Reciprocity

I was discussing the much-maligned Seattle Freeze phenomenon with a friend the other evening (because, really, it’s so much more fun to talk about once you have friends…). We were dissecting possible root causes of the supposed phenomenon, and she brought up something I’d thought about, but hadn’t really taken the time to flesh out.

Reciprocity.

Here’s the idea: When you invite Person A out to coffee/dinner/a party, etc., you expect Person A to invite you to something at some point in the future. Generic Person A will actually come to things if you invite them, generally speaking. But in Seattle, Person A will often flake on inviting you out in the future (whether intentionally or not), or they’ll disappear into the ether for months until it’s time for the next party at your place.

An ancillary to this, in my humble experience, is that it’s somewhat easy to get invited to parties, but trying to get together with people one-on-one is a curious unknown phenomenon here. Of course, that might be more attributable to the fact that I’m really obnoxious… But regardless, I’m still curious.

So what do you guys think? Is that the real problem– Do we collectively suck at reciprocating?

(Full disclosure: I do suck at that, actually.)

8 Comments so far

  1. brappy (unregistered) on January 30th, 2008 @ 3:19 pm

    People in Seattle are very afraid of things. Of having an opinion, of being loud, of not being politically correct. It’s easy to stick in a shell here, and few like to venture out of it. Plus, we take ourselves WAAAAAY too seriously. Or not seriously enough – never in between.


  2. SweetKali (unregistered) on January 30th, 2008 @ 3:26 pm

    well, that’s why i moved from Seattle and I was born there!


  3. mattw (unregistered) on January 30th, 2008 @ 5:24 pm

    I’m curious. What exactly do you want from Generic Person A anyway? Are you actively seeking the "Friends" lifestyle where you are BFF and lounge around in your respective living rooms in between coffees at Central Perk?


  4. Beth (unregistered) on January 30th, 2008 @ 5:39 pm

    Oooh, that sounds really nice- are you offering? ;)

    Actually, I myself am not really actively seeking anything at this point, just offering a generic example. I mean, the generalized "you" could be seeking any number of things in that scenario. You could want to be BFFs… you could just be looking for someone to hang out with for coffee once a week… heck, you could be secretly hoping Person A will do your taxes for you.

    It doesn’t really matter what the motive is- just whether or not people reciprocate with *any* given motive, you know? Because honestly most of the time I don’t know what peoples’ motives are when they invite me to go to a party/have dinner/drink coffee. I don’t think you need to have a DTR before you can reciprocate (unless this is a dating situation, in which case, perhaps may be more appropriate… but let’s assume it’s completely non-romantic).


  5. Michael (unregistered) on January 31st, 2008 @ 10:08 am

    I’ve long had a theory that evolved more or less since we became a city of "imports" (people who grew up elsewhere began outnumbering true natives):

    Half the people who come here think they’re moving to LA. The other half think they’re moving to Montana.

    So we have many who are "west-coast cool" (read: flakey, non-committal and above it all) and others who just want you frickin’ pinkos to butt out and leave them be, okay?

    We won’t get into the natives, who by definition are family-oriented and already have their lifelong friends…


  6. JesseJB (unregistered) on January 31st, 2008 @ 12:31 pm

    Try being a native that didnt make friends in high school, went away for college and learned how to socialize by being around social people, came back and moved into the city proper. Took me almost 2 years to get a decent group of friends together and theyre almost all transplants who had to do the same thing. I find that being too extroverted or cosmopolitan causes most natives to shy away. No big deal though.


  7. Eric (unregistered) on February 5th, 2008 @ 11:50 am

    There’s a lot of comments about "I’m too friendly" or "it took me forever to make friends because no one would call me back" or "no one is friendly in seattle"

    Seattle people are friendly, but we have our own lives. Sorry, I don’t give a crap about how you moved back, and now you want to be BFFs forever with people. If they don’t call you back, it’s because they are either 1) busy or 2) you’re an acquaintance and not a "friend". You’re going to have to try harder, I think, and join a group with common interests, and be happy with occasionally crashing parties with both your friends. If you want shiny happy people, move somewhere else, or take to wearing an "IOWA" t-shirt everywhere. There’s lots of nice people from Iowa out here.


  8. betsy (unregistered) on February 12th, 2008 @ 7:07 am

    wow. i guess eric is the type of person everyone is complaining about. i have no desire to live in, or even to visit, seattle if it filled with people like you.



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