Feeling thoughtful about friendship

I just finished a book called “MWF seeking BFF” by Rachel Bertsche – a book I probably wouldn’t have read had it not popped up on the welcome page of the Tassie library ebook system. I’m not sure how to categorise it – pop-sociology? frienship-memoir? but it is quite different from the normal range of escapist fantasy and professional reading I spend time on.

The author, in her late twenties, is happily married, has a good job, and is lonely. She doesn’t have any best friends in Chicago where they live – her besties are mostly in New York, her hometown. So she decides that her project for the new year will be to go forth and make friends. The book is the story of her journey, from the very early days of asking friends to set her up, through joining different bookclubs, improv classes, meetups, paid introduction services and many other ways to meet people, until at the end of the year she has had so much practice that she is willing to ask someone out on a “girl-date” after just one meeting. Throughout the book she also builds in research she does on friendships, from identifying types and levels of friendship through to the Dunbar number – the number of reasonably close friends people can claim.  

This book was really interesting, not because I could see myself being besties with the author (I don’t htink we have much in common, really) but because I understand the desperate desire for friends, and the decision to do something about it. Moving here, the hardest part was knowing no-one, so I joined a playgroup and a women’s gym, and those efforts helped. Starting work was good too, and going to watch Craig’s hockey game, or going to our children’s school events. These were all ways to meet people that fitted into our lives fairly well. 

Two and a half years back from HK, and I still don’t have any really close friends in the same city – plenty of work friends and knitting friends, fellow soccer and hockey parents, but I don’t think I have anyone I’d class as  shopping girlfriends. This is not “poor little me” btw, just the process of reflection! Talking to my mum about this, she pointed out that we (the family) are really very busy with everyday life, and she’s right: it’s not as if I sit at home languishing on my chaiselongue in deep depression over my solitary state!! What really strikes me is the truth of Rachel Bertsche’s observation that making friends takes effort: actively looking out for people you’d like to be friends with, and then following through, scheduling times to meet up. Can I do that? Is life too busy? I don’t like going out to pubs and things, too noisy to have a proper conversation, but there isn’t time for a post-work cuppa on the average weekday, and weekends have so many sporting commitments it is a little daunting to contemplate trying to fit anything else in.

Anyway, this book was interesting, and prompted some thinking about ruts and getting out of them, so I am glad I borrowed something out of my usual zones!


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