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 girl talk over brunch or a reality-TV marathon over a bottle of wine. Taking matters into her own hands, Bertsche develops a plan: Meeting people everywhere from improv class to friend rental websites, she'll go on fifty-two friend-dates, one per week for a year, in hopes of meeting her new Best Friend Forever.
I felt an uncanny connection to MWF Seeking BFF: My Yearlong Search for a New Best Friend. Not just because I graduated from NU the same year as the author (I suspect we have some mutual friends), among other on-paper similarities, but because I've sometimes felt a lack of local close friends since moving to NYC. Rachel Bertsche posits a "second city" problem with post-collegiate friend-making, and I think she's on to something. In my first post-college city, Chicago, I met lots of similarly-aged people through my entry-level job, had a slew of college friends in the area, and my sister was close by. When I moved to NYC with my now-husband, it got a lot harder to meet new people and make new friends. People are busy . . . and so was/am I. (There is nothing like grad school to suck the socialization right out of you.) Plus, I've learned that the downside to friendship in your twenties is that people have a tendency to move away for work/love/the suburbs/grad school/etc. This seems especially true in NYC. I have a full life and a great relationship, and I talk to my out-of-state friends and family all the time. I'm certainly far from friendless, and that includes locally. Still, occasionally I miss having a friend I can call at 4:13 on a Sunday and say, "Wanna go for an aimless walk with me?"
That said, I don't think I'm in the market for a new "BFF" the way I used to define it--an inseparable, we-hang-out-every-day-and-talk-on-the-phone-too friend. Friendship needs evolve as we grow up and into different stages of life. Bertsche discovers that as she takes on fifty-two friend dates in one year--her first year of marriage, nonetheless. But like a lot of people, I would welcome having more friends; you can never have too many. (Well, actually you max out at sustaining 150 relationships, according to research that Bertsche cites. The sociological/psychological research on friendship that she weaves into the narrative is very interesting.) I took notes as I breezed through the book (it's a really fun read), and this fall I'll start trying Bertsche's tips to branch out a little.
(And if you are in NYC and stumbled across this post, feel free to say hi in the comments. I won't think you're weird. If I learned anything from this book, it's that you have to put yourself out there and take some risks if you want to make new friends.)