Antioch University Seattle Community Counseling and Psychology Clinic director Doug Wear was recently featured in The Seattle Times. The article discusses the “Seattle Freeze,” which is the perception that Pacific Northwesterners make it hard to form new friendships. From the article:
“‘This is not an area where we have good, hard research to talk about,’ [Wear] said. ‘But certainly, the Seattle Freeze is a great conversation starter.’
Wear said he understands it better when he thinks of Seattle more as a big small town than as a small city. ‘Small towns can be insular and provincial,’ he said. ‘People know each other; they have their friends and their network and they feel complete. They might even resent outsiders.’
Plenty of long-timers here are content with their introverted tendencies and small social circles. ‘Everybody wants to figure out how to melt the Freeze, and I applaud efforts to bring people together,’ Wear said. ‘One thing to keep in mind is that there is a difference between being alone and feeling lonely, and not everyone wants to be melted.’
‘It’s about finding your people, and that can take a while,’ Wear said. ‘And you’ve got to go out there and do it. It’s not going to happen in your house. And don’t go do something once and give up and stop.’
If you keep going to a coffee shop or shared space where people gather, even if no one is talking at first, everyone is becoming familiar to each other. Pretty soon, people start noticing when someone’s not there and starting to care. ‘Research shows that the more you spend time with people and get to know them a little, the more you get to like them,’ he said.
For newcomers, it may be heartening to remember how much the city is still growing, Wear said. ‘The more new people who move here, the more people there are in the same boat. You’re not just going to be running into the people who have been here, you’ll be running into other people who are new and looking to connect and make friends.'”
Read the full article.