I came across this book title during one of my meanderings around cyberspace, and thought:
1) What a clever title!
2) I thought I was the only one!
It follows the very intrepid and entirely relatable journey undertaken by author Rachel Bertsche, who has set a lofty goal for herself: go on 52 friend dates, one per week, for a year in hopes of finding her new BFF.
Bertsche, a newlywed, is originally from New York, and has close friends in many cities but none close enough for a quick pedi or an evening of sushi and wine in Chicago where she resides with her husband.
She, like many of us, assumed friendships would just happen, and when they didn’t, she proactively sought out potential friends wherever she could. Initially she tries connecting with friends of friends who are in her area. She also culls her memory and her address book to find out if any past acquaintances might just have friend chemistry potential.
Bertsche then writes an online essay about her search and friendship in general, which garners more leads. She enrolls in an improv class, a speed-friending session, and even joins friend-renting websites. (Yes, there is such a thing!)
Some friendships stick; others don’t. She meets some perfectly nice people but things don’t click. There are absolutely lovely people that disappear into thin air and never call her again. And she meets her share of downright strange people as well.
Once she has established her own small network of friends, her self confidence begins to grow as she sees any situation as fertile ground to begin a friendship, and every woman as fair game.
This book is a good read overall, since I wanted to know what potential BFF was right around the corner.
The author is candid about the financial strain of friend-dating so often, the cost of meals and movies, not to mention this is all taking time away from her new husband during their first year of marriage. She holds a full-time job and taking time to seek out friends and attend events and classes is exhausting.
At times though, the pace of the narrative is somewhat clumsy since certain friendships and dates overlap and in between Bertsche digresses to inner monologue about this or that research regarding friendship or human psychology. She seems immature when it comes to valuing true friendships and the good fortune of having very close family members already in your adopted city–not something most transplants can brag about. But overall, it is a fascinating insight into friendship psychology and her journey. There is even a Friend Index located at the back of the book, which I found myself flipping to quite often.
Some nuggets include:
The Dunbar Number. “[British anthropologist Robin Dunbar]‘s saying the size of your brain determines how many relationships you can maintain. Chimps can have about 50 friends. Since human brains are bigger, we can keep up a wider social network. The exact number Dunbar proposed was 148.4, but the Dunbar Number, as it has come to be known, is 150.”
Support from women matters. ”Research has found that both men and women get more emotional satisfaction from their relationships with women. Studies show that men think their wives are their best friends, and women think their best friends are their best friends. When marriages break up, social scientists say it’s the men who have the harder time…left with no one. Women, usually, have friendships to fall back on that are nearly as intimate as the romantic relationships that failed them.”
The Second City Factor. This is Bertsche’s own theory which goes, “…it’s in your second city after college when friend-making gets tough. When young 20-somethings arrive in their first post-grad home, they’re surrounded by other real-world freshmen in the same boat. Everyone’s a novice…looking for buddies…Making new friends is easy–everyone is…looking for the same thing. The decision to move to the second post-college city…is usually made independent of friends…Plenty of the companions you’re looking for have lived in your new city for years and…filled their BFF quota…The trick is to find other second-city dwellers…”
Bertsche is to be commended for her efforts to leap from her comfort zone into the uncharted waters of best friendship-making, no matter how awkward it was at times. Apparently there are many women, single and married, moms or not, who are looking for the same thing. I finished this book feeling, even it requires some elbow grease, that a potential bestie can be found if we are willing to be totally open-minded.
Bottom line: MWF Seeking BFF: My Yearlong Search for a New Best Friend is worth a read, despite the sometimes uneven flow of the narrative, if only to inspire you to get out there and find a BFF for yourself.
Also from the Handbook: