One of the first things you’ll need to do is make new friends in Hawaii. Now of course there are common human social norms to follow in making new friends regardless of where you move so I won’t be covering that in this article, but rather I’ll talk about what is different about Hawaii’s cultural values that you’ll have to be aware of if you want to make great relationships that last a lifetime.
We’re talking about local families, not the others that just moved here like you
Let’s get some context here. You’re going to make friends naturally at popular hangouts and social gatherings. Some of those friends will be others just like you who moved here recently and are looking, just like you, to make new friends. The quality of those relationships will vary just like anything else.
I’m not talking about making those kinds of friends. The friends I’m talking about here are local families that have lived here for generations that treasure their inner circle. If you are fortunate enough to get welcomed into one of these families, there is even a word used to describe this relationship and that is to hanai (huh-nigh) which literally means “to adopt a child”. We’d say something like “I was hanai’d by that family”.
That’s what I’m referring to in this article – building the kinds of friendships in Hawaii that really feel like family – to be hanai’d into a family.
It’s not going to be easy to make new friends in Hawaii
First, you have to be OK with the fact that this is going to take time. People in Hawaii aren’t in a rush to expand their social circles and in fact there is a strong “clickish” tendency to close ranks around small groups that one has known for decades.
I think it’s partly because we know that most people that recently moved to Hawaii are only going to be here for a short time such as military, corporate executives, temporary contractors, and of course tourists. We know those people won’t be here for long, so why should we invest our time in building a relationship with them when it’s going to go out the window in a short while?
It’s easy to make lot of friends with little depth
So what usually ends up happening, and you’re just going to have to be happy with it, is that you’ll make a lot of superficial friends at first. By “superficial” I mean folks that you probably meet at places you frequent such as work or school (whether it’s your school or your kid’s school).
You’ll know these are superficial relationships because you’ll enjoy each other’s company at the place you normally see them, but you’ll never get asked to come over to their house or get introduced to their personal circle of friends. That’s where the clickish behavior kicks in and getting to that circle is going to take a lot of time, if it happens at all.
But that’s OK. This is your first step. Before your relationship with them goes any further, they will need to feel you out, see what kind of person you are, and decide if you’re worth their time. You are a newcomer, and like nearly all of the “transplants” like you they’ve known before, it’s just a matter of time before you give up on Hawaii and move back home.
Next up: some of the best ways to make new friends
This is the first of a series of articles on making new friends. Our next article talks about some of the best ways you can find new meaningful relationships.
This is a spot on article! I thought I was in my head for a while thinking that maybe I was just super closed off. But i am not actually. I’m a social butterfly with enough world travels under my belt to talk to ANYONE. But see, the word that came to in my mind these recent mnths when looking around me is the very word you used yourself, SUPERFICIAL. The one very thing about me regardless of how much world traveling I have done is that I can’t do SUPERFICIAL. I can’t do surface level friendships without any depth and that’s why i keep my distance here in town (O’ahu of course). That’s not to say I haven’t experiences this on the mainland in places like South Carolina. But here it’s dramatically different. And yea you’re not wrong about cliques. From locals to college friends, it can end up being a very lonely place. I find myself lonely here for much of what you mentioned. However, I AM in a hālau and brother hood and that’s the one thing that keeps me going here, purpose…culture. Thanks for this article my friend. It’s given me inspiration to blog and vlog about this topic too. Mahalo nui!
A Perez Voyages
I’m so glad this was helpful for you
I struggle to imagine making friends in Hawaii. I’m white and I’ve lived most of my life in Northern California, in a very white community. It’s a magical place, where I live, but after visiting the islands a number of times I feel so drawn to it. I know a lot of people in my town and it’s helped me a lot to feel a connection with the community and keep me employed.
I lived in Kaneohe as a kid for three years, and I don’t remember much, but I feel amazing when I revisit the area. The smells, the sounds, the sights, and the people! I miss the diversity. It’s hard for me to imagine all of the complications of socializing there, but I figure it can’t be worse than where I am now. Everyone here is so white, and it’s sort of not that awesome.
One of my questions is how different it is in Hawaii, culturally, compared to where I am in Northern California. The longer I live here the more I’m disappointed, and I wonder if I moved to Hawaii would I simply find it equally disappointing.
Aloha Chris! Tons of content on this site and also the YouTube channel to help answer your question.
The majority of my “friends” in Livermore are superficial. I have had a longing for more, which is one of the reasons I chose Waimea/Kamuela. I saw it as less transient and few vacationers. I have learned through research that it will be more of a challenge then I originally thought. I have looked at the churches and chosen one I plan to attend. Depending on how well I do health wise, I also plan to become involved in some type of group. Hopefully your future posts will tell me if I am on the right course.
I wanna know how long takes email from Florida to Hawaii
Depends on how fast your pony can gallop :)
Many people that can’t seem to make it in their own country, states or towns both from America and other English speaking countries find themselves in Japan. Many are wanna be Japanese, and many others think they are going to be here and fit in easily. Not going to happen. Takes work and years to be accepted. My questions are why do you need to be, what are you missing within yourself and what are you escaping from?
I love Hawaii and have family there but not friends although lots of acquaintances. When I bounce into the Waikiki Brewery on South Street every worker says hello and ask how has Japan been etc. Family talk, travel and work chat. Many locals working there.
Beaches the same.
But these are people I respect and like but they are not my friends.
I have always kept myself as my best friend because I can adventure, taunt, tease and explore most of all with myself. My wife is my second best friend. Kids come in third and siblings fourth.
When death eventually arrives, will those with the most toys or those with the most friends be most remembered? None. Did George Washington have any friends? Does Trump? Do the Clintons? Nah
Dead on. Excellent.