In MWF Seeking BFF, one woman learns that making new friends doesn’t have to be as hard as it seems.Making friends as an adult — sans sandbox, camp bunk or classroom — can be a challenge.
Journalist Rachel Bertsche found that out the hard way when she moved from New York to Chicago to be with her fiancé. Twenty-seven years old and with no friends in her adopted city, she set a goal for herself: 52 “girl dates” in as many weeks. But, as she documents in her new book, MWF Seeking BFF: My Yearlong Search for a New Best Friend (Ballantine, $15), making friends is an act of skill, courage, affability — and sometimes just plain luck.
“Some people you click with, some you don’t,” Bertsche tells American Way. “Some people you just have that special thing with — like, ‘Oh my God, you’re my best friend.’ ”
Bertsche began picking up potential pals first through friends and school associations, and then on her own — at book clubs, cooking groups, comedy improv classes, online and even at a restaurant, leaving her number on the check for her server. She documented each encounter, changing all names and identifying details. But it was difficult to shake the feeling that something was wrong with her: Surely other people didn’t have as much trouble making friends as she did.
“When I first thought about writing the book, I thought, ‘No, I can’t do that, it’s too embarrassing,’ ” she says. “I was worried that saying I’m here to be your friend is unacceptable and that they’ll think I’m weird or creepy or hitting on them.”
What she learned, however, is that most people are open to new friendships, and her journey to this realization feels relatable and utterly human. Bertsche’s natural voice and easy, honest prose may leave readers wanting to befriend the first-time author themselves. And for her part, Bertsche wouldn’t be opposed; though her experiment wrapped more than a year ago, meeting new buddies has become a way of life.
“In fact,” she says with a laugh, “I just had lunch the other day with a woman I picked up at her own author reading.”