping together. In a language class, it's completely expected to meet up outside of class for language practice. There are also classes with lots of team projects, or subjects that are so challenging that people tend to work on the homework together.

I've been in exercise classes too but find that takes a little longer to add in the outside-of-class component, since there isn't a built-in reason. With these classes, it's simply a way of meeting more people than you normally do at work, but the friendship develops naturally based on shared interests or a feeling of cameraderie.
posted by xo at 9:11 AM on July 7, 2008

I'm just going to chime in to say: be patient and persistent. A few years ago, I found myself with most of my close friends living in other cities. I wanted a couple of close friends locally, but didn't know how to do it. I ended up joining a few things (I attend a Quaker meeting, participate in a couple of local groups for homeschoolers, things like that). I ended up with a whole lot of friendly acquaintances who really cared about me, but still no "call up for a chat, let's go to a movie tonight" type friends. The group activities did a lot to keep me busy and meet my social needs, but I still felt the lack of a close local friend.

It took, what, four or five years and some circumstances I couldn't have had control over for a couple of those long-term friendly acquaintanceships to evolve into outside-the-group friendships.

I'm seconding what everybody else says: get busy with things you enjoy. You'll be attractive as a friend to the other people there because they enjoy those things, too. And those closer friendships will develop, though perhaps not quite as fast as you might like.

The other piece of advice: be bold about issuing invitations. 20 years ago, when I had just moved to a new town all alone, I read an anecdote about a woman who wanted more friends. She asked a woman who had a lot of friends how she did it. The woman replied, "Every time I meet someone who interests me, I invite them out for dinner. Sometimes we become friends." That was inspiring to me.

I also think about a woman who was new to our Quaker meeting, and set herself the goal of inviting everyone in the meeting out for a one-on-one lunch. She's been in the meeting for several years now and is still working on the project, but she has developed several close friendships and a whole lot of goodwill.
posted by not that girl at 9:41 AM on July 7, 2008 [2 favorites]

The other piece of advice: be bold about issuing invitations.

Totally, totally. Do not fall for the illusion that most people who are well-established in a given city already have the friends they want (after all, you're an example of that not being true). It's absolutely not true. Neither is the one put about by people who should know better about how you never make new true deep friendships after leaving school / college / turning 25 / turning 30 / whatever. Absolute nonsense.

Odd as it may seem to you right now, while you're feeling down, the blank slate of your current situation is a fantastic opportunity for diversifying your social connections, shaking up your assumptions about who you are and who you hang out with, and generally avoiding the traps of stagnation and routine.
posted by game warden to the events rhino at 10:20 AM on July 7, 2008 [10 favorites]

I'm actually going through the exact same thing right now. A few months ago, one of my closest friends got a new boyfriend, and ever since then, the two of them have been practically inseparable. Now, whenever I want to hang out with my friend, I can only do it if his boyfriend is there, too, because he's always too busy to make time to do anything with just me.

So I decided that it would be best for me to try and spend more time with other friends, but my situation is similar to yours in that it's a little more complicated than it should be. I just finished grad school and a lot of my friends have moved away. I'm staying in my current city for only a few more weeks until I move, too, so it's been tough to try to put in the time to make new friendships when I know that I'll be leaving in less than a month.

What's helped me so far is the advice that a lot of people have been suggesting already: meet new people through the activities that you enjoy doing. However, I would slightly modify this to emphasize that you shouldn't necessarily go into these activities looking for a big payoff, because if you don't get it, then you run the risk of seeing the whole venture as a complete waste. If you're into yoga, sports, volunteering, or whatever else you can think of, do it first and foremost because you want to. If you meet and connect with other people as a byproduct of that (and you almost certainly will), that's great! But think of these activities as ways for you to have fun and focus on something for which you have a passion or curiosity. And then, if you happen to make new friends and social connections from them, you've won again.

Things like this take time, but trust me, it is possible to get through it. Good luck!
posted by sabira at 10:22 AM on July 7, 2008

I am in a similar situation but I have to say that lately I've been kinda enjoying meeting completely different new people and making new friends. Try going over to meetup.com is a wonderful websites that caters to a plethora of interests.
posted by The1andonly at 10:51 AM on July 7, 2008

I've gone through this situation in various permutations, either from long term relationships or from moving, which I've done quite a few times. I recently moved back to the east coast after being thousands of miles away for four years. I came back to find most of my friends married, starting families, and myself single and wanting to go out.

All of the above is great advice. The only thing I'd add, or emphasize really, is to be patient. I know it can be hard to want to socialize but have no one to do it with. I've found people don't often talk about that stuff; loneliness sucks, especially when you know you're "friend worthy" (heh whatever that means), and have friends, but they're just in different places than you, whether geographically or not.

Good luck. I'm sure you'll be fine, you just really have to give it some time.
posted by jacquilinala at 11:04 AM on July 7, 2008

Take group classes in almost anything.

I have been in the backup band for jazz vocal classes for 30+ students. There's lots of time to chat amongst students. Usually there'd be dinner/beer after the (evening) class, to which everyone was invited. I got me a really nifty girlfriend that way, and connected with musicians that I've played with for years and years.

I should do that again. Minus the girlfriend bit, my wife might not approve.
posted by lothar at 11:22 AM on July 7, 2008 [1 favorite]

You're profile doesn't state where you are but I highly recommend one brick as a good way to make friends (volunteering plus social = friends). Also try the Jaycees, meetup.org, meetin.org, and metafilter meetups. I think if you make a commitment to go to one or two social groups on a regular basis, you'll find it's pretty easy to make friends.
posted by bananafish at 1:07 PM on July 7, 2008

Somebody always gets the friends in the divorce. I'm sorry :(

Learn to knit and then Stitch N Bitch. This is the entire reason I learned to knit, in fact. Knitting is a very social activity these days, and if I can couple that with Martinis, baby, it's a win all around.

Also, does your industry have active social networking? I work in tech and where I live, there's a huge repetoir of bar camps, open coffees, geek girl dinners, 1st curry, etc. Is there any of that stuff around whatever you do? Geeks are easy to make friend with, generally because well, we don't have any.
posted by DarlingBri at 2:19 PM on July 7, 2008

All great ideas from the posters above about how to meet new people. I'd also suggest checking out meetup.com. The only thing I'd add is that there is a time after having met people in really casual social settings you may need to do some work (that could feel a little forward, if you're anything like me) to transition from acquaintance to actual friend. The whole thing about platonic girlfriend dating? That's what I'm getting at. It's sort of like you have to put your best foot forward, be fun, be attractive, basically be someone you'd want to have around. And so meeting as many people as possible, doing what you think is fun, when you're in that mode is by far the best strategy. But there's this second level of filtering and fostering those that you want to really bring into your circle that it's nice to be prepared for. Good luck! :)
posted by smallstatic at 2:42 PM on July 7, 2008

Accept those dinner invitations. Then ask them to introduce you to some of the new boyfriend's friends. They'll get sick of each other eventually and be more willing to go out in a while, so don't ditch them completely.

The other suggestions here are great.
posted by sondrialiac at 8:11 PM on July 7, 2008

Been there, and can sympathise with being fresh out of a relationship, having most of my friends boringly coupled-up, at the same time as some of my oldest friends relocated to another city.

Here's a quick list of suggestions:

* Classes, as everybody else has said. In my observation, heaps of people in one of my regular activities are either exchange students, people on working holiday visas, or others who've relocated from another city. It's not the tiniest bit unusual for people to seek out something they enjoy to fill their time, with a social life as a collateral benefit.

* Scan your local papers etc for cultural events (movies, concerts, festivals, exhibitions etc) & invite people along. As long as they are interesting events, it's no skin off your nose if you end up going alone, and you can often meet people there.

* If you drink at all, is there a pleasant local bar you can visit? I have a regular watering hole where I've come to know dozens of colourful local characters of all ages & walks of life - a kind of English pub scene, where you turn up at the end of the working day & have a natter with the regulars.

* What's your domestic situation? If you can share a household with decent & friendly people, that's a lot of your problem solved.

* Regular dinners are pretty cool. I have a setup whereby a bunch of separate households take it in turns to cook a big meal for each other, rotating week by week. This has a low cost of entry ("wanna come over for a meal? i'm cooking lasagna for ten!"), can quickly turn into a regular thing, and is easily extendable to include friends-of-friends, etc.

* Try getting onto Facebook & watching out for events that your friends are attending. I know, finding friends was your original problem, but a facebook friend is often just somebody you've met once or twice casually, and there's always the possibility to build on those relationships, eg if a group of people are going out for an open dinner or a concert or party or something.

(a lot of this is premised upon the idea of turning casual acquaintances into better friends, more than finding those acquaintances in the first place)
posted by UbuRoivas at 8:18 PM on July 7, 2008

Well I don't see where you are...but join a CSA work-share program! If there's one near you, not only will you meet totally cool people and learn some farmin', you'll also get a bunch of free veg for your effort. It's only 4 hours a week usually, more if you want. Seriously, look into it.

try http://www.localharvest.org
posted by pilibeen at 10:22 PM on July 7, 2008

Look up old friends. Facebook is depressingly good at finding people you went to highschool with (for example). Odds are you are not the only one displaced and looking to reconstruct their social life.
posted by judge.mentok.the.mindtaker at 10:27 PM on July 7, 2008

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