Work friends

What are your thoughts on “work friends”? Are you friendly with the people you work with? Do you socialize with them outside of work? How does it affect your work? Has your views changed as you advanced in your career?

Personally, I can be friendly with my coworkers, but I prefer to maintain some profession distance. I really don’t want my workplace to be the center of my social life, mostly because I change workplaces fairly often.


I feel about the same way you do. I like most of the people I work with, but doubt I’ll ever hang out with any of them on a 1-on-1 type basis. We do go out for work functions, but that’s about it.

Most of the people I work with are very comfortable sharing every part of their lives with each other. Their recent divorce and arguments about it, explicit sexual information, etc. One argues with her exhusband on the phone in front of the boss. I think some about of privacy is important when dealing with work friends, and I think that kind of behavior is unprofessional in the workplace.

Yeah I got the same thing. I have one guy telling me about his crazy marital situation while others feel a need to share every seedy activity they are into.

Quite often, you spend more time with your coworkers than anyone else in your life. Given that, relationships tend to form after a while, it’d be weird if they didn’t. Why else would there be so many sitcoms with close workplace friendships if it wasn’t something folks could identify with?

A lot depends on if you change workplaces often, naturally, but in a situation where you’re spending years with the same group of people I think it’s normal to share. Sometimes those friendships survive when one person moves on, but if the shared work experience is all you’ve got it’s not likely.

I work in a factory, conversations with coworkers are often the only mental stimulation available. Generally, we don’t necessarily spend tons of time together socializing, but do invite ‘work friends’ to things like weddings and housewarmings. I’ve worked with the same group of 300 people for nearly a dozen years, friendships are sorta fluid depending on work assignments, there are maybe 3 people I talk to regularly outside of work. We may have met because of the job, but we’re friends because we have things in common, similar personalities, whatever.

I recognize that this is different than a professional type situation, but still feel if you’re spending 75% of your awake time with someone, it’s odd not to form attachments.

75% of your awake time? I work just under 40 hours a week… I’m awake at least 32 on weekends alone. Just thought I’d point that out.

In any case, I think you’re right… to some degree, relationships HAVE to occur, if for no other reason than to make the work place civil. But I get the impression that my work friends are more like family than friends. That is, people I’m obligated to talk to/hang out with occassionally rather than CHOOSE to talk to/hang out with. They HAVE to invite me to work outtings, and I feel an obligation to go. It’s not like I’d go out with my boss to a movie, 1-on-1 or anything.

That’s why I think it’s a bit odd that one of my coworkers shares stories with me about her son masturbating and her sex life, while we will never be “friends” in that sense.

Perhaps I’m the odd man out here, but I have met most of my friends at work.

One of my best friends is the girl who actually hired me several years ago at a restaurant; she was my manager for about six months, and then we both quit around the same time and have remained great friends since then.

One of my other best girlfriends was a coworker at a bar I worked at; she no longer works there and I just quit myself, but we are fast friends.

I am also great friends with two managers; one of them no longer works with me, and one of them (up until two days ago when I quit) was still my manager.

All of these people, managers included, were/are friends outside the workplace; we socialized frequently outside of work and generally had a great time while working. The only time it “affected” our working relationship, particularly with the managers, was when we disagreed on something work-related; at that point I would explain my point both as an employee and a friend. It never became personal.

And now that I don’t work there anymore, I fully expect to remain good friends with the manager I was still working with. (In fact, it will probably improve our friendship because it won’t be affected at all by work.)

However, I have worked with like billions of people, and only four of them emerged as good friends of mine…in general I am friendly with coworkers but I don’t go out of my way to socialize with them unless I actively like them. Mainly b/c I don’t like a lot of people. :smiley: I see no point wasting time socializing with people I don’t really like, so I’m pretty particular about the friends I make at work.

But the friends I make at work, I keep.

Other than the occasional “out to the bar for an after-work drink”, no, not a lot of socializing with co-workers. However, it’s more for geographical reasons than anything else.

I have an hour commute to my job. Many of my co-workers live a distance away as well, but in the other direction. There are many people at my job that I’d love to hang out with outside of work, but they live up to two hours away. Just not really worth it…

I get on with all of my work colleagues very well. However we rarely socialise outside working hours. We spend enough time together as it is.

One of my colleagues (‘fellow geek’, as she hates to be called) has become a good friend. We meet up for football, which is her passion far more than mine, and can find far too many hours to spend in pubs, etc. I guess part of this comes from working in the kind of job where you have to have an enthusiasm that doesn’t switch off at 5pm.

(For those with such thoughts, no it is not like that, her husband has also become a friend.)
Mind you, I’m leaving that job soon.

I’m friendly with colleagues at work, but I don’t consider them friends in the sense of someone I’d enjoy hanging out with outside of work. Sure, we go to the occasional lunch together and we drink together at company functions, but nothing beyond that. Interestingly enough, many of my good friends are former colleagues, people with whom I’ve work in the past. We would socialize and stay abreast of each other’s latest career and family developments, but all this occurred after we’ve parted ways as colleagues. I guess, for me, it’s a matter of maintaining a strictly professional relationship within the work place.

I would say that most of my friends at the moment are from work, but this is pretty common in residency. We spend so much time together in such a tense situation that we can’t help but become close, and we spend so much time at work that it’s hard to make friends outside the hospital.

I don’t see a huge need to separate my social life from my professional life; I’m in medicine in large part because I like the people, so I don’t see any reason to specifically exclude those people from certain areas of my life. I can understand why people do feel that way, though.

It seems like younger employees have trouble making the distinction between “friends” and “colegues”. Some of mine seem like they fall into kind of a “first day of school” mode where they just want to know everything about everyone. By my nature I tend to be kind of leery of people who are that eager to be your friend. I also tend to be distrustful of companies that try to woo their employees with social outings (we had THREE this week alone). I don’t want my work encroaching that much into my social life. If after many months or years a friendship develops between me and some of the guys at work, then that’s great. But I don’t want the office knucklehead thinking he’s my best pal after 6 weeks because we share a few drinks together.

I try to maintain good working relationships, but I don’t socialise with colleagues outside of work. I’m happy to have lunch with them during the work day if that’s the way it works out, but I don’t go out of my way to do it.

I’ll chit-chat 'round the coffee machine or in the break room, but I politely decline any out-of-work functions like baby showers, Amway parties, Friday Night Drinks or other standard invites. I’ve given out my email address to a couple of people in the past and keep in social touch that way from time to time, but they’re classified in my mind as ‘acquaintances’ rather than ‘friends’ - they’re people I’d have coffee with, and that’s about it.

I suspect a lot of the reason for this is that I’m not really interested in making friends. I have two very good friends whom I’ve known for 20 years in one case and 27 years in the other - and I’m 32 this year. So I’m really not in the habit of classifying people as ‘friends’ unless I seriously mean it. :smiley:

One of my friends is completely the opposite of me - she can classify someone as a friend when she’s known them for all of a week. It’s quite a nice trait, I think - but it’s not one of mine.

The only exception was when I met my now-husband: we just absolutely ‘clicked’ from the moment we met, and I’d have considered him to be a friend almost from that first meeting. I didn’t have any intentions of getting involved beyond that, but that’s how things worked out a few years down the track. I’m glad they did. :smiley:

I suppose I do a more than average amount of outside-work socializing with my work friends. We do the "office at the bar’ thing a few times a year, plus the occasional pool party, and a few times a year I see some Broadway or off-Broadway shows with one work friend and her husband.

If you get along with people at work, why leave them out of your social life because you met them at work?

My best friends now are people I met at work.

I think it’s because shortly after high school, we moved across the country, and I lost touch with childhood friends.

When we moved back “home”, after 25 years away, I tried to re-establish the connections, and it didn’t work. They had made new friends, married, divorced, had children, changed jobs, gotten cancer and recovered, etc. – major life changes that I wasn’t a part of.

A woman who I grew up with moved right next door a few months ago, and we’re reconnecting somewhat, but it’s weird, because there are big chunks of her life that I don’t know about.

Friends I made at work visited me in the hospital and again when I got home, and they e-mail and call all the time. We’ve stayed close even though two of us don’t work at the same place anymore.

I don’t socialize with coworkers outside of work much, though I think of most of them as my friends. It isn’t any sort of rule or anything; I’m just a bit shy, and my wife is my only intimate friend (what some would call a “soulmate”).

That said, three of my best friends are from work. One is the building custodian. I get in early to work and have an hour to study for classes in the cafeteria before clocking in, and that’s when Bill has his break. Bill and I just sort of got into the habit of drinking coffee and swapping stories about the job, the people, the army, and his grandkids, and we’ve developed a friendship.

The other two are study partners, and with one, our families have gotten pretty close. We go out together for dinners, see movies with their kids, and generally have a good time. I have lunch with the guy everyday, and he’s pretty fun to talk to. When one of us leaves on a business trip, it’s understood that the other is available in case the family needs help.

But that’s the only work relationship I have like this, and it’s the only one I’ve ever really had. I’m not antisocial or anti-people. I just like being on my own a little too much.

Almost all my long-term friends have come from work or grad school. I like hanging out with really bright, interesting people and historically, that’s where I met them. And being generally quiet and reserved, I generally have a tough time making new friends out in the “real” world.

I’ve made one good friend and one getting-to-be-friend at work. I’m friendly with all my co-workers, but I am cautious about inviting people into my outside life.

The only job where I made friends was when I worked in a bookstore. And even then those friendships were fairly tenuous.

I have people I chat with at work, but I don’t hang out with them afterwards. I don’t go out for drinks after works, I didn’t attend the company Christmas party last year, I don’t go to the quarterly events, etc. Basically, I figure I spend enough time with my coworkers as it is, and if I’m not expected to be at work, I’m going to go home. Part of that is just because I work in an incredibly lame suburb where peoples’ idea of a great restaurant is TGIFriday’s or Chili’s and I just want to get back to Chicago, but part of it is that I just have no interest in most of my coworkers. When I first started working at my company I tried to be social, but there’s only so many conversations I can have about the latest episode of The Bachelor or some celebrity divorce before I start pulling my hair out. I don’t like my job (yes, I am doing something about this) and prefer not to think about it when I don’t have to be there.

That may be because it can be hard to meet people outside of work. If you’re in a new city, you don’t go to church, you don’t have kids (and thus opportunities to meet other parents), and you don’t have any hobbies that involve other people (or don’t have time to pursue them if you do), then you’re not in a position to meet anyone outside of work.

This was pretty much the case for me for the first two years I was here. In the past year, I’ve had time to hit up some regular poker games, and I’ve made some friends there, but still I’d say 90% of my social circle comes from the hospital.