Wednesday, January 9, 2013

BFF vs. Many Casual Friends

I just finished reading a book entitled MWF Seeking BFF by Rachel Bertsche. It was about a newly wed woman who moved away from her friends in NYC and was trying to find a Chicago-based BFF. She had been in Chicago for a few years, and she knew a number of people there already but hadn't found a BFF that compared to her NYC BFFs (I apologize for all of the acronyms). Her 2010 New Year's resolution was to go on 52 "girl dates" to try to find a new BFF. In order to get to the tall order of 52 different women, she ended up writing an essay that was published online and checking out platonic "girl dating" websites (I didn't know such things existed) and even girl speed dating after tapping out her existing resources.

As I've stated through the years here, I have been off-and-on the hunt for girlfriends. I have a nice assortment of girlfriends that I can call up and go do things with - playdates with the kids, specific concerts, amusement parks (well, only one person I know likes to spin upside down like I do) and specific movies. But I just don't think I'm the BFF type.

I think BFF requirements are to have semi-meaningless conversations via text, phone, in person, etc. I suppose my husband is the closest thing to a BFF, but I don't even usually bore him with the minutia - unless it's entertaining.

Throughout the book, the author learned some things about herself and her relationships with women that she worked on trying to correct. For instance, the author realized she interrupted up people a lot and then switched the focus to herself. She did it to create a connection between her and the other person (look, we both did _____!), but she realized that it could be off-putting and came across as being a poor listener.

The author did cite research about women friendships and the qualities necessary for them to succeed. I assessed myself to the benchmarks and realize that my strength of the four qualities is definitely follow through. I do follow through on the plans I make & keep those commitments. Unless I'm puking or have a fever or I cannot leave my driveway due to no child care or snow/ice, I do exactly as I say I will. Unfortunately, it comes back to bite me because I get disappointed when others don't have that same follow through. My patience for excuses ("I'm tired," "I have a cough") is rather low. My additional weakness is that I'm poor at self-disclosure. When people ask me how I am, I say fine. Even if they are friends. Then they ask, "What's been going on with you?" I honestly can't remember (how far back am I supposed to go?), and I want to say to read my blog if you want to know what's up with me.  I completely suck at coming up with the Reader's Digest version of my life on the spot. Perhaps I need to rehearse a witty paragraph about the past few months of my life and say it to anyone who asks.

I'm not sure if I said it here, but this past summer one of my summer goals was to connect with 8 friends that I hadn't seen in a while. I contacted each one with the hope of doing some activity together that we mutually enjoy (mostly eating, but there was exercising with a few, going to the casino with one, going to a movie with another, etc.). All said yes, and all of the "girl dates" were fun. Some were taxing to organize because you bounced back messages approximately 102 times to nail down a specific date/time/activity. But that's how it goes sometimes.

I'm more than willing to widen my social circle. I've considered volunteering more and/or joining clubs with the side effect of hopefully meeting more people. I've orchestrated playdates with the kids I like in hopes that their parents are just as nice (they are!). But am I looking for a BFF in the traditional sense? Probably not. That's just not me.

What I really enjoy about the friends I have is that they are about as emotionally needy as I am, which is low. They, for the most part, don't do traditional BFF stuff with me. We don't go shopping or talk on the phone for hours. If they see something I will like or I see something they would like, we get it for each other or send links to upcoming events, etc. When we do get together, we do talk about feelings and thoughts and ideas - but it's usually relegated to that time we're together or maybe a few follow-ups via e-mail.

Back to the book. While the author didn't get a technical BFF by the end of the book (sorry for the spoiler), she made a lot of connections and realized that she and these fellow women connected over various different things, and each one was a unique relationship that may or may not last over the long run.

One thing I found very refreshing was how annoyed the author was at flaky people who change their plans 34 times, often with vague excuses. I wanted to say, "Amen, Sister!" to that.  She and I both scored high on follow through.


Tammy Herrin said...

*SIGH* I feel like such a loser admitting that I've been on lookout for a new BBF for a year or so. Although, I don't have near enough free time or desire to go to THOSE lengths. It always seems like either I'm too clingy/available for them or they're too clingy/available for me. The closest I've gotten as of late is a co-worker but I have to sensor my emotions around her b/c she's not near as emotional as I am. Sounds like a good book though, might have to give it read.

B said...

It's really hard to find that right balance. After all, we want to be needed by friends, right? But at the same time, we don't want to be so clingy that we alienate people.

I have the opposite problem. I'm more on the unemotional or sarcastic side of the spectrum. People love to talk to me because I'm a good listener and reflect feelings well, but then they start crying or have some passionate reaction & I don't know what to do and get really nervous. (And on top of that I'm not a touchy-feely hugger/toucher.) You should set me up on a "girl date" with your co-worker since we're similar. ;-) If you read the book, the author is always trying to get people to hook her up on girl dates.

It really is hard to find friends when you're an adult.