Features Feb 13, 2019 at 4:00 am

This city has the social skills of a sheet of black ice. But I recently had a breakthrough.

It’s difficult to strike up a conversation with people who are doing this (which everyone in Seattle is at all times). skynesher/Getty Images



"Unfortunately, I have [ no hobbies ] besides smoking weed."

Well, there's your problem. Weed makes you terribly, crushingly boring. Seriously. If your only hobby is smoking weed, then you're literally repellent to everyone else.

Want to make friends in Seattle? Put down the bong.


I came to Seattle 3.5 years ago. Since then I've met and become close to several groups of friends--so much so, that I am disinclined from moving away. In this time, I've also enjoyed introducing friends to other friends and expanding their circles. This journey involved me doing the following: going out to events and activities (both during the day, when you can, and in the evening) and being friendly and outgoing. It required that I allow folks to occasionally pass or flake without me taking it personally (yes, I did at first; it didn't help and only served to embitter me). It also takes patience. Seattle is not unfriendly or glum or even socially anxious (although, yes again, I believed this for a while, I learned that these views said more about me and my attitudes than served as any kind of objective truth about Seattle).

If you want to make friends, it's not difficult, but it does require patience and a willingness to be curious about others and this delightful city. Consider trying the following: deactivate facebook, twitter, instagram, netflix, hulu, and any other online TV-streaming service for at least 3-6 months (the TV shows and friend connections aren't going anywhere, promise). Use that free time to first, become bored. Second, begin to explore the city on foot and via mass transit. Go to events at cafes and at theaters. Stand around, smile and chat with strangers. Don't do it expecting anything. In other words, treat people as people, not objects to meet your social needs. Some will be strange. Some will give you the cold shoulder. Some will be overly excited and perhaps too needy. That's ok; allow people to be as they are: individuals in process.

If you're single go on dates: not to find a partner, but to practice being curious and interested in others. Find some dates through apps, but be sure to ask out strangers. Keep it to a 1:1 or 1:2 ratio. You'll be rejected. That's ok.

If you are coupled, then when out, start random conversations with other couples. Ask them about their lives and journeys. Make jokes. Find humor in how precarious life is and how odd the world can be. Find things to appreciate. Don't be fake. But maybe lay off a little of the cynicism. Think of it as keeping your feelings to yourself rather than venting them out everywhere.

If you still have trouble making friends, or are feeling too anxious, come on out with me a few times, I'll introduce you to some folks. And, no, this isn't a "wanna fuck" thing: I am happily partnered with someone I met here in Seattle (through an app of all things!). And if you find yourself fretting or getting down--on yourself or about the "state of the world", you may be served to recall a few lines from Ehrmann's "Desiderata":

"You are a child of the universe,
no less than the trees and the stars;
you have a right to be here.
And whether or not it is clear to you,
no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should. [...]

With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams,
it is still a beautiful world.
Be cheerful.
Strive to be happy."


Mr. Scott knows what's up. No one owes anyone else their friendship. Put in some time in the real world and stop seeking validation on the internet. It takes a while but it's worth it and a great learning experience.


By the way that ^ was autocorrect if you are not in fact a mr.


For a lot of us that are 4th and 5th generation... We closed doors years ago when the tech transplants came in hordes. Nowadays your nerdy friendly neighbor likes to sit on his but and watch Netflix or play Video Games. I guess it's better than the tech bro trying to be a bike snob, join a hiking club via Facebook or ruin our trails for more mountain biking.... You try that craft beer yet? It looks great! Back in the day most of the people who lived out here were musicians or heshers... Nowadays they wouldn't be caught dead in this city because all the new buildings look like they've been transplanted out of some rich person's catalog. Transplants do suck and they'll never learn that we were pissed when our quaintly area was overtaken by a ton of people... This coming from a 5th generation Seattlelite.


I recommend Meetup.com (there's an app too, of course).


2 #3 #7 could learn a thing from mrscott (I did!)

Perpetual reflexive judgement does not a good friend make; "allow people to be who they are" :
a simple approach, & possibly difficult practice...


Making friends in Seattle requires two things: meeting and knowing people who aren't from Seattle and creating a group of friends and meeting a native Seattle resident who is willing to, as my friend Sara says, "introduce the good people to the good people" and widen the circle.

I also made friends through work, going to shows, and having common interests (like formerly having lived in New York City and relocating to Seattle and being able to discuss the pros and cons of both).

Of course I lived in Seattle prior to the smart phone zombie apocalypse and it not being in any way an affordable place to live (I lived there 2002 to 2007 and paid $650/mo for a beautiful, spacious, hardwood floor, 600 square foot apartment my first 4 years and began to feel the rent increases coming in my last apartment there (smaller, carpeted, $790/mo when I moved in and when I had to move $945/mo was what they were telling prospective tenants the rent would be).

I suppose now the way to make friends is to ask people, so, do you work for Amazon? What are you going to do with your stock when you cash in, if you, you know, make it past the typical 9 months of the average employee? Or, hey, where do you live and how much do you pay in rent?


Such a relief to find someone else who doesn't believe in the weird made up bullshit cult of astrology. I'm constantly shocked when having intelligent conversations with new people who suddenly bring up astrology as if it's just accepted fact. Even most Christians don't do that.

Unfortunately though I gotta agree with @3. I don't know what's more boring, tech-bros with zero real life skills / hobbies / interests - or stoners with the same.

Oh and @2: Fuck off. You clearly don't even live here.


Astrology? What the fuck is up with that? You are suppose to out grow that stupid shit by the end of your Sophomore term along with other dump shit like Libertarianism and Ayn Rand.


The Seattle Freeze is real, but the reason for it is poorly understood:

We don't want to offend you with our assumption that you don't already have a packed social calendar. Inviting someone to spend time with you assumes they don't have anything better to do. So if you want to hang out, you've gotta like, tell people you're looking to fill your time.


I've been to many cities and I've made ZERO friends out of complete strangers. I don't understand why this is considered unique to Seattle. At the same time, I've never attempted to make friends with strangers, but I can't imagine it is easy anywhere.


Two words: uptights liberals.

Plenty of uptight conservatives in the world, probably more, but Seattle's problem is uptight liberals. They walk around on eggshells, can't take a joke and most definitely can't laugh at themselves or their politics.


@15 seriously? I lived in New York City and it was the easiest place to make friends with strangers of all the places I have ever lived (well, except maybe college). I moved from Brooklyn to Seattle and would go out and try to talk to a stranger and they would literally turn their back on you and ignore you. And people say New Yorkers are rude. Seattle was also the first place I ever in my life experienced people saying they'd be somewhere at a certain time and never show up. It was a shock. I moved to Seattle and knew only one person (and I did not make any friends through him). Every friend I made in Seattle was a new friendship forged with a complete stranger to me. I don't even understand how it is possible to exist without ever having made friends with strangers. Are you related to every person with whom you are friends? And yes people you work with at a job or go to school with are complete strangers (until you get to know them) so, again, how is what you are saying even possible?


As a 3rd generation Seattlite in my 30s, I'll say that most of my native Seattleite peers left in the last 5 years, even the transplants from the early 2000s have mostly left. I'm not sure who it is giving you fresh imports the freeze, but I'm glad to see we passed on some of the old Seattle culture.


One unexpected benefit of being an alcoholic is that there are lots and lots of AA meetings in Seattle. I have made many friends among “my people”. Of course, you may have to go through years of hell first before you get to a meeting, so there’s that...


As a transplant from the Midwest, I have to say that I LOVE that people give you space out here. People are perfectly friendly, they just don't get all up in your proverbial shit all the time. (They also leave your literal shit alone, but that is common in other areas of the country too.) I've always been terrible at making plans myself, so I kinda feel like I have self-sorted into the perfect section of the country. I tend to say that I don't believe in the Seattle Freeze, but it may just be that THE FREEZE WAS IN ME ALL ALONG.

Also, I really need to see that pigeon mask. I kind of want one sight unseen, in fact.


5th generation local here, ^what every other local above me said. If everyone in the City doesn't like you maybe it's not us, it's you.


Ha! Same here, commenter #20! The freeze was totally in me all along. I’ve made better and closer friends here than I ever did before, starting in 2006. Including a fair number of natives. I love Seattle with a startlingly passionate love.


I hate this 'Seattle Freeze' trope SO MUCH!!! It always makes my blood boil. Maybe I'm sensitive because I'm born and raised here and I love my Pacific Northwest to the marrow. Does anyone EVER consider the social science? Ever? We can only handle so many relationships in our lives. It's called circles of acquaintance. All spots are taken already! We only have so much energy to expend! A vacancy can open up when someone moves, or your s/o cheated on you and all your friends knew about it. My circle consists mostly of the people I grew up with, which I never imagined but we must have been forged in the fire together. Then there are the co-workers who you hopefully enjoy, and family. I have managed to make real adult relationships with new people I cherish because we volunteered for things we cared about. But the Seattle Freeze crap is just b.s. Maybe that person who was a dick at the bar is just a dick. Okay? You can't take that ONE fricken experience and extend it to everyone who lives here. Come on people, it's science at work.


Katie: 'When I first moved here five years ago (it feels more like 50), I went out with a potential new friend who immediately asked for my astrological sign. "Wait!" she said. "Let me guess." She got it right on the twelfth try.'

That was something that used to drive me crazy when meeting a woman on a date: asking what my sign was. It would always leave me -- as the Brits say -- gobsmacked. And I still remember being invited to a woman's home in Kirkland for dinner many years ago. She was originally from Southern California. Attractive in an unconventional way and very sexy. She had never brought up astrology on previous dates but this night, after dinner, she pulled out a book called "Sun Signs" by Linda Goodman and wanted to read about our "sign compatibility." As usual, I was astounded that an adult could take this kind of stuff seriously but I put up with an hour or so (it seemed like forever) of her reading the book because I was really hoping we'd end up in her bedroom.


17/xina: "@15 seriously? I lived in New York City and it was the easiest place to make friends with strangers of all the places I have ever lived (well, except maybe college). I moved from Brooklyn to Seattle and would go out and try to talk to a stranger and they would literally turn their back on you and ignore you. And people say New Yorkers are rude."

I moved here in 1979 from the Midwest and since then, of the six best friends I have/had, I met three of them through work -- one at my first job in Seattle, two at my third job -- and the other three, oddly enough, through apt hunting (involving a pretty amazing coincidence.) And all of those last three, interestingly, turned out to be from the New York area: one from Queens, one from Staten Island and the other from Long Island.

The two cities I've been to the most for vacations during the past nine years have been New York and San Francisco. In both places, I've found people likely to be more talkative and responsive. On the other hand, I make more of an effort to engage with other people when I'm a visitor. That being said, when I do try to engage with people in Seattle, i just sense a greater level of coolness/reserve than I have in NY and SF. I remember a great conversation I had with a guy two years ago on a street in Greenwich Village when I stopped to ask him about his Smart Car. I think an engaged reaction like that from someone in Seattle is definitely possible, but just not as likely.


The comments here are harsh! Katie, I’d 100% be your friend! I’ve lived here for a decade, have lived in many other major (and not so major) cities, have lots of hobbies, several volunteerships, went back to school 2x, and have switched jobs and fields several times since living here. I also currently date and have been in more than 1 relationship, 1 was long term - All that to say that my “circle” in this city has been wide and varied. It IS hard to make friends here. Part of it is age, in general it becomes more difficult to make friends as you get older. But a lot of it is the PNW and Seattle’s culture in particular. I moved here from Nashville where you could talk to people in public, they’d invite you to their home for dinner, and everyone actually followed through! Oddly enough, a lot of strangers I’ve met in Seattle (in line for coffee, on the bus, at shows) also transplanted from the south. Northwesterners close ranks, it’s true. Southerners, Midwesterners, Canadians, and a lot of other cultures that find themselves here are more open and hospitable. My friend groups have changed several times, and I feel like it gets harder each time someone moves or has a kid or starts at Amazon to replace them. But like I said - I’ll be your friend!


@20 the upper Midwest? The Seattle Freeze is a holdover from Scandinavian sensibilities of early pioneers, who also white populated Minnesota and Wisconsin.

@16 the freeze predate Seattle's progressive turn (until the mid 80s, it was labor left)


Abnormal people do not make friends well no matter what the scenery.


Another great pile of stereotypes by Katie "Otherkin" Herzog



I have a lot of lesbian friends, so maybe you're just doing it wrong.


If your real personality is even remotely like how you present yourself here, then you really shouldn't be surprised that nobody likes you.

One of the reasons Seattleites - either natives or long-time transplants - tend to be more reserved is simply a product of an environment where people spend a good portion of the year indoors because of inclement weather. Culturally, we're generally introverts, being more comfortable spending evenings at home reading a good book (we are, after all, one of the most well-read cities in the nation) than out bar or club-hopping. But some of our reticence to engage with strangers is - aside from a natural tendency to want to maintain more physical/psychological space in public settings, as others above have noted - is simply that many of you try SO DAMNED HARD at being "friendly", and frankly, it often smells of desperation - and we have too much going on in our lives to feel much inclination to engage on that basis. That said, it's actually very EASY to meet people, but sidling up to a random stranger in a bar and trying to strike up a conversation probably isn't the most effective way to do that around here. Instead, seek out activities you enjoy: concerts, theatre, art galleries, sporting events, literary readings, board gaming - whatever. You'll find people in those kinds of social situations much more open to interacting with strangers, since you already share a common interest.


@17 re: friends with strangers...

I meant randomly talking to people at Bars. Sorry for not being more specific. People that are not friend of a friend/schoolmate/workmate/some mutual connection.

And I've never been to New York, but I know a good number of Seattleites that moved there, so maybe it'll start to get the freeze.


Was going to recommend going to bars outside of the center of the city. Bars where older people hang out. Never had a problem meeting people in those kinds of places. But you got there yourself. Kudos.


When I moved here I was so excited for this Seattle freeze. "Finally, everyone will leave me the fuck alone" I thought to myself. Before coming to Seattle I had the displeasure of experiencing life in numerous moderate to large cities across this fetid land, and they all had one thing in common - insipid strangers that demand to know how your day is progressing, or other such mind numbing banter that I suppose is referred to among naves as small talk. I packed my crappy belongings and headed back to my birthplace of Washington which I had never returned to apart from visiting relatives in the cultural wasteland known as Spokane Valley.

To my gradual dismay and eventual horror, I discovered that this Seattle freeze was nothing but a lie whispered among groups of probably Southerners or other nameless degenerates. Seattle, I discovered, was actually brimming with turds that just couldn't wait to sidle up next to me and project their innermost stupid up and down my uninterested countenance. I was understandably devastated. How could this be true when I was promised a dark, rainy, and peaceful solitude in which I could contemplate my deep contempt for all the living creatures in this green hell. Now I know what you'll tell me, dear reader - those people are not true Seattlelites, they're transplants from places far away who have ruined our fair to not bad city and culture of largely anemic snobbishness. I'm here to tell you with anecdotal yet totally empirical evidence that they in fact have been nearly all locals born and bred in or around your precious homeland.

At this point I've given up my on dream of maintaining total zero across all of my inactive social media accounts. Perhaps one day soon we will all be sunny little friends and listen to Alice N' Chains demos huddled under piles of Seahawks regalia in the rain as the Cascadia subduction zone delivers a 9+ magnitude seismic event finally ending this pointless discussion forever.


19 yeah but Seattle AA meetings are filled with uptight, liberal, standoffish alcoholics. The kind that put a lampshade on their head only when you can't see them.

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