Hacker News new | comments | show | ask | jobs | submit login

I don't want to criticize the post as promotional, because it's the company blog, and it's their job to be talking about themselves. At the same time, I don't think it's a real answer to the NY Times article. You're not going to make friends over one dinner.

I've gone to a couple GrubWithUs dinners, and they were great. I met interesting people, had interesting conversations, and even made some new acquaintances.

I didn't "make friends," though. That's a much different thing, and comes from a different place. The original NY Times article made great points about our changing nature as we mature getting in the way of deep friendships. That's all true, but there are also logistical practicalities.

The great friends you make in school or college are people that you saw every day, or at least every week, in class and around campus. You shared groups and activities, whether it was a sport, a band, drama club, your D&D group, whatever. Friendship takes repeated exposure in mundane situations.

I've had some great, intense experiences with acquaintances as an adult. A few years ago, I took a cross-country road trip with a guy that I met through a mutual friend. I was writing an article about the Smart Car, and he was my photographer. We drove 4,000 miles over 12 days, and had a great time. We both live in New York, and I even run into him at the occasional show. Without a regular, everyday reason to hang out, though, we just faded into acquaintances.

For people who want to have real friendships as adults, maybe what we need is some kind of structure in our lives that more closely resembles what people have earlier in life. For myself, I still have a D&D group, and while I don't want to hang out with everyone all the time, I have made some real and lasting friendships in the group. I'm sure most people could think of some way to find structure and camaraderie on a regular basis. I don't think GrubWithUs really does that, though.

> You're not going to make friends over one dinner. ... Friendship takes repeated exposure in mundane situations.

I agree... so why not host multiple dinners? On your own?

I started hosting my own dinners[1] at my house every Wednesday and it's been fantastic. Really super great. I can't advocate it enough, especially for someone introverted like myself who may not want to go out of his way to interact with new people every day.

The people that come to the dinners are people I meet through my roommates, or old friends, or workers at the local cafe (original and ongoing source of roommates too), or their friends. Sometimes we invite acquaintances on an off chance. Neighbors are fair game too. GrubWithUs would just be another "source" of potentially great people. After all if they don't click, you don't have to invite them next week.

Another similar event I started was a recurring beer tasting event with the owner of the cafe. This is a completely different crowd, fairly varied in age, but still small enough to be intimate and regular enough to make good acquaintances and bring people together.

There have got to be a lot of ways to introduce regularity into your life with acquaintances. Hell, even going to the same cafe regularly can help with that.

GrubWithUs may not be good for long term friends, but it does provide a sampling of people that you can in turn invite to your own regular dinners. It's a launch-pad for finding people to invite to your own regular events.

[1] Some photos: http://imgur.com/a/X2Zoj

Congratulations on leading the dinner parties! That is awesome!

Weird book recommendation that you very well might like - if you are open to it.


Dinner parties are the engine of French social life. It's part of their culture. In such a small country, you have to know someone before you 'date' someone.

In France, dating is something that is just not done. French women throw dinners on Friday to bring together men and women - no such things as 'Girls Night Out'. A guy invited to the dinner cannot expect much - opposite of a date with built-in social expectations - and both parties get to see the person in a real social setting, not an artificial one.

You may find the chapters about just living and the dinner parties interesting.

France isn't that small...

Frankly I wish this kind of thing were more popular in the USA too. Dating strangers is nice and individualistic and all, but I'm way more comfortable meeting people through friends and more to the point it's fun - which is more than I can say for spending hours writing OkCupid messages which will 90% of the time be ignored.

I'm glad that hosting dinners has worked well for you, but my experiences attempting the same almost exactly mirrored the descriptions in the NYT article. I.e., long and exhausting back-and-forths trying to find a day that works for all parties. Even trying a fixed day, as you did, didn't work so well, as it became this complicated and frustrating experience of having to "book" someone's Weds weeks in advance and keep track of which of our friends and acquaintances were available when.

I don't do this based on specific people; it's more, "I'm having some friends for supper this Wednesday. You coming?"

K.I.S.S.-- this admit's of a binary argument only.

Wow. You had just what I had in mind. I created Strangers for Dinner to that extent. We've had about 4 dinner parties so far and they were pretty amazing.

The amount of conversation you get with strangers, learning more about different people.

Hope I don't sound too self-promotional, but you can check out Strangers for Dinner: http://strangersfordinner.com

Nice website. Would love to check it out but I don't use Facebook. I really don't understand why websites don't have alternative means of creating an account.

It's worth considering that people who are more likely to use such a site might be more introverted than the average person and perhaps less likely to have a Facebook account.

We actually target INTJ and INTP people for Strangers for Dinner. And yes, we're looking to move away from Facebook, but right now, Facebook has a wealth of information about a user.

Our system can make heuristic guesses (and validate that you're a real person) about your interests by using Facebook, so it's gonna be difficult to replace for the time being.

Sorry about your non-experience with SfD

Why target INTJ and INTP? Do you do anything on the site to verify the personality type?

I thought it was a bit weird you used Pyongyang as the default. If you had picked any other foreign city I would have assumed it was a foreign website and given up then. Probably better to leave blank (I had to delete Pyongyang, so this would have saved me typing) or fill in using IP geolocation.

no we don't verify personality types. That'd be creepy. I started SfD for a personal reason (in fact I posted it here at HN first saying I didn't have friends). People like me would be my target audience, I decided. Them extroverts have enough friends already.

I used Pyongyang as a form of negging. The idea was to use repugnance to force people to change the form. There is a IP geolocation version coming out really soon (as well as other features)

Very nice, for what little I can see. One of those loonies who have deleted my facebook account. I have twitter, openID etc.

How do I finish filling out the profile? Apparently I can't respond to "Bring a plus one" to the party?

If you click on the Plus One button it will toggle and automatically save the status. This is a clear usability issue.

Do you have any suggestions on how to fix it?

"Friendship takes repeated exposure in mundane situations."

Or, in some cases, limited exposure in exciting or trying situations. I have at least one really good friend that I met on a (in retrospect) comically terrible plane flight. I have some close friends I met on a two-week-long backpacking trip, and some that I met on a summer-long volunteering trip.

Sometimes, if the initial meeting is very memorable or intense, it can accelerate the process. I can't say for sure whether that's possible at a dinner. Unless it's a truly bizarre and memorable dinner.

When was the last time you talked to your plane flight friend?

Two days ago.

> I didn't "make friends," though.

Well, you have to start somewhere, and acquaintances are a first step.

My own negative reaction to the article came from the idea of being stuck next to other people at a dinner. I recall one time in Austria being sat across the table from an individual whose idea of a shower was apparently going hiking during the summer rains - and it was February.

But hey, I guess everyone tries different things, and you see what works. This is as good as anything.

> You're not going to make friends over one dinner. ... Friendship takes repeated exposure in mundane situations.

I made two friends at a GrubWithUs dinner. I think in today's climate you have to be so much more deliberate and calculating to have friends. You have to treat friendships the same way you treat online dating- meet as many people as possible and make plans with as many of them as you can. Which is really annoying, but otherwise I frankly would have no friends since I work from home and my colleagues are primarily older married men.

How I made these friends is I put cool people I met in my contact list and invited them to lots of things I already like to do on a regular basis. I also formed my own supper club that meets once or twice a month. Obviously it doesn't work out with everyone, but it worked out with two so far, which is great. As a woman who works in tech and has always had interests that are primarily shared with men, it has always been hard to me to make female friends, so I'm really grateful for anything that allows me to widen my net.

I would say a major obstacle to making friends for me is that at my age people are starting to couple and making their relationships their priority. I have a few friends whose significant others will not like them go anywhere unless they are also invited (and often these significant others are unpleasant people). It is sad to lose these friendships.

> I have a few friends whose significant others will not like them go anywhere unless they are also invited (and often these significant others are unpleasant people). It is sad to lose these friendships.

Even sadder is that pleasant people should be tied up in relationships with unpleasant ones. How does that happen? Is there a shortage of pleasant people, or does everyone care more about looks/money than kindness?

Insightful post. I've noticed the same thing by going to Reddit meetups. With the exception of recurring events (like boardgame night) you really only see the "regulars" once a month, so if you miss one meetup, you really lose out on a chance to get to know anyone. That, and despite bars having the right atmosphere for a meetup, it's usually impossible to talk to anyone outside of the 3-4 people directly next to you.

Just because structures like that are sometimes helpful doesn’t mean that they’re necessary. When I first moved to Austin, I tried a couple of meetups on nights when I had nothing else going on. None of the groups interested me enough to make me go back, but I made friends I still hang out with now, seven years later.

If you mean someone you click with, it’s easy to say “let me know next time you go Xing”, if you share a hobby; if not, you can just decide to meet to check out some interesting food cart or restaurant, and then go from there. Is that really so hard to do? I’m incredibly shy, and even I can do that much!

That's exactly it, the NY Times article wasn't only saying it was hard to meet people, it was saying that it's hard to hold on to people that you meet, because you just don't have the time to spend nurturing a friendship.

> For myself, I still have a D&D group…

Oddity, that's exactly why I started to play D&D (…erg, pathfinder) at age of my life.

It's great if you mostly want male friends...

As Simon Sarris mentioned, perhaps a good idea would be to host a dinner party.

I'm currently running Strangers for Dinner (http://strangersfordinner.com). It's a work in progress. But the idea is simple: host a dinner party for someone who share similar interests, maybe engage your guests in the preparation of a dinner party (that's something we've tried and worked)

There is something to the "shared struggle" philosophy of making friends. One of the dinner parties we held, we actually asked our guests to help us make food. I have a very tiny kitchen, and it was difficult to make food with many people in the kitchen. Overcoming this tiny shared struggle, I think we've managed to make friends (of course after the meal we also washed up, and exchanged facebook contacts).

It can be done. I mean, during our first dinner party ever (http://blog.strangersfordinner.com/2012/06/field-report-nasi...), we met a journalist. 2 months on, we're working together on creating press releases for SfD and marketing to mummy bloggers.

Sometimes it's the power of weak connections that you want to harvest. And through working together, you become better friends.

Genuine and real friendships take time. Strangers for Dinner and Grub with Us are merely tools. Use them and use them wisely

> Friendship takes repeated exposure in mundane situations.

When I've been over at my sisters and they have their good friends over, they sometimes talk about health issues openly (I feel kind of awkward being there). So I think, in my opinion, friendship involves trust that you can talk about something important to you without feeling that you are risking the friendship.

> A few years ago, I took a cross-country road trip with a guy that I met through a mutual friend.

Some of my best friends have been friends of friends. I meet someone and later on I meet one of their friends - and we bond quickly. By meeting more people, you geometrically expand your possibilities. Life is random. You're not going to hit it off with everyone - but the more people you "bounce" off of in your social universe - the better chance of a happy collision. Friendships can decay rapidly - but enjoy the times.

GrubWithUs brings in some planned serendipity.

> For people who want to have real friendships as adults, maybe what we need is some kind of structure in our lives that more closely resembles what people have earlier in life.

If you're willing to dedicate time to a weekly (not monthly, that's not going to work) meetup, that should do it. Otherwise, you're probably stuck with your neighbors and cow-orkers as your only source of new friends....

Guidelines | FAQ | Support | API | Security | Lists | Bookmarklet | Legal | Apply to YC | Contact