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The Seattle New In Town Message Board › The Seattle Freeze

The Seattle Freeze

A former member
Post #: 16
Hi All,

Ok, so I've heard for some time about this mysterious force called "The Seattle Freeze". More than a few folks have mentioned this, and apparently it's perceived to be quite real. What is it? It's the notion that it's hard to meet people in this town, that Seattleites are "friendly but cold", and that compared to other large cities, people like to mind their own business and not go out of their way to make friends.

What do you guys think? I for one don't really buy it. I don't think Seattle's all that different from any other big city in terms of difficulty in meeting people. People in big cities are generally more guarded and cautious about new people than they are in other areas. I moved here from Vancouver BC and I always thought that there was a "Vancouver Freeze", for instance. And I also lived in NYC for quite a few years, so don't tell me there's no NYC Freeze!

So what do you say? Seattle Freeze -- real or urban myth? :)

Would like to hear your comments!

- Q
A former member
Post #: 7
definitely not a myth.
Joydeep
user 2886619
Redmond, WA
Post #: 1
Seattle is still a friendly place compared to my last 6 years in Finland where it was literally freezing at -4' F to -13'F during Dec-Feb. By the time you fumbled with your double layered gloves to remove the scarf from your mouth to say "Hello" to a person on the street, He or She would have disappeared somewhere into a nearby building.

If you tried to smile at someone, the person would freakout and move away.
The only time to smile was Jun-Aug, IF the sun was shining that day.

Compared to that I find Seattle more friendly.

Though sometimes I do get bugged with the question "How are you doing today?" cause it has minimal meaning and more used as a part of speech.
Whereas in Scandinavia, the only person to ask me this question was a Doctor :-)
A former member
Post #: 21
I believe there is truth to this. Many I know have experienced the Seattle "freeze" as you describe it, even those who have lived here most of their lives.

To the previous posting: Recently a co-worker was eating her lunch in our office lunchroom. She asked me, "How are you? How was your weekend?" Since my weekend was met with some challenges and disappointments, I proceeded to share a brief account of my experience. My co-worker interupted me a moment into my response (realizing that I actually had intentions of answering her.) She said, I don't really want to hear about your weekend. I'm trying to eat my lunch.

Apparently, when many people in Seattle ask how you are, they really don't care to know but are being superficially nice. How sad!

A former member
Post #: 4
Hmmm ... I actually haven't had much difficulty meeting people here. I recently lived in New York, and found that in order to have any social life at all, you had to have two, three, or more the normal quantity of friends that you would in other places - because everyone is so damn busy.

At least in Seattle, people aren't so time-driven. I think it is difficult meeting people in any place, if you don't make a real effort of doing more than going to your job, or whatever.

I am sorry that the ONE thing I signed up for, the Wallingford Brunch - since moving here - I ended up having a summer cold :-(
A former member
Post #: 5
It seems that in any new place that you move to, it takes about 2 years to establish a solid friend base & feel like you've settled in. There's a lot to acclimate to & doing so naturally takes time. This held true even when I moved back to my home town. I picked up friendships with the people who were still there but my strongest friendships were the ones I made. And even in the town I grew up in, it took me about 2 years to meet people & get into the groove. I've been in Seattle just a little over a year & I consider myself lucky to have found some great friends in that time. But I'm still meeting new people & establishing a comfortable place for myself here. I'm an intensely social, outgoing person & maybe that's made it easier for me. I've also managed (partially through this group) to tap into people who are also new here & who don't ascribe to the "friendly but cold" way of being. Regardless, I have to say, I haven't found as much coldness that I was afraid I would, since I heard these rumors before I moved here.
A former member
Post #: 2
The Seattle Times did a Sunday magazine piece in February of last year about this. A friend of a friend sent it to me since I was planning on moving here later in 2005. I was a little concerned by the "freeze" because the article discussed an Italian guy who liked to wear brightly colored pants. He admitted he quit wearing them after he noticed how many people were looking at him when he did. Odd, but that was his story.

I have found most people to be sincerely polite, but not as quick and easy to get to know as I have in the past in other cities. I'm also realizing that you need to have one group of friends for certain activities, and another group for other stuff. I'm used to a cohesive, single group to do everything with, so that's new for me. It feels kind of disconnected but I can see how it would work.

Vanessa is right: it takes a couple of years to really settle in to a place, find a groove and a comfy spot to really feel like you are here and a part of it. It's tough when your nature is to just plug right in to a group, but you have to build it up first, and it just takes time.

I've been here since September, and wouldn't trade it for anything. Now that I'm more comfortable just being here, I'm reaching out to connect with people. So far, so good.

I'd be curious to hear from others on here how long it's taken them to find that crowd they want and run with.

Good luck everyone!
A former member
Post #: 18
Hey folks,

Thanks for the interesting discussion. Let me modify my original statement, seeing as it doesn't quite make sense. I guess what I really meant to say is that one might perceive Seattleites as "polite but cold".

Good points made by Liza, Vanessa and Geoff -- I guess you really do need a wider social circle in large cities, just due to sheer logistics of people not having the time. I too have been pretty lucky since joining this group (and few others around town), my only regret being that I didn't join sooner.

Here's to less Freeze and more Warm Fuzzies! :)

- Q

(although this past weekend could have used a little Freeze! Oh man!)
A former member
Post #: 3
I will add one last comment to this discussion: a book review from today's NYT

July 26, 2006
Books of The Times
All About Friends, Those Acquaintances Whose Calls You Want to Take (Usually)
By WILLIAM GRIMES

The telephone rings at 2 a.m. It?s your best friend, and he has a small favor to ask. Would you mind helping him bury a dead body? Sorry, no time for details at the moment. Just say yes or no.

Joseph Epstein would say yes. That?s just one of several revelations in ?Friendship: An Exposé,? his rambling, shambling, highly personal survey of a universal relationship whose fluidity and changing nature ? through history and through the stages of a single life ? make it rich pickings for an erudite essayist of Mr. Epstein?s caliber.

The title is odd. ?Friendship? is an inquiry rather than an exposé. Mr. Epstein, a former editor of The American Scholar and the author of ?Snobbery,? offers a thoughtful consideration of the pleasures and obligations of friendship and a learned tour of the best that has been written on the subject, from Aristotle and Cicero to the touching late-life correspondence between the theologian Karl Barth and the playwright Carl Zuckmayer. Along the way, he examines his own friendships, weighing their successes and failures, and judging his own performance as a friend.

This is no easy task. Friendship, although universal, is an elusive, slippery concept. It is the neglected first cousin of romantic love, whose phases and quirks, obsessively studied by writers throughout the ages, are much better understood. For Mr. Epstein friendship is ?affection, variously based on common interests, a common past, common values, and, alas, sometimes common enemies, in each case leading to delight and contentment in one another?s company.? He makes the point more economically, describing a real-life best friend: ?I?m never disappointed when it is he who calls me on the phone.?

Back to that dead body. Yes, Mr. Epstein would grab a shovel and dig. But he would not mortgage his house for the guy, one of the other tests proposed in Stuart Miller?s ?Men and Friendship.? So there are limits. The problem is, no one really knows what they are exactly. This can make friendship an endless series of vexations. Friends impose and presume. Even worse are acquaintances who may or may not qualify as friends, but who claim the same prerogatives. Mr. Epstein spends an enormous amount of time dealing with these competing demands, detailed in the weeklong friendship log that makes up one of his chapters.

Mr. Epstein, who describes himself as ?a gregarious melancholic, a highly sociable misanthrope, a laughing skeptic,? counts an impressive total of 75 friends. They come in many varieties, as they do for everyone. There are everyday friends, once-a-week friends and once-a-year friends. There are card-playing friends and workplace friends. Mr. Epstein has maintained a warm, fully satisfying relationship for 20 years with a man he has seen in person only three times.

?The first rule of the art of friendship, I have come to believe, is that not all friendships need to be deepened.? Not all friendships need to be equal either. Mr. Epstein himself has on occasion played the role he describes as ?best supporting friend,? entering into an unequal relationship with an older man, like Saul Bellow, to gain access to a superior mind, not to mention a rise in status.

A self-avowed enemy of Freud and modern therapy culture, Mr. Epstein subscribes to an old-fashioned code of manly stoicism. Men do not share their innermost secrets and unload their worries and woes. ?Reticence is of the essence in masculine friendship, long has been, and probably ought to continue to be,? he writes. Yet ?Friendship,? for long stretches, is a confessional binge and an extended session on the therapist?s couch. Mr. Epstein discloses his own talent, displayed at an early age, for selling himself as a friend, a character trait that guaranteed him a lively social life but also saddled him with dozens of unwanted acquaintances who imagine themselves to be friends. At times, he looks in the mirror and judges himself, often harshly, for underperforming as a friend.

?I sometimes think I no longer have the makings of a best friend,? he writes, in a characteristically tough-minded aside. ?I am, I think, a decent listener, but not much of a confessor.?

The cantankerous, cant-busting persona that Mr. Epstein has carefully cultivated over the years turns out to be something of a fraud. By the evidence on display in ?Friendship,? Mr. Epstein is soft at the center. To use language he would hate, he is caring and supportive and there for his friends. He puts up with a lot, makes time, does favors and in general makes the rounds and performs the time-consuming maintenance work that keeps friendships in good working order.

?Friendship,? like friends, can be annoying. Mr. Epstein spends an awful lot of time tripping down memory lane and describing in great detail his relationships with friends who by definition (and because their identities are disguised) cannot be as fascinating to the reader as they are to Mr. Epstein, who really does go on and on.

The quality of the discussion varies. Mr. Epstein can be acute, as in his distinction between reciprocity and equality in good friendships, but he can also be self-indulgent and fatuous. He often writes like an academic fussbudget, seasoning his prose with words like ?lucubration? and ?propinquity,? and occasionally knitting some real syntactic doilies. (?Without many of the ordinary virtues though Waugh was, gratitude appears to have been one he never abandoned.?)

Unforgivably, for a rooter-out of cultural clichés, he refers to one admired colleague as having ?a true gift for friendship.?

Well, as Samuel Johnson once remarked, we take our friends as we find them, not as we would make them. Mr. Epstein, in an unfamiliar introspective vein, is quite appealing, warts and all. He?s warm, if crusty on the outside, honest, unsparing and brimful of illuminating literary anecdotes. He makes an engaging companion. Who knows, he could even be a friend.
A former member
Post #: 22
Nils-Erik,

You're exactly right, I was speechless! Then again, I guess this co-worker wanted me to be speechless so I guess she accomplished her task. LOL

I responded by saying to her, "I see. You weren't really interested in my weekend. You were only being superficially nice." She later came to my office to apologize.

I had never experienced anything quite like this, fortunately.
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