MWF Seeking BFF

  • BFFs, Girl Crushes, and a Giveaway: My Interview with Rachel Bertsche

    Do you have a girl crush?

    rachel-headshotI’m going to introduce you to one of mine, Rachel Bertsche, who wrote the national bestseller, MWF Seeking BFF: My Yearlong Search for a New Best Friend. And read on to the end of this post to find out how you could win a copy of the book! It’s the story of her year-long quest (through a series of 52 friend-dates, one per week) to find a new BFF after she moves to Chicago to be with her boyfriend (now husband).

    First, here’s the Urban Dictionary definition of a girl crush:

    a) feelings of admiration and adoration which a girl has for another girl, without wanting to shag said girl b) a nonsexual attraction, usually based on veneration at some level

    And here is a small sample of my previous girl crushes:

    • Everything (Alanis Morissette song)Alanis Morissette: She and I were born exactly two months apart, in the same year. I like to think of us as potential (inevitable?) spiritual friend/soulmates. We went through tragic breakups at similar times. We (finally) got married in the same year and both had a son a year or so later. I love her for being a more artistic and spiritual (yet also angrier, in sometimes kind of a scary way) version of myself — if I had started out as a Nickelodeon actress, former Canadian child star who later became an opening act for Vanilla Ice. (Details, details…)
    • Chelsea Clinton in PhiladelphiaChelsea Clinton: She’s smart, she’s composed, she’s classy, and she’s going to change the world. If her mom’s not going to be the first female president, I have hopes for her.  And she’s the only one of my celebrity/semi-celebrity girl crushes that I actually met IRL. (At a mutual friend’s engagement party in Cambridge, where I stepped on her little dog’s urine in the host’s bathroom. She was mortified. I was delighted… and loved her even more for her embarrassment.)

    Now for Rachel… Her book had me at its clever, bright, and bold cover. (Seriously, isn’t it genius and gorgeous?) When I started reading the book, I realized that she was a writer who can accomplish the most difficult balance of writerly tasks: winning over her reader with a combination of warmth, humor, honesty, empathy, poignancy, and charm. And she makes it — all the writing craft and attention to detail that goes into this level of writing — look so easy. You get to feel like you actually know — and, more importantly, like her — through this book.

    If you don’t take my word for it, check out HerStories Project contributor, Nina Badzin’s review of the book, as well as her own story of looking for BFFs. (When I first started blogging, Nina easily could have become one of my girl crushes because of her stellar blog and insightful knowledge about blogging, her clever book reviews, and her generous ability to connect with and help others…. Then we became online friends and now she’s more like my favorite blogging mentor.)

    Then I saw the book’s trailer, starring a funny (maybe even a little goofy?) Rachel. And I was sold. We could definitely be BFFs. Or maybe I could be an older sister-type sidekick.

    This was when The HerStories Project blog had just launched. I e-mailed Rachel about our project. We kept in touch. (A little bit, sort of. Okay, maybe I e-mailed her several times, and, yes, okay, she still probably has no idea who I am.)

    So I was thrilled last week when Rachel agreed to answer a few questions about the topic of our next project: friendship breakups, as well as her next book. (The title of our next book: “My Other Ex: Women’s Stories of Friendship Burnouts, Betrayals, and Breakups.” Rachel even e-mailed that she loved the title!)

    Rachel’s next book is called Jennifer, Gwyneth & Me: The Pursuit of Happiness, One Celebrity at a Time and will be released June 3, 2014. This one’s about Rachel’s attempts to remake herself in the image of her favorite celebrities.

    Jessica: You wrote in your most popular blog post about friendship breakups that you think that “dumping a friend is undoubtedly harder than dumping a boyfriend.” Why do you think this is so?
    Rachel: Romantic relationships come with the understanding that it might (probably will?) end at some point. Breakups are part of the romance story. You can only date one person at a time, after all. Friendships, on the other hand, aren’t supposed to end. You can have a zillion friends at once, and no one will accuse you of cheating. That’s great, but it makes it much trickier to end the relationship if it’s not working. You can’t say “I’m seeing someone else” or “I don’t think you’re the one for me,” because there is no “one.” To end a friendship, you really have to be willing to say that, for whatever reason, there is no room in your life for that person. That you would be better off without them, which is a really hard thing to say out loud. And it’s emotional! We feel a sense of loyalty to our close friends, so to cut out the relationship–even when it is for the best–is fraught with anxiety, guilt, sadness, fear… There’s a study that says we feel more guilt when breaking up with a friend than a romantic partner (and keep in mind there is no script for friend-breakups like there is for a romantic one), and that doesn’t surprise me at all. That’s likely why most people choose the “slink away” method of just slowing not returning phone calls, canceling plans, etc rather than having an upfront conversation about why the friendship isn’t working out.
    Jessica: You also said that you haven’t had any BFF breakups in your past. Why is that? What stops you?
    Rachel: Hmmm…. while it’s true that a number of my closest friends from my youth are still my closest friends, it’s also the case that some are not. I’m not in touch with my best friend from elementary in middle school anymore, for example (unless you count Facebook friendship). But I guess I don’t count that as a friendship “breakup” because it was more of a slow fade on both sides. We ended up going to different high schools and both just moved on. There was no big emotional blow up and no conscious decision to stop being friends. So I would say there’s a different between that and a friend-breakup, the kind that brings up floods of emotion and was very obviously and deliberately (at least from one side) a breakup. I don’t know why… Luck? Just this weekend I was talking with a woman about a friend she broke up with, because that friend didn’t reach out at all when the woman went through a bad health scare. Maybe I’m just lucky to have BFFs who continue to be there for me (and I them, I hope). Or maybe I’m just super non-confrontational and the idea of breaking up with a friend terrifies me. In the past, when I’ve wanted to separate myself from someone, I usually take some space–maybe talk on the phone less, for example–and I eventually move on and want that person still in my life. On the flip side, if I get the sense that I’ve done something to upset a friend, I am not too proud to ask what’s up and to apologize. My friends are so important to me, I do what I can to keep them around. But again, I think I’ve been lucky. (This probably all means that there’s a horribly emotional BFF breakup in my future…)
    Jessica: Have you ever been dumped by a friend? 
    Rachel: The summer before eighth grade a very close friend of mine from middle school wrote me a letter at camp in which she basically told me she couldn’t stand me, didn’t want to be friends with me anymore, and that no one else did either. I cried for days. I mean, I was a legit wreck. Luckily, the whole “no one else wants to be friends with you either” part wasn’t totally accurate. But I can still recall the devastation and fear of returning to school. I called my parents and asked them if I could switch schools! I can still recite some of that letter, that’s how many times I read it over, completely distraught. She and I were never really friends again, but I survived and was probably better off for it. Still, it was nearly 20 years ago and I’m talking about it like it was yesterday, so maybe I’m not totally over it after all…
    Jessica: In planning your new project, what did you think you would learn by emulating your favorite celebrities?

    Rachel: How to be perfect! And happy! And glamorous! I’m kidding, but not really. I was at a place in my life where everything felt scattered, and messy, and not exactly what I wanted it to be. I was in a seemingly great place — had the career I’d always hoped for — but I still felt totally not together. Every time I flipped through Us Weekly and saw pictures of Jennifer Aniston or Gwyneth Paltrow or Sarah Jessica Parker looking so cool and confident while shopping at Whole Foods or brunching with a friend, I’d get pangs of “why can’t I be like that? What are they doing right?” So I set out to find out. I hoped that by using them as my role models, I might be able to get my own life to a place where I felt as ‘conquer-the-world’ as they seemed to.

    Thank you, Rachel!

    We’re thrilled to give away a copy of MWF Seeking BFF! We’re sure that it will resonate with you, whether you’re looking for a BFF or not.

    To enter the giveaway, either subscribe to The HerStories Project below or take our quick and easy friendship breakup survey. We’ll choose a winner randomly from the e-mail addresses.

    Do you have a “girl crush”? Have you ever been in search of a BFF?

     

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