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Background: I started a new job about two months ago in a new city. I've been getting to know people decently, I suppose. There are a couple people whose company I really enjoy, though I don't know either of them super well.

Also, I should mention that, even having just moved aside, I have no real friend groups, and I honestly can't remember the last time I spent time with someone outside of some sort of professional or school context, so I have very little "experience."

As such, work is really my only social outlet. Is it inappropriate to ask a coworker to spend time together outside of the office? The thing is, I don't drink, and I find bars unsettling to be in (to the extent that the last and only time I was in one, I had a panic attack) so asking someone to catch a drink after office work isn't an option. Honestly, I just enjoy conversation, so I'd be fine with doing just about anything (besides the aforementioned, obviously). I just have no idea how to even approach the subject matter.

  • Welcome! What do you mean by "even having just moved aside"? Do you have a coworker or two who you have chatted with enough to think that you'd have good conversations with them? – Catija Sep 9 '17 at 1:35
  • Oh I just meant that I didn't really have a friend group back home either, i.e. it's not just a product of my being in a new city. – user5383 Sep 9 '17 at 1:36
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    OH! Ok. That makes sense :D I'm the same way, really. The only person I hang out with is my husband and the people I meet online. – Catija Sep 9 '17 at 1:37
  • What is it that you find unsettling about bars? I ask because bars can be so wide in scope. For example, I've been to certain basement bars with low ceilings which are excessively dark and loud. I felt a bit unsettled there. There is a lot of variation between that example and the other pole, an entirely outdoors bar. Perhaps there is somewhere on that spectrum that would be less of a problem for you but would achieve the ends you desire. I bring this up since "getting a drink after work" is such a common and easy-to-use method of hanging out with work people outside of work. – A.fm. Sep 9 '17 at 23:47
  • How big of a company is it? Any F500 culture or rather middle-size, or start-up? Does it have a HR dept? – OldPadawan Sep 10 '17 at 13:28
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I completely understand where you are coming from , since I am the same way. I am in a new job as well and have moved to a new city with a different culture.

Since , you have already talked to quite a few people and are getting to know them , you might know their interests as well , which is definitely something that comes up in many conversations .

For example , if your colleague Bob shares your interest in video games or bowling. You could ask him

Hey Bob ! What are your plans for the weekend ?

Bob responds with his plans

If your not doing anything on Sunday , maybe you could come over to my place and we could play some Call of Duty ? What do you say ?

or

Planning to go bowling this Sunday , since you love bowling , I would like to invite you to join me and we could grab some dinner afterwards. What say ?

or

I saw a new sports cafe open at XYZ street , would you like to check it out this weekend. I heard they have bowling too !!

This is how I would approach any of my colleagues if I wanted to ask them to hang out with me.

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Does it have to be a co-worker? I understand wanting to be closer to your colleagues, but unless you have a common interest it can often be hard to strike up and maintain a friendship outside of the office (Especially if you are in different life situations, i.e. you are single, he/she is married with kids, etc).

You have gotten a good suggestion on how to approach a co-worker, but I would also suggest a website like meetup.com or similar. These are basically interest groups that plan get togethers. What this does, is give you an opportunity to meet people that are interested in the same things you are. You can also do the same for things you are interested in learning. One almost universal truth is that people like teaching other people more about their hobby interest.

Also, you can look for community events centered around your interests, or you can try taking a class (Either offered through the city, many have 10-12 week mini classes/sports or at a local community college) on something you'd like to learn more about. If it is work related, you can also see if you qualify for tuition assistance.

Since you also mention the panic attack, one more thing I would recommend would be Toastmasters. It is a group designed to help people become more confident leaders and public speakers. It would help for sure with being able to present at work if necessary, and might also give you more confidence in loud, noisy social situations.

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  • I was going to suggest the same things. It's a good idea to look for social outlets from a variety of sources, not just work. I've been in situations in the past where I was in a new city, and my social life was purely through work, and after a while it was exhausting. Because you can never get away from work. And it's always good to socialize with a wide variety of people - not just software devs (in my case), or whomever your coworkers may be. Gives you a better perspective on the world when you're exposed to various backgrounds. – Saguaro Oct 23 '17 at 15:58
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Answering your quandary obliquely, and avoiding the creation of a situation in your workplace where you might upset or annoy colleagues, or in workplaces where there isn't much of and "after-hours" culture, you might consider finding a alternative group to connect and hang with, perhaps by joining a local volunteer group, giving of some of you free time to meet new like minded people and make new friends.

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