6 Steps to Meeting New People (For the Socially Intolerable)

I'm not going to ask why you need to meet new people. Maybe you transferred to a different school, or you took a job in a new town, or all of your old friends changed their phone numbers and names. Whatever the case, you now find yourself alone, lonely, and wanting to do something about it.

Something constructive, I should clarify.

As it happens, I've moved around a bit in my life, and I've also, if we're being honest here, had at least a few friends figure me out and stop taking my calls. A lifetime of bitter, tear-choked alone time -- aside from providing me with the necessary foundation to build a career in comedy -- has led me to develop a fairly comprehensive system for how to make new friends. I present this system to you below, illustrated with a few examples from my own experience, so that you can learn from the failure pile that is my life.

#6. Reassess Your Social Skills

Before we get too deep into this, a question must be asked: Do you deserve to have friends? Because the success of the next few steps will hinge on your ability to handle yourself in social situations, and if you consistently find yourself, as they say, shitting society's bed, then maybe we shouldn't progress any further.

Never, ever, ever shine a UV light on society's bed.

This is a slightly tricky balancing act we're talking about here, and it doesn't always come naturally to everyone. In general, you're going to need to be outgoing, but at the same time very cautious, always alert to signs that someone isn't interested in talking to you. If you're trying to have a conversation with someone, and they're ...

- Barely replying to your questions.

- Looking away.

- Reading a challenging text.

- Sprinting away from you.

... then you may be talking to someone who doesn't like you. Picking up on these conversational cues is important, because you're going to be doing a lot of talking, and you don't want to piss anyone off.

Not before they get a chance to really know you, anyways.

An Example:

Me: So how was your weekend?

Co-worker: Pretty good. Went up to the lake with some friends.

Me: -noticing he's engaged in the conversation; a good sign- Awesome. Awesome. I love lakes.

Co-worker: Yeah, it was fun.

Me: -noticing he didn't immediately invite me to the lake, wanting to back off, play it cool- Yeah, I'm kind of over lakes now.

Co-worker: You just said you loved lakes.

Me: -noticing that fucking Sherlock here is at least engaged in the conversation- Well, I mean, how are we defining love? Like would I marry a lake? No, of course not. Have I had an erection when inside a lake? Of course. So. You know. Catch-22.

Co-worker: -long open-mouthed stare- What was your name again?

#5. Leverage Any Existing Connections You Have

Unless you're coming from hermit levels of isolation, you're probably not completely alone. If you have any casual acquaintances at all, that's the first place to start to make new friends. I used a workplace in my example above for a very good reason -- this is one of the most common places people begin building out their social circles.

What better place to make friends than a pit filled with bitterly unhappy people?

Every conversation with a co-worker is an opportunity to find a shared interest, hobby, pastime, or drug habit. And once you're talking about that shared interest, you're far more likely to stumble upon another one, and another one, and before you know it, you've made a friend, or failing that, a hook-up to get buddy prices on some real good shit. Also, the next time your new not-quite-friend has a party, your shared interests make it a lot more likely that you'll score an invitation.

An Example:

Me: Me? Oh, I just furiously disagreed with people on the Internet all weekend.

Different Co-worker: Hah!

Me: Right? -excited we've found a shared interest in Internet misanthropy- Those stupid jerks had it coming.

Different Co-worker: Having different opinions than you. Who do they think they are?

Me: Exactly! See, you get it. Hey, you know something, I'm sorry about all that lake talk earlier.

Different Co-worker: What lake talk?

Me: Uh.

Different Co-worker: Are you confusing me with Ryan?

Me: It's just that, you know. You're both Asian.

Different Co-worker: But I'm a girl.

Me: Of course you are. Which means I didn't tell you about fucking a lake. Until now.

Different Co-worker: -long open-mouthed stare- What do you do here again?

#4. Extracurricular Activities

The office is OK for meeting people, but it obviously has a few drawbacks. All that work, for one.

"OK guys, none of this grab-ass is helping us make our quarterly targets."

Extracurricular activities are the key. Along with providing quality socializing time away from distractions, they throw the door wide open for you to meet friends of friends. We're unlikely to bring our friends and partners and drug buddies around to the office, but all of those people tend to show up in the local pub after work on a Friday. You should leap at these opportunities when they present themselves, and when the situation warrants, even suggest them yourself. Don't be shy here -- it does very little harm to at least suggest that everyone go out for a drink after work, and you're probably not the only one with the same idea. You may be surprised at how popular this makes you.

An Example:

Me: Anyone want to get a drink after work today?

Co-worker: I can't.

Different Co-worker: Me neither. I'm heading to the lake with Ryan. -they sprint off-

Me: Does anyone else want to go get a drink and talk behind those two assholes' backs?

Everyone Else: Holy shit, yes.

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Chris Bucholz

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