friendship

How to Make Lolita Friends (Online and Offline)

A while ago on a lolita forum I saw a troubling topic: among the usual sales and meetup shout-outs, someone had blithely typed, “Snotty lolitas in real life! Share your stories!” with a big smiley face. What was going on here? A few dozen comments later, the general consensus came to light – the ‘snotty IRL lolita’ seemed more urban legend than local convention and meetup denizen. Few had stories to share of their own; more had the ‘my cousin’s-best-friend-knew-this-Swedish-lolita’s-sister’ genre. For the rare girl who did have a story, which seemed to mostly amount to ‘I smiled at her and she walked away!’ there was an underlying bitterness: why didn’t that girl seem friendly? Weren’t lolitas supposed to have an unspoken kinship, like members of a species? Why wouldn’t that girl be my friend [rising wail, stage right]?

So, what’s the deal? Why is Lolita such a hotbed of friendship drama even in real life, whether you’re looking to make friends or fit into the clique you’ve got? Are we lolitas socially awkward lepers, or something?! Why do we seem to have such a hard time building friendships?

In my years in the lolita community, both online and in real life, I’ve honed my own personal ‘friendship’ style. While I admit that I can be pretty shy and withdrawn, I’ve managed to find plenty of lolita friends to chat with – online and offline. I’ve learned how to do this mostly be the ever-popular trial and error. So, if you do happen do be from the Island of Misfit Toys like myself, keep reading!

Meetups and conventions are your best chance to interact with lolitas in person. In meetups, you’ll be thrown into direct social situations, often with strangers. Even old hands in their local communities don’t know everyone at a meet! At conventions, you’ll see lots of lolitas floating around with their respective friends or groups, or working at Artist Alley and Dealers’ booths. While they’re different settings, both can end up being places to meet lolitas and form friendships.

Meetups, especially for shy people like me, are like social exercises. Meeting a bunch of strangers that you have something in common with is actually a pretty good formula for this. It will behoove you to learn the art of small talk, for example, and don’t worry if you can’t yet – practice makes perfect. Although we’ve heard all the usual tips before, it takes practice to become comfortable with using them.

Ask people about themselves. In lolita, asking about a unique accessory or a simple compliment can get the ball rolling. Her ring is from an antique shop in France? When did she visit? Does she have family there?

Conversation is also about keeping a steady rhythm or flow to conversation. Again this unfortunately something you have to practice if you’re not already good at it. Case in point: in my family, we talk over each other all the time without batting an eye, but other people find this really rude. When in doubt, say less, not more. Take it slow, and you’ll get there.

The other trick to meetups is to learn your ‘friendship style’. How do you best connect to people? I’m not a life-of-the-party group-chatter myself – I do better in one-on-one situations. So make yourself some openings! When I want to get to know someone better, I make an effort to do something one-on-one. In one case, I accompanied a new friend to find a nearby cupcake shop; in another, I helped out a girl who’d slid on her brand dress at an ice skating meet.  If you can’t find a time during the meetup, consider arranging to meet at another time for shopping, coffee, or something you both like to do.

In fact, there is a final part to meetups often not mentioned: online. Once you meet girls in real life, it’s customary to friend them on a social networking site such as Livejournal, Facebook, or Tumblr (whatever your pleasure is – mine tends to be Facebook.) Then you can chat and get to know each other in between meets. By the next time you see each other, you’ll have a repertoire or at least a few conversation topics!

If you’re a convention fan, you’ll have lots of opportunities to meet lolitas. If you stay the whole weekend, you’ll probably find at least one lolita meetup on the menu you can attend, even if it’s just a tea, lunch, or swap meets (which are fairly informal). If you can’t go or one isn’t being hosted, you’ll mostly just spot lolitas walking the floor as regular congoers. The easiest way to approach them is to ask for a photograph! Then introduce yourself. This is also where the lolita calling card comes in. Lolitas at convention don’t want to have long-winded conversations – they’re off to see the Sailor Moon panel, or to meet their friends for coffee, or snatch up that dress in the Dealers’ Room… you get the picture. Giving out your calling card is an easy way to make a connection. Even better if they have one too!

And if you don’t hear from them again, online or in real life? Don’t despair. It does not mean you are an unlovable ita, doomed to be alone forever. It just means this person isn’t for you. There are plenty of lolitas on this planet, and you’ll make plenty of other friends if you keep putting yourself out there.

Things to keep in mind when making lolita friends: lolitas are people. As much as we love to think of them as glittery, pink dollies come to life, they’re not. They have good days and bad days. Some are sweet, some are funny, some are shy, some are rude. That’s just the way it is. One of the lessons I have learned in life is to give people the benefit of the doubt. Maybe somebody you happily introduced yourself to was rude to you. I knew a girl in high school who was rude to me every day for four years. At first I thought she was having a bad day; then I realized she was just like that to everyone.

Don’t waste your energy building a big shit list of people you despise. If you don’t like them, don’t spend time with them. If you do have to run into them frequently, just try to be civil. There’s no reason to be buddy-buddy if you don’t like someone. On the flipside, there are people in this world who simply will not like you. Although it may be tempting to shout at them, “Why don’t you like me?!” and then convince them how sparkly and sugary sweet you are, it’s not worth it, and you probably won’t change anybody’s minds anyway. The best way to convince people of the good parts of your personality is to be yourself. No one is perfect, but everyone has something positive they can offer.

(Now, if you’re being bullied, online or offline, or you find yourself in the sticky goop of a toxic friendship, that’s another story all together. I’m not going to discuss that in this post, but if you’re interested in an article on toxic friendships or how to handle bullying, let me know!)

Keep an open mind about the people you meet. Maybe you’ve got a big don’t category for people who seem overly into anime, or are freaked out by people with piercings, or someone in x field of work or study. Try to look past these things. Some great friends I’ve met are nothing like me, or like people I’ve previously met. My mom, for example, gets a little squicked out when she sees people with facial piercings or tattoos (we’re from a pretty conservative, rural area). But nothing has been better for her, when she makes a remark about someone’s angel bites or gauges, to be reminded that her own daughter might be unfairly judged for her alternative hair color. People’s appearances, or their hobbies, or whatever else you dislike about them, doesn’t preclude them from being a good person. As I said, I believe everyone offers something positive.

 

Okay, so you’ve met a girl you like, and you’ve hit it off. What next? Well, you could simply wait for the next meetup to come around, make sure she’s attending, and then go. But meetups are best for making new friends, as much as we love seeing our friends from previous events. Besides, who wants to see a friend once every month or two? If you’re lucky, your new friend lives close by. From here, you can meet for tea or coffee, explore local vintage stores, take photos in the park… anything really. Swap numbers so you can text and call. Chat online in the evenings. Congratulations, you have a real life lolita friend!

If you’ve met a girl you like who doesn’t live near you, consider becoming penpals or online friends. Penpals are especially fun for lolitas – since it involves the old fashioned letter, stickers, and probably glitter gel pens. Take photos for each other, or send small trinkets in the mail. You can also be online friends, which means chatting and reading each other’s blogs or Livejournals. Even though all you do is talk, these friends are just as valuable as real friends. I have a previously-online-only friend who is coming to visit me from Chicago soon – I am so excited to see her for a weekend!

If you can’t possibly get out to meet real lolitas (like if you’re from the Antarctic or something) consider making friends online just by chatting them up on forums or on social networking sites. Send messages to girls you find interesting, and sparks up conversations. You don’t need to be geographically located to make friends!

The other thing to know about building a strong friendship with a lolita… is to get past lolita. Lolita is a fun topic we love to talk about – shoes, sales, models, the community – but it can only take you so far. After you’ve met a lolita and want to really get to the gold of friendship, you need to move past it. You might find you have other things in common, or a shared sense of humor, or you just enjoy spending time together, even if it doesn’t involve buckets of frills. Some of my lolita friends share my love of dolls, or politics, or Disney movies. My darling friend Dalin of La Vida Frills and I, for example, went to a My Little Pony convention in our shared love of 80s toys! I was as excited as a schoolgirl with a crush for that trip because I knew we’d be much closer friends after that ♥

 

I hope this helped all you girls who pine for lolita friends! Tell me about some of your best friendship-making stories. How did you meet your best lolita gal pals?

(By the way – I’m toying with using the ‘jump cut’ for longer posts. Do you like them, hate them, find them annoying, are you indifferent? Let me know!)

  • http://commerciallyalternative.blogspot.com Super Bloomers

    Thank you for this article. I have a hard time making friends now that I’m in college. Quite often I feel that I have this bubble of nonexistence around me. (It doesn’t help that I’m sometimes the only girl in my classes) I hope to use your advise in the future. You’re so right that it really comes down to practicing when you’re really shy. 

    My best friendship-making story was a couple of years ago. I was like a sophomore in college and really didn’t have any friends. My mom told me to join a club. I searched for clubs at my local campus and found an anime club. I was pretty much a closet anime watcher and jokingly told my mom I should go to this, but my mom insisted that I go for real. I was having major panic attacks the whole way to the meeting and I just wanted to run away, but I somehow stuck it out. When I got there I met the best people in the world. We all went out for dinner and a movie that night. I’m still friends with all of them and we still go to dinner after club meetings every Friday. ^_^ 

    I hope sometime soon I can expand my social bubble and meet with some real life lolita friends too.

    • http://www.parfaitdoll.com Victoria Suzanne Stella Alice

      Sometimes joining a club is another great way to meet a group of people! I suppose that a local lolita community is a little like a club in that way. I loved hearing your story of putting yourself out there, even though you’re scared. Sometimes I’m so shy that I want to just not go at the last minute too!

  • IridiumFlames

    This is quite informative! I’ve been following this blog for about a year or so, but I don’t have an account here, so it doesn’t show up as a ‘follower’ (sorry about that). Personally I don’t like the cut, just because it takes a bit longer to load, and with slow Internet it’s inconveniencing. But I love your writing style, you are able to talk a lot about lolita without leaving out, eh, the rest of life.

    • http://www.parfaitdoll.com Victoria Suzanne Stella Alice

      Thanks for the info on the cut! I was hoping to cut down on long posts taking up front page real estate, so you could see more posts more easily without navigating very far. But I didn’t think of slow connections! I’ll consider that for next time :)

  • Elloraborealis

    I had a similar struggle in college. I had a group of very close friends in highschool, because we had all attended the same schools since 4th grade. But once I hit college I was all alone, and not particularly good at reaching out. I tend to over think things that I say, or I assume that I come off strangely to other people. My over-thinking has definitely held me back in social situations, and has kept me from following through with people would like to get to know better. In my first year of college I did make some acquaintances in my dorm who would accompany me to the caf for dinner, and were nice people I’m sure, but I never felt like we were really right for each other. I remember getting mass texts from these people who would ask everyone they knew if someone wanted to get a meal with them. I remember feeling very lonely because no one made an effort to contact me directly, I was just one number in a mass text. If I asked any of these people to do something together, they’d invite the mass text list to come along too. Nothing seemed very personal, which was hard for me because I too feel much better in one-on-one situations.

    Half way through freshman year I felt so bored and lonely and out of place. I made a ridiculously crazy decision to shake things up. I met a girl in my British Literature class who admitted to me that she was lonely too and had a very unkind roommate. I was shocked. I never expected that anyone else also felt lonely in college. Everyone always seemed so outwardly outgoing and happy, and I felt like I was the only one struggling. Since I didn’t like my housing situation and she didn’t like her housing situation I went out on a limb and asked if she wanted to study abroad in Budapest together the following semester. And lo and behold I found a friend who was as crazy as I was, because she agreed immediately and thought it was a terrific idea. We have now lived together in Budapest and in San Francisco for a total of 3 and a half years.

    But now, I have a different struggle. My lovely friend has now graduated, and I have another year left at school. I notice myself depending on my boyfriend for most of my social interaction these days, and this worries me. I have been trying to reach out to new people and have met many interesting and promising acquaintances. But, I am currently grappling with how to balance school, friends, family, and boyfriend. I wish I had more hours in the day, I really do. I know it’s my turn to put myself out there and try to cultivate these acquaintances and turn them into friendships, but it’s difficult to get up the courage and motivation. I find that it’s far too easy to fall back on what you know, whether it’s old friends, or a significant other. In the future I would like to grow into a person who is friendly, and open, and always reaching out to wonderful new people.

    ~Ellora

    • http://www.parfaitdoll.com Victoria Suzanne Stella Alice

      It’s hard when you start putting all those things in the mix – your family, your boyfriend, friends, school, work, your boyfriend’s family, free time, hobbies – I’m in the same conundrum right now. I love your story about taking the jump and meeting your best friend and then ending up in Budapest! Sounds like an adventure :)

  • http://batblush.blogspot.com batblush

    I’m only 17 and living in a fairly small city, so I’ve actually never met any IRL lolitas. I’m just now getting to the point in my life where I have a job and buy my own clothes and much of my necessities–i.e., adulthood. And even though I run a fairly good tumblr, I have a hard time making online friends due to my shyness. However, I’ve just started a blogspot to help connect to more people and share my ideas and interests, which include lolita and other fashions. I only have one reader as of now, but I’m doing my best and I sincerely hope that I can meet more people and make some friends! I actually was really inspired by your blog; I love how you write in such an intelligent and accessible way and include all sorts of fresh ideas that range from cotton-candy sweet to the other end of the spectrum! I think it goes to show, since I read ParfaitDoll devoutly and I’m more interested in gothic and classic lolita than sweet!

    I am proud of myself for beginning to use facebook (I know, so far behind), especially since I’ve already made friends with a wonderful German girl I met through tumblr. It’s been a really good way to communicate!

    Thank you for sharing so many wonderful ideas through your blog and being such an inspiration to me. I really look up to you, Victoria!

    • http://www.parfaitdoll.com Victoria Suzanne Stella Alice

      Thanks for the compliments on my writing! I like knowing that not only sweet lolitas can relate to my work (though I could never leave sweet myself!) And I’m glad to hear that even though you can’t find very many people near you physically, you’re meeting people online, even in other countries! That’s my favorite part of online friendships – getting to know people in Ireland, New Zealand, France, Japan, or Brazil!

  • Paulina Rivera

    Victoria Suzanne should publish a book~~~ *A* Have you ever considered? You write so eloquently, and your articles are very informative and inspiring!!
    I have yet to go to a meetup… but I’d actually absolutely love to attend one!! I remember the very first convention I ever went to, I was in lolita, every lolita there was so nice, and I got tons of pictures!! (I wish I had calling cards…perhaps by the time my very first meetup comes along!) My love for lolita really started when I met one of my current best friends, Maria-tan. It was my first day in my Japanese school, and everyone was new, and I was kind of nervous but I expected that the majority of them would like anime, kawaii things, and Japanese in general like I, so it would be much easier to get along with them than say, the people at my middle school. I met Maria there, and we became insta-friends! After I got her hotmail, we discovered we both like frilly, cute, pink things! And together, we fell in love with lolita. I attended my first con with her in lolita, and bought our own lolita wigs together, and so we stay really close. (Plus, our birthdays are two days apart!) And I cannot believe that, after that, I started talking to my friends and explaining what lolita was, and I discovered another girl in my Japanese class loved lolita too! And, one of my closest friends I knew for a year now, revealed she wanted to be a lolita as well! The world is a lot smaller than I thought!
    I also spread the lolita love around aswell. I told one of my bestest guy friends about it, and he actually really really loves lolita now. He’d love to dress in gothic ouji style, and I personally think he’d look so charming in it~ And, then he told his friend about it and she wants to dress classic now too. It’s passing around! Yaay!
    I’ve always wanted to attend a meetup. I would want to make friends with everyone there, because it’d be so much easier to talk to them since we all love lolita. I’m considered shy at my school…but that’s because I have nothing in common with anyone. And occasionally I get the chance to go on EGL, and so far, no one’s attacked me and my noobish mistakes yet! And I love making friends with girls that are around Seattle. One day, I definitely want a penpal, and calling cards, and a bunch of livejournal friends. But for now, I’m focusing on fleshing out my lolita wardrobe!! (Asking for a bodyline jsk and tea party shoes for christmas…wish me luck!) I’m definitely going to be practicing for my first meetup now!! Thanks~!

    • Paulina Rivera

      Also, I don’t mind the cuts, I think they’re better for really long articles~.

      • http://www.parfaitdoll.com Victoria Suzanne Stella Alice

        thanks for your input on the cuts! good luck with your dress! it’s very cute in lavender, isn’t it?

        • Paulina Rivera

          I agree, it’s darling <3

  • Elloraborealis

    Oh! I nearly forgot. I also wanted to say how much I’ve appreciated your excursions into more personal topics. I think it’s brave and admirable to tell personal stories or give examples from your own life. I think it makes your writing even that much more relatable and fun to read. I always love reading your articles because your writing is so engaging, and I find your style tips, suggestions, anecdotes, outfit posts, online discoveries, and your views about the world so refreshing! Day to day life can be so grey at times, but after reading your blog I feel inspired. Thank you for putting a little sparkle in my day, because it chases the gray away. I wish you a cozy and colorful autumn!

    ~Ellora

    • http://www.parfaitdoll.com Victoria Suzanne Stella Alice

      I really appreciate your comment, made me smile :) I’m glad you like reading Parfait Doll <3

  • missspastic

    I think the jump cut should be slightly bigger and more conspicuous, or at least in a more standout, bolded color/font.  Right now, it’s so little and understated, the first time I read the article I wondered why you cut it off so quickly.  I hate to just compare you to other bloggers, but Violet LeBeaux does a good job of this. 

    • http://www.parfaitdoll.com Victoria Suzanne Stella Alice

      Oh no not at all, I love Violet too! Interesting point on the jump. Right now I believe they’re standard and I don’t have control over their font/size however :( I could possibly include a graphic as well that lets you know when there will be a jump? Like an arrow or ‘read more’ I could insert right before the jump?

  • http://www.facebook.com/saccharinedarling Saccharine Darling

    I agree, too many lolis make the mistake of forgetting that other lolis are people too, we all have good days and bad days and our own ways of communicating and interacting with people, and that we have to make an effort too!

    Thanks to lolita I have a whole bunch of great friends both online and IRL, and one of the best things is we don’t just like lolita! We always have new things or interests to explore or discuss together, and that’s what makes a real friend, not just an acquaintance ^___^ 

    • http://www.parfaitdoll.com Victoria Suzanne Stella Alice

      Exactly! You can make lots of acquaintances, but it’s the little details & adventures together that make a true friend!

  • Ribbon

    Thanks a lot for the article:D it was really helpfull!
    Would you please do an article on toxic friendships and bullying? I think i may be in a toxic friendship myself…

    • http://www.parfaitdoll.com Victoria Suzanne Stella Alice

      I’ll get started on it! Toxic friendships are nasty business and there really isn’t much about them online.

      • kwaii-kun!

        miss Victoria Suzanne Stella Alice could you mayeby do one on what clothes to wear on HARD jobs like working out,hunting,etc because i am going to Texas and there i will have to do ALL that stuff.Thank you!

  • Anonymous

    This is an amazing article~ I try meeting Lolita friends online since I live out in the country and have only been to one convention, although I did make a friend there~ I am also very shy and need to interact more with people, so this really helped. Thank you!

    • http://www.parfaitdoll.com Victoria Suzanne Stella Alice

      Glad I could help out another shy person! Congrats on your new friend!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100001750736664 Linda Wei

    Do you know or heard of any upcoming lolita meetups in Portland OR or San Jose/San Francisco? :O I’ve been trying to look for lolitas especially in Portland but i never seem to find any ;(

    • http://www.parfaitdoll.com Victoria Suzanne Stella Alice

      I’m not from those areas so no, I’m sorry! Consider searching Facebook for a local community.

  • kwaii-kun!

    do you know anything in The horr-i mean great state of Colorado?

  • http://www.facebook.com/Nekobakachan Valeriya Neko’Zhanova

    It’s a really interesting topic ! I try to make lolita friends but it’s kind of hard since we’re not that much in Belgium …anyway , thank you for your precious tips ;)

  • http://www.facebook.com/gaby.weasley.7 Gaby Ootori

    I’m a younger lolita and all of my irl friends think its weird but i dont and i’m not supossed to talk to people i dont know online ive considered going to anime conventions that have lokita tea partys and things but im probably too young

  • hautesasha

    Hi Victoria! My dream Lolita Fashion Show is about to come true (finger crossed)… really worked hard for this (as in sweat & blood! by me & my team), i surely wish this will be a success though.
    Would like to ask help from Lolis there to help me / support my upcoming event here in Manila (Phils.) via facebook.
    Hope to be friends with your followers too.

  • Kitty Fitty

    I’ve only just recently found your website, but I’ve already read so many of your articles.

    I’m 23 and have been in love with the lolita fashion for years, but I have always been a little intimidated about making my first purchase or seeking out lolita friends. I don’t think many people enjoy being that new person who – in spite of their good intentions – seem utterly clueless and lost (and I know for sure that I must seem like both of those things). This entry makes me feel a little less intimidated about seeking out friends and (hopefully) guidance, and I just wanted to take the time to share that with you. I have a lot to learn, but I have faith in my ability. c: