To what lengths would you go to find a new best friend?
Making a new friend as an adult is different than as a kid. I’ve done it. I’m glad I have. It’s rewarding.
But making a new adult friend doesn’t always come naturally or easily. Neither does keeping one. And especially not a best friend.
This week’s theme for #NonfictionNovember is Stranger Than Fiction. Visit the linkup at at Christopher’s blog for more recommendations on nonfiction books that almost don’t seem real.
Here’s the book I’m recommending that almost doesn’t seem real:
MWF Seeking BFF
My Yearlong Search For A New Best Friend
by Rachel Bertsche
The author Rachel is a MWF (Married, White, Female) who moved to Chicago, leaving her friends behind in New York City. She was lonely in her new city. She knew she had to do something.
“Popular culture has made it okay to yell ‘I want a man!’ from the rooftops, so why are we still embarrassed to say, ‘I want a best friend’?”
She formed a plan: make 52 friend dates, one per week for a year, to find her new BFF (Best Friend Forever).
“I was nervous everyone would think I was either really pathetic or really annoying, but so far they’re mostly flattered. People want friends, they’re just embarrassed to ask for them.”
Personally, I could never do this project. I’m not made for it. I lack the emotional, mental, and physical energy for a scheme this outlandish. I’d just stay lonely if this were my only option.
Maybe that’s why this book was so intriguing to me. How could someone actually do this???
But Rachel does it. She seeks out 52 people to spend time with in 52 situations. She creates a spreadsheet to keep track.
She learns things along the way about friendship from her encounters. She shares those insights in her book.
Thankfully, we can glean from her insights about making and keeping friends without taking on a challenge like hers.
4 Keys to Make and Keep a BFF
Here are 4 lessons you can glean from Rachel’s year-long experiment to find her new BFF.
1. TELL SOMETHING PERSONAL
“Friendship intimacy starts with self-disclosure—sharing personal information you wouldn’t tell just anyone—and reciprocity, meaning if you tell her your secrets, she better tell you hers.”
To get closer when making a new friend, be vulnerable in sharing your stories. And invite your new friend to share her stories, too. (Granted, until you know who you can trust, don’t start with your deepest, darkest secrets.)
[Read my thoughts here: The Two Things Your Friendships Need to Survive]
2. GIVE SUPPORT
But just swapping secrets isn’t the point. When I’m vulnerable in conversations, I want appropriate responses and interaction. I appreciate friends who believe in me and say so. And vice versa.
Rachel says true friends aren’t just two people talking side by side in parallel monologues. They participate in a dialogue. Don’t just listen to each other; provide support.
3. SHOW UP IN PERSON
I know we introverts or you busy-busy-people like to just type words on a screen. That’s fine for the in-between times when we can’t get together, but typed words usually can’t carry the weight of a true friendship. Face to face is best.
But when you can’t meet in person, consider this hierarchy: Phoning with video (Facetime, Zoom, Skype, etc.) is better than phoning with only voice, but even a voice call is better than texting (Rachel’s advice from John Cacioppo).
In person > Video call > Voice call > Text/email > Silence
This has proven true for me especially this year as I navigate a rough season of life.
4. MAKE THE TIME
It’s tempting to offer “Let’s do lunch!” to lots of people. But unless you have the time/motivation to pick a time and follow through, you may be hurting more than helping your friendships by an empty promise.
Be realistic. We don’t have time to be best friends with everybody. We have to prioritize.
“Friendship brings responsibilities and obligations. If you’re tending too many, you may not have time to get really close to any of them.”
Rachel says if there’s one single factor that can turn a potential BFF into a real BFF, it’s consistency. We consistently make time for those we care the most about.
Rachel’s adventures on her friend-dates in this book are amusing. But her entertaining stories aren’t just fluff.
Making and keeping friends (whether good friends or best friends) can change your life.
Of the 4 keys (1-Get personal, 2-Be supportive, 3-Show up, 4-Make time), which is easiest for you in friendships? Which one is hardest? What would you add to the list? Share in the comments.
More Book Recommendations on Friendships:
- Plays Well with Others: The Surprising Science Behind Why Everything You Know About Relationships Is (Mostly) Wrong by Eric Barker
This book contains MUCH helpful and scientifically-based information on relationships of all kinds, written in a very relational and easy-to-read format.
- Share Your Stuff. I’ll Go First by Share Your Stuff. I’ll Go First.: 10 Questions to Take Your Friendships to the Next Level by Laura Tremaine
My book club recently finished this book together. It gave us lots of conversation starters and paths into sharing more details about our lives. We learned new things about everyone.
- The Dance of Connection: How to Talk to Someone When You’re Mad, Hurt, Scared, Frustrated, Insulted, Betrayed, or Desperate by Harriet Lerner
This is a great book on encouraging you to use your voice. Without meaningful conversations, relationships can’t grow.
- The End Is Where We Start Again
- Release Your Perspective as the Only One