In her book MWF Seeking BFF: My Yearlong Search for a New Best Friend, Rachel Bertsche describes her experience moving to Chicago when she got married, leaving her best friends behind in New York, and her unexpected finding that making friends was not easy in a new city. She identifies lots of reasons for that fact, including some that I also found when I was in a similar situation here, such as people being “from here” already having enough friends, difficulty finding people who had time for more friends, difficulty finding people who really fit well with her personality, and so on.
However, unlike me, Rachel went out and got a book deal to do a year long experiment to find a new best friend. In the book, she documents the 52 “friend dates” (she noted that finding friends is a lot like dating, at least in some ways) she went on, the friends she found, and the research she did along the way. I find experiments like this interesting.
Friendship is an interesting thing in itself, isn’t it? According to psychologists there are four major types of friendships:
- Acquaintances, who you’d chat with or meet up with casually and who give you a sense of belonging to a large group,
- Casual friends, who you would grab lunch with or who are friends in a specific sense, like someone you work out with or who you can talk to about parenting but not necessarily about everything,
- Close friends, who you trust and could say anything to, and who you could pick up where you left off with quickly,
- Lifers, who are deep friends like family.
Apparently to be happy a woman needs 10-100 acquaintances, 10-50 casual friends, 5-12 close friends, and 3-5 lifers. Studies show that having lower levels of connection affects a person’s longevity the same as smoking 15 cigarettes a day or being an alcoholic. Wow.
Along the way, Bertsche learned a lot about herself, became more confident in doing things by herself in order to meet new people, and found out that most people are way more receptive to friendly overtures than you might think. I also thought that her conclusions, while somewhat sad, had a hopeful twist. She admits that no one in her new city will likely have known her from childhood, or know how she was in college, or from before she got married, and that friendships in adulthood are often different than those from childhood. However, the friends she makes now will be her long-time friends decades from now, and those friendships will deepen in different ways that are also valuable and lasting.
While I’m not going to go out and do a 52 friend date experiment after reading this book, I did gain some insight into making friends that I hope will be helpful. If you’re interested in friendship, or are in a situation where you don’t have as many close friends as you’d like, you might also enjoy reading MWF Seeking BFF and find it useful.
Just out of curiosity, do you think the breakdown of how many of each type of friend you need statistic is accurate? Do you have best friends where you live? What has been most helpful to you in making friends in adulthood?
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