Monthly Archives: December 2011

On Women Who Won’t Be Friends With Women. “Too Much Drama.”

On Wednesday, Ladies Home Journal posted a really nice blog post about the best ways to meet new friends. Yesterday, the magazine put the post on their Facebook page, and I was immediately taken aback by the comments in response.

For example: “No new gf’s they cause too much drama!” and “No thanks, I’d rather hang with the guys. Much less drama!” and “Acquaintances are the best, otherwise too much drama and cattiness.”

Those were the first three responses. Drama, drama, drama. (I once  had a roommate who said, all the time, “Drama, drama, drama. Just call me Felicity.” It’s so dated, but I love it.)

I don’t buy the whole “I hate being friends with girls” thing. There are just so many women who use that line, which always makes me think, “why don’t you all become friends with each other?”

I don’t particularly enjoy drama, either. Very few of us do. It’s no fun to deal with jealousies and backstabbing and catfights. But how often does that actually happen, really? I mean, outside of Real Housewives I’ve made a good number of new friends in the last two years, and I have had “drama” as a result exactly… never.

Since starting my new friends search: No one has tried to steal my husband. I’ve never had one new friend talk trash about me to another new friend, only to have the other friend tell me every horrible thing she said. No new friend has ever called me in tears to tell me that she hates me.

Sure, when I was in college there were, sometimes, conflicts between my friends. There were also conflicts between my guy friends. We all lived together, so that’s pretty much guaranteed.

And sometimes there is friction in adult friendship. That’s the reality of relationships. But these across the board “I won’t be friends with women because they’re bitches” proclamations are a bit, well, dramatic, no?

Listen, I love guy friends. The ones I have are wonderful. And I’m not here to push girlfriendship. Just friendship. Forge your bonds with whoever you like. But the blanket statement that some women  just cannot be friends with other women because we are too difficult and dramatic and catty isn’t sound.

After all, to those ladies who say being friends with women is the worst: You’re a woman, right? There have got to be other women out there who share your values and want what you want out of a friend. To dismiss an entire half of the population—the half that you are a part of—seems rash. Because, I hope, other ladies out there aren’t discounting you, too, on account of your simply being female. ‘Cause that wouldn’t be fair, would it?

What do you think? Is female friendship too much drama? What’s your reaction to women who say they can’t be friends with other women? Is female friendship really that dramatic?

MWF Seeking BFF is in stores now! Want to know more? You can:
Order a copy
Read an excerpt
Watch the trailer
Check out the latest press
Follow me on Facebook or Twitter

36 Comments

Filed under The Search

Friending For My Sanity

After two years of immersing myself in friendship—both in theory and in practice—you’d think nothing could surprise me. Especially something that I preach on this blog all the time.

And yet, whenever I’m stressed or moody, I’m shocked at how quickly I feel like my over-excited self again in the presence of pals. Take last night. I met a new friend (one of the ladies I met during my Year of Friending) for dinner at what I thought was a hole-in-the-wall noodle restaurant. When I found my friend at the bar, I was a bit on edge—I’d gotten nauseous on the start-and-stop cab ride over, I had more work to do when I got home, and the wait for a seat was supposedly 45 minutes.

Twenty-five minutes later we were seated at our table. I actually said, right when we sat down, “I’m so glad we did this. I’m so happy.” Which I think is what a character in a cheesy rom-com says at the end of a date. Oy.

Twenty minutes after that? I’d not only caught up with my friend, but somehow learned the life story of the couple sitting next to us: She lived in Chicago, he just moved to Cleveland for a two-year job training program. They grew up five minutes away from each other in Ohio, but didn’t meet until they each moved to the Windy City. He knows the space where my brother is getting married, she thought the restaurant had the best gyoza she’d ever had (they always order gyoza).

I’m telling you—if you ever want to practice your friending skills, head to a restaurant with communal dining tables. You’re sharing such intimate space with other diners you can’t help but start chatting.

By the end of dinner I was feeling like myself again.

When I finished my one-date-a-week project, I figured I’d slow down. It was a tough schedule to maintain, especially once I had a handful of pals under my belt. But a year later, I don’t feel like myself unless I go on at least one girl-date a week. I get cranky and off-kilter, like a two-year-old who hasn’t taken her daily nap.

So that’s today’s nugget of self-discovery. I’m not myself unless I’ve had one (preferably two) playdates a week. What’s your magic friend-date number?

MWF Seeking BFF is available now! Want to know more? You can:
Read an excerpt
Watch the trailer
Check out the latest press
Follow me on Facebook or Twitter

5 Comments

Filed under The Search

The Hard Facts: Why We Friend. Or Don’t.

It’s Research Wednesday! Where I share the latest, or most fascinating, in the science of friendship.

“Research suggests that real world interactions drive online friendships. Meanwhile, sales-oriented and depressing comments help drive friend removals.” (“Friends & Frenemies: Why We Add and Remove Facebook Friends” ; NielsenWire 12/19/2011)

I wrote about a similar study last year, which looked at what drives us to defriend Facebook pals, but it seems researchers never tire of dissecting Facebook behavior. I find the gender differences listed below pretty interesting. Says the study: “More men add friends based on business networks or physical attractiveness and women are more likely to friend based on knowing someone in real life or remove them due to offensive comments.”

Check this out. I love a good infographic.

I’m pretty true to the statistics. I friend people because we’ve met in real life. And sometimes, when we have so many common friends that it feels like we know each other even when we’ve never met, I’ll friend that person too. I call those ladies my phantom friends. (You know who you are, Isabelle.)

Personally, I haven’t had to worry about defriending. If I can’t stand someone’s posts, I just hide them. And it’s not like I’m about to hit my friending limit, so I’ve avoided that conundrum entirely.

What do you make of this infographic? Surprising? Or not really? What makes you friend and unfriend?

MWF Seeking BFF was named one of Target’s “Emerging Author” selections! I’m quite thrilled, both because I’m a huge Target fan and because it’s quite an honor. Now that the holiday chaos has subsided, stop in your local store and pick up a copy. I’d be SO VERY grateful!

6 Comments

Filed under The Search

Flying the Friendly Skies

I’ve always thought airplanes should be the perfect place to meet a new friend—I wrote about it back when I started this blog, after I found myself sharing a knowing smile with the girl next to me as we traded complaints about the airline service we’d received that day. When you’re tens of thousands of feet in the air with nothing to do but sit, the person next to you can quickly become a companion. If you let them.

Plus, there’s something poetic to the notion that the two of you are on the same journey, literally.

I’ve had the whole air travel-friending thing on the mind lately, since Friday was the busiest travel day of the year and over the weekend I read The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight, a wonderful young adult book by Jennifer E. Smith (my book editor!) about two people who fall for each other on a flight from New York to London. Also, a reader recently sent me this article, which makes the case for chatting with the person in the window seat next to you.

Friending on airplanes is divisive. I used to be firmly in the “I’m deliberately opening my book now and looking very concentrated so you know not to talk to me” camp. These days, as you might imagine, I’m less so. Now I’m excited to chat with fellow passengers, and I often try to flash a grin that says “you can chat with me!” or glance at their book in a way that says “that looks interesting, let’s discuss!” Last night I had such a moment with the girl across the aisle from me. She was reading the year-end issue of People and writing down the movies she should see in between sips of her mini red wine. There was something about the fact that she wrote her to-dos in a planner, rather than typing them into a gadget, that made me like her. She caught me glimpsing at her magazine every now and then, but we never talked. I have a hard time working up the nerve, still. I hate annoying someone if she’s not in the mood.

Befriending someone on an airplane was a goal of mine during the official friending year. And I did work up the nerve to give one woman my card—I detail the resulting date in MWF Seeking BFF, the book. I’d definitely like to do more of that, though. It just makes for such a good story, and a couple of hours with nothing to do but talk can really accelerate the bonding.

I have a number of flights coming up this month, so I’m wondering: Have you ever made a friend on an airplane? What’s  the best approach? I’m thinking commenting on what they are reading is a good first step. Ideas, anyone? (Or do you put your headphones on first thing, to send a don’t-bother-me message?)

MWF Seeking BFF is on sale now! If making new friends is your New Year’s resolution, let MWF be your companion guide. It’s a quick read, and a great pickup with the gift certificates you raked in for the holidays. Also, if you see the book out in the wild, send in a pic for the new “Where in the world is MWF Seeking BFF?” tumblr blog!  

14 Comments

Filed under The Search

Holiday Break (Traveling the World!)

It’s a national holiday, so I’ll be back tomorrow talking friendship conundrums and all the usual.

In the meantime, it’s been so fun to see MWF Seeking BFF all over the world that there’s now a tumblr blog to document its adventures! Check it out–in Florida and NYC, drinking tea and hanging with babies–at mwfseekingbff.tumblr.com. I’d love it if you’d send your MWF Seeking BFF picture (in a bookstore, your living room, with Santa, on the toilet, whatever!) to mwfseekingbff[at]gmail[dot]com.

My personal favorite sighting? At the Watchung Bookseller in Montclair, New Jersey where I spotted not only the book, but also Scott Foley! What a hottie.

Happy holidays!

Leave a comment

Filed under The Search

The Mini-Person Version

Yesterday I bought my two-year-old nephew this book for Hanukkah. I couldn’t resist. You Will Be My Friend is basically the picture book version of MWF Seeking BFF. Lucy, a bear, wakes up and decides that today she is going to make a new friend. But, as the jacket flap warns, “it’s harder than it looks.” Lucy spends the day searching the forest for a new friend, but every time she tries to befriend a creature, something goes wrong. She tries to scrub the smell out of  a skunk. She eats all the honey when she wants to court some bees. It’s an adorable book, and I’m sure you can guess how it ends. (Hint: She does not go home friendless.)

On the back jacket flap, author Peter Brown writes “Over the years I’ve learned three important lessons about making new friends. Lesson 1: Always be yourself. Lesson 2: New friends appear when you least expect it. Lesson 3: Do not scream ‘You WILL be my friend’ at people. Trust me, that never works.”

I had to laugh when I read that, since I’m pretty sure I have actually said to a potential bestie: “You will be my friend.” But it was intended more as an endearing promise than a threat. Like when the adorable nerd in a romantic comedy assures the gorgeous lead she will love him one day. And then she does. After she gets her heart broken by the hunky dreamboat.

And, of course, while I enjoy the “you find her when you least expect it” sentiment, I don’t always think it’s true. It is sometimes. Those times are awesome. But sometimes you find friends because you put out an APB. I certainly did.

Always be yourself, though? That’s a lesson I can get behind. Especially for a two-year-old nephew.

“You will be my friend!” What do you think? Endearingly nerdy pick up line? Or just plain creepy? (To be fair, I never opened with “you will be my friend.” It was more of a parting phrase… and by then I usually had a feeling for how receptive my friend-date would be.)

If you’re in need of a super last-minute Christmas or Hanukkah gift, might I suggest a copy of MWF Seeking BFF? You can pick it up at your local bookstore and stuff it in a stocking in no time. It also fits nicely under a tree. Or a menorah. 

HAPPY HOLIDAYS!

8 Comments

Filed under The Search

Passing the Friending Torch

Do any of you listen to the podcast How To Do Everything? It’s a really fun NPR show hosted by two Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me… producers, Ian Chillag and Mike Danforth. It’s fairly new, and I didn’t know about it myself until about a week ago. The premise is true to the title. The hosts get experts to weigh in on how to do everything: how to make fake snow, how to avoid getting hit by a taxi and, soon, how to make friends.

So here’s an amazing story. (Or, amazing to me as I love a good coincidence.) A week ago, a listener called in to How To Do Everything because she, get this, just moved to Chicago and doesn’t know how to make new friends. And she’s newly married. And she’s from New York.

No, it wasn’t me. It was a girl named Kelly. She and her husband Nate are in their late 20s. She doesn’t have a job yet, Nate works nights and she isn’t sure how to find ladies to hang with. As she told Ian and Mike, she’s met cool girls out at bars a few times, but it’s hard and awkward to actually say, “Can I have your number?”

To solve Kelly’s problem, How To Do Everything decided to throw a party. A “Meet Nate and Kelly Party.” They invited their listeners to a bar, and introduced everyone to the couple of the hour.

Especially cool was that the party was on Tuesday night, the same day that MWF Seeking BFF came out. After my book celebration dinner/Hanukkah gift exchange with my family, I headed over. Because what better way to celebrate a book about how to make friends than a party to help someone make friends?

Kelly was great. We chatted for a while, laughed about our similarities and how awkward friend-making is, and I put my name and email on the “Be Kelly’s Friend” sign-up sheet that the HWTDE hosts provided. As party guests left (some stumbling due to shots of Malort–has anyone ever tried Malort? I learned the hard way that it’s the single most disgusting drink of all time), they hugged Kelly good-bye. When I left, she said “So, it’s cool if I, like, email you maybe?” And I, having been Kelly not so long ago, responded with a resounding: “YES! Please do! We should totally get together!” If I don’t hear from her this week, I’m going to track her down myself. She might still be new to this strange mission and feel embarrassed about emailing. Though she shouldn’t. (There’s also the possibility, if she doesn’t reach out to me, that she just didn’t like me, but I’m ignoring that option for now.)

That my book about friending came out the same day as her make-new-friends party seems like a bizarre coincidence. It felt as if I was passing the friend-quest torch. Like a friendship graduation. One girl’s mission ends as another one’s begins.

It’s possible I’m assigning too much weight to this. I realize that.

I love the idea of throwing a party for someone new in town and calling it what it is: a Meet The New Kids party. I want to throw one for someone next year. Add it to my resolutions.

Oh! And I’m on the latest How To Do Everything podcast giving advice on how to make new friends to those listeners who don’t live in Chicago or couldn’t attend Tuesday’s shindig.

Does anyone else think the timing of the Rachel-Kelly meeting was some weird alignment of the universe situation? This definitely felt like a pay it forward moment. Also, what do you think of a Meet The New Kids party? Awesome because we call it what it is, or too uncomfortable for the new kids themselves?

MWF Seeking BFF is in stores now! If your book club is interested in reading the book and wants to chat, I’d love to Skype with you. Just email me to set it up. Or, if you are looking for materials like reading questions, let me know and I’ll get them to you ASAP. They should be available online soon, too.

16 Comments

Filed under The Search

The Hard Facts: Be Aggressive, B-E Aggressive

It’s Research Wednesday! Where I share the latest, or most fascinating, in the science of friendship.

“Young girls are more devastated than boys when friends let them down and [are] as likely to pursue  ‘revenge goals’ – small acts of getting even that are on par with the perceived slight … Girls were also more likely than boys to interpret friendship transgressions in a negative way, such as thinking that their friend does not care about them, does not value their friendship, or was trying to control them, the researchers report” (“Study Casts New Light on Relationships”; Boston College Chronicle,  12/15/2011)

I can’t imagine it surprises you to read that girls are more sensitive to friendship slights—cancelling plans, betraying secrets, being unsupportive—than are boys. The reason why isn’t totally clear. (Are girls more sensitive in general? Are our friendships more important to us? Do we personalize actions that aren’t personal?)

What has surprised researchers about this study, it seems, is how girls manifest that hurt. “There tends to be a perception of girls as being more passive than boys, but this just doesn’t seem to be true.  It seems that when girls feel that something that matters to them is in jeopardy, like their friendships, they are just as likely as boys to want to retaliate and to respond with aggression,” said one of the study’s authors, Julie Paquette MacEvoy. And by aggression she means revenge, yelling, and threatening to end the relationship.

Keep in mind that this study looked at kids in fourth and fifth grade. Those are prime friendship-drama years. It doesn’t take much to prompt a “We’re over!”

When I was in fourth grade my BFF dumped me. Twice. I can’t remember why, but I feel like one time had something to do with our shared trumpet solo in a school concert. That was the end of me and the brass instruments.

If this holds for girls, it probably transfers—albeit in a lesser form—to women. We feel a friend’s betrayal pretty deeply. When things get bad enough, we consider ending the friendship. It probably takes more to set us off than competition over a holiday concert “Ode to Joy” duet, but the reaction is the same.

It’s funny, I was recently discussing with a friend the idea that, as adults, we often experience the same emotions as we did when we were kids. Irrational jealousy. Unshakeable insecurity. Total giddiness over the tiniest interactions. It’s just that now, as grown-ups (blech), it’s less socially acceptable to express those feelings. We’re supposed to have outgrown them, or at least matured enough to recognize that we’re acting like children. The chat was about why she likes writing young adult novels (you get to express the feelings you’re supposed to be too mature for in real life!) but this study reminds me of that conversation. The 4th and 5th graders were more apt to express their intense emotion and act out on it, but that doesn’t mean women don’t feel it too.

What do you think? Have you noticed that women are more hurt by friendship transgressions than men? Are you surprised that girls will act out against betrayal as much as their schoolboy counterparts?

MWF Seeking BFF is in stores now! If you see it out in the wild, will you email or tweet me a pic? Or post it on Facebook? Seeing it on shelves was the highlight of my day yesterday. Or, consider buying it online! It makes a great last-minute holiday gift.

10 Comments

Filed under The Search

It’s MWF Seeking BFF Day!

Oh my gosh. It’s really here. MWF Seeking BFF is in stores now. Today. I can’t believe it! There is a serious stomach butterfly situation going on right now, and I’m thinking the only way to calm it is a Friends mini-marathon. Naturally.

One question many potential readers have asked me is whether the book is just a compilation of blog posts. The answer is no. Definitely not.

The blog, as you all know, has my daily musings about friendship in all its forms. The book is specifically about my yearlong search. Yes, sometimes I refer to incidents on this blog that are recounted in the book. And the book has research peppered in, a la Research Wednesday.

But MWF Seeking BFF, the book, is a narrative. It’s a story with a beginning, middle and end (and hopefully some laughs in between). MWF Seeking BFF, the blog, is less linear. It’s a friendship forum, you might say

Anyway, if you pass your local bookstore today, won’t you pop in to pick up a copy of MWF Seeking BFF? And if they don’t have it, request it?  If they do have it, and it’s out for the world to see, maybe email me a picture? Because honestly, I have to see it to believe it.

If you want, you can also read an excerpt. Or check out the latest press coverage. Or watch the book trailer. Or just save yourself the winter weather and order a copy online. Whatever works.

There’s absolutely no question that the best thing to come out of my 52 friend-dates is my new circle of friends. In fact, I got so lucky that my friends might be the 20 best things! But this book lands firmly at number 21. And being the 21st best thing? That’s awesome.

Thanks everyone for all your support of MWF Seeking BFF. I honestly can’t get over how lucky I’ve been to have such awesome readers.

Here’s to new friends!

26 Comments

Filed under The Search

A Strange Line of Questioning

Whenever I talk to people about MWF Seeking BFF, I’m surprised, always, by the most common question: “So, did you actually make any friends?”

It’s not, “Did you find a BFF?” which is the question I’d expect. It’s “Did you actually make any friends?”

The reason I’m so shocked by this question is, well, of course I did! How could you go on 52 friend-dates, and meet upwards of 100 new people, and not find a single one who becomes a friend?

The question speaks to the pervasive idea, still, that a person can’t seek out friendship. That if you’re as deliberate as I was in my search, it’s not going to work.

It’s been almost two years to the day since I decided to embark on a friend-search. Which means I’ve thought seriously about friendship—how we create it and maintain it, what motivates it, which parts are hardest and which come most naturally—every single day for the last 24 months. And these days I’d argue that we all seek out friendship.

Most people don’t do what I did. You might not post your BFF want ad, or rent a friend, or perform in an improv troupe in hopes of meeting your friendship soul mate. But you might join a book club. Or a knitting group. You might socialize with someone new at a party. You might let your friend invite someone you’ve never met to your weekly dinner outing.

This month, when people ask me if I “actually made any friends,” I tell them about my cooking club—eight girls who are spending New Year’s Eve together in a couple of weeks. Or my coworkers, with whom I traded holiday gifts (I got a Justin Bieber singing toothbrush!) last Tuesday. Or my new Saturday morning dance-class pals, who I catch up with over the phone sometimes. Like actual, “Watcha up to? Just calling to say hi,” phone calls.

So while we’re inching up on the new year—and new year’s resolutions—consider embarking on your own BFF search. You don’t have to go on a date a week (it’s exhausting work), but you could try one a month. Or try making a point of following-up with those “we should totally get together!” pals. Or join one new group. 2012 could be your friendliest year yet!

What’s your New Year’s resolution?

MWF Seeking BFF comes out tomorrow! There’s still one day left to pre-order (and get a friendship bracelet — just email me). You can also read the intro and  first chapter or check out some exciting recent press, including mentions in O, The Oprah Magazine, Self, New York Post and Chicago Tribune.

5 Comments

Filed under The Search