Having 100’s of Friendships: Quantity vs. Quality

One of the consistently fun and enlightening aspects of spotting topical and interesting content for our Project BFF audience is discovering how frequently scientists and researchers study the unique characteristics and social impacts of friendship. And, we’re fairly confident that we’ve only located the tip of the scientific iceberg on this kind of information!

This particular article is a wealth of results from several studies which, when combined, tell us that The Math is Clear: Having a Ton of Friends Means Having No Close Friendships. This is interesting stuff.

The conventional wisdom here is that a person typically has 150 friends and acquaintances who, on average, include:

  • 3–5 closest friends and family
  • 10 or so additional close friends
  • 24 or so people we interact with frequently, and
  • 100 or more acquaintances

The results of the study do, however, put some of this in context by acknowledging that our individual friend breakdowns can vary from person to person and at different times in our lives. And, there is the reality that we only have so much time and energy to offer to our friends so, of course, the more friends we have the less time there is for what are described as “second or third-tier friends.”

In our world of social media, having 150 friends and acquaintances seems like a small number of people. An individual who devotes a lot of time to cultivating a large network on social media platforms probably has three or four — or more — times that number. But, does this digital friending come at the expense of more intimate relationships/friendships?

The article reminds us of a recurring theme about friendships, which is that having more close relationships in our lives is possible, but it takes work. And it may be at the expense of losing some less intimate relationships, to which the author asks “But do you really know half your followers on Instagram, anyway?”

Photo by Emile Guillemot on Unsplash

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