A few weekends ago, I started talking to this really cool girl at the bar next to me. She was cute, funny, relatable, and I was immediately smitten, thinking, “This girl could be my next best friend!” At the end of the night, she made it a point to find me, saying, “This sounds super creepy, but I just moved to Boston, and I have very few girl friends here. Can I get your number?”
Visions of brunch dates, shopping trips and mani/pedis danced in my head, and I happily handed her my digits.
She never called.
Why is it so hard to make friends in Boston?
I moved to the Hub nearly two years ago, and I’d say I have a pretty solid group of friends here. But within that group of friends, the majority of us are transplants, meaning that we didn’t grow up or go to school in New England.
Upon moving here, our Northeastern foreignness served as a magnet for us. “Oh, you’re from somewhere in the middle of the country? Here, meet my other friend who’s from somewhere over there, too, I think.”
I love Bostonians’ pride in their city, but I think it’s also a large part of why it’s so hard to make friends here. Bay State residents really have no reason to leave this state – the schools are fantastic, the jobs are great, and the beach is right down the road. You grow up in the ‘burbs, go to one of the dozens of local colleges, move to Boston for work, and are then surrounded with 25 of your BFFz from childhood, high school and college. At that point in your life, there’s no need to make friends.
That’s not a criticism by any means; I’d likely be the same exact way if I was in a similar situation.
For us transplants, though, it’s that series of events that make it nearly impossible to break into an established group of friends. So, all the outcasts end up being friends because we have nowhere else to turn.
My editor Walt points out that other “young” cities don’t necessarily have this issue. For example, in D.C., a city of transplants, the first question is often, “Where are you from?” And judging from the sheer number of people I know who aren’t from New York but living there currently, I’d imagine it’s similar.
What gives, Boston? I don’t want to have to go to the bar and stalk girls to be my friends, only to be crushed when they don’t call.
Organizations like Social Boston Sports and the Boston Ski and Sports Club are acceptable friend-generating options if you’re athletic, but I’d rather spend my Sundays Funday-ing than pretending I know how to run bases on the softball field. Plus, as outgoing as I’d like to think I am, I can’t imagine joining a random team all by myself. They’d probably feel bad benching me, and then I’d feel bad for sucking, and it would just get awkward and weird and I’d have even less friends when I started.
For the same reason I don’t subscribe to online dating, I don’t do social clubs. They just don’t feel natural to me.
What does feel natural? Well, casually talking to a chick at the bar about our shared love of vodka sodas with lemon wedges instead of limes and our hatred of dudes who try to dance like Justin Bieber (it was a weird night).
Jokes aside, it’s a real challenge for newcomers to make friends in a city like Boston. I don’t have a solution, but maybe this is a lesson to Bay State natives: let us in! We may have silly accents and say “pop” far too often, but we can grow to like lobster rolls and the Red Sox (almost) as much as you do. And if you invite me on your softball team, I swear I’ll keep the bench nice and toasty all season.
Also, to my possible new best friend: call me maybe?
image from Foap