I am currently reading the book MWF Seeking BFF, by Rachel Bertsche. I originally picked it up because it was getting a great deal of buzz, and also because, as an aspiring blogger myself, I am intrigued by the 52 Something in a Year genre.
But as I began to read, it became clear that what I expected to be a fluffy retelling of 52 wine-soaked girl nights was actually chock full of the same kind of relationship research that we used to build myGreenlight.
Chicago-based Bertsche sets out to try every possible channel to make new adult friends. While her ultimate goal is to meet a new, geographically-appropriate BFF (“best friend forever”, for anyone unfamiliar with the lingo) to augment her college and childhood friends in New York, what she effectively does is build a broad and diverse network of friends, acquaintances, and possible future resources.
By the midpoint of the book, she has a social schedule to rival Keith Ferrazzi himself.
In the process, she meets many people who share her desire to connect with more friends, but who are unsure of how to make it happen.
For so much of our lives, we depend on fate to deliver friends to us. When you are in elementary school, the boy next door is your best friend because he’s most convenient. The girl who sits next to you in English class becomes your confidant because you are working on the same projects. Sororities and fraternities provide a steady pipeline of social comrades during our college years.
Once we get to “real” life we are so comfortable with taking the friends who happen across our paths, that taking explicit steps to meet the people we want to spend time with feels artificial and contrived. But through Bertsche’s experience, it is clear that relationships built from purposeful outreach are just as genuine, and significantly more abundant, than the ones that happen by accident.
One long, slow dinner, coffee date, and yoga class at a time, she builds true friendships with a significant number of her prospective girlfriends. And along the way she makes frequent reference to the research that backs up the key success factors in growing real relationships – self-disclosure, supportiveness, interaction, and positivity.
The key takeaway is that purposefully seeking out connection is an effective way to expand your social circle, and real relationships are worth investing some effort.
Have you ever had to start over with building your social circle? How did you do it?