December 28, 2011 at 3:36 pm , by Lauren Piro
I know, these are questions I’m not supposed to ask, right? Of course you have friends! You were a Girl Scout, a glee clubber and a sorority sister, so you’re set. You might as well embroider yourself a “No Vacancies” sign to match your massive collection of friendship bracelets.
Right…? Or do I hear some murmurs of dissonance in the audience?
I just moved to New York, and my life-long friends are scattered across the country (sure, I’m proud of my friend who’s off bettering herself in grad school, but did she have to do it 3,000 miles away from me?), so recently I’ve found myself a little lonely and worried that I was, well, weird for craving a few more gal pals in my post-college life. That’s why I devoured Rachel Bertsche’s new book, MWF Seeking BFF (Ballantine), a memoir documenting her search for a new best friend.
It all started when Rachel and her now-husband, Matt, moved to Chicago, a new city for both of them. Even after two years there, she still felt like she was missing some local BFFs.
Her husband, though a great guy, didn’t get it (“I needed girl time; he’s just not going to re-hash a problem of mine for the eighth time”), and her work friends didn’t feel quite right for a last minute text to go to brunch (“We just weren’t there yet!”).
So Rachel made it her mission to meet people, challenging herself to go on one new “friend date” per week for a year, hoping to end up with some new girlfriends—even a best friend—by year’s end. (The introvert in me shudders at the thought, but Rachel thinks one date a month would probably also do the trick—and afford you a more manageable social calendar.)
“There’s this stigma against loneliness,” she says. “And we’re scared to say that we’re looking for new friends; that people will think we’re desperate. But, really, there are so many great women out there looking for people, too!”
Phew! That’s music to my ears, and realizing it helped Rachel truly shed her shell for her quest— MWF’s chapter on her fun and genuine experience online-friending at GirlFriendCircles.com and her story about renting a friend (!) alone make the book a must-read.
And since she’s done it all—with success!—I had Rachel spill her soundest advice for friend-making (you know you wanna), even after the meet-markets of high school and college are long behind you.
Leave The House
“Say yes to all invitations that come your way, even if it’s something you’re not super excited about. I used to think, ‘Oh she’s just inviting me to be nice; she doesn’t really want me there.’ But really, inviting someone to be nice is a really good reason to do so!”
Be a Joiner
“It might be obvious, but just join something. Research shows joining a group that meets even only once a month can radically improve your happiness. I did an improv class, joined two book clubs and started a cooking club for all of the new women I was meeting—some of them are really close friends now, and even spend holidays like Thanksgiving and New Year’s together.”
Spread the Word
“Tell people you’re looking for friends. People assume that you’re set with the friends you have, even if you move to a new city like I did. But people know people in a lot of places! So if you move to San Francisco, tell people you’re looking for friends there, and they’ll be happy to help.”
Assume The Best
“Going into my year-long project, I thought people would think I was weird, that they weren’t open to friendship, that they’re too busy, or that the world is just meaner these days—whatever. But I found that the opposite is true—you should assume people want friends, because they do!”
Photo of Rachel Bertsche by Jennifer Troyer Photography