I’m honored to have Rachel Bertsche from one of my favorite blogs, MWF Seeking BFF, guest post for us today. She’s a Penelope herself and brings an interesting perspective to how we make (or struggle to make) new friends.
There are certain things Penelopes love: lists, plans, tidy schedules and unbreakable rules.
When trying to make new friends, there are certain things that don’t always work. Lists, plans, tidy schedules and unbreakable rules.
When I started my search for a new best friend, I drew an outline in my head:
- Step 1: Meet with someone new every Monday.
- Step 2: If the first girl-date is a success, follow up for a second date.
- Step 3: Schedule follow up dates for Wednesdays.
- Step 4: If said potential friend doesn’t follow up after date two, move on.
It was a great plan. (Or a crazy one, if you’re not a Penelope. But since I’m writing this for an audience of my own kind, let’s call it great.) Except for one thing. As it turns out—surprise!—making friends is not baking a cake. It’s not building a home. There is no recipe or blueprint for a delicious, sturdy bestfriendship.
I can’t designate Mondays as the only date night because I have another person’s schedule to consider. What kind of friend says “I can only meet you on Monday”? And there have been women who I really like, ladies I think could be The One, who have two kids and crazy work schedules and can’t always be counted on to reach out. And that doesn’t necessarily mean they don’t like me. It may mean they are so frazzled that they can hardly remember to wear a bra let alone extend an invitation to a new friend and schedule dinner.
I’d love to say I’ve thrown caution entirely to the wind, that I’ve tossed my friend-making outline into the fire. But any Penelope would know that’s a lie. We don’t let go that easily. But I’ve adjusted. Found the middle ground. I try to be flexible in my schedule, if still strict about marking every appointment in my handy iPhone calendar. I say yes when a potential friend calls to say “let’s go on an adventure. I want to get my fortune told!” (Penelopes don’t do psychics) but still wonder what the appropriate attire for such an activity would be.
I seek out formulas for upgrading from acquaintance to friend to BFF (a life-coach once told me you need to see someone twice a month for three months before you’ll consider her a friend. How handy! ) but accept that if those requirements aren’t met there’s still be friendship to be had.
A pretty big chunk of forging real friendships is loosening up. Because if we’re willing to share the messy stuff underneath all the Penelopeness, and that friend sticks around anyway? Well then, she’s probably a keeper.
Naysayers would argue you can’t take steps to make friends. They’re convinced friendships are organic, they just happen. Not me. I don’t do go-with-the-flow very well. I think you can make a map for anything. Just as long as you’re willing to veer off course once in a while.
About the author:
Rachel Bertsche left her oldest and dearest friends behind when she moved to Chicago for love. Now that she’s settled in the Midwest, she’s on the hunt for a new best friend. She says if there were no such thing as online predators, she’d post a want ad on Craigslist: “MWF Seeking BFF: Must live in Chicago. Must not bring her dog to lunch dates. Fluency in Entertainment Weekly preferred but not required.” Instead, she’s doing it the old-fashioned way-getting out there and introducing herself to one potential Bestie at a time. Her blog, MWF Seeking BFF, chronicles her quest. MWF Seeking BFF, the book, will be out in early 2012.