How to make friends in San Francisco

Photo by Aman Kumar on Unsplash

I recently received the following note from a reader of my blog. Perhaps you can relate, even if you don’t live in San Francisco:

Dear Dr. Davis,

How do very busy people (due to demanding job, lots of hobbies) create space for friendship? I found it easy while I was living abroad, but not while in San Francisco.



Dear Anonymous:

If you want friends, you’re going to have to to prioritize friendship. This means you will need to devote consistent time and energy to cultivating and maintaining friendships. No excuses.

I’m not gonna sugarcoat it: this is not going to be easy.

Why? Two reasons:

The first is because, as you said in your message, you are busy.

The second is because this is the San Francisco Friggin’ Bay Area, aka Silicon Valley, aka one of the most expensive places to live in the world…and everyone is busy. Grinding all the time. When we’re not grinding, we’re talking about grinding. When we’re not talking about grinding, we’re figuring out how to grind harder, better, faster, stronger.

Because of this, it is my opinion that many of the relationships built here trend towards the transactional.

Many of us think we want more friends (I mean, who doesn’t want more friends??), but we don’t actually want to put in the time and work for them. By the way, this is totally okay: friendship is something we all believe we should want more of, but it can sometimes be more about liking the idea of something versus the reality of having the thing. The truth is: real friendships take time. They require energy. And a lot more things. More than you and your busy lifestyle may be able or willing to give.

If you are committed to devoting the time, however, you are not completely out of luck. There are lots of people in San Francisco. People who are looking for people like you. People are Seeking a Friend for the End of the World.

In this case, your next step will be to devote consistent time, energy, and effort to meeting lots and lots of new people.

Like I said, this is not going to be easy. Everyone here is so busy all the time, and many aren’t that interested in friendships beyond whatever they can fit in between working ten to twelve hour days at a tech startup and Crossfit class. In the words of Tupac by way of Bruce Hornsby & The Range: that’s just the way it is.

But the more people you meet, the higher the chances you have of meeting someone you vibe with. When this happens, don’t be shy or play hard to get: let them know you’re interested in making new friends and ask them they’d like to make plans. Hang out regularly and consistently. Use Google Calendar and invite them to RSVP to your hangouts so the both of you don’t forget.

At some point, the friendship may fade. Do not be deterred. Disappointment and fizzling out is part of the “finding new friends” process. Keep meeting lots and lots of people. Keep making the time and putting in the energy. Consistently.

Eventually, you will come across a kindred spirit who has also committed themselves to giving friendships the time and energy required. Things will click, and you’ll feel as though a new world has opened up to you, almost like magic.

When you find this person, treat them and the relationship with the respect they deserve. Consistently.

If you repeat these steps this over a long period of time, you may – if you are lucky – manage to find two, maybe three, solid friends in San Francisco (or anyplace else for that matter).

And when this is the case, I urge you to consider yourself a very fortunate person.

Best wishes,

Dr. Gina Davis

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