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How to Make Friends in Seattle
Two years ago, in the fall of 2014, I went on a date at the most romantic place on Earth, The Cheesecake Factory, with a guy I met online who told me he had just moved to LA from Seattle. He was a relatively attractive dude with stringy black hair, pale skin, blue eyes, and a flannel shirt. The first thing I noticed about him was his reserved demeanor, but, ultimately, I was a bit put off by the fact that he'd slightly misrepresented himself from the online dating picture he'd used when chatting with me. But whatever, he seemed nice enough, and I'm only moderately shallow, so we went through with our date at The Cheesecake Factory.
"What's it like in Seattle?" I asked him, leaning in from across the table, pulling up my blouse to hide my cleavage. It was one of those dates where in your heart, you already know from the start that it's gonna be your last. You'll both get through a meal with casual chit-chat, hug goodbye awkwardly, and never speak again. There was just no chemistry...plus, he still hadn't taken off his backpack by the time we'd ordered our food...but anyway, let's get back to the point.
"I'm not sure you'd like it," my pale date said as he chomped on some asparagus. "It's pretty hard to make friends. Everyone's super clique-ish and sticks to themselves. I think you, or anyone would have a hard time. Especially since you're from LA."
"Hmm." I didn't quite know whether I should take my date's word or not. He did, after all, show up to The Cheesecake Factory wearing a backpack on our first date. Maybe HE had trouble making friends...would I? I didn't think of myself as too socially awkward.
Two years later, I ended up moving to Seattle with a new boyfriend. And given that I was from Los Angeles, it was a bit of a culture shock. There wasn't a high presence of police cars like there was in LA, the city was super clean and relatively quiet...but the guy from The Cheesecake Factory was right. It was really hard to make friends.
Finally, after eight months of relative loneliness despite my amusing boyfriend's company, I began to grow restless. I was always the kind of girl who had a handful of friends I could call up on the phone or go get a drink with. Why hadn't I been able to make as many friends as I'd wanted in Seattle since my move?
Eventually, I did end up making two friends that lived in my apartment complex, but granted, they weren't from Seattle either. They seemed equally eager and set on making friends (thank god), and also liked chatting with me about how it was so difficult to make friends in Seattle.
Here's a list I came up with for transplants that face loneliness in Seattle. I empathize with you, and to make friends faster, be prepared to be open to some unorthodox ways of doing so:
1. Casinos- Seattle sits between a 45 minute range of three major casinos in Washington. Sure, the crowd there is seedy and most people are on drugs and serious debt, but if you keep an open mind, you're sure to get a couple mumbles from a prostitute or junky to the left or right of you on a machine. People in general seem to open up more when they're focused on something else. Casinos, specifically between midnight and five am, are a great way to meet new and interesting folk and have conversations you'd never thought you'd have with other human adults.
2. Uber and Lyft- Most of the rideshare drivers in Seattle seem to be from somewhere else, hence, seem less prone to the "Seattle freeze" thing. So make use of the conversations with these transplants and maybe offer to go to a show together or get a drink after. Nothing too over-the-top, but try and make an effort if you guys click. [Note: Be careful if these drivers are dudes and you are a lady passenger. Guys who drive for Uber are low-key horn dogs, so this advice is more applicable to women drivers].
3. Get a job- One of the perks of getting a job is that people are forced to talk to you. And if they're from Seattle, even better. The small businesses seem to be pretty close-knit, so you might have a shot of making friends there. [Note: If the people from your job in Seattle are FROM Seattle, observe their cultural differences. Seattlelites like subtlety, not boldness. Slow and natural is better. Think of building your friendships slow and steady, not short and intense].
4. Make bitter small talk about the homeless- Now, I'm from Los Angeles as I've stated, and I've always been raised to be nice and generous to homeless people. Seattle has a way different approach when it comes to dealing with the homeless. You will stick out like a sore thumb if you are kind to homeless people in a blatant nature. Sad, but true. Better to quietly sneak a dollar bill to them rather than parade it in front of your new Seattle friends, as they may truly not understand why would you give money to the homeless. It's better to mumble and growl about how there are too many of them.
These are the only tips I could think of when it comes to making new friends in Seattle. I've actually just adapted and learned to embrace the mild isolation I feel time to time. I can be refreshing and fulfilling in its own way.