Author Topic: How to build social connection in FIRE  (Read 4177 times)

vagavince

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How to build social connection in FIRE
« on: July 14, 2020, 08:21:03 AM »
I have always been a bit lonely and not very good at making friend. Most of the friends that I made are through work, or were introduced by work friends.

I attempted to join some classes. Day time class tend to have much older and its difficult to make connection there. Also, most of my hobby doesn't seems to be very conducive to social connection, i.e. Yoga, meditation, reading etc.

How do people build social connection and make new friends? Any suggestion on how I can break out of my shell?

4tify

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Re: How to build social connection in FIRE
« Reply #1 on: July 14, 2020, 08:27:54 AM »
I've met some good people through yoga, but agree it's not the easiest. I'd look at group activities that allow for socializing: hiking, team sports, painting/drawing (with wine ;)), cooking, adventure travel, also any kind of deep study like art or architecture where you can enjoy those things in a group setting.

What part of the country are you in?

herbgeek

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Re: How to build social connection in FIRE
« Reply #2 on: July 16, 2020, 07:02:45 AM »
I'm introverted and am slow to make friends as well.  I'm not a small talk person.  I have found success with volunteering, offering to help with an event, joining a board of directors for professional groups and the like.  I'm more comfortable working with others towards a goal as opposed to just chatting someone up at a coffee shop.

deborah

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Re: How to build social connection in FIRE
« Reply #3 on: July 16, 2020, 11:51:31 AM »
Book clubs. You all read the same book and then meet up to discuss it.

infromsea

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Re: How to build social connection in FIRE
« Reply #4 on: July 16, 2020, 12:38:36 PM »
Are you affiliated with the military in any way (served, family member, care-giver)?

If so, Armed Services Arts Partnership might be something to explore (full transparency, I'm MIL FIRE and I work remotely for ASAP but programs are free to attendees...).

Other ideas, college courses, trade orgs (I'm a project manager so I attend PMI chapter meetings) and other local groups.

I almost ALWAYS feel out of place when joining up with groups like those I mentioned above, I just keep my head down and gradually assimilate, then become more engaged as time goes along and I develop good connections.

Best of luck to you!

Fishindude

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Re: How to build social connection in FIRE
« Reply #5 on: July 16, 2020, 12:42:43 PM »
Taverns or clubs such as; elks, moose, vfw, american legion, etc. have traditionally been gathering and socializing places and still are.
People tend to loosen up and talk a bit more freely after a drink or two.

I'm sure someone will hack on this idea since alcohol is involved, calling it sinful, unhealthy or whatever, but there are a whole lot of good people that frequent such places without being drunks or idiots.
Some of the clubs also do some real good charity work in their communities.



poxpower

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Re: How to build social connection in FIRE
« Reply #6 on: July 16, 2020, 03:39:56 PM »
I have made tons of friends cycling.
Cycling is very popular and has lots of big groups that do rides on a regular basis. Caveat: It's expensive. It is a rich person passtime when you do it at a club rider/ race level. Not a very mustachian sport. However the average dedicated cyclist is a high quality person. Usually very good job and highly motivated. Lot of people worth being friends with.

BiggerFishToFI

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Re: How to build social connection in FIRE
« Reply #7 on: July 16, 2020, 08:38:51 PM »
I have made tons of friends cycling.
Cycling is very popular and has lots of big groups that do rides on a regular basis. Caveat: It's expensive. It is a rich person passtime when you do it at a club rider/ race level. Not a very mustachian sport. However the average dedicated cyclist is a high quality person. Usually very good job and highly motivated. Lot of people worth being friends with.

Agree with this regarding meeting people cycling, but kind of disagree with it being unmustachian. You can spend < 5 - 7.5k and be kitted out with a very nice bike, all of the associated gear, a bike rack for your vehicle, etc. and be set for years minus minor maintenance costs. Some people get obsessed with reducing a couple grams of weight, or obtaining a quiver of bikes, but unless you are trying to compete at the highest level it's totally unnecessary. A lot more gains to be had from training and eating right.

Very inexpensive compared to most other hobbies I can think of.

I would recommend mountain biking over road cycling however.

beekayworld

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Re: How to build social connection in FIRE
« Reply #8 on: July 16, 2020, 10:12:38 PM »
Taverns or clubs such as; elks, moose, vfw, american legion, etc....
Some of the clubs also do some real good charity work in their communities.
This was how my dad made friends. He started in the Elks and then the Masons, Shriners and Scottish Rite. 

I had a friend who enjoyed Toastmasters.

I was in the Junior League and a Garden Club in Texas. Now I'm in a Woman's Club that has interest groups such as Book Club/Movie Group/Supper Club, etc.  My Sister enjoys the Red Hat Society.  These are all women's groups so maybe not specific to the OP but thought I'd add them to the discussion for anyone else reading.

I googled social clubs near me and found a newcomers club that is doing a lot of zoom get togethers right now.  Maybe search on Yelp or Meetup.

You could join the local Next Door and post asking what civic organizations or social clubs are in your area.

4tify

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Re: How to build social connection in FIRE
« Reply #9 on: July 17, 2020, 09:43:08 AM »
There are also menís groups like Evryman who do deep dives into building character and have local groups, outings etc. You wonít meet any women there but could develop some friendships.

I also forgot to mention Sierra Club and Audubon, both of which has lots of social meetups locallyóif you like nature that is!

Captain Cactus

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Re: How to build social connection in FIRE
« Reply #10 on: July 17, 2020, 02:05:16 PM »
You are in good company my friend.  I'm 39, married, 2 kids.  Growing up I always had friends.  I made friends quickly in college and when I joined the Army I made fast friends there too.  Then, when I got out of the Army and moved to Connecticut with my wife, got a corporate job, started a family, etc... I met "work friends" but nobody I would really consider my friend outside of work.  Been working in the corporate world for 11+ years at this point.

After leaving home, college, the Army, etc... my friends kind of drifted away as our lives went in different directions.  This is something that has taken me literally years to realize/get over, and it's still hard to swallow sometimes.  For example, our group of friends growing up were super close and I feel that it's so sad that everyone drifted away from each other.  I saw everyone at a wedding a few years ago and I went home afterward so disappointed/hurt because it seemed like the connection was gone and nobody but me was interested in keeping the friendship alive.  I don't "do" Facebook, and if you're not on Facebook you don't exist, evidently.  Out of sight...out of mind.   

Really my wife is my best friend, but it would be nice to expand that to include male friends to do man things (go fishing, hiking, eat buffalo wings, etc...).  She feels the same way about herself, finds herself hanging on to the hopes that her childhood friend will some day turn back into a real friend again but no dice.  The topic comes up every few weeks and she usually says something like 1)"well I encouraged you to join that indoor soccer team back when you were in grad school" (12 years ago), or 2) Maybe if we joined a church we'll meet friends there.  I somehow have my doubts.

My wife and I are not terribly extroverted and we thrive best in small social groups.  I wouldn't say that we are handicapped by introversion, ie can't talk to people.  I suspect everyone else is either 1) well established and isn't interested in making new friends or 2) people think we are complete assholes and don't want anything to do with us.  God knows! 

Anyway, hang in there...I hope you find some direction on here... if you come across any good ideas will you let me know?     


infromsea

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Re: How to build social connection in FIRE
« Reply #11 on: July 17, 2020, 02:46:15 PM »
You are in good company my friend.  I'm 39, married, 2 kids.  Growing up I always had friends.  I made friends quickly in college and when I joined the Army I made fast friends there too.  Then, when I got out of the Army and moved to Connecticut with my wife, got a corporate job, started a family, etc... I met "work friends" but nobody I would really consider my friend outside of work.  Been working in the corporate world for 11+ years at this point.

After leaving home, college, the Army, etc... my friends kind of drifted away as our lives went in different directions.  This is something that has taken me literally years to realize/get over, and it's still hard to swallow sometimes.  For example, our group of friends growing up were super close and I feel that it's so sad that everyone drifted away from each other.  I saw everyone at a wedding a few years ago and I went home afterward so disappointed/hurt because it seemed like the connection was gone and nobody but me was interested in keeping the friendship alive.  I don't "do" Facebook, and if you're not on Facebook you don't exist, evidently.  Out of sight...out of mind.   

Really my wife is my best friend, but it would be nice to expand that to include male friends to do man things (go fishing, hiking, eat buffalo wings, etc...).  She feels the same way about herself, finds herself hanging on to the hopes that her childhood friend will some day turn back into a real friend again but no dice.  The topic comes up every few weeks and she usually says something like 1)"well I encouraged you to join that indoor soccer team back when you were in grad school" (12 years ago), or 2) Maybe if we joined a church we'll meet friends there.  I somehow have my doubts.

My wife and I are not terribly extroverted and we thrive best in small social groups.  I wouldn't say that we are handicapped by introversion, ie can't talk to people.  I suspect everyone else is either 1) well established and isn't interested in making new friends or 2) people think we are complete assholes and don't want anything to do with us.  God knows! 

Anyway, hang in there...I hope you find some direction on here... if you come across any good ideas will you let me know?   

Holy Crap Capt...

I could have written almost the same thing, except I did my time in the Navy.

I did have some good/new connections from a local MMM group but that drifted apart after the coordinator moved to a new area and then COVID came to town, kicking us all good in the sensitive areas.

Maybe we need to do a "Post-Fire" zoom call with folks from this message board/message and start to build something that we could carry into "meat space" (that's what I call the non online world) once we can all travel without as much angst?

Missy B

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Re: How to build social connection in FIRE
« Reply #12 on: July 24, 2020, 08:30:40 PM »

After leaving home, college, the Army, etc... my friends kind of drifted away as our lives went in different directions.  This is something that has taken me literally years to realize/get over, and it's still hard to swallow sometimes.  For example, our group of friends growing up were super close and I feel that it's so sad that everyone drifted away from each other.  I saw everyone at a wedding a few years ago and I went home afterward so disappointed/hurt because it seemed like the connection was gone and nobody but me was interested in keeping the friendship alive.  I don't "do" Facebook, and if you're not on Facebook you don't exist, evidently.  Out of sight...out of mind.   

My wife and I are not terribly extroverted and we thrive best in small social groups.  I wouldn't say that we are handicapped by introversion, ie can't talk to people.  I suspect everyone else is either 1) well established and isn't interested in making new friends or 2) people think we are complete assholes and don't want anything to do with us.  God knows! 

Anyway, hang in there...I hope you find some direction on here... if you come across any good ideas will you let me know?   
The whole question of friends, making and keeping them is so much more important than I think we give credit for, in our general culture. There's life situations where its easy, and where it's not. And I think some places are more gregarious than others. I moved cities 25 years ago, and its been difficult (even though all my family is here) because it's a very standoffish, cliquey place (which ironically has a reputation for being friendly because people are most always accomodating and helpful to tourists).

The first good friends I made outside of school here were in improv class. My bf had a similar experience when he joined community theatre. 

What I've noticed with my Dad and his wife is that they basically have no new friends since their kids were little. I guess they bonded then, and their kids were friends too so what's not to like. But there have been no new people in their friend circle for decades.

It seems to me that for a strong friendship to gel, you need something powerful in common. Shared adversity/challenges seems more important than shared opinions or shared lifestyle choices.

soccerluvof4

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Re: How to build social connection in FIRE
« Reply #13 on: July 25, 2020, 04:07:25 AM »
This has been something we think about quite a bit and has finally got better. I use to have so many friends it was the opposite problem that once we had kids I just wanted to be a home body and said no to everything and then all my different friend groups drifted. Then out kids all got into the same sport and all we did was divide and conquer with 4 of them so alot of traveling and switching from club and team and so on. I would never do that again even though it afforded 2 of our 4 scholarships so far. In any case here we are in our mid fifties rebuilding or friendships. We did move onto a lake and was quite surprised how social it is. We are making many new friends and I believe we have found our place. So as others have said it could be where you live, finding common interests and so on. Get out in front of people in group settings and let it happen. Just smiling and saying Hi goes along way but going to the same things does as well. Like the same gym etc..

Dicey

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Re: How to build social connection in FIRE
« Reply #14 on: July 25, 2020, 04:13:03 PM »
My job involved significant travel, so it came to pass that I had friends all over the country, but didn't know anybody when I went to the grocery store. I set out to change that, and here's what I did. All of this was pre-pandemic, but things will normalize eventually.

Roughly in sequence: I started volunteering at my library's quarterly book sales. Then I started ushering at a local regional theater. Then I was asked to join a library board, then another. I attended a class series that my city holds that teaches local citizenry how the city operates. I volunteered at a library sponsored home tour, where I interacted with some of our City Council (I had met each of them briefly in the classes). Through those connections, I was invited to help plan a new city-wide volunteer event. (This will be our tenth year.) Somewhere in there I was invited to join a Women's Arts Group, and now I'm the Hospitality Chair. Then another Women'r Art Group, this one with a charitable bent. I dig that post-FIRE, I am aboe to contribute time AND money.

I volunteered to distribute election materials in our local elections. Eventually, I was asked to serve a key position on an election campaign, and again four years later. This time around, I'm helping three candidates.

Oh, and my latest thing is volunteering at my local favorite thrift shop. So much fun and more new friends! And, as happens more often these days, friends of friends.

After ten years, I know a diverse cross section of people throughout my community and beyond. I rarely go anywhere without running into someone I know. Some are actually friends, many more are friendly acquaintances. In the old days, I remember sitting on a plane thinking nobody that cares about me knows where I am. I don't feel that way anymore.

And all of this because I was looking for a more mustachian way to manage my book habit and make some new friends...

sui generis

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Re: How to build social connection in FIRE
« Reply #15 on: July 30, 2020, 05:50:30 PM »
The best connections I've made have been through political volunteering (when someone shares a passion, it's easier to connect and make friends than something more anodyne, I find).  Then, the other thing I have the most fun at (even while I don't spend time outside the group with them) is my podcast club.  This might just be a bit o' magic with these particular people, but it's way more fun than any book clubs I have been a part of.  We have a sort of theme each month and listen (in advance, like a book club) to 2-3 podcasts on that theme, and then have a lively discussion that goes really fun directions.  We used to have a potluck, but nowadays are on zoom.  I love that group and it's a nice variety to my day.

Have you tried MeetUp?  I would just go to a ton of meetups around even things I was only remotely interested in to see if anyting clicked.  I too have a hard time going from superficial convo at some of these things to deeper connections, but I've heard people have so much success with MeetUps.

Trudie

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Re: How to build social connection in FIRE
« Reply #16 on: August 24, 2020, 11:18:39 PM »
There are lots of great suggestions on here about groups you can join to meet people, so I wonít get into specifics.

I am an introvert too.  What I have found is that I think we all have certain types of people we really mesh with.  Sometimes that is a certain personality type or people with a certain interest.  I just moved, so I have been scoping out different groups and social experiences.  I have for a long time enjoyed gardening as a hobby, but I also just realized I really like gardening people.  I volunteer at a public garden, do community gardening, and am involved with gardening groups.  I enjoy the people because they tend to be creative, energetic, and are positive to be around.  Thereís always something to talk about and I feel great when Iím around those people.  It helps to share a passion.  It helps to have a shared creative purpose.

I have plenty of other hobbies I enjoy, like reading, but have never found book groups to be a great way to meet people.  Probably because we spend so much time in our heads.

Also, there are lots of charitable things you can do, but itís all right if you seek connection and friendship doing things that are fun.  You donít have to try and change the world.


Malcat

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Re: How to build social connection in FIRE
« Reply #17 on: August 25, 2020, 04:53:47 AM »
The key is to understand what generated human bonds. It's not just being around other people and "getting to know them", bonds are made through experiencing shared challenges together.

You can't connect with anyone on any significant level without trust, and the only way to build trust is through vulnerability. That's why school and workplace are so rich in opportunities for friendship, it's an environment with constant shared challenges and regular exposure of vulnerability.

Just trying to meet and hang out with people makes it difficult to make real connections because there's little opportunity to develop and test trust.

If you want to connect with people, do something difficult with them: sports, volunteering, learning, renovations, helping them move, tackling professional issues, etc. It's really simple once you understand it.

Doing difficult shit together = making connections.

elaine amj

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Re: How to build social connection in FIRE
« Reply #18 on: September 23, 2020, 10:20:48 AM »
It's not easy and while I am the extrovert and DH is the silent dude, he is way better at choosing and keeping quality friends than I am.

My closest friend now is a lady I have admired through all the years of knowing her. But she was always so busy and absorbed in her family it was hard to really develop the friendship on a deeper level. Then she went through some tremendously challenging personal times and I was there for her. Hauling her out of bed, dragging her out into the world (sometimes kicking and screaming) and giving her a place to vent and a place to have fun. We developed deep bonds of friendship during those days that we continue to build on.

I do have a pretty small circle of friends these days though. And go through periods where I put forth effort and time and love into developing them and periods where I don't and we all don't connect for a while.

Post FIRE I have met some interesting ppl at the pool. But it's hard to take pool friendships to the next level since exchanging numbers is awkward when we are all wet lol. After a year though, I have seen a couple of ppl outside the water so connections do develop. Just a bit more slowly.

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« Last Edit: September 23, 2020, 10:23:31 AM by elaine amj »

DocToDisco

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Re: How to build social connection in FIRE
« Reply #19 on: October 11, 2020, 11:06:45 PM »
VAGAVINCE
Just a couple suggestions:
1. Can you get involved with your local chapter alumni group from college?
2. Is there an interest that you have where you can get engrossed for hours and you didn't even know the time passed, such as I'm sure you did to become F.I.R.E.ed?  If so, take it to the next level and join a class to learn more about it, or submit your project into a competition
3. Post COVID consider going on a vacation adventure for people traveling alone, such as a biking trip, a safari, etc.  I know many friends who've done this and they met life-long friends.
4. Post COVID you can go to lots of the different F.I. camps that have sprung up over the years where you can meet like-minded people.  I went to Chautauqua last year and I still keep in touch with lots of people I met, some of which almost on a weekly basis.

Abe Froman

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Re: How to build social connection in FIRE
« Reply #20 on: October 29, 2020, 09:34:25 AM »
You are in good company my friend.  I'm 39, married, 2 kids.  Growing up I always had friends.  I made friends quickly in college and when I joined the Army I made fast friends there too.  Then, when I got out of the Army and moved to Connecticut with my wife, got a corporate job, started a family, etc... I met "work friends" but nobody I would really consider my friend outside of work.  Been working in the corporate world for 11+ years at this point.
...


Anyway, hang in there...I hope you find some direction on here... if you come across any good ideas will you let me know?   

Holy Crap Capt...

I could have written almost the same thing, except I did my time in the Navy.

I did have some good/new connections from a local MMM group but that drifted apart after the coordinator moved to a new area and then COVID came to town, kicking us all good in the sensitive areas.

Maybe we need to do a "Post-Fire" zoom call with folks from this message board/message and start to build something that we could carry into "meat space" (that's what I call the non online world) once we can all travel without as much angst?

I feel the same as Captain Cactus - and resonate with the "meat space" idea, well because I am the sausage king. Kidding aside - I will put a notification for myself on this thread in the event you end up starting a Zoom call. I too prefer small groups and can do well - but putting myself into larger ones is hard for me. I was actually cruising this Post-Fire area to see if there was a local MMM MeetUp of sorts - as I am close to FIREing and wanted to see if there were others that I could chat with - not just type with.

Sun Hat

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Re: How to build social connection in FIRE
« Reply #21 on: November 04, 2020, 02:59:17 PM »
Like Captain Cactus and infromsea, I've had a tough time making friends since leaving the military, the only difference being that I don't have a spouse.

Two things that have helped tremendously have been volunteering and getting a dog. The latter gets me walking both in my neighbourhood, where I meet other dog walkers and people out walking and gardening, as well as at the dog park, where the same people tend to go at the same time every day. My dog is so unabashedly social that he insists on meeting every human and dog around, and that gives me an opening to say hello. As the dogs play together, the humans chat and walk, some becoming acquaintances, others friends.