MWF Seeking BFF: My Yearlong Search For A New Best Friend

MWF Seeking BFF: My Yearlong Search For A New Best Friend

When Rachel Bertsche first moves to Chicago, she’s thrilled to finally share a zip code with her boyfriend. But shortly after getting married, she realizes that her new life is missing one thing: friends. Sure, she has plenty of BFFs—in New York and San Francisco and Boston and Washington, D.C. Still, in her adopted hometown, there’s no one to call at the last minute for g...

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Title:MWF Seeking BFF: My Yearlong Search For A New Best Friend
Author:Rachel Bertsche
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Edition Language:English

MWF Seeking BFF: My Yearlong Search For A New Best Friend Reviews

  • Rach

    It's official. Though I have a strange aversion to having friends with the same name as me, Rachel Bertsche could be my new BFF. Or one of them, that is. If we lived in the same town. And if she knew who I was. And it's not only because I found Rachel's thoughts on friendship to be thoughtful and relevant, but that while reading her words, it felt like we would "click," that if we were sitting and having a conversation, on a girl-date or something, we wouldn't be lost for things to talk about. W

    It's official. Though I have a strange aversion to having friends with the same name as me, Rachel Bertsche could be my new BFF. Or one of them, that is. If we lived in the same town. And if she knew who I was. And it's not only because I found Rachel's thoughts on friendship to be thoughtful and relevant, but that while reading her words, it felt like we would "click," that if we were sitting and having a conversation, on a girl-date or something, we wouldn't be lost for things to talk about. We seem to have quite a bit in common, not least of all our propensity to read EW cover to cover and our tv-watching obsessions. On the slightly-less-positive side, I also tend to experience frenvy every once in a while, and have a tendency to story interrupt. Trust me, I'm working on that stuff. But putting aside the girl-crush I now have on Rachel, her book really resonated with me. More than just a how-to for finding friends, it's really all about how to be a kind, generous person, how to be a good friend to everyone from current BFFs to new acquaintances, and how to become closer to the people around you, enhancing the happiness level of all around. I will gladly talk this book up to anyone, and have already made my mom buy it for the joint Kindle account she and my sisters and I share, because I feel it was that insightful to me.

    I am far from a perfect friend. I like to think I am a good listener, but I am spectacularly bad at staying in touch with people and following up with how their lives are. It's not that I don't care: when I run into friends I haven't seen in a while I am genuinely pleased to see them, and when someone emails me about getting together, I am happy to meet them wherever they'd like. I just have a hard time being the one who reaches out, who suggests the girl-date. Maybe it's because I'm afraid they don't want to see me? I'm not too sure, but that's something I definitely want to improve on, and feel inspired to do after reading Rachel's book. I want to be the kind of friend I would love to have, someone who calls or texts just to say hi, someone who is persistent about making sure we see each other every so often. I want to make sure my friends know that I value them, and if I have to leave my house more often, and watch less tv, and be busier than I might like to do it, I will.

    Like Rachel, I had a time in my life where I felt really alone and friendless. I had just graduated from my small liberal arts college in central Pennsylvania and moved back home to the Seattle area, where I had grown up and most of my family still lived. I still had a few old friends that lived in the area, but to be honest, I was never that great at staying in touch with people, and the 4 years I had spent on either another coast or in another country had isolated me from the people I used to spend time with. The people I had become close with during college were good friends, but most of them stayed on the east coast, with one lone friend, my closest, returning to her hometown of Denver.

    Add to that the fact that I was painfully shy around strangers, and you have a girl that spent most of her time either holed up at home with her parents, reading and watching tv, or tagging along after her old sisters. I tried to get involved in activities, succeeded in making some friends through church, became closer with girls who had been merely acquaintances when I was in high school, but I never really felt like I belonged, like I was a unique person that other people would be interested in getting to know. I slowly opened up to those around me, but I still felt like I was living on the fringes of groups, instead of really belonging anywhere. Obviously, I had massive self-esteem issues, and I'm sure that's something I'll struggle with all of my life.

    Then, suddenly, things changed. When I was about 26, I decided I was done feeling sorry for myself. If I didn't like my life, I was going to change it. I had always been interested in photography, but I finally got myself a nice DSLR. I joined a photo sharing community called Flickr, and started a daily self-portrait project called 365. About 4 months into my project, when I had made quite a few friends through the 365 group, I decided it wasn't enough to have online friends commenting on my photos, I needed to make some friends that I could hang out with in real life. I found a photography meet-up group that was based in Seattle and, after stalking the group's site for a few weeks, finally started going to a few events. Don't get me wrong: it's not like I was suddenly a confident, self-assured person. I was still nervous, and awkward, and barely made it through my first few meet-ups. I went to a small photostroll in May of 2007, leaving right after. The next month, I went to a hang-out-and-chat event, where I met a lot of people, many of whom seemed to be good friends already, but were all open and friendly to newcomers. What helped me along the most, though, was that I had something in common with these people: we all loved to take pictures. At different group events, I would gravitate to the people with whom I had the best connection, getting to know them better and becoming more comfortable around them, until one day, we were just hanging out, no official group meeting necessary. There are some people with whom I have a very specific Friendaversary: we met on a specific day, and were instantly friends, right off the bat. But for most of the people I met through flickr, and the secondary friends I met through the first initial group, the day we actually became friends is kind of unclear, because it evolved so fluidly. By September of 2007, I definitely had new friends, even if they weren't at the call-anytime stage quite yet. I'd been to their houses, laughed uproariously with them, and shared in-jokes. I felt like I belonged. Much has changed in the 5 years since I had my friendship epiphany. I still love taking photos, though I don't take nearly as many as I did back then. I haven't been to a meet-up outing in several years, but I still maintain a few dozen friendships of varying degrees with people I initially met back them. Some of them have become my closest friends, the ones I know will support me no matter what.

    This book has not only inspired me to be a better friend, and to generally friendlier to people around me, but has also changed the way I think about friendships in general. I always thought, "I should have one friend who is closer to me than anyone else, who can be The Person whenever I need someone for anything." And I never really had that ONE person, which made me feel incomplete somehow, that maybe I was this strange person that no one would ever want as their Best Friend. But what Rachel comes to realize, and what she made me realize as well, as there is never just one person who can be the be-all-end-all for you. It takes all kinds of friends to make a happy, full life, and you can have multiple "best friends" who fill different roles in your life. I can't tell you now how this is going to change my life, because I'm not a psychic. What I can tell you is this: I plan on treasuring the friends I have, building our friendships with laughter and love.

    PS, I might have to track Rachel down. I'm not a stalker, don't worry. Or, at least I'm a harmless one, right? I have people to vouch for me. :)

  • Jill

    Generally, I'm not a fan of, what I call, the "faux-moir"--fake memoirs where the author embarks on some sort of adventure or scheme to satisfy the book deal they already have. They combine their experiences with research to lighten up what would otherwise just be classified as non-fiction, or a straight-up memoir. So, especially since I'm in a book club with the author, I'm relieved that I did like the book . . . a lot. I wouldn't have picked it up if my book club weren't reading it, but now th

    Generally, I'm not a fan of, what I call, the "faux-moir"--fake memoirs where the author embarks on some sort of adventure or scheme to satisfy the book deal they already have. They combine their experiences with research to lighten up what would otherwise just be classified as non-fiction, or a straight-up memoir. So, especially since I'm in a book club with the author, I'm relieved that I did like the book . . . a lot. I wouldn't have picked it up if my book club weren't reading it, but now that I've read it I wish I had read it when I first moved to Chicago. I've since recommended this to many people (mostly transplants to the area).

    About the book itself: It is hard not to identify with Rachel. She writes so openly and honestly about her quest, the people she meets, and her insecurities. She is witty and funny, making the book enjoyable to read. Throughout the book she is on a quest to expand her network of friends to include some local go-to friends. Her "friendship expectations" change as she learns more about friendships and herself. She combines the right about of research, and inserts it into her quest at just the right places in the story, to keep it interesting.

    Most of all, this subject can be a bit touchy (who wants to be the loser looking for more friends), but Rachel handles it delicately and gracefully. It ends up we all have room for more friends and people are more open to meeting new people than you think. All you have to do is reach out to them, and if Rachel's experience is an indication, put in a some time and effort following up.

  • Amy

    I strongly suspect the author was looking for a hook for a book idea more than she was desperately seeking a BFF. Strongly.

    In her new (old: college town) city of Chicago she had not only her husband, mother, and extended family including cousins she was social with, but four work friends she ate lunch with "every day" and friends through her husband that they went out with every few weeks. Whaaaat? Thats not the lonely life, my friend. You may *want* more friends, but you are busy on a regular b

    I strongly suspect the author was looking for a hook for a book idea more than she was desperately seeking a BFF. Strongly.

    In her new (old: college town) city of Chicago she had not only her husband, mother, and extended family including cousins she was social with, but four work friends she ate lunch with "every day" and friends through her husband that they went out with every few weeks. Whaaaat? Thats not the lonely life, my friend. You may *want* more friends, but you are busy on a regular basis, not *desperate* for companionship. I hope. So I very much wanted a stronger (read: plausible) spin for this story's publication--and my reading it.

    Her most offputting argument for her need of a bff was that although she alarmingly ran every single little thing possible (food choices, hair and style choices, pasttime choices, etc.) by her work or long-distance actual bffs via text/phone/email before taking action, a la a 12-year-old girl--truly, I wanted to bang my head against the wall over this--she needed someone she could go to brunch with. Spoiler alert: she's already going to brunch regularly with combinations of the many beloved friends and family members above, according to her.

    The interspersed studies and stats about friendship were jarring but ultimately skimmable.

    Lots of negatives. And YET. Something about the various adventures she purposely goes on and her "say yes" attitude and its results was extremely compelling. I really became invested in the search and the story and blew through this. The exploration of what make up a friendship and what affects compatibility was really fun.

  • K

    Although I think this book would have worked better condensed into a long article, with only the most interesting anecdotes and insights and no filler, I still found it undemanding, mostly enjoyable, and occasionally provocative -- kind of like a good friend.

    Rachel Bertsche, a newcomer to Chicago, felt isolated and friendless. Too old to meet people at college, too young to meet them at Mommy & Me or preschool gatherings, there was simply no natural way for her to make friends in her new ci

    Although I think this book would have worked better condensed into a long article, with only the most interesting anecdotes and insights and no filler, I still found it undemanding, mostly enjoyable, and occasionally provocative -- kind of like a good friend.

    Rachel Bertsche, a newcomer to Chicago, felt isolated and friendless. Too old to meet people at college, too young to meet them at Mommy & Me or preschool gatherings, there was simply no natural way for her to make friends in her new city. As a relative newcomer to my current place I can certainly relate, although admittedly Rachel seems to have a lot more time than I have (no kids) which may have made her more motivated to actively seek friendships. Rachel did something quite original and brave in my opinion. The way an anxious single might determinedly pursue a variety of avenues for meeting random guys in search of "The One," Rachel decided to go through all sorts of contortions -- friends of friends, websites, all kinds of networking ideas -- to meet 52 different new women over the course of a year in the hope that at least one might fill the role of "BFF."

    I admired Rachel's courage, which was part of what kept me reading. As Rachel points out, people understand if you're direct about being single and wanting to meet the love of your life, but they're far less forgiving if you openly state that you're looking to make friends. What kind of a loser doesn't already have friends? What kind of a loser is so desperate that she would put herself out there like that? To her surprise, Rachel finds that the vast majority of women she meets are not losers, and tend to be just as open as she is to the possibility of making a new friend even if the chemistry with Rachel herself doesn't quite work. Her quest proves successful and enlightening as she comes away with some solid new friendships, even if she also realizes that becoming a BFF is a longer and more complex process. Throughout, Rachel shares some interesting ideas about friendship that she picks up both from her reading and from her own experience.

    As I said, the book was a little too long for me and is really a 3-star read; I couldn't see giving it more stars. I wish I had found it on audio, because I think I would have appreciated it more as a diversion during monotonous tasks than as a read I actually had to sit down with. But it was certainly pleasant, and made me think a little more about my own social relationships.

  • CB

    More cons than pros. Here's my dish:

    I really wanted to like this book. I even read the whole thing to try to like this book. But honestly, by the half-way point I began to realize there wasn't going to be a twist, a learning, a climax for our author. The formula - find a girl date, provide a quick headline from friendshipology studies, go on girl date, and proclaim 'girlfriend love' or 'we just didn't click' - was followed unwaveringly throughout. Like 52 times!

    I also must say, it got really an

    More cons than pros. Here's my dish:

    I really wanted to like this book. I even read the whole thing to try to like this book. But honestly, by the half-way point I began to realize there wasn't going to be a twist, a learning, a climax for our author. The formula - find a girl date, provide a quick headline from friendshipology studies, go on girl date, and proclaim 'girlfriend love' or 'we just didn't click' - was followed unwaveringly throughout. Like 52 times!

    I also must say, it got really annoying how on the one hand, our fearless author was filling her weekly calendar with brunches, lunches, drinks, dinners, cookie parties, book clubs, mani-pedis and much girl-talk, whilst proclaiming (or, actually, whining), 'But none of these girls is yet my BFF!!!' Seriously? You just met them! And it sounds like you're really getting to know them.

    All that said, I did give two stars vs. one. I did actually finish it and it was a quick read. I also applaud the author for her honesty and the creative idea. Finding new friends as an adult is tricky and she highlights something we don't discuss often -- people are fine saying they need a significant other but loathe to admit they need a friend. Unfortunately, the execution just fizzled for me (by the time of the paid date, our author was really scraping the bottom of the barrel).

    Better books await, I'm sure!

  • Jen

    Four years ago I set out on a quest much like the author's - after graduation most of my friends had either moved for work or returned home and I'd been happy to be friends with my boyfriend and his pals. When we broke up, I set out to make some new connections by various means - the most successful being setting up a social group for solo gig goers to meet up and go to concerts together. Through this I've made several friends who are I hope "lifers" (as Bertsche calls them).

    Therefore, when I r

    Four years ago I set out on a quest much like the author's - after graduation most of my friends had either moved for work or returned home and I'd been happy to be friends with my boyfriend and his pals. When we broke up, I set out to make some new connections by various means - the most successful being setting up a social group for solo gig goers to meet up and go to concerts together. Through this I've made several friends who are I hope "lifers" (as Bertsche calls them).

    Therefore, when I read the description of this book I was interested and was looking forward to seeing how the author's tale compared to mine. However, what I found was a very mixed bag.

    So, first of all, the good. Much I could relate to, the nerves, the excitement, the comparisons to dating, and especially her finding that people don't look at you like you're a loony when you try to befriend them but are actually receptive and welcoming. I liked the optimism and it was a timely reminder that I need to nurture the friendships I've found and make more of an effort to maintain them.

    As for the bad, whilst I found the findings from scientific research interesting and some of the tips helpful, as a psychology student I found it frustrating that none of these were referenced in footnotes, which made me question their veracity.

    And the ugly? What I didn't like *at all*, were the sweeping generalisations about what women are like, what men are like, the implication that women have to have female rather than male friends (unless of course gay males), and the bizarre claim that your partner cannot be your best friend!

    In the end, I'm glad I stuck it out and read it all, as it's definitely made me think about my relationships and made me want to put more effort in, and as such has been valuable. On the other hand, I never found myself warming to Bartsche and on the basis of the stereotypes she espouses (which made me want to hurl the book across the room) I cannot recommend this book or say I enjoyed it.

  • Kitty Frye

    I think this might have made a good essay but when Rachel decided to go on 52 "friend dates" in an effort to find a new BFF, I don't think she needed to describe each one in detail. I gave up after the first dozen and felt like I probably wasn't missing anything life changing in the rest of the book. For one thing, I couldn't relate to her at all. She has every evening and weekend free to eat sushi and do yoga with potential BFFs. For me, I struggle to find an hour for myself and when I do I act

    I think this might have made a good essay but when Rachel decided to go on 52 "friend dates" in an effort to find a new BFF, I don't think she needed to describe each one in detail. I gave up after the first dozen and felt like I probably wasn't missing anything life changing in the rest of the book. For one thing, I couldn't relate to her at all. She has every evening and weekend free to eat sushi and do yoga with potential BFFs. For me, I struggle to find an hour for myself and when I do I actually like hanging out with my hubby, something that didn't seem too important to her. Even though I couldn't identify with her the story may have been interesting if I could have had even a little sympathy for her. She's happily married, has strong lifetime friendships (even though they may be far away), gets along great with a group of coworkers, and is outgoing enough to come up with a new friend date every week. What's she complaining about? Now a quest to find a friend written by a genuinely lonely, introverted person... THAT would be interesting.

  • Emma Sea

    The book left me cold. This is one of those 'turn-my-blog-into-a-best-seller' books. The author worked in publishing, and it's pretty clear she thought this project up as a stepping-stone to getting a book deal, rather than something she did out of genuine passion, which just happened to take off.

    I thought I'd enjoy this from an ethnographic pov. The author is an NY private school, summer camp, sorority-joining kind of woman, and I am not. Sadly the novelty wore off pretty quickly, and I skimme

    The book left me cold. This is one of those 'turn-my-blog-into-a-best-seller' books. The author worked in publishing, and it's pretty clear she thought this project up as a stepping-stone to getting a book deal, rather than something she did out of genuine passion, which just happened to take off.

    I thought I'd enjoy this from an ethnographic pov. The author is an NY private school, summer camp, sorority-joining kind of woman, and I am not. Sadly the novelty wore off pretty quickly, and I skimmed a lot of the book.

    What really got my goat was that Bertsche makes these gross generalisations that women want

    out of friendship, and men want

    , completely different, thing. In the same book that she mentions a gay male BFF. QED gay men are not men??

    Apparently all women need:

    (p. xiv)

    Try to

    your potential purchases with me and I'll snag that bottle of Pinot Gris and decamp to find someone who doesn't obsess over consumer items.

    She needs a friend because:

    As I don't do GIFs please bring to mind a suitable mental picture of your own choice here.

    She's a grown women who, in all seriousness, states,

    (p. 227)

    The most interesting person in the book was the guy she yukked at incredulously, who asked a date, "If Europe were an animal, what animal would it be." That beats the minutiae of BCBG handbags any day.

    Some of the aspects of Bertsche's project were fun to read about, in that they represent the social cues and rules of a very particular subculture. A coworker and potential new friend texts her, "

    ."

    Bertsche's reaction:

    Instead, she makes up errands she has to do first, that "

    ."

    Bertsche does make lots of good points about making friends as an adult: accept invitations, try new activities, engage in conversation if someone else initiates it, etc. But clearly I'm not the kind of woman she'd want to be friends with. I'm completely OK with that :)

  • Jennifer

    I picked up this book as I thought it would be interesting and something I would like. A lot of people complain about how hard it is to make friends in my city so I thought it would be fun to see what someone else does to make a new bff. Well...I just couldn't take the author. She was SO desperate and rediculous that I had a hard time reading it. I was read my husband sections like listen to this?!? Apparently he cannot be my best friends because then who do I complain about him to? Makes sense

    I picked up this book as I thought it would be interesting and something I would like. A lot of people complain about how hard it is to make friends in my city so I thought it would be fun to see what someone else does to make a new bff. Well...I just couldn't take the author. She was SO desperate and rediculous that I had a hard time reading it. I was read my husband sections like listen to this?!? Apparently he cannot be my best friends because then who do I complain about him to? Makes sense to me...I don't know. I kept wondering why this lady would ever write this book - I think it makes her look so needy. Maybe it is that I don't have a female bff, maybe it is that I don't need anyone to complain about my husband to because I don't have anything to complain about, maybe it is because my husband is by bff and we spend a lot of time together (more so than other people from what I gather) and I never get tired of that or need space, maybe it is because I have never really had a lot of female friends but I just don't get the authors mindset. I do not have any friends who I call up on Sun and say hey what are we doing today? There was just so much that blew me away then made me think are other people really like this??? If so I do find it kind of sad...I don't know. I just didn't get it.

  • Catherine

    I'm sorry. I cannot take one more "I'm so bored with my pampered little life that I'm going to do ________ for a year and journal about it even though I can't write my way out of a paper bag some idiot will publish it and I'll laugh all the way to the bank."

    On second thought, please look for my upcoming book entitled "My Year of Trying to Pimp a Book: How I wrote a book in a week, pretended it took a year and chronicled every last minutiae of detail regarding my boring-ass, spoiled suburban life

    I'm sorry. I cannot take one more "I'm so bored with my pampered little life that I'm going to do ________ for a year and journal about it even though I can't write my way out of a paper bag some idiot will publish it and I'll laugh all the way to the bank."

    On second thought, please look for my upcoming book entitled "My Year of Trying to Pimp a Book: How I wrote a book in a week, pretended it took a year and chronicled every last minutiae of detail regarding my boring-ass, spoiled suburban life. "

    Be sure to buy two.

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