Stages of integration into London’s social fabric

Many people arrive in London alone to start a new job or a new life. People arriving into London are rather like sediment forming on the bottom of the ocean. At first, there is no connection with anyone, and new arrivals tend to attract each other, rolling around, mixing, socializing, trying out this scene, that person. One Londoner described it as such:

Go to a house party in London, or look for a kick-around on the common, and it is full of people happy to make your acquaintance – because they, like you, are not from London and are longing to make friends and get to know people.

However, with time they come to form relationships, develop history, and trust builds up, and commitment forms. At this point, relationships start to become less dynamic, freeform and random, and more of a pattern builds up, and people stop seeking out others so much. Think about it, if you have limited time, and you have a solid dependable synergistic relationship and friendships, why would you want to sacrifice them, for the possibility of trying out new relationships and friends.

If you go on to have a family, another layer of sedminentation occurs, until you tend to socialize regularly with the same group of families, with children, and a few single people, people that you have known for years. You might make new relationships from this point on, but if you do you’d be very choosey, as the The Dalston Years blogger points out:
As your social life swells and expands, work friends rising to take the place of those people a younger and inexplicably different you used to hang out with, being selective with your time and the people you choose to hang out with becomes increasingly key. You can make time for new people – new pals are the best- but only if you’re prepared to carefully curate the people that you choose to make time for in your life.
Furthermore you find yourself making friendships without really trying, because once you have children, its often the shared situation of parenthood that draws people together, rather than a shared passion or connection, which is what often drives friendships. So as you get older and parental, the people you choose are not friends you feel passionate about, fascinated by and attracted to, but friends with whom a light touch relationship, you appreciate, for the fact that you can see you share similar long-term interests and situations, which will benefit from some kind of alliance.

A lot of this is to do with living in the same neighbourhood, and knowing that you’ll both be living there a long time, that makes investing in a relationship seem worthwhile. This applies even if you don’t have children, as the Dalston Years blogger points out:

In London, especially, the urge to curate your friends- to whittle them down to a select few- turns fucking Darwinian when we start talking postcodes. If friendships were governed by the laws of evolution, those friendships that would survive would be those where the friends live the closest to each other. Yes, it really is all about the survival of the closest. There are a very select group of people for whom I would leave the E5/E8/E2 postcode at the weekend, and really you’re going to need to provide compelling evidence to explain why you can’t just come and meet me in the Crooked Billet like a sane, rational person instead.

In may respects, once you are established, and it may take a decade longer to achieve that, you are taken out of the game, and new arrivals experience you as unavailable in the way that you previously experienced other established Londoners as unavailable. So each generation of ‘searchers’ in London, tends to seek out and find each other, like freshers arriving at university, so that you find your friends tend to be people who arrived in London at the same point as you did.


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