Aisha Sultan's article, which asked why it can be so hard to make friends in St. Louis, certainly struck a nerve with readers.
Sharon, from St. Charles, wrote on Nextdoor: "Interesting article. I moved to St. Louis in 1985; raised three kids here; and still sometimes feel like an 'outsider.' Despite general friendliness, people are cliquish. I've lived in New Town going on two years and have made one friend. Everyone is nice, but most people aren't willing to socialize with anyone new. People just have all their friends from kindergarten, they're still hanging onto in their 50s! Once they ask where I went to high school and I tell them out of state, that ends the conversation."
Larry, from Ballwin, wrote on Nextdoor: "As a transplanted retiree, this article rings of truth. When we moved into our neighborhood -- soon to be 3 years ago -- the immediate neighbors stopped by while the movers were unloading. Inquiries were only seeking background info. Long story short: that was the last contact and most wouldn't acknowledge if even sharing the sidewalk."
Robin, from St. Louis, wrote on Nextdoor: "I moved here 20-plus years ago and also found it hard for the first five to seven years. Many people I met grew up here and had established friends. As I expanded my interests, I met more people and made more friends. All good now but it did take some time."
Daru Lane wrote to Sultan: "The article fails to mention when you move to St. Louis and DO NOT WORK, possibly retired or stay at home persons it is 4 times worse even. NO we are not misfits because in Miami we were in NUMEROUS groups and had a close circle of more than 50 persons at a time. Our friends were in the 100s. Here when I entered the Junior League or sorority alum circles, only one person has EVER reciprocated in inviting us back to dinner or offered to car pool for a meeting. They want your dollars or your physical support and volunteer time, but that is it. And if you offer to drive somewhere they will respond I am riding with a sister or a friend and NEVER ask would you like to join us. This is the MOST unfriendly town I have ever been to. ... To add insult to injury, the RIVER divide is as bad as it gets. Those who live on St. Louis side versus the St. Charles side ... you would think it is enemy territory."
Some responses focused on the quintessential St. Louis question:
Sue, from St. Louis, said on Nextdoor: "Even after living here for almost 35 years, I can definitely relate to this article. People still ask me where I went to high school, and when I say, 'Heidelberg American High School in Germany,' many people turn their back on me and walk away."
The article focused on Anthony Bartlett, who started a group to help newcomers, St. Louis Transplants.
Other commenters disagreed that it's hard to find friends:
Ralph Gaona emailed Sultan: "I know Mr. Bartlett is trying to do good but think he is way off base. I traveled a lot during my working years and was in places as long as three months at a time. I found the culture of most places no different than St. Louis. Most people who are not transient and have lived in an area for all or most of their lives have so much going on with friends and relatives that there is no thought of making new friends. They would join me for an after-work drink or even invite me for the occasional dinner. Most people have so much going on they have no inclination nor desire for new friendships. ... I know you could say I was not a permanent resident and it would be different but I saw these people as no different than myself or friends. Very little time for new friends. ..."
A University City resident, S.P., said on Nextdoor: "I have a friend who moved from Wildwood to University City. She joined our group, U. City in Bloom and made lots of friends. She has also become a very loyal volunteer. Find something you're interested in and get involved wit a group. It's a good way to get started. It's not easy being a newbie, but gradually it becomes less painful. Be courageous. I speak from experience."
Cliff, from St. Louis, said on Nextdoor: "It is very cliquish here, as many if not most have lived here all their lives. The trick is to find a special interest group that suits you and get involved: church, sports, anything. Just takes more effort than most it seems. I've been all over the states, north, south extremes, Tennessee, Texas, and so far this is the hardest place I've ever lived to make new friends. It's not that people aren't nice, because they are on the whole. Just hard to get past that first layer or two."