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MWF Seeking BFF: My Yearlong Search for a New Best Friend, Rachael Bertsche

2012/10/24

There have been some articles published recently about the difficulty that some young adults have in making lasting friendships post-college. Books like the seminal “Bowling Alone” and the recent “Going Solo” have been written about the increased isolation of Americans due to lack of community involvement, screen time, online social interaction in place of face-to-face communication, and so on. In this memoir, newly married Rachel, recently moved to Chicago and missing her NYC friends, decides to devote a year to seeking out new friends, planning on a “girl-date” a week in the hopes of finding a new BFF.

Rachel faithfully relates each of her fifty-two dates, as well as her follow-up attempts and some of her more successful connections. She tries many methods, ranging from “friend-of-a-friend” to blind “girl-dates,” speed friending, and rent-a-friends. In between her adventures, she examines some of the research on relationships and connections, including Dunbar’s number, the aforementioned “Bowling Alone,” and studies on women’s friendships.

One of the interesting things that happens over the course of Rachel’s year is her change in attitude towards situations in which she meets strangers; a position of openness rather than defensiveness or closedness. Although there are days where she needs to step back and recharge in her personal time or with her husband, Rachel notices that strangers are more open and friendly in response to her willingness to be friendly. She also learns about what it means to her to have friendships as an adult, and that perhaps having a drop-everything-come-over-in-thirty-minutes friendship is not something that she is willing to invest in and reciprocate, even if she would like to have a friend who would do that for her. As an introvert who has many acquaintances, a good number of casual friends, but very few close friends or “lifers,” this book gave me a lot to think about in regards to forming and keeping friendships.

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