How to Win Friends

As much as I love my husband, there’s no getting around the fact that he’s not girlfriend material. We have a lot of common interests and we love spending our free time together, but when it comes to girl talk, he’s clueless. He hasn’t mastered the technique of listening without trying to fix things and when I tell him about my latest find at Sephora or at the consignment store, his eyes glaze over. Whether the subject is family or fashion, vocations or vacations, there’s something about a conversation with a female friend that keeps me from feeling alone in the world.

I’m still in touch with some of my high school and college friends thanks to Facebook and e-mail, but we live so far apart that we can’t meet for coffee or a drink after work. My shy nature combined with five relocations in 17 years of marriage equals a friend deficit. I muddled along as best I could and I was lucky enough to meet some wonderful women through work and classes. I’ve volunteered and joined organizations. I often felt awkward and silly, like a five-year-old in a playground asking someone to play with me, but every place we’ve lived, I’ve found lifelong friends. The kind it hurt to leave behind each time we moved.

This time, I think we’re finally putting down roots. I’ve made friends of neighbors, met other friends in dance class, writing groups and book clubs. As an added bonus, I live in a place that my old friends like to visit. It feels like a winning situation to me, but it was a long journey.

Rachel Bertsche, author of the blog and book MWF seeking BFF, was much more deliberate in her quest for female friends. When she relocated from New York City to Chicago to marry her fiance, she made it her mission to find new girl friends. I’ve followed her blog as she went on 52 “girl dates” in a year, trying to find a new BFF. She reported back to her readers on the good, the bad and the ridiculous.

Maybe that was a little crazy, but it was a reminder to me that finding new friends does take effort and creativity. MWF seeking BFF comes out on Tuesday, December 20th and I’m looking forward to reading more about Rachel’s search. If you’ve ever found yourself wishing you had more close pals, you might just learn how to win them thanks to Rachel’s experience.


Filed under Books, Creativity, Friendship, Reading

42 responses to “How to Win Friends

  1. I never heard of MWF seeking BFF, and am excited to check it out. As someone who has moved around a lot, I know exactly what you’re talking about. I miss my old friends who are scattered in all the states I’ve lived in, and it took time to make friends here. But now, thanks to blogging, I have friends all over the world! 🙂

    • The internet is great for connecting with people who have common interests and it definitely makes the world smaller. I’m glad I could share Rachel’s blog with you.

  2. Annabellesmom

    Thanks for this interesting post & for bringing up a topic that is often ignored. I’m in this proverbial boat and have been for several years. My husband’s job required us to move across country twice, and each time I lost touch with friends unintentionally. We have no children, so I don’t move in the same social circles as moms who are involved in child-rearing activities. The women I’ve found who were best suited to be my friends were typically those who were older and finished with child-rearing or childless like me. However, now I’m in that “older” category myself, in the age range with other women who are now becoming grandmothers. I’ve found great companionship in my pets over the years. They feel like family to me and are often more understanding and companionate than many humans I’ve met! However, I do miss my best girl friends who live scattered across the country. Facebook & emails help, but it’s not the same as getting together for coffee & pie in the afternoon or going to the movies together. I’ll check out the blog & book you mentioned.

    • We don’t have children either, so like you, many of my friends were older with grown kids. Now, I’m finding that I have friends on both ends of the age spectrum (no kids yet, or kids who have moved out) and it’s delightful. I learn so much from women of different generations. All that matters is a shared interest. I hope you find some inspiration in Rachel’s blog and book.

  3. I gotta tell Jen about that one. She’s not MFW but one can never have too many friends!

  4. Shary, there’s so much to love in this post! Fantastic! I can totally relate to not being able to make friends due to relocation and the language barrier here. Growing up, I always had an easier time being friends with guys than with girls. I don’t know why. I’ve bookmarked this page and will definitely check out both the blog and the book you mentioned. They sound promising! Great post, lady! 🙂

    • Thanks, Bella. A language barrier, and the culture barrier that goes along with it, can make it so hard to find new friends. I’ve been there, too. Thank goodness for our online and pen friends!

  5. I can relate to this too, having moved a lot growing up military. I think that is why I am so rooted to the town I live in now. I agree, girlfriends are priceless. I’ve noticed that some women really like to have a group of other women to hang out with. That is so not me. I prefer one-on-one with a close girlfriend instead. Anyhow, when you find a woman that you really connect with, it is a Godsend!

  6. Even though I haven’t moved around a lot, I find that sometimes it’s my friends that move away, and then I’ve got to search for someone else I enjoy hanging with. In order to have friends it certainly helps to be a friend.

  7. I would not have thought of that idea. Wow! I’ll have to check out her blog. But I have to admit that my husband is pretty excited to share with me his consignment store finds (as am I).

    • I’ve never done anything as dramatic as Rachel did. I admire her for diving in and for sharing her adventure.

      How fun for you that your hubby is a bit of a shopper, too. Mine is a complete cliche. He only likes to shop for tools.

  8. June O'Hara

    I went through a period wanting (or downright needing) female friends and found it almost impossible. It seemed to me that everyone was just too busy with their kids, homes, jobs, etc. I joined things, only to rediscover that everyone is busy with their own stuff. It was very discouraging. And many of my clients raise the same issue. Now I’m fortunate to have women in my life, but it took a long time to get here.
    Thanks for a great post, Shary.

    • It is tough and discouraging. I’ve had some very low moments, times when an attempt to befriend someone went so poorly that I thought it would be better to give up entirely. I’m so glad that I didn’t. And I’m still hoping to turn some of my acquaintances into friends. Seems like we can all relate.

  9. I had to laugh when you wrote that your husband can’t listen to you without wanting to “fix” things. I think that is pretty common with men, my husband and son-in-law included. They can’t figure out that sometimes you just want to talk or vent and want them to be a sympathetic ear until you eventually figure things out for yourself. This post really hit home. We had many, many friends in San Antonio, having lived there for nearly 30 years, but when you move to a new place when you’re in your 60’s, it’s nearly impossible to make new close girlfriends. My two best girlfriends remain the ones I’ve had since I was in high school and college, but they live in Connecticut, and I’m in Virginia. It’s hard. Good post, Shary.

    • That is a huge relocation. It was so easy in school. And though making friends at work isn’t quite so simple, at least there are people that you see every day who provide a social outlet. When you don’t have a workplace to go to, meeting people is a tremendous challenge. I can really sympathize.

  10. anita

    Hi Shary,
    I think ‘real’ writers bravely write what’s close to the jugular, as Judy Reeves would say, and I think you have done that here. Nice going!

    Speaking of friendship, I would like to say something to Lola:

    Your blogs have made me do some thinking about how I feel about dogs. I would have said, initially, that I don’t like dogs. But I like you.

    When I read your blogs and see life from your viewpoint, I see that you are busy with two “professions”: you’re the day in and day out friend and protector to your person, and you are forever curious and investigating your world. (i.e., I know there’s a squirrel around here somewhere.)

    Your blogs have helped me to see that what I don’t like about dogs is that some dogs “scare me away” by slobbering on me or jumping up and raking my legs with their sharp claws. Others rush at me, growling and snapping, leaping up again and again on their fences, antsy to sink their fangs into my nice tender neck. But maybe that’s really the shortcoming of their owners, who didn’t make the effort to teach them how to be friendly with humans. And you aren’t like that, Lola.

    The day I had to say goodby to my Beagle puppy, Rex, I cried and kissed him on the top of his silky little head. It tore me up to hand him over to his new owner, even though she was obviously perfect. (That was clear after Rex jumped all over her white polyester pants with his muddy paws and all she said was, “Oh, aren’t you darling?”) But I had to close off my heart to dogs for a while.

    Now, Lola, I’m beginning to have a little dialogue again. I’m starting to understand a little bit why people love their dogs. Thanks, Lola.
    Your friend, Anitra

    • Thanks, Anitra. It’s hard to open up in black and white, but you’ve done it, too.
      And I’m so happy that you’ve found a friend in Lola. You know you’re one of her favorites. Pets have so much love to give, I’m glad you’ve started to feel it.

  11. Great post Shary and great share with the MWF Seeking BFF blog and upcoming book. As a lifelong military wife, I know what it’s like to relocate and make new friends all over again. While it’s fun making new friends, it can get very lonely in those interim months before you start meeting people. Kudos to you and to Rachel for sharing your stories.

  12. As an introvert, this is a constant struggle for me…. combined with moving and working at home, it’s been a challenge. And for me it hasn’t necessarily gotten easier with age. Now that we have “an empty nest” and am online more, I’m redefining my definition of friendship all over again…and it’s been great to get to know other writers (I’ve never before had any writing friends…). The truth is, I’m always open to new friendships, so I too am looking forward to Rachel’s book. (p.s. that said, I will speak up to say that I may be in the minority in that my husband is *not* one who wants to fix things, and I’d describe him as my best friend who I spend most of my free time with, which has always made me wonder if it’s been a limiting factor in how many friends I have…). This is a really important post — and I think about it a LOT!

    • Working from home is tough and I actually think it gets harder to make friends with age. Like you, I’ve gotten to know a lot of writers online. It feels good to know that we’re working alone together, just a few clicks away from one another.

  13. I can totally relate to your moving around. I am blessed with top notch friends that I missed dearly when we moved to Arizona. Then, after 2.5 years there, we moved back to Seattle. Hello, old friends, but now I miss those I worked hard to make in AZ. Thank goodness for email. It’s not the same, but it helps. I look forward to this book. Thanks for bringing it to our attention, Shary!

  14. Sandra Y. Hike OTR/L MA

    Hi there my friend!!!!

    I love you and miss you dearly. I think of you and Lola often! Once I am done with work we will get together and spend some quality time. . .

    I love and miss you Shary!

    Sandy 🙂

  15. What a great post, Shary. I struggled with this when I moved to Phoenix. One would think that in the fifth largest city in the US, finding friends would be easy – especially for an extrovert like me. Not so. I found that my small town roots, despite having traveled globally and having worked in corporate settings, didn’t mesh with a lot of the materialistic women I met in the city. While they were all about competing with their neighbors and having ‘things,’ I simply wanted a friend. I eventually found two. One was my maid of honor, but she disappeared one day and I haven’t heard from her in 11 years (due to her own insecurities, I have to believe … yes, I was and continue to be devastated). The other moved to California.

    Then we moved to Nowhereville, Arizona, and I told my husband, “Mark my words. We will have more friends here than we did in Phoenix.” And to make sure it happened, I hopped in the pickup one afternoon by myself and told him, “I’m going to get some friends.” I was armed only with prickly pear jelly I’d made from fruit on our new property, and a ploy to get people to open their doors (“We’re building a house. I see you did some construction. We’re new. Can you share some of your insight?” It wasn’t a lie. And it DID get my foot in multiple doors).

    As luck would have it, I met a woman building a house. That woman introduced me to her neighbors. Her neighbors became our best couples friends. That same woman also started a ladies poker group … and my friendship circle bloomed.

    YES – female companionship is SO important. I am so much happier with friends surrounding me! I loved your first line: that your hubby is just not girlfriend material! Here’s to the girlfriends in our lives!

    • I think you’re so right that we have to make friends happen. We have to be vulnerable and open, even if one day a friend inexplicably disappears. That’s devastating, but it’s much better than never trying.

  16. deby wickham

    Shary I went through my ‘ make new friends all the time phase’ when I was younger. From age 3 weeks to 8 years my family moved 10 times, 3 stints on the east coast, 3 on the west and one in Morocco. The rest were at various Air Force bases around the states…The life of an Air Force brat. Even after the 10 moves we moved 2 more times until I landed in San Diego. I guess I learned the ability to make new friends early. I have also had to let a lot of friends fade into the past, due to the frequent moves. But you are right, girlfriends are vital. Thanks for being one of mine. Deby

    • Relocating does seem to be the toughest thing on friendship, but it does make us appreciate the friends we have that much more. I’m very lucky that moving here helped me find you.

  17. What a fantastic post. Really insightful and heart-warming. I’ve upped and moved to different areas twice now, both far away from family. Each time I had to try to make new friends and fit in to already existing groups. As someone who is quite shy at heart, and who writes from home for much of my time, I found this quite hard. Colleagues and mates are easy to come by, but true women friends can be hard to find at times. Being on twitter and getting to know writers and people with similar interests has been a lifeline for me, and I’ve made ‘real’ friends through this. Yes, no matter how happy our family life is, we women need other women around us don’t we, for support and all the wonderful girly stuff that goes with it.

  18. Great post Shary and something I’ve struggled with as well. Like you, and many of the others commenting, I’ve moved A LOT (Army Brat and now a trailing spouse) and also work at home. I’m fortunate to have a few friends that are always just a phone call away, but it would be nice to be closer to them.

    • Now, when I’m missing my old friends, I’ll remember how many of my new online friends are in the same boat. Maybe it’s time to figure out how to have a skype or google+ cocktail hour. 🙂

  19. I look forward to checking out that blog and book Shary. Thanks for the recommendation. I definitely agree that making friends as an adult is difficult. It requires effort and I’ve had to be like you when I moved to a new city and push my shyness aside and just go to an event by myself or reach out to someone I didn’t know. I often felt it was a lot like dating — I was getting “set up” by mutual friends, then we’d go on a first date, and then we’d see if we’d actually call each other again!

  20. Shary, your post touched my heart, too. Girl talk is a necessity and I’m in short supply — The Man Of Few Words can only take so much of my feminine chatter! 🙂 Thanks for broaching this topic — I’m looking forward to more of your thoughts and insights!

  21. I can relate! We move every few years and it seems like we just keep getting farther and farther away from the people I grew up with. I often feel the friend deficit. Sounds like a good book!

    • I’ve been amazed at how many of us there are who are looking for more and deeper female friendships. It seems Rachel is right to be open about her search. One short blog post has opened doors for me, so just think how much a blog and book can do.