Over the weekend I came across a blog that linked back to me. The author, Jenn, is on a BFF search of her own. She writes, “Juggling work, kids, husbands, boyfriends and families while trying to develop friendships is much harder than it once was! The time I spend with my friends is time something else is not getting done – laundry, housework, yard work, painting, reading…and really I have a fairly tenuous grip on those things anyways! I recently ran across a new blog [this was me… thanks Jenn!] that is asking similar questions. And even though I had been thinking about this issue and in fact had written something last year, I never wanted to publish it because I felt a little, well, crazy. Even though we talk about making friends, and wish for deep connections with others, we don’t really talk about how or why.”
What Jenn says is spot on. People talk plenty about the importance of friendships. We celebrate the great ones. But when it comes to admitting that we want more, or that as adults we’re not entirely sure how to go about finding them—that making friends can be difficult, or hilariously awkward—we clam up. Why?
I think it’s because if you say to someone “I want more friends” what they often hear is “I have no friends.” There’s quite a difference. And wanting more friends must mean you’re lonely, and being lonely must mean you’re….sad.
The Sex and the Citys of the world have made it ok—even encouraged—to scream “I want a man!” from the rooftops. Why haven’t we given ourselves permission to do the same when it comes to friends? Jenn didn’t write her blog post last year because she was worried she sounded nutso. She thought she was the only one. And that’s what I keep hearing from women in the same situation. “I’m so glad I’m not crazy!” “It’s such a relief to hear I’m not alone!”
I toyed with the concept of this BFF search for a while. I knew I was eager to make more close friends locally, but, like Jenn, I felt crazy. I didn’t want people to think I was friendless. Or unhappy. I was neither.
Then I realized that the desire for social connection is universal and biological. As my friend Grace Adler would say, “It’s real and it’s deep.” (Granted she was talking about Jews and chicken, but it works.) I learned there are plenty of women in the same boat and figured we might as well talk about it. But there are absolutely still days when I feel silly telling people about this quest. I say “I’m searching for a new BFF” and then “I do have close friends, it’s just lot of them live far away” in the same breath, before anyone can conclude I am friendless.
Why do you think women are embarrassed, or feel crazy, when we talk about wanting new friends? Why is it so awkward to admit we’re not sure where to start? What can we do to end the stigma?