Eight Easy Steps to Help You Break Through the Dreaded "Seattle Freeze"

Tens of thousands of new Seattleites suffer every year from the Freeze. Here's how you can stop being a statistic and start making friends.

Comments

1
Cliques.
2
IMHO, these excellent, but basic techniques. for an advanced technique that builds on the above try engaging with a local community of your choosing. see steps below.

1. pick one of your hobbies. mine is music. yours might be football (I hear we have that here) or climbing (you're in luck! there's so many of you! I once went an entire week without meeting anyone who didn't climb. you don't climb? say you're interested and I guarantee someone within the first three people will invite you. remember to follow up!), or games (cafe mox..? Ballard.)

2. if you don't have any hobbies, interests, passions, or projects, return to step 0 and improve yourself.

3. exercise the advice in the above article while doing your best to be a productive and engaging member of the community. examples:

Ex. 1: volunteer with a related organization

1a) music : decibel festival, hollow earth radio, vera project, kexp, kuow, Seattle Symphony Orchestra, etc.

1b) outdoors : Washington trails association

1c) film : reel girls, Jack straw

1d) youth & education : big brained superheroes, youthcare, ignite!, and so many others.

1e) social justice : you probably know better than I do. community is the foundation of social justice.

Ex 2. seek out like minded people. organize something yourself, e.g. climbing. go to sbp. climb there. exercise advice in article. invite people to a climbing excursion you have planned.

4. keep doing it. maybe you'll find yourself with more than a few friends! in fact, it's possible to build or join an entire community following these simple steps. you might even be able to do it while contributing to an interesting cultural or educational piece of the city! look at you, contributing to Seattle, your adopted city. you can have so many things to do, you might even start to occasionally forget that one time you made vague plans to hang out with that nice person who introduced themselves to you, tsk,tsk.
3
#3 is probably most important on the list. If a Seattlite says they want to get coffee, that means they are open to hanging with you if they run into you again or you take the initiative. If a Seattlite says they want to get coffee with you next Wednesday then that is a "plan" that you have "made" with them, but might still require a follow up text closer to to confirm.

I don't know how many times a transplant has complained that a Seattlite said they wanted to get coffee but never followed up and therefore snubbed them, when in reality all the Seattlite really said was that they were open to hanging out sometime in the future. And to be real, you didn't call them either.
4
@ 3, that it happens a lot, it points out the cultural difference between Seattle and other places.

Personally, I made a lot of friends in Seattle during my near-decade of residence, but they were all through work. It's in music halls and bars where you really find it difficult to connect with people you've never met. Still, there were plenty of friendly people working in the shops and restaurants, and sometimes hanging iut in parks, laundromats, or living next door.
5
It is such a phony phenomena. In fact, in the ways that matter, Seattleites are friendlier than most (I'm talking about the non-intimate encounters with the bus driver, front desk dude, store clerk). I certainly haven't been on many big city buses where a lot of passengers give a friendly wave to the driver when they leave or say "thank you" when they tap their fare card. Such is pleasant civility, and Seattle is really, really, good at that.
6
I think it's more a "I will be very friendly with you, but that doesn't mean I want to hang out" thing, and maybe that confuses outsiders?
7
The first mistake newcomers make is assuming every stranger they encounter is "from Seattle", when the fact is, maybe half of them were born here or have even lived here more than 20 years. So, this idea that any negative experience they have with another person is indicative of how "Seattle natives act" is, at best, a gross over-generalization, or, at worst, a neurotic response to their own inability to connect on a meaningful level; not surprising really, given the tendency towards social maladjustment a not-insignificant number of workers in high-tech seem to exhibit.
8
Sounds like Philadelphia PA.
9
I thought this was going to be awful but it was perfect... thank you. <3
10
Hmm, I've never noticed a freeze. But mayhap that's because I'm frozen, eh? Anyway,volunteer to plant trees and declare war on English Ivy and you'll make lots of cool friends

http://seattle.cedar.greencitypartnershi…
11
I love the implicit assumption that the freeze isn't a 'normal' behavior. Transplant, what makes you think I owe it to you to be your new bestie, or even talk to you?

Seriously, Loud Stranger with Regional Accent, why are you looking me right in the eye and talking to me? I don't know you, and you're forcing me to be very polite. Which I will be, because rudeness is triple-A-not-ok. But I don't know you, and no, I don't want to get coffee next Wednesday. People who talk to strangers are weird. Therefore, you are weird.

So stop. Just stop. You're embarrassing yourself and kinda creeping me out.
12
@7: "maybe half of them were born here or have even lived here more than 20 years"

Dial that back to about 25% and you might be onto something.

Signed, Born here and lived here more than 20 40 years
13
Before complaining about Seattle, go to Moses Lake or Spokane and tell me how "friendly" people there are.
14
I'd like to add: TALK to people on the bus or train. I've developed a number of friendships with my neighbors because I saw them on the bus all the time. Its still the best way to pass a long commute, IMHO.
15
In my 3.5 yrs in Seattle, I noticed that one of the most common conversations I had with people I met in Seattle was the one about how hard it is to meet people in Seattle. It's a great topic to bond over!
16
Have the people that are claiming Seattle isn't a difficult place to meet people ever traveled to, like, anywhere ever? I grew up and I've lived here for nearly my entire life. I started traveling around on my own when I was about 23. And it was then that I realized that people were way easier to talk to just about everywhere I went. Fuck, every single time I go see a show in Portland, I ALWAYS wind up talking to a bunch of rad strangers. Not that that never happens here, but it's kind of rare.
17
What I hear some friends complaining about, although it's never bothered me personally, is that folks in Seattle are hesitant to commit to a plan. They'll propose a social activity and people will avoid committing one way or another. Maybe this doesn't bother me because I'm likely to do it. Sometimes I can't predict 3 weeks ahead of time if I'm going to be in the mood for that pub crawl, or if I'm just going to want to stay home and watch a movie.
18
The problem with "native Seattlites" is their hostility towards the educated transplants that are making this a world class city. If we left it to the natives, Seattle would still be filled with racist ignorant rednecks with no little regard for the culture and technology that is shaping this city. The "freeze" comes from the inferiority complex these "natives" carry with them.
19
So most native Seattlites are uneducated, racist, ignorant rednecks? I can't tell if you're trolling or not, but fuck off either way, you stupid asshole.
20
None of this is unique to Seattle. Californians are the same way, maybe a little more shallow on average.
21
If it walks like a duck, and quacks like a duck.
22
Personally, I grew so sad and frustrated about this phenomenon that I gave myself a personal challenge to get out of my comfort zone and start getting to know my neighbors better. I 'declared war on the Seattle Freeze' last May 2014 and it continues to be an incredible journey (eatplaythaw.com) I highly recommend we all take a second look at our own behaviors and seek to become a little less stingy with our friendship. We live in a beautiful city with new people moving in and adding to its complexity and diversity everyday. That's not going to change anytime soon. Be intentional. Extend a few invitations. You will find that in this over-celebritized world the most interesting people live right next door.
24
#11 said like a true frozen Seattlite.
25
Seriously
26
There is no Seattle Freeze. I've found Seattle to be friendly, perhaps overly so.

It is hard to make friends in a new place. People move to Seattle and bitch about not being able to makes friends and everyone being really unfriendly. I remember them doing the same thing at my college, in Boston, in Maine, etc... Yes, back where you came from you felt like you had more friendly interactions. That's because you had friends back there and they gave you friendly feelings often. Now you need to make new friends and it's not easy. sorry. Don't blame Seattle, it's just life.
27
@14 Ah, so you're the person I wish would be quiet on the bus!
28
@14- Or you could pass it in blessed, restful silence.

I'm so glad people routinely don't talk to strangers on the bus, being around so many humans at once is stressful enough.
29
Funny #26, when I picked up and moved from here to New York, I found myself easily making friends pretty much from the start.
30
Native speaking, here. Also keep in mind that for some natives like me, it's not all that awesome to be surrounded by outsiders taking over, and drastically changing, the only city we've ever called home. Seattle may be the latest awesome destination on your journey to self discovery or whatever, but to us, it's our home. It's not that I don't love the transplants I meet, I do, but the typical newcomer convo is pret-ty bland.
31
#18 really enjoys the smell of her own farts! Haha. News, Seattle was world class before this recent tech boom and actually, the original tech boom with Microsoft and Nintendo etc. had employees that were both highly educated and refreshingly UN-SMUG. 😎
32
Work and small taverns. That's how I did it.
33
@24 That's kinda the point.

People could always try this: http://i.imgur.com/iqnZMSA.jpg
34
Anyone else think this article is a bit pretentious? Native here. I've travelled a bunch and do agree with the earlier post about how easy it is elsewhere but I've always wondered if it had to do with the whole 'I'm on vacation' attitude and simply being more social.

Marcia, you're full of yourself. Please leave. Haha

35
I grew up here and so did my friends and friends-friends. We have new people coming through our social circles on the regular - not-from-seattle, nice people who we meet and include because they're nice. Nice people being nice to nice people, all from Seattle. Honestly, this meme is more about people who think the world should come to them having some "phenomenon" to blame instead of blaming themselves... than it is about Seattle's essential character.
36
The Seattle Freeze is the pompous smug folks not finding enough "A" list cool hipsters to hang out with. The rest of us are having a blast, hiking, camping, drinking, clubbing, and throwing parties in the yard all summer long.
37
The Seattle Freeze thing is bizarre to me. When I moved here a few years back I was unnerved by all the strangers smiling at me on the street. Why are strangers looking me in the eye? Are they going to mug me? Leave me the hell alone. But then, after a few false starts with potential friends, I realized that everybody smiles at each other, but nobody wants to actually hang out. Ultimately, though, I decided I don't really want to be friends with any of you weirdos, anyway. Now I'm the asshole that doesn't make plans when you suggest getting "a drink sometime." I'm also the asshole that won't smile at you on the street. I don't know you, stop smiling at me.
38
Don't be a kook :)
39
i think you are severely underestimating the potential number of asshole encounters in #3 on the list
40
I've lived in Seattle for five years. When the Seattle Freeze was first explained to me, I was told, "It's like when someone says we should get lunch sometime and then never calls you back." I said, "I do that all the time!"

I love this city.
41
I'm another transplant to Seattle (since 2001), and personally, the Seattle Freeze strikes me as akin to the Seattle Windshield Pitting Epidemic.
42
Everybody flakes,

Everybody flakes,

Everybody makes a plan,

and then their plans they breaks...

Everybody knows, that

life is give and takes, but-

Everybody,

Everybody flakes.

(Seattle via Sesame Street)
43
I think at least part of the freeze comes from transplants from smaller places who think being aloof is how you're supposed to act in "the big city."
44
I have a One step plan on how to beat the Seattle Freeze.

1) Don't be an asshole.
45
@43: I'm a transplant from Chicago, where being aloof is par for the course. The only people I know who think you're supposed to smile and say hello to strangers on the street are from very, very small towns.
46
.
47
@29- Good for you. It probably helps that people around here are so fucking friendly.
48
@27 & @28 - being able to read body language and clues goes a long way. Its pretty obvious who's up for talking and who isn't - not rocket science at all. Too bad you two can't read body language or are too passive to say "Sorry, not into talking right now." Learn to assert yourselves.

I think this "freeze" thing is just typical busy/dense city culture. Cities like Seattle draw overachievers, the ambitious, and young people ready to work 70 hour weeks. Just because you meet a person with common values/interests doesn't mean they have any time left to fill with new people - chances are, most people have already filled their limited free time with a few friends. Its not that different from single people looking for a romantic partner - "availability" is key.
49
@11 If "people who talk to strangers are weird," how do you then meet anyone? Ever? Do they have to be vouched for first? If so, by whom? And by what system is a person granted this authority?

Legitimately curious here.
50
I'm not sure if the habit I'm about to describe is unique to Seattle -- it's possible this happens in a lot of places now, but here's what happens ...

You're talking to someone, possibly someone new, possibly someone you've bumped into a few times. You go on with what you believe is a reasonable conversation, and it seems like they're having a reasonable conversation with you.

Then out of nowhere, the "reset" happens -- the "Seattle Reset" ...

Any conversational context winds up being lost. Personal behaviour returns to what it was before you talked with this person. In many instances, they simply stop talking -- they've "reset", so they don't remember you from that point onward.

It's unnerving, it's deeply anti-social, and it's one of the reasons why I Hate Seattle. (Of course, this is why we're all here -- this isn't a beauty pageant for people who want to give Seattle a big, sloppy kiss.)

What I do know is that it isn't generational -- I've experienced the "Seattle reset" from people who were part of what some Americans call the "Greatest Generation" (I've failed to be impressed) as well as Baby Boomers and Generations X, Y, and Zed. It happens rarely with people who are from other places, who have lived elsewhere before having made the move to Seattle, but it happens frequently with those who are natives as well as those who have gone native.

Forget the "Seattle Freeze" -- it's the "Seattle Reset" that's the bigger problem. Just as you think you've broken through, that there might be a new friend in the making, the "Seattle Reset" kicks in and it's as if you've said nothing at all.

The "Seattle Freeze" is about people shutting you out, but the "Seattle Reset" is about people who can't manage to keep the door open enough to let you in.

Yeah, someone's knockin' at the door, someone's ringin' the bell, but they're not doing you a favour by letting you in. Things do not end with a cheery Paul McCartney song ending. (Of course, native Seattle people might respond with another Paul McCartney song ending by saying "what's wrong with that" ...)

My question ultimately is this: why do people who manifest the "Seattle Reset" behaviour even try to let anyone in? It seems they're nicely self-absorbed, having conversations on light topics, remaining flakier than a dessicated coconut cake.

I suppose I've realised the truth ...

Just because they're polite doesn't mean they're really all that friendly.
51
This is a post from one of my websites and i found it interesting...now,anyone care to explain the Seattle Reset to me?
52
I think a large part of the Freeze notion is actually that we're polite and friendly...BUT just because we respond to your chatter on the bus or smile at you every day as we get coffee doesn't mean we actually like you or want to get to know you.

#11 said it very well. Smiling and being nice is expected; if you are an obnoxious twit, we won't call you on it, or be angry, or glare or whatever. We will nod, make plans for coffee next Wednesday, and then never, ever ride that bus again.

Getting the cold shoulder frequently probably means that you're coming off badly. Self examine whether the other person has expressed any actual desire to meet: do they ever ask? Did they bring up the idea? Were they deliberately vague about scheduling?

I understand this is not how it is done elsewhere. I've been told by people from the East Coast that it comes across as blatantly dishonest to be nice but not mean it. We, on the other hand, would consider it rude to tell someone you don't like them.

@49 You meet by having a legitimate reason to interact: you are in a social environment (not the bus. The bus is transportation, it is not a mixer) and there is a real topic (you are pretty or I like your clothing are not real topics, they are amateur stalker moves). Newcomers can be vouched for by friends ("Hey guys, this is Jorge, from out of town - he's an awesome musician!") or by themselves, by not being creepy or desperate or acting like a prick. We are granted this authority by ourselves, because we have the right to determine who we want to be friends with.

That last was a silly question and maybe points out part of your problem: you think we have some obligation to welcome you with open arms. We do not. You are not from Seattle, you are rude, boorish, opportunist, you bring nothing but a tougher housing and job market and more traffic until proven otherwise. We will, however, be polite to you.
53
REALLY want to make Seattleites hate you? Ask them "how long have you lived here?" as per the advice above. Um, 1852.

Secondly, complain bitterly about the weather (hey, we didn't keep it a secret!) and also complain about the lack of good :Mexican food, bagels, cheese steaks, name your favorite street food. We don't tend to eat on the street. The rain makes everything soggy.

Don't assume that we all WENT somewhere, leaving some sort of void to be filled with people from (name your city/state).
54
Southerner checking in here! I've lived in Seattle and Bellevue for about seven months now. This "list" is just as superficial as most people in Seattle. People are generally very polite and superficially friendly everywhere I've gone. However, I come from Southern Louisiana, which is magical. I'm used to epic nights where I make best friends overnight, by the time the sun rises. That's how we do it in the South. We make real, lasting connections all the time. That has yet to happen to me in Seattle. It's difficult to go deep with anyone here. I've made a small amount of friends, but the quality of friendships just doesn't compare to folks in the South. There are lots of Southern/Cajun/Creole restaurants up here, but only two of them are worth checking out. I'm trying hard to be open minded out here in the PNW, but I feel so retarded in Seattle, and I mean that in the true sense of the word. I feel important in L.A. and NYC. I have friends in major cities all over the world. There's nothing about Seattle that really feels unique to me, and I'm trying hard to like this place. People are flakey and insincere. You have to meet someone online before they'll talk to you in person. In the South, we make friends fast and often. Strangers feel free to have substantial conversations with one another. In Seattle, however, no one really wants to connect. Polyamory is in style for adults 38 and under, so it's hard to have a worthwhile romantic relationship with anyone. I have several romantic relationships because young people are just afraid of commitment here. My heart remains in the South, and I honestly don't expect anything great to happen relationship-wise here. It's been disappointing. I will say that I've met a handful of amazing people in Washington. But I could meet more than that in Baton Rouge or New Orleans in just one night. That's saying something about Seattle, which lives up to its cold reputation. The hostile comments from Seattle locals further validate all of my points. Whoever said something along the lines of "why should I be polite to you, outsider?" would be a social outcast in the South. People just don't get it here for the most part. I've decided that I'm just here to make money. I'll take trips to friendlier, more authentic cities to engage in real conversations. I feel that if a person can't make genuine connections in one city then the city itself has a social problem. Again, I feel at home in other cities, such as L.A., NYC, and Portland. Seattle has no culture.
55
Stupid article. Scram Paul Constant...get out of town.
56
Here, Paul, you forgot what you really wanted to say:

"Step Zero to 'break through' the Seattle Freeze: Accept that it's entirely your fault, for not being from Seattle."
57
I was born and raised in Seattle, and this article is complete BS. It assumes that people are encountering the Seattle Freeze because they have no social skills at all, and simply need to be told how to carry on a conversation. I'm guessing most people already know to smile at people and ask them what they do for a living. The point is that because of the Seattle Freeze - i.e., because of the tendency of Seattleites to be superficially friendly but uninterested in actually getting to know new people - those techniques don't work nearly as well in Seattle as they do in other places. And that's a fact. It really is easier to make new friends in almost any other place than in Seattle. Every technique suggested in this article about being friendly with people and carrying conversations and going to museums would work better in almost any other city than it does in Seattle. I love Seattle in many ways... I love its proximity to the Olympics and Cascades, I love the Puget Sound, I love the ferries, I love the delicious food, I love the progressive politics, I love the weirdos and freaks, I love the Seahawks, I love Jimi Hendrix and Alice In Chains and the WTO protests. I even love the fog and rain. But flakiness and unwillingness to make new friends are legitimate truths about Seattle that are worse here than almost anywhere else. People flake out way more. Making new friends - friends that will actually hang out with you - is much harder in Seattle than most other places. That is not the fault of the newcomers, that is actually a cultural trait of Seattle. That being said, newcomers, if you came here to work for Amazon, you are ruining the city. You are not improving it, you are not making it world class, you are making it into a yuppy hellhole. It had character already and didn't need you to save it. Fuck you and go home.
58
From Alabama here, and I agree with the lady from Louisiana that southerners are on average easier to chat and make friends with than people here. I know Mr. Constant was sarcastically trying to invalidate the Freeze with his reference to the Wikipedia article and how it hasn't been validated by science (however there is research on the Freeze validating it - look it up), but these are just built in defense mechanisms common to those in denial or unapologetic about the Freeze. First of all, if it wasn't a legitimate issue then why are people writing articles about it? Can however many thousands of people who complain about the Freeze really be out of the loop creeps? Why is there not a "Chicago Chill" or a "Honolulu Hell No"? It's because this behavior is indeed uniquely pervasive in this area. Enough for people to give names to it and write articles about it and get on Facebook and rant about it. Another common defense mechanism is "people are the same everywhere, maybe it's just you". Nope. It's the culture. And just like many people dislike the characteristic racism of the south (which is a more subtle phenomenon in Seattle - seattleites like to be stealthy with their bigotry), there are many people that dislike the frozen demeanor of people here.
59
Here's a better way:

1. Stop honking your horn.

2 Stop trying to cut lines.

3 Think about somebody else's wishes before your own, once a day.

4 Find a Seattleite, (a real one) and ask them what they hate the most about the newcomers. Then: don't do any of what they say.

caveat: At no point do you "become from Seattle" you are what you are.:
60
I realize I'm late to this thread, but this article is snarky, completely lacking in any real substance, and the exact reason people from out of town feel alienated. I've lived here 10 yrs so I get many of the points made by Seattleites and am myself guilty of this freeze thing more often than I'd like to be. But really, thousands of people citing this trait from all over the place are not all wrong. And to say 'there must be something wrong with you' instead of accepting any form of criticism, is just childish. But then the Stranger is part of the problem in the first place with its arrogant, fluff tone, so what do you expect.