Is it possible to make lifelong friends as an adult?
One of my Facebook friends posed that question a few months ago. In response, someone suggested the book “MWF Seeking BFF: My Yearlong Search for a New Best Friend.” (Random House, $15). I had to check it out.
The author, Rachel Bertsche, had moved to Chicago for love in 2007 and gotten married in 2009. But her lifelong besties were back home in New York.
“I found myself with no one to call on Sunday morning to see where we were having brunch, nowhere to stop by after work to watch ‘Project Runway,’ ” she writes in her book.
I moved to Kansas City for work. My lifelong friends were in different parts of the country. I could definitely relate. I had the same problem when I first moved here.
And when I read about Bertsche attending a cookie exchange to meet friends but then conceding it wasn’t really her thing (“I’m a ‘Law & Order SVU’ marathon kind of girl,” she writes), I knew I was going to like this book.
It is hard to make friends after college without coming off as psycho or desperate.
“I’ve found that friendship advances are generally received positively, but as the asker we worry we’re imposing,” Bertsche writes. “The last person we want to be is that girl .”
So I talked with Bertsche, 30, to steal — er, share — her knowledge about how to make friends in a grown-up world already filled with work and relationships and family. Her answers are edited for clarity and brevity.
Is it possible to make lifelong friends as an adult?
I think it is, absolutely. I think making friends is harder as an adult. Those early stages of meeting people, and then seeing them again, can be really hard. Everyone is talking about how busy they are. People feel like they don’t have time for friends, which I think is really a shame.
Is it harder for women to make friends than men?
I do, sorta. I hear from people on both sides. I think it sort of depends on who you are, but I think women want a level of intimacy that men don’t need.
Is it hard for women to admit they want friends?
Absolutely. We’re all very willing to say, “I’m looking for a husband,” or “I’m looking for love.” I think people are embarrassed because friends are something people should have, we think. I was so scared to put it out there. I didn’t want to say, “I have no friends, I’m a huge loser.” There are so many women in the same boat as I was. We’re scared that we sound lonely and sad when that’s not necessarily the case.
In your book you said finding a BFF is like dating. Tell us what you mean.
It’s the same idea, going out and trying to meet people and find the right fit. Sometimes you have to kiss a lot of frogs to get your prince, and I think it’s the same with trying to find your princess or your best friend. It feels like dating in a sense. I felt like a weirdo with friend dating. Sometimes I would hug someone goodbye and she was like, “Oh, we’re doing this?” I think dating and looking for friends are both about connecting and looking for people you feel comfortable with. It can be exciting and also stressful.
**You tried a lot of different things to meet people (Meetup.com, improv class, volunteering, religious group meetings). What were some of the best things you did, or what would you suggest people do?
Getting set up is a great option always. If you don’t know of anyone who can set you up with someone in your town, for me a book club was a really great thing. I always say joining a group that you’re interested in, that way the times you’re going to see each other are already set up. I think Meetup.com is really great way to start.
What do you feel like you learned on your girl-date journey?
People are open to friendship if you’re willing to make the first move. It’s not the world where “You’re such as weirdo, stop talking to me.” Who doesn’t want more friends?
Your book is a national best-seller. Why do you think this has resonated with so many women?
There are lot of women going through this and until now, no one was talking about it. The world that we live in right now, people are busy and we’re inundated with these images of best friends (“Sex and the City,” “How I Met Your Mother”) … we think we should have that, but it can be really hard to get that level of intimacy. I’m really hoping this will give more women confidence. Reading someone else’s journey and realizing you’re going through what they went through is comforting.
What’s a good pickup line if you’re shy?
Finding something in common is really great. Even if it’s “I really love your sweater.” A compliment is definitely a great way to start a conversation. Something that shows some sort of connection between you. I don’t think starting with, “Hi, you want to be friends?” is necessarily the best route.
Do you think the friendships you made in the year you wrote your book will last?
I do. I went on 52 friend dates, and I don’t expect to be friends with all of them in 10 years. Now that number has dwindled some more. … I have a good handful, more than a handful, of friends who I really think will be around for a while. One of the things about friendships that we have to keep in mind is that they don’t last forever. Some friendships are for a certain time and place in your life.
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