Tuesday, January 8th, 2013 | Posted under People I Find Fascinating
Making friends is one of the hardest things about being an adult. That’s because there aren’t really any cultural guidebooks about how to go about making friends. Growing up, we made friends because we were in close proximity to the same people in the same age range, day after day. Friendships were borne naturally but now as adults, it’s almost like starting over, especially if you’re like me and have moved 3,000 miles away from everyone you know.
When I first glimpsed a preview of Rachel Bertsche’s book MWF Seeking BFF in an issue of O magazine, I knew that this was a book I needed to read! I was married and had no best friend. I immediately purchased it when it came out and swallowed it in a weekend. I felt a kinship to Rachel because we both moved to a new area to be with a significant other (her, Chicago; me, Westchester, NY) and we both struggled to meet new people. Although I never took up her 52 dates ideas, I have tried to broaden my approach to meeting people as much as possible, with church, meet-up groups, Junior League, and even connecting with friends of friends.
I’m lucky enough to feature Rachel today in my series, People I Find Fascinating, and three of my readers will be lucky enough to win a copy of her book! So check out the interview and then enter to win below!
An Interview with Rachel Bertsche
RB) All is great! I’ve tried to slow down my new-friend making in favor of really building up the friendships I made during the year of friending. But of course, I’ve gotten so used to approaching potential new friends that I certainly have met some great new pals even since my official search was over. I’ve become one of those people who approaches everyone! And I’m excited to say that a great many of the friendships I made while writing MWF Seeking BFF have become even closer. My cooking club group (which doesn’t cook so much any more as get together and gossip and drink wine) recently took a weekend trip together, and also took a flying trapeze class! It’s fun to have new friends who want to go on adventures with me!
When you were friend-dating, you devoted a lot of time and money to it. What are some more manageable ways for people looking to make friends?
Certainly it’s not necessary to go on one friend date a week. Once or twice a month is more than enough to make a handful of great new friends. Someone once told me that seeing someone twice a month for three months will turn them into a friend, and I believe that. It’s a good rule of thumb, I think. As for money, it’s true that I spent a lot — I was going on multiple friend-dates a week, and so many of them involved restaurants! Of course, there are far less expensive ways to make friends. During good weather, going for walks is a great activity. Or cooking dinner for a friend, rather than going out and eating, can save a lot of money. These days, there are so many fun and free public events—concerts, movies in the park, picnics, –that it’s really not necessary to spend a lot of money on pals. All that matters is that you share some face-to-face time and good conversation.
One theme in my blog is having faith, whether that’s in yourself, in others, in God, etc. Making new friends means having faith that putting yourself out there is worth it. How do you boost your faith that a friend-date, activity, meet-up is worth it when you might just want to stay home with a good book?
It can be really hard!! Especially on those nights when the couch feels so alluring. But I try to remember that I always feel better after a good friend-date. Sure, if one doesn’t go well it can be tough. But that doesn’t happen often, and when it does it’s only an hour or so out of your life. Your couch and that book or TV show will still be there when you get back. When a friend-date goes well, you’ll leave feeling rejuvenated and excited and happy. No matter how tired I am when I leave for a friend-date, I never regret the decision to go.
What qualities do you value in a good friend?
There are so many — and it’s different for everyone. Some friends I adore because they are loyal, they are a great shoulder to cry on, and they check in whenever they know I’m going through a hard time. Others I love because they make me laugh, or they keep me on my toes and encourage me to try new things, or they are always up for an activity when I call with an invitation. What’s great about friendship is that one can have so many different friends, so no one person has to fill an entire checklist of requirements. Of course, I think across the board my closest friends do have some things in common — they are kind, can be silly, they are thoughtful, trustworthy, and reliable. Most of my friends don’t take life too seriously, and I appreciate that. I have a lot of trouble being around people who are negative all the time as well, so I value positivity.
What do you think is the biggest hurdle young women have in keeping friends – especially friends from childhood and college – and what can we do to overcome it?
Our busy busy lives are the biggest hurdle. As we grow older, we start jobs and careers, romantic relationships and eventually families, and all these aspects of our lives take time away from friendship. As these needs demand more of our time, women often start to believe that friendship is a luxury rather than a necessity, so while we make time for the gym, we may think it’s selfish to make time for friendship. It can feel self-indulgent. But the truth is that strong friendships are as vital to women’s health as exercising, and as key to our happiness as strong families and careers. Women need to start putting time with friends on the to-do list, and stop treating it like an extra only to be fit in when there is time.
How do you make time for both your friendships and your marriage?
Well there are seven days in the week! People are often shocked that I spent 2 or 3 nights a week with friends during my year of friending, but that still left 4 or 5 evening a week with my husband. That’s a lot of time! It can be dangerous for a marriage to spend all your time together and block out the rest of the world. When couples put all their energy into each other, and don’t foster relationships outside the marriage, research shows that can be ultimately damaging and even lead to divorce. It’s a danger to try to make your husband your one and only BFF. We need girlfriends too. Men need guy friends. If you both understand that, and don’t take it personally when you decide to split for an evening to hang out with friends, your marriage will be stronger for it.
Can you share a little bit more about the new project you’re working on?
I’m working on a book about celebrity obsession and perfectionism. It investigates the concept that we all see pictures of celebrities in tabloid, like those Stars! They’re Just Like Us! photos, and we think that if only we were more like Jennifer, or Gwyneth, or Heidi, our lives would be more perfect and in control. We think we’d be happier if only we were a bit more like our favorite megastars. So I’m trying to emulate some of the things the stars do to really look at whether it does indeed make my life better and more fabulous and, ultimately, happier.
Three winners will be chosen and announced in this week’s Friday Finds!
*FCC Disclosure: Copies of MWF Seeking BFF provided by Random House*