Here's the Thing: I'm Here to Make Friends

A CUTIE:

I am a 27 year old guy, who recently moved to Southern California from Rhode Island. I only have a couple friends in CA, but both are about an hour drive from me. I have hung out with my coworkers a couple times, but it is a small company and I don't want to push myself onto them. I'd rather let those relationships develop naturally. Anyway, I am thinking of going to a bar by myself. I want to have a drink or two (obviously not too many) and be social a bit around people that aren't coworkers. I am thinking a local bar would be a good place to start. I am just curious if you have any advice so I am not creepy or that weird guy at the bar alone. I plan to have a book or something on my phone and go during a game so at least there will be something to do. Also, any advice for meeting people in general?

SOPHIA:

It sounds like you have a very good attitude towards making friends, which will help you immensely. Just from what you wrote, it seems like you pick up on social cues (not overwhelming coworkers, going to a bar when the game is on, not drinking too much etc). So the good news is that you’re very equipped to make friends.

A bar, however, may not be the most ideal to place to make the kind of friends you want to make. (I genuinely don’t know! I’m not saying it isn’t). The reason for this is because of what a bar functions as for other people. Very few bars have a Cheers-esque vibe of a gathering place anymore. You’re more likely to meet people who are there with friends already, which makes becoming their friend a bit of an uphill battle. It’s possible, don’t get me wrong, but you need to understand that going in so you don’t feel discouraged. Additionally, some people are great at just slipping into an established friend group and being a bit of an outsider/latecomer, other people say they’re ok with this, but quickly chafe at the distance between them and the others in the group. It can take years to “catch up” to where other people are in friendship.

I will also warn you that if you’re a guy who is into women, a bar will be an exceedingly hard place to make friends with women (which is valuable as hell when you’re in a new space because women are generally bomb ass friends and often really good at welcoming new people and making them feel included; we love to put in effort!!!!). Again, this is not impossible at all!! I’m sure there are platonic male/female friendships that have started in bars. But generally speaking, if you’re on your own and you start talking with a woman in a bar she’s going to think horses (you trying to dick her up) not zebras (you wanting friends because you’re from Rhode Island).

You have to know yourself. When I go to bars with a book alone (I have many times) I always imagine that I’m going to end up talking to someone, and I almost never do because I’m an introvert with social anxiety, despite my fantasy brain telling me it will be different this time. This time I will be so funny that the bartender and I will strike up conversation! (Side note: No! They are being friendly because it’s their job; they’re like Trader Joe’s cashiers— paid to pretend to be into you). But that never happens because I am not the kind of person who can make friends everywhere I go. I make friends like half the places I go. And usually they’re already friends with my friends. Get real with yourself about how friendly you are and how friendly you can push yourself to be. If you just sit at a bar with a book and don’t reach out to people there is no guarantee that you ever talk to anyone. You have to do the work.

Now: where else other than a bar? Find activities that you like and then do them alone. (If that’s going to a bar, that’s fine, too!) Use an app like Bumble BFF. Volunteer for an organization that you believe in but do it for friends. Go to a baseball game alone. Join a gym. Take classes at a local community college or just learn a new skill somewhere. Date people and steal their friends. (Jk but also this is how so many people make friends).

You will not be friendless forever. You seem to have a good idea of what it takes— putting yourself out there. You will make friends; I promise. It will just take a long time, which sucks.