MWF Seeking BFF: My Year Long Search for a New Best Friend by Rachel Bertsche
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Cannonball Read V: MWF Seeking BFF: My Year Long Search for a New Best Friend by Rachel Bertsche

By HelloKatieO | Book Reviews | March 8, 2013 | Comments ()


So MWF Seeking BFF: My Yearlong Search for a New Best Friend was kind of an awesome read. There is so much advice out there about all the crap you deal with in your twenties - starting a career, finding a life partner, getting married, having kids, etc. There is almost no advice about what, at least for me, is arguably the hardest - making friends. In high school and college, you're forced to spend time with (or live with) people, and all that forced togetherness usually breeds friendships. As an adult, outside of work, there's no forced togetherness. I'm on my own, and at a bar or happy hour, I'm much more likely to be approached by a guy than a girl looking for a friend.

The hardest part about graduating college for me was the crushing loneliness I felt when my friends scattered across the country. Bertsche felt the same thing when she moved to Chicago with her husband. She had close girlfriends from high school and college, but they didn't live in her city. She needed friends she could physically hang out with on the weekends, not friends who were a gHangout or phone call away.

This book doesn't provide you with a novel blueprint for making friends. Bertsche basically repeats the same advice that I've heard over and over. That advice is fairly simple:

  • Ask your friends who don't live in your city to set you up on friend dates with their friends who do.
  • Say yes to everything when people invite you, even if you don't want to go. You never know who you'll meet.
  • When you meet someone you think is fun, or friendly, ask for their number and offer to hang out sometime. They will NOT be weirded out, they will most likely be happy that they've made a new friend.
  • Follow up with people if you want to keep hanging out with them. Many people will not follow up with you, even if they want to hang out. Following up 1-2 times is to be expected, you won't come off as creepy.
  • Join an activity, or club, or sport, or something that you like, and go alone. It forces you to talk to new people.

But this book does something that is novel. What Bertsche does is write about all the awkwardness and weirdness that comes from executing that advice. She writes about how terrified she was to strike up a conversation with someone at a party where she knew no one. She writes about how she goes on dud friend dates, where they have nothing in common and thus have long periods of awkward silence. She writes about how you feel like a failure, and kind of lame, when you ask people to set you up on friend dates - because it's like an admission no one wants to be your friend. She writes about the insecurity that many women feel - "why would she want to be my friend, she probably already has friends."

Basically, it's like she's done the hard part. She writes about the insecurity you feel when trying to make new friendships, and then explains why it's totally irrational. It made me feel like I could actually do this. I could get a girl's number, or go to a class where I know no one, and turn someone into a friend. And that confidence boost is what most people need. It's what I needed.

*Caveat: I've read a bunch of criticisms of this book that I think are unfair. Many people disliked this book because Bertsche had friends prior to writing it, they just didn't live in her city. If you read this book, in my opinion, it's apparent that Bertsche is what I'd call an outgoing introvert. She's friendly when she's meeting people, but she'd prefer to be at home watching television or reading. Which makes it easy for most personality types to relate to her. And I think her advice works for anyone, regardless of whether they have 50 friends living in their city but like to meet new people, no friends living in their city, or no friends at all.

This review is part of the volunteer Cannonball Read V. Read all about it, and for more of hellokatieo's reviews, check out her blog, Book It..

(Note: Any revenue generated from purchases made through the affiliate links in this review will be donated in entirety to the American Cancer Society.)

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Comments Are Welcome, Bigots and Trolls Are Not

  • Dogteeth

    I've moved cities 3 times in 7 years, so take this as hard-earned wisdom from a former loner who now has lots of awesome pals despite her nerdy self:

    - Facebook (and/or twitter, pinterest etc but FB is best for this) - make a fake profile with a silly name & picture, stick your neighbourhood name in, look at local events and pages to get an idea of what's out there. Stuff that you interact with people - volunteerting, making things, discussion groups - is usually better than just being an audience member.

    - Don't dismiss going to something just because it seems dorktastic/too hipster/etc. People can surprise you, so drop your preconceptions.

    - Be nice. Don't try to be the smartest, wittiest, snarkiest, buying-the-most-drinks-est, drinking-the-most-drinks-est, person there. Be pleasant, brush up on some basic etiquette skills ahead of time if you're shy or feel awkward (Miss Manners et al were designed for the shy and awkward). Don't twiddle with your phone when someone's talking to you. Don't talk over people. Don't slag off whatever they're passionate about for a cheap laugh. Smile. I don't mean put up with unwanted sexual advances or act submissively or dumb, let me add, just radiate friendliness and be more positive than negative.

  • Weedarkone

    Great review. And it sounds like a great book.
    I moved to the Philly suburbs 10 yrs ago with my then fiance (now husband). While i was friendly with my coworkers, once i left the jobs, the friendships ended, as well. Now i work from home, and the friends i do have either are too busy with their kids or live far away. I recently took up taekwondo and started making new friends. But i often have that same feeling--will people think im weird bc im 40 and dont have friends? Am i being pushy by trying to be friends with people? Eventually, i threw caution to the wind and figured, nothing ventured, nothing gained! I now have some new friends, and a thrilled about it!

  • michaelceratops

    I need this book pronto - I've lived in Portland for 2 years and my only friends are co-workers, which isn't always the best. This sounds just like the predicament that I'm in

  • AM

    Portland seems to be filled with people I'd like to be friends with but can't seem to connect to... I'm starting to think, after a year and a half here, that the problem is the people I'm meeting are too much like me and we're all more-than-kinda introverted, a little awkward and kind of shy. Alcohol helps but I was pregnant most of the past year so that really made things hard. Anyway, I think that's why there's such a drinking culture here. Us shy white people NEED alcohol in order to dance, socialize, get outside and make the sex!

  • I think this sounds like a great read, I have been trying to make more friends off and on for quite some time. It is hard because I had become close friends with my ex husband's friends and then after the divorce there weren't a lot of people left on my side. Also I had my son at 23, so trying to meet other parent friends is hard because of the age difference with most parents. I have put myself out there, and been on some awkward friend dates, but I find that the following up to be hard as my life is pretty busy. But I keep trying.

  • HelloKatieO

    Good luck with your friend search! I just wanted to mention something about the being a young parent thing. My mom was also young when she had me (22) and instead of letting the age gap be a barrier, she just befriended the other moms even though they were older than her.

    20 years later, she still has book club and plays tennis with those women who are now approaching retirement (early 60s) while she isn't even 50 yet. So sometimes a common interest (reading, tennis, etc) can trump an age gap.

  • That's a great point!

  • Cazadora

    You think it's hard in your 20's/30's -- just wait until you are in your 50's. Especially if you decided to not get married and/or have children. The group of women that you have something in common with becomes so miniscule as most women that age are focused on kids and even grandkids.

    And I just refuse to wear a purple hat.

  • Are you me from the future?

  • Cazadora

    Maybe...speaking from the future I can tell you that aside from the friend issue, there is definate upside to the lifestyle. You can be incredibly mobile, date much younger men and be, overall much better off financially.

  • If you're dating men, then you're definitely not me. That will not, however, prevent me from heeding words from the future.

  • tmoney

    Thanks for this! I just moved to the middle of nowhere, Montana, and I have just my husband at the moment. Everyone I work with is 10-15 years older, I'm happy to hang out at home, and I'm struggling to meet people. I'll be picking this book up asap.

  • Teresa G

    Terrific review! If you don't work or join playgroups (if you're a parent), it can be very hard to make friends as an adult (and even then, I know it's still difficult). I used to joke about putting out ads in the paper that are pretty much like the title of this book.

  • Mrs. Julien

    "...outgoing introvert. She’s friendly when she’s meeting people, but she’d prefer to be at home watching television or reading. "

    Ding ding ding! I spent 5 years in Vancouver and I LOVED it there but I had too few friends (1) and no real community. I did try, but not very efficiently to make friends and join activities, but, in Vancouver, it seemed like unless you played ultimate frisbee or beach volleyball you were SOL. I needed a book like this then.

  • Too bad you are not still here or we could hang ;)

  • Kballs

    Alcohol. That's how I make friends. Go to a party, have a few drinks, make new friends, and (this is the most important part) commit that night to future interactions. Plan to play basketball or carpool to your kids' stuff or something. Don't let that sweet drunk talk go to waste.


    Beer and poker. Either that or beer and football. That's how I found 95% of my male friendships. And a good 40% of my chick friendships.

  • Kballs

    Bingo! Football, poker and neighborhood parties. And most of these people are parents of young children like me, so we're all basically the same brain dead human beings.

  • LurkeyTurkey

    Thanks for this. I just moved to Chi-town with my husband and know nary a soul here. I'll be picking this up! (Does it come with an instant friend?). :)

  • lilianna28

    It could... what neighborhood?
    Pajiba friend dates for everyone.

  • LurkeyTurkey

    Lincoln Park? The place, not the twee-band. And I think that one is spelled weird. The way you would spell it if you blamed your parents for everything wrong in your life, and you are 30.

  • jennp421

    I live three hours away. We could be friends. Also, I know there is at least one Pajiban in that area.

  • LurkeyTurkey

    Let's be friends! I trust the power of Pajibans.

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