Monthly Archives: January 2012

The Group Friendship

It’s lunch, on Sunday, and I’m eating with a friend. I’m explaining why I’ve recently toyed with the idea of phasing out a friendship.

“Well, she screwed me over once. And she always reminds me of why she’s a better person than I am. And once she told me I was stupid,” I say.

“So, remind me of one reason you want to keep the friendship in tact?” my friend asked.

“Well, she’s really close friends with another girl that I really like.”

“Friendships don’t come in groups,” my friend said.

I begged to differ. I wish it was true. In the ideal version of friendship, every relationship would be independent and your friendship with one person wouldn’t affect your friendship with another.

But what if two girls are best friends? And you’d really like to be friends with one but not so much the other? I don’t think so.

It’s possible, sometimes. Sure. But it largely  involves big conversations where you explain to one lady that you are ending your relationship with the other, and you have to all agree to be “mature adults” about it, which means you’ll play it cool, but secretly be looking for hints to each others’ friendship with whichever lady you no longer speak to.

As much as I’d like to think that a friendship with one woman wouldn’t dictate that with the other, the reality is that it can be hard to isolate relationships. If you started out as a threesome, it will likely always stay that way. If you have five lifelong BFFs from high school, it’s going to be hard to pick just one maid of honor.

It’s not great news. No. But it’s real life.

So, at lunch, I told my date that while friendships don’t come in groups, they sometimes do. And that I don’t know how to maintain a relationship with one pal while ending it with another. And since we’re friends as a trio anyway, there’s always the buffer of the girl I do like. Even if this other “friend” thinks I’m stupid. Or something.

Do you have any friendships that come in groups? Ever been forced to hang with someone you didn’t like because your mutual friend is just that great? Share your stories below!

If you’ve read MWF Seeking BFF and are willing to share your opinion, maybe you’d like to write a review on Amazon. Hearing about someone’s personal experience with a book can be really helpful for potential readers. Thanks everyone!

12 Comments

Filed under The Search

In Good Company

Turns out I’m not the only one looking for a new BFF. You know who’s on a similar search?

Cue Oprah voice.

Liiiiiz Leeemoooooooon!

The clip below is from Thursday’s episode of 30 Rock.  I’m not going to lie and pretend no part of me thought, “Hey Tina Fey! Get your own search… BFF searching is taken.” I kid, I kid (sorta). Mostly I was jumping out of my skin that even Ms. Lemon knows the importance of a good bestie.

Stick it out to the end of this clip to catch my favorite line. (To those of you reading this in an email or a feed reader, you may need to click on the image to watch the video.)

Did you watch? Don’t you think Liz Lemon would be a great BFF? And what’s your favorite BFFish TV moment?

Friends in the Olympia, Washington area! I’ll be reading from MWF Seeking BFF at the Olympia Timberland Library on Wednesday night, Feb. 1 at 7:30. I’d be so excited to see you there!

8 Comments

Filed under Everything I Know I Learned on TV, The Search

The Friendship Rider: Appendix C

It’s been a serious week here on the blog. Tuesday’s post, about the friendships between moms and non-moms, became the most commented post ever (73 and counting). Posts about mommy wars, friend breakups, and schadenfraude have given the week a solemn tone. (Though did anyone watch the Avenue Q song “Schadenfreude“? Love it.)

So imagine my joy while watching a rerun of The Big Bang Theory  last night when Sheldon referenced the friendship rider in their roommate agreement. A little levity is just what this blog needs!

Sheldon and Leonard often use their “roommate agreement” to settle disagreements. The agreement apparently has a friendship rider, and here it is:

Friendship Rider

       Appendix C – Future commitments

  • No.37 “In the event one friend is ever invited to visit the Large Hadron Collider, now under construction in Switzerland, he shall invite the other friend to accompany him.

It is further specified what happens, if:

  • one friend gets super powers (he will name the other one as his sidekick)
  • one friend is bitten by a Zombie (the other can’t kill him even if he turned)
  • one friend wins a MacArthur grant
  • one friend gets invited to go swimming at Bill Gates’s house (he will take the other friend to accompany him)

Sheldon’s commitments:

  • Sheldon asks at least once a day how Leonard is even if he doesn’t care
  • Sheldon no longer stages spontaneous biohazard drills after 10 p.m.
  • Sheldon abandons his goal to master Tuvan throat singing

This is silly and almost indecipherable at times (Tuvan throat singing?) but, personally, I enjoy the provision regarding Bill Gates’s pool. The episode is worth watching. It reminds me of Mindy Kaling’s BFF Bill of Rights or the Real Housewives of Atlanta Friendship Contract

I’m trying to think what would be in the contract if Callie and I made one. Provision #1: If possible, we will always watch the Scripps National Spelling Bee together. If impossible, we will text throughout regarding all hilarious, awkward, or hilariously awkward moments.

What would be in your Friendship Rider?

I’m SO EXCITED to report that MWF Seeking BFF made the upcoming New York Times extended bestsellers list at #31 in Paperback Nonfiction! Thank you all so much for your support and for helping it get there. I’m on cloud nine! I’d be so thrilled if you might continue doing what you’re doing and keep spreading the word. THANK YOU!

11 Comments

Filed under The Search

When I See How Sad You Are, It Sorta Makes Me… Happy

On Tuesday evening, I was lucky enough to be featured on a local radio show to talk about friendship and MWF Seeking BFF. The host of “Extension 720 with Milt Rosenberg” was the head of the social psychology department at the University of Chicago for a number of years, and was one of the most well-versed in the science of friendship of all the people I’ve ever spoken to. I was just happy to keep up!

One of the topics that Milt focused on a lot was the idea of schadenfraude, or the notion that we sometimes take pleasure in other people’s misfortune. Then he quoted Oscar Wilde: “Anybody can sympathize with the sufferings of a friend, but it requires a very fine nature to sympathize with a friend’s success.”

I’m guessing everyone out there has experienced these emotions once in a while. You get sick of hearing about a friend’s amazing life and suddenly it’s easier to be there for her when things go badly than it is to listen, again, when the next great success comes her way. Or, deep down, you do a little dance of joy when she calls to report her recent breakup.

It’s a weird and disturbing phenomenon. For me, though, it has largely faded with time. When I was in high school, I certainly had moments when I couldn’t stand to hear about a friend’s latest conquest. But, really, it had nothing to do with the friend and everything to do with me—I was jealous, I was unhappy with my own lack of success in whatever arena (usually boys), and so it was hard to hear about how well others were doing. In the same vein, I’ve sometimes kept successes to myself because I didn’t want to get accused of bragging or seeming insensitive.

As I’ve gotten older, and, perhaps, happier, it’s a rare occasion when I’m not excited to hear of a friend’s accomplishments. And I feel confident that I can share my successes with pals and get honest excitement from them in return.

Of course, when a friend is going through a hard time, sensitivity is key. I’m not trying to be like “Oh you’re in the hospital and feeling like crap? Well listen to how fabulous my life is!” I mean, common sense people.

So while yes, schadenfreude exists, I don’t think it’s a sentiment that rears its ugly head between real friends. Just between frenemies.

Yes, with frenemies, schadenfreude is more or less what binds us together. It’s so sick, but so true.

Are you familiar with the glee that schadenfreude brings? Ever had a hard time being happy for a friend? Don’t worry, it doesn’t make you a bad person. Just a normal one.

Book clubs! Interested in reading MWF Seeking BFF with your group? Get the discussion questions! (Or check out the new “For Book Clubs” page on this site.) If you’d like, I’d be thrilled to join via Skype or in person for the discussion. Just shoot me an email with the subject “book club visit.”

8 Comments

Filed under The Search

The Hard Facts: Pulling The Slink Away

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


“A Recipe for Passively Ending a Friendship
3 months distanced Gchat
5 unanswered texts
2 poorly responded-to e-mails
1 awkward but not unpleasant dinner
1 postdinner drinking session, bowed out from because of “stomach feeling weird”
3 more months icy Gchat, culminating in …
1 Gchat block and/or Facebook unfriend.” (“The One-Page Magazine”; New York Times Magazine 1/22/2012)

I get that this is a joke. But it’s not, really. This recipe is, indeed, the formula plenty of people use to slowly slink away from a friendship.

According to research on friendship breakups, the “slink-away” is the most common escape  plan. It’s a cop-out, and passive aggressive, but it relieves the difficult “it’s not you it’s me (but really it’s you)” conversation. Basically, women are more likely to slowly withdraw from a friend, without ever addressing the separation directly, than they are to deliver a big breakup speech.

I’m guessing that social media has made it much harder to pull off a successful slink away than it was back in the days of, you know, telephone calls. If this recipe were written in the 1990s, it would say “1 awkward but not unpleasant dinner + 1 postdinner drinking session, bowed out from because of ‘stomach feeling weird’ = one friend breakup.” But these days, your friends could have 10 different ways to contact you. Email, phone, Facebook, Gchat, Facetime, LinkedIn, FourSquare… The list goes on.

If you’re trying to slink away from a determined friend (again, not encouraging, just saying), she could track you down via any of those methods. It’s not enough to avoid phone calls anymore. You have to hide gchats, ignore emails, delete texts. You’ve got to be pretty determined yourself.

The good news, I guess, is that the increased difficulty of the slink-away has probably cut down on how much we use it. You might find it so hard to slink away from a friend that you end up sticking with the relationship through a down time, only to come out the other end in a better place. Or maybe it’s so frustrating that you finally decide to just tell said friend you’re breaking up. Which is, of course, the mature option, if not the easiest one.

What do you think of this recipe for a BFF breakup? Funny-haha, or funny-true? And do you think social media makes it harder to slink away from a friendship?

MWF Seeking BFF is available now! You’d be my best friend if you: 
Order a copy
Read an excerpt
Check out the latest press
Follow me on Facebook and Twitter

Watch the trailer


19 Comments

Filed under The Search

Is There an Anti-Mom Sentiment When It Comes to Friendship?

The issue of friends having children comes up a lot on this blog. Which is surprising, since I still have relatively few friends with kids. I’m not exactly in a position to ruminate on how things change. However, I have heard from a lot of women–moms and not moms–about how kids affect the friendship picture.

Both camps seem to agree that kids can make things different. As Katie said just yesterday in the comments, “it doesn’t appear that you’ve crossed the ‘local gal pal becomes a new mom’ line, where it can be tough to navigate the shift in friendship…and not just for local friends, old friends as well.”

I’ll be honest. When I started my BFF search in 2010, I was quite sure I wouldn’t become great friends with a new mom. It felt, back then, that the mothers and I were worlds apart.

Until I met Jillian, my new pal who not only had a kid but had twins. And I realized that having kids or not wasn’t really the issue. The issue was whether or not someone else put the same value as I do on friendship. Jillian did, and so we made time for each other. Did that time sometimes involve her children? Yes, of course. And they are some cute little boys. But just as often, if not more so, our grownup playdates were dinner dates or  pedicure-and-US-Weekly meetings or book club. I went to her house once for bath time, and she came to a bar—on a school night!—recently to see me read.

That she’s a mom is one thing about her, but not everything, and it certainly didn’t keep us from being friends. (And now I have a pic of her boys on my fridge! Seriously, they’re to die for.)

Last week I mentioned that one of the reasons a woman might launch a BFF search is because her friends have gotten married, moved to the suburbs, and had kids. I said this because I’ve heard it from so many women. Their lifelong pals have moved away and they want to supplement that pal with someone locally.

In response to this post, Rose, another reader, made an interesting point. She wrote: “There is definitely a vibe on your blog that women must be exiled when they get married and starting having kids. … When I have kids, my friends better not go hunting for a new friend to replace me. … I’m looking for friends with the maturity to last through changes in life.”

Ana echoed her sentiments, “I agree a bit with Rose that their is an attitude about ‘moms’ that is pretty pervasive among the childless. … Though my life has turned upside down after having my kids, I am still ME and still enjoy the same things I did before. I do not have this sudden new group of ‘mom friends’—I want to keep the friends I already had!”

I’ve certainly never meant to foster an anti-mom sentiment (and certainly not an anti-married one, as I’m married myself and don’t want to be exiled!), but I’ve also been honest, I hope, about my fears that friendships might change when my besties have kids. Or, when I have kids. As someone who who very much hopes to have a family one day, my close friends have often bet that I would be the first.

So I guess what I’m wondering is this: Is there an underlying hostility between moms and non-moms when it comes to friendship? Is there, as Ana said, an anti-mom attitude among the childless? Or an anti single-girl out on the prowl attitude among the married? Are the vibes that Rose was getting a reflection of how it is out there between women? And how does that affect friendship? Sound off below!

87 Comments

Filed under The Search

Friendship Incentives

Here’s a new one.

Yesterday I met a woman who told me she uses an incentive program as a way to meet men. Not just anyone is allowed into the program, but the friends who are invited are presented with these guidelines: Introduce me to the man I marry, or even a man I stick with for for the long-term (anything more than a year), and I’ll reward you with two round-trip first class tickets to Hawaii.

I can’t remember if hotel was included, though I don’t think it was.

This is fascinating to me. And of course my first thought was, would this have worked for friendship?

It’s unconventional, sure. But since we met, I’ve been wracking my brain for her perfect man.

Hey, I’ve never been to Hawaii.

I’m sure there are many arguments against this means of meeting your mate. Perhaps it feels to business-like and transactional. Perhaps you think romance should be more “locking eyes across the crowded room” than “I’ll provide you one Mr. Right for one first-class airfare.” But how is it any different than hiring a matchmaker? And it’s better, because you only have to pay if the match is successful. And the person you’re rewarding is a friend. And the matchmakers are people who really know you.

I’m not pro or con, really. I just think it’s intriguing. As someone who so deliberately looked for friends, I certainly believe in using whatever means necessary to find the right person for you. The whole “it just happens” thing doesn’t work for everyone. So, I guess I am pro, after all.

That said, I don’t think this could work for friendship. Mainly because there is no way to tell who is The One. If you meet a man and get married, that’s a pretty definite way of saying, “ok, this one stuck.” There is no BFF ceremony. (Though, omg, how fantastic would that be? I picture two ladies exchanging friendship bracelets with the Friends theme song playing in the background. Perhaps this would take place in front of a jungle gym like the “weddings” at elementary school recess.) And you can have more than one BFF. Or you could think someone is your BFF and it turns out that she doesn’t feel the same way. It’s not as cut and dry as romance. You could end up having to send a lot of women to Hawaii when you find yourself surrounded with new lifers.

The best way I could think to start a BFF incentive program is to say to a long-distance pals, “set me up with a new BFF and I’ll fly you out here to hang out with us!”

Presumptuous? Maybe. But more friend time for you! Or maybe there’s an exchange program here. Like, you reach out to your single guy friends and say “I’ll look out for girls for you, and you look out for girls for me.” Actually, that seems like a smart idea. Perhaps I should have tried that.

What do you think about relationship incentive programs? Is there one that might actually work for friendship? Do you think the incentive this woman is offering for her mate is totally nuts or just good business? And what would the BFF ceremony look like?!?!

Anyone out there near Lansing, Michigan? I’ll be reading/answering questions/signing copies of MWF Seeking BFF  at Schuler Books & Music (Eastwood) this Thursday, 1/26 at 7 pm. I would absolutely love to see you there!

 

14 Comments

Filed under The Search