Monthly Archives: December 2011

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.

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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!

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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.

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Help Me Help You

As the publication of MWF Seeking BFF approaches (have I mentioned that it comes out on Tuesday? Or that you can pre-order?) I’ve taken it upon myself to reach out to everyone I know, or have ever known, for help. As I explained to them all via email, selling books is hard for first-time authors, and early sales make a huge difference. So I asked them to considering pre-ordering, or to forward my email to friends who might be interested.

I must say, the outpouring of support has been pretty tremendous. It’s fascinating for a few reasons. First, it’s heartening that people are eager to help out an old friend. All you have to do is ask. I know, asking for help isn’t easy. I’m always hesitant to do so, because I know how busy everyone is. I hate interrupting someone’s day with a sales pitch. But assuming you aren’t someone who emails your whole contact list twice a day with cheesy and/or superstitious forwards or who’s constantly selling your brilliant-invention-of-the-week, it turns out friends like helping friends.

Remember that time you donated to a pal’s fundraising efforts? Or babysat her kid when her sitter bailed? Or bought tickets to her community theater performance? That’s what makes you a good friend. And your pals know it.

So, if you need a little help, go ahead and ask for it.

The other fantastic side effect of requesting help from your network is hearing from old friends. I got an email last night from my childhood BFF. Her note made reference to both our childhood love of The Babysitter’s Club (which it seems only one of us has grown out of) and our constant quest for the perfect Blossom and Six hats. (We used to fight over who got to be Six.)

Not only has all this kindness made me feel loved, but it has inspired me to reach out (via Facebook of course) to a friend I’d lost touch with. I saw she just got married so I sent a note of congratulations. It’s like the friendship version of Pay It Forward, without the Haley Joel Osmont shooting or Helen Hunt-Kevin Spacey sex scenes.

Now that we live in a world where everyone is over-scheduled and exhausted, and loves to talk about it (“Hi! How have you been?” “Busy.” “Great to see you! How are you feeling?” “Good, just tired.”), asking for help can seem taboo. It might appear we’re supposed to do what we do, do it well, and do it alone.

So here’s a cry for help. Or, for asking for help. You’ll get the support you need, and your friends will feel important. Like they contributed to your success. Because they did.

Do you hesitate to ask friends for help? Why? Do you have only specific friends you’re willing to ask when you need a hand? Or are you the friend who’s constantly helping?

MWF Seeking BFF is out on Tuesday! If you want to help this first-time author (and I would be SO very grateful), you can:

Pre-order the book (friendship bracelets to all who do! Just email me your address)
Read the introduction and first chapter
Watch the trailer
Follow me on Facebook or Twitter

Thank you!

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A Very Bestie Birthday

First things first: Today is my best friend Callie’s 30th birthday!! Happy birthday Cal!

One of the crappy things about having BFFs all over the country is that you’re never around to celebrate birthdays with them. Especially since it’s her 30th, I wish I could party with Miss Callie, but it’s likely not going to happen.

Because it’s her birthday, today seems like an especially good time to talk about my BFFs. And by talk about, I mean shower in compliments.

I write a lot about new friends on this blog, and I reference my besties occasionally, but some days I am really reminded of why best friends hold that elusive title. Yesterday was one of those days.

I was having a minor panic attack, feeling bad about myself like we sometimes do. With most people, I would put on a happy face and force myself to get over it. I wouldn’t unload my insecurities onto them. But best friends are the people who are there to give you a boost, right? So I emailed Callie and Sara, with the subject “help!” And basically said: “I need you to pep me up and tell me I’m being crazy!”

And they did. Because they are awesome.

What I love about having a handful of real, true friendships that have stood the test of time (not just Callie and Sara, but also my besties from college who live all over the country and I couldn’t live without) is that you can request a pep talk when necessary. And you can give a pep talk, too. Sure, yesterday I might have acted a bit self-centered, asking for an ego boost. But I would like nothing more than to return the favor whenever necessary.

Best friends are the people we call when we’re feeling like crap because we know they will make us feel a little bit better. It seems simple and obvious, but that’s kind of a big deal.  It involves taking time out of your busy day to say “you’re great” and “I love you,” even when you have a thousand other things to be doing. And it means you are comfortable enough to say to them “here are all the reasons I am feeling bad.”

So today, on Callie’s 30th, it’s time to say that she’s great! Not just for pulling me out of a funky mood, but because she can quote Patti Stanger or any Real Housewife, she always shows up for her friends (at a birthday dinner, a performance, a fundraiser, whatever) and, for a living, she helps low-income kids get academic, social and emotional support through a really amazing non-profit. (If you’re looking to donate this holiday season, The GO Project is a great option.)

So that’s that. Callie’s great. And it’s her birthday! Happy birthday Callie!

MWF Seeking BFF comes out in five days! You can get to know Callie better, as well as my some 52 girl-dates, if you pre-order the book. If you want to learn more, you can read the intro and first chapter, or watch the trailer. (And friendship bracelets to all who pre-order. Just email me with your address if you want one!)

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The Hard Facts: She’s Too Sexy

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

“The scorn of the sexy woman is practically ubiquitous among other women, a new University of Ottawa study has found – and showing too much cleavage may just be the surest way to be ostracized from the female circle.” (“How to lose friends and alienate colleagues: Show cleavage, study finds”; The Globe and Mail, 11/22/2011)

It’s silly to think that a little bit of cleavage could determine whether or not we become friends with someone, but according to this new study, once we see a scantily clad female, our claws come out.

Here’s the gist of the research: “Pairs of women were left in a room thinking they were participating in a study on conflict. While they were waiting, an attractive woman wearing provocative clothes entered to talk to another researcher setting up the cameras. The reactions of the women were filmed after she left.” In 44 out of 46 cases, the pairs of women immediately started insulting the girl and laughing at her expense. (When the same woman entered in conservative clothes, most of the participants didn’t even notice her.)

As the author of the study puts it, “we can’t tolerate anyone giving away the milk for free.”

I’ll often hear men claim that their wives check out other women more than they do. I believe it. I notice women when they walk by, and I’ll bet you do too. I’ve always thought that women are especially catty about ladies in sexy outfits due to insecurities. These researchers say it’s more about aggression. It’s that we are engaged, in science speak, in “intrasexual competition.” What they’re saying is that The Bachelor is a microcosm of life, and we’re all just hating on each other until we get the guy.

Blech. I try not to think too much about this. It does nothing to advance the female cause. But I’m not here to agree with the research, I simply report it.

Do you think women are cattiest towards gals in sexy clothing? Does that make it harder to make friends if you dress provocatively?

MWF Seeking BFF comes out in six days! Less than a week! If you pre-order a copy, I’d love to send you a friendship bracelet as a thank you. Just email me, tell me you’ve ordered and that you’d like a bracelet. Pre-orders are great because they contribute to a book’s first week of sales, which is the most important week. They also help build buzz about a book–always a good thing! Thanks  so so much.

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The BFF Gift Guide

Christmas is 12 days away.  Hanukkah, a week. I assume this means I should jump on the “A Very Internet Holiday” bandwagon and create a BFF Gift Guide. However, I happen to know that such a thing takes a ton of production work. It would involve reaching out to boatloads of companies for their latest and greatest, calling in images, fact-checking prices… and that is just not something I have the resources for right now.

What I do have the resources for is to scour everyone else’s gift guides, and be a curator of sorts. So that’s the plan. May I present you with the Gift Guide for Your BFF, courtesy of many other fabulous websites, which I will link to and credit here.

For the BFF Who Works From Home and Carries Her Laptop To The Coffee Shop Every Day

Photo: Seventeen.com

I found this laptop case (Rebecca Minkoff, $95, bloomingdales.com) on      Seventeen.com. Yes, it’s a site for teenagers. And yes, this was part of the “Gift for Mom” guide. And no, I’m not old enough to have a 16-year-old. But whatever, it’s awesome. Practical meets fashionable, which I’d argue is the ideal description of a gift for a friend. Sure, it costs more than you probably want to spend on your bestie this holiday season, but if you’re looking for one great splurge, this could be it. And  since–look at that!–I fit the very bill of the BFF this is perfect for, there is a chance I’m hoping my mom is reading this and might consider indulging me.

For the BFF Who Finishes Your Sentences

Photo: A Cup of Jo, joannagoddard.blogspot.com

These stocking stuffers say “you and I are a perfect pair.” A Cup of Jo, which is a fantastic blog, includes these in the Gift For Your Twin Sister Guide, but your BFF might as well be your twin, right? (If the pic is too small, engraved on the pencils are “Salt& Pepper,” “Meat & Potatoes,” “Eggs & Bacon,” “Bread & Butter,” “Milk & Cookies” and “Me & You”.) Also, they come from Etsy ($12) so you’ll be patronizing a nice independent shopowner from Brooklyn named Erin.

For The BFF Who Still Can’t Beat You At Words With Friends

Photo: SheFinds.com

The Gift Guide at Shefinds.com is pretty spot-on. I like these coasters because they are practical, affordable ($20.99 at Modcloth.com), and combine your two favorite bestie activities: playing Words with Friends, and drinking.

For The BFF Who Documents Your Relationship

Photo: MTV.com

Retro chic, totally functional, and inexpensive ($34.99 at urbanoutfitters.com)? Thanks for the heads up, MTV.com.

For the BFF Who Makes You Wish Those Old-School Best Friend Necklaces Were Still The Rage

Photo: Shefinds.com

Here’s another gem from Shefinds.com. As you can see, these simple gold rings have B, F and F engraved into them. Give all three to one special pal, split them among your trio, or keep your B and let her be the FF. It’s like middle school, with a classy twist. (Gorjana BFF Ring Set, $88, shopbop.com)

For the BFF Who Lives Miles Away And You Just Can’t Find Anyone Like Her

I know, I know. I couldn’t resist. MWF Seeking BFF comes out one week from today! O, The Oprah Magazine named it one of “10 Titles to Pick Up Now.” Chicago Magazine called it a “humbling, hilarious memoir” and said you should “put MWF on your book club list now.” (If you do, I’d love to Skype with you.) If you aren’t sure, check out the first 30 pages. If you are sure, pre-order today!

So, which of these gifts has you reaching for your wallet? I’m pretty enamored with all of them. And special thanks to Seventeen, Shefinds, Cup of Jo, and MTV for posting these awesome gifts!

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