Why Are None of My Friends Seattleites?

Seattle is notorious for being a place full of friendly people that are hard to make friends with.  They will be nice to you, they will give you directions, but they do not want to get to know you, so goes the legend of the “Seattle freeze.”  True or untrue?

Facts:

1. Most people I have met are friendly and polite; and

2. 99% of my friends are transplants.    

3.  The people I’ve become friends with I’ve met through my work, my husband’s work and through a women entrepreneur group.  These people are from San Francisco, Minnesota by way of New York, India, and Alaska.  I know several Seattleites from charitable organizations, yet despite working on several projects together over the past year, that next step toward friendship – doing something outside of the organization – has yet to happen.

In Southern California you can strike up a friendship with someone you met an hour ago at a sushi bar (cliché but true).  In Seattle, not so much.  In fact, when you meet transplants and they find out that you too are a transplant you are quickly inducted into a type of ex-patriot group. 

Why?  Is it reserve?  Is it a natural dislike of “incomers”? (Since the 90s 60% of Seattleites are from out-of-state.)  I don’t know, but I’ve heard this question from other transplants and I’ve noticed it first hand.

A few weeks ago, my husband and I were at a Sounders game with friends that are true born and raised Seattleites.  I asked them how they met the other couple with us, who are from England, and the classic Seattle Freeze story unfolded.  Our friend, we’ll call her Leslie, and the wife of the other couple, we’ll call her Sally, had chatted every week for a year at their children’s tae kwon do classes.  One day Leslie told Sally that she wouldn’t be seeing her anymore because her kids were dropping out of tae kwon do.  Sally responded with a dinner invitation.  Leslie hemmed and hawed and said she would check with her husband.  She explained to us that her husband, Greg, never wanted to do things with new people.  Greg quickly defended himself with “I don’t have enough time to see the friends I have already.”  “You!” I said, “You are the reason it’s so hard to make friends in Seattle!”  While chuckling and acknowledging the truth of my accusation, Leslie finished up the story by saying that in this case, for whatever reason, Greg said “sure.”  They all ended up having dinner and have become fast friends.  So, happy ending for the couple from England, and maybe a glimpse into the reasons behind the Seattle Freeze for the rest of us.

What do you think?  Why do you think Seattleites are so stand-offish?

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