A friend recommended MWF Seeking BFF to me a while ago, and I pre-ordered the British paperback off Amazon immediately. Its a book about a woman who follows her boyfriend (subsequently, her husband) to Chicago, a city where her social network is a little thin. After a couple years, she realizes that she hasn’t found her go-to girl in Chicago: she has a social life, but no one she can call on a moment’s notice.
The friend recommended the book to me because, obviously, I am also in the process of finding a social life in Cambridge. The author of MWF Seeking BFF goes on a friend-date once a week for a year – meeting friends of friends, going friend-speed-dating, at one point even hiring a friend for an afternoon – and reports back. The good news is, after a year of working really hard to make friends, she calls it a success: she’s met lots of people she really likes, and some have become close friends.
Its not exactly literature, but MWF Seeking BFF is a solid read. I didn’t love the whining she did at the beginning – “I don’t have anyone to get a pedicure with!” – but I empathized just the same. And I took heart from the conclusion: almost everyone the author, Rachel Bertsche, met was open to new friendships and was pleased to be invited on a friend-date, even though not all of them became friends in the end.
The thing that I did wonder the whole time was, what had she been doing the previous two years of her life? I have spent six months in Cambridge frantically trolling for friends, and while I’m not popular, exactly, I’ve met some people on whom I can call in a crisis and who have lifetime-friend potential. When I mentioned the book to My Friend Lauren, I said I didn’t think the experiment – 52 friend-dates in a year – would translate to Cambridge, because its too small and because so much of the social life centres on the university. She said “and its so un-English” – which was an important factor that I hadn’t even considered.
For the most part, I’ve been pleasantly surprised by how friendly English people are, in defiance of cultural stereotypes. Its been better than I was expecting – although when i said that to a Swiss friend, she said “What were you expecting?!” We’ve made a commitment to being in the country for a long enough time that people are willing to commit to getting to know us. And of course the advantage to living in a university town is that new people are always arriving, most of whom don’t have a pre-existing social network in the area.
That said, if anyone has suggestions for ways of making new friends, I do welcome suggestions…