ONE of the first few things a newcomer to Seattle will frequently hear is that the summers here are really gorgeous, we have some of the best food in the country and the city has a thriving local arts, culture and music scene.
You’ll also hear sooner or later that the Emerald City is plagued with a social condition that clutches the local population in its icy grasp and quickly engulfs the unwary into its cold, unfeeling, unwelcoming soul.
Welcome, my friends to the experience known as The Seattle Freeze.
Or is that really the case?
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If it were true, how do people make any friends at all in this town, let alone date, find love, and even marry, as many continue to do?
I have never experienced Seattle Freeze, and I’ll tell you why.
What causes people to believe there’s an anti-social freeze here? A conversation about this topic almost always divides right down the middle between the Freeze Believers and the Freeze Deniers.
Is it merely a case of self-fulfilling prophecy, of outcomes based on biased preconceived notions, people seeing what they want or expect to see? Or is there some rational basis to the view that it’s hard to make friends, date, or find romance here?
When I first moved here in 2005 from Vancouver, B.C., I noticed right away that the city was indeed rich with techies and nerds in its general population. With Microsoft, Amazon.com and Boeing serving as the Holy Trinity of major employers, this is no surprise. Indeed, as a techie myself, I felt like I fit right in. I did notice that it was a little hard to make friends at work since everyone was so absorbed in their work. I desperately needed another social outlet.
I searched and found many social groups on Meetup.com (I actually now organize the Seattle Singles Meetup), Facebook, Craigslist, as well as word of mouth. In a short time, my social calendar had filled up beyond capacity and I had made a rogue’s gallery of friends who are still with me.
The point is this: Yes, Seattle Freeze may exist (for some), but I see it largely as a self-fulfilling prophecy. If you put the Xbox away, make friends with a wide variety of people, make the effort to be an interesting person who people actually want to talk to, stop hanging out at the same bars (noisy bars are actually the worst place to meet people) or with the same circle of friends, and enter a whole new venue like you own the place (don’t slouch, dress well, talk to people with confidence and be friendly), I promise you things will change for you.
At the end of the day, you get out what you put in. Try all of these things. But most of all, don’t ever get discouraged. Life never gives you promises, only opportunities.
To the ladies of Seattle, from whom I largely seem to hear complaints about the gentlemen: Give the guys a chance. Don’t huddle in a corner with your girlfriends and expect someone to break into your inner circle.
Work the crowd, circulate, be sociable and let the gentlemen have a chance to chat you up or perhaps buy you a drink. Who knows? They might even ask you out, with a little flirting and coaxing.
If there’s one take-away it is that we’re all responsible for our own happiness. No one is going to hold our hand.
Maybe together we can bring about The Great Thaw here in Seattle? Godspeed.
Rishad Quazi is a technology project manager and organizes the Seattle Singles Meetup on Meetup.com. Originally from Vancouver, B.C., he has lived around the world.