Updated: Oct 6
Ah, the “Seattle freeze.” It’s a term used to describe the slightly standoffish and introverted culture of the Emerald City, where it is notoriously hard to meet friends and love interests. In fact, Seattle has been voted the worst city for dating in the country for two years in a row.
Having moved to Seattle from New Orleans, where someone you’ve known for two minutes will invite you to a crawfish boil to meet their entire extended family, I can attest that there is indeed a noticeable lack of social engagement in Seattle as compared to any other American city I’ve lived in or visited.
So why is it so hard to meet people in Seattle? We could blame the weather is to blame. Or tech. Or Airpod Ear Hooks. Or the traffic. But one thing’s for sure: people in Seattle really take it to heart when their parents tell them not to talk to strangers.
With so many transplants and new arrivals, one would almost expect Seattle to feel like first semester freshman year all over again - colored with eagerness to connect. The eagerness is there, but for some reason everyone’s a little gun shy to be the one to put themselves out there first.
There’s hardly a lack of things to do in Seattle: places to go, restaurants to eat at, live music to see, cocktails to drink, and people to meet. Logistically, one can go through all the motions of building a social life that one would in any city - get drinks with friends of friends, join an ultimate frisbee team, attend book readings, etc. There are plenty of lists on the Internet that will walk you through different ideas for crossing paths with people.
What makes meeting people so hard in Seattle isn’t that there aren’t people to meet, it’s that there’s an overarching culture in which being socially proactive is embarrassing at best. There’s an implicit attitude that if you are seeking out new friends, it must mean you don’t have any already and it must mean there’s something wrong with you.
Thankfully there’s a hack that makes meeting people in Seattle quite easy: release all the fucks you give about fitting into the culture, and be the social instigator yourself.
To meet people, I recommend following the process below on repeat, as necessary.
Find local news sources.
The best way to get the lay of the land somewhere is to go straight to the sources, and to diversify those sources. From actual newspapers to blogs to Facebook groups of interest, engage with different sources of news. Once you’re plugged into the happenings, the problems, and the best things about Seattle, you can start to engage in meaningful dialogue when you meet people, and you can find out about more local resources through these conversations. Read The Stranger. Subscribe to The Evergrey. Join Facebook groups for your neighborhood, do some exploring on Instagram and follow Seattle accounts you like.
Go to events you’re interested in.
Once you’ve identified your sources, you’ll have a number of events on your radar. Actually go to some events. Whether it’s two a month or four a month, get out there and attend events that sound interesting to you. Have fun with it - check out event listings on Facebook, The Stranger, and The Evergrey, or silly events like Salon of Shame, The Bushwick Book Club, my monthly live dating show or my conversation parties Pillow Talks. When selecting which events to go to, choose ones that are promising for helping you interface with people. If you’re into poetry, don’t just go to the bookstore, go to a poetry reading or an author talk.
Be a social instigator.
Although it may seem scary to be the one who initiates, I can almost guarantee that it will be well received if you do. You’re not the only person having trouble meeting people in Seattle. This means that there are a shit ton of other people who want to meet friends just as much as you do, but they’re waiting around for someone else to initiate and for someone else to invite them to hang out or do something. What an enormous favor you’ll be doing the general public by being the one who meets this need. You’ll actually be giving people what they want, and at the same time, you’ll be getting what you want: friends!
Have zero chill.
There is something in the cloudy air here where people just don’t really follow up on plans. It’s weird. It’s like a game of chicken to see who will reach out to confirm you’re still meeting up tomorrow first. And if no one does, you just don’t hang out and no one mentions it again.
Don’t succumb to this. If you want to make friends, have zero chill. Be the one who follows up, be the one who confirms, be the one who picks the location. Pull a Walter White from Breaking Bad and be the one who knocks.
Figure out a way to see the same people regularly.
It’s an understood psychological principle that we like what we is familiar to us. The easiest way to build community is to take part in something where you will see the same group of people again and again. Join a soccer team. Go to the gym at the same time. Go to the same coffee shop at around the same time every day. Go to a dance class every week, like ecstatic dance at Omculture or Velocity Dance Center. Or check out the new group On The Town.
Say yes to invitations.
If someone invites you to a party or a get together or any kind of situation where you might meet more people, for the love of god say yes. And don’t just say yes, actually go. You will meet people through people. Then you will know people who know people. Building a social network is a process of saying yes and then following one logical step to the next.
Creating a social network takes time no matter where you are. Getting to know people is a process, and trust is built over time. Be patient with yourself and with the process. In all likelihood, you’re doing great. Keep putting yourself out there, pursuing the shit you’re into, starting conversations, extending invites, and following up. You’ll be swimming in friends in no time.
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