Home / Professional Life / How I Overcame the Seattle Freeze and Made Girlfriends…and You Can Too

How I Overcame the Seattle Freeze and Made Girlfriends…and You Can Too

Before moving from Southern California to Seattle, I started many an undecided morning with a Google search. As soon as I typed “Should I move”, Google knew Seattle was my potential destination. (Google’s other guesses were that I was thinking of moving to Canada or moving in with a girlfriend or boyfriend). Google could never make my decision for me, but it could and did provide its daily reminder of the Seattle Freeze – the idea that Seattleites are superficially nice to transplants from other cities, but will never forge real friendships with newcomers. Online comments ranged from “everyone is polite, but nobody will invite you to dinner,” to “after five depressing lonely years, I am finally throwing in the towel and returning to California!” to my personal off topic favorite: “When Seattle gets an NHL team, the Seattle Freeze would be the perfect name.” Considering my sole purpose in moving to Seattle was to jumpstart my social life, I wondered if the Freeze would render my move futile. Eight months later, I am glad to report that it did not. I have more friends in Seattle than I had when I lived in Brooklyn, Los Angeles, or Orange County.

This is how I see it: Maybe Seattleites are truly set in their social ways, but that’s how humans everywhere are; it’s hard to make friends in any city post-college. That’s why the internet advises us working professionals to treat friend-making like dating or networking: Put yourself out there. Invite people to your own home. Follow up. Email everyone you know and ask them if they could connect you with people in New City. With these guidelines in mind, I set out to conquer Seattle’s social scene and make friends. Here are the strategies that worked for me.

meetup_logo_1-300x222I figured it would be easier to befriend other newbies than established natives, so I joined Meetup.com. I had previously tried Meetup in Los Angeles and Orange County with little success. But Seattle Meetup groups delivered a plethora of like-minded women seeking friends as well. I avoided the shared interests groups. I bet you and I both enjoy knitting, but I’m not looking for someone to knit with, I’m looking for someone to make me less lonely. So “girls looking for girlfriends” was my theme, and I met amazing girlfriends almost immediately. I had some false starts and hangouts with women who soon faded from my life, but like dating, it was a matter of trial and error. Pretty soon, I had some pretty amazing girlfriends, mostly new transplants like myself.

To meet people offline, I talked to everyone. Wherever I went, I struck up conversations. And followed up. I made a friend on the bus after she asked me for directions from Downtown to Queen Anne. At a Capitol Hill bar, I made friends by asking patrons if my bus friend and I could join their table. I started many conversations – at coffee shops, restaurants, and bus stops – that didn’t kickstart friendships. But like sales, it’s a numbers game. Converse with enough people, eventually you’ll have some real friends.

And then I followed up and invited them out. I remembered the online commenters who lamented that Seattleites wouldn’t invite them over or include them in plans. I circumvented that obstacle by doing the inviting myself. I texted everyone who had given me to their number to invite them to happy hours, brunches, and Mariners games at Safeco Field. Since Seattle is so full of new transplants with few social ties, many textees joined me. Eventually, they began reciprocating, and my weekends started filling up by Wednesday. I had a pretty solid range of transplant friends.

But in my quest to crack the Seattleite friendship code and befriend Seattle natives, I turned to my workplace. I asked my colleagues for input on everything – neighborhoods, housing, doctors, dentists, hairstylists, restaurants, and bars. I found this to be a foolproof strategy. Once someone invested in me slightly, they wanted me to succeed. After they suggested my neighborhood, it was easy for me to invite them to check out my apartment. And my local bars. And parks. It snowballed from there.

advancedsmcontentFriends introduced me to more friends who introduced me to more friends. Transplants introduced me to natives who introduced me to more natives and more transplants. The more comfortable I get with my Seattle social life, the harder it is to keep following up and reaching out. But operation socialize is ongoing, so I’ll keep trying. And when I hit a friend-making plateau, I plan to join the Seattle Anti-Freeze group via http://www.seattleantifreeze.com/.


Have you encountered the Seattle Freeze? Found ways to make friends in Seattle? Tell us in the comments!


About The Author

C. Millie Lein recently relocated from sunny Southern California to pursue new and exciting ventures in the Pacific Northwest. An East Coaster originally, she is excited for the new opportunities the Puget Sound offers.


  1. After study a few with the weblog articles in your internet internet site now, and that i genuinely appreciate your strategy for blogging. I bookmarked it to my bookmark internet site list and you’ll be checking back soon. Pls appear at my web-site also and figure out what you consider.

  2. Hi! I’m soooooo glad I found your article!!

    I’m looking to relocate to Seattle from NYC too (Brooklyn & Harlem). I’ve been up and down the East Coast and I’m thinking its time to leave. The method that you used to make friends in Seattle, I used that same method in Boston and it worked like a charm but I tried it in NYC and it was a total failure!!

    Meetup was a terrible experience for me in NYC! Surprisingly, many women came to the Meetup events with their friends and only talked to each other. They were very nice and out going but they were more interested in doing the Meetup activities with their friends, not strangers. It was very rare that women came alone. This is the hardest part about making female friends. Girls are less likely to do anything outside of a pack which makes it harder for solo women to penetrate packs.

    I met one really cool girl through a mutual friend with whom I thought I’d be great friends with. She invited me to her birthday party and when I showed up alone, she said, “Did you come with anyone?” and I said, no its just me. And she was like, “Oh” and was completely standoffish to me afterwards as if something was wrong with me for coming alone. She didn’t even thank me for coming to her party and bringing beer. Everyone there was people she had known for years and they all seemed weird towards me once they found out that we only just recently met. I found out later that when she invited me to her birthday party she was only saying it to be nice but didn’t really expect me to come. The funny thing is that I didn’t even know about her birthday until she invited me so I wouldn’t have cared if she didn’t invite me. This is the reason why people are so closed off to making friends. So many people are fake nice people or fake friends and it sucks.

    This never happened to me in Boston. I met some of my best friends there and they wanted me to meet as many people as possible when I first moved there for school.

    Also, I don’t recommend shared interest groups. I volunteer all the time and I like to take dance classes. What happens is that you only talk to those people during class, but it rarely translates into a friendship outside of those classes.

    I personally made my best friendship through roommate situations. I lived in 5 bedroom house in Boston with 2 guys and 2 girls and we hung at bars together, we had movie nights, and backyard parties. They each introduced me to so many people and I introduced them to many people as well. We are all still really good friends to this day!

    I’m making another move soon and I’m hoping that Seattle has thawed out a little for me. Thanks for the positive article!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>