Do you make friends easily? Some of us seem to have the gene that allows us to talk to anyone, any where, and any time and that’s great, but does that help make a friend? Will you meet those chatters again and again and become really good acquaintances and then friends or besties for life?
When I moved to Florida, I made some quick friends that were friends of other friends. Some lasted, while others, it took me a little longer to realize they were not the right fit as friends and some, not even acquaintances.
A recent post in The Journal of Social and Personal Relationship by Jeffrey Hall elaborated on something we all know, there are layers of friendships – acquaintances, casual friends, friends and good friends. But one new aspect I never thought of was that there are limits to the number of people that we can accommodate in any one layer.
Get my abacus out! The study shares some numbers I need to think about!
5 – We are closest to no more than five people
15 – We have only fifteen people as good friends
50 – Then there’s everyone else that deserves a “friend” label.
150 – Apparently our brain is limited to this number for meaningful relationships.
Well if you like 5s, then you’ve won!
Besides defining the layers of friendships, Hall also mentions the variable of time in regard to the friend-making process.
Hall set out to quantify the requirements of friendship in two separate studies. The first included 355 adults who had relocated to a new place within the previous six months. Hall asked them to identify someone new they had met. It couldn’t be a family member, romantic interest, or someone they’d known previously. The participants specified where they met this person, how much time they’d spent together the previous week and how much time they spent together in a typical week. They also categorized the person somewhere on the scale from acquaintance to best friend.
In the second study, Hall recruited 112 brand new University of Kansas freshmen and asked them to name two new acquaintances. Then he followed up twice over the first nine weeks of the school year to measure time spent with those new acquaintances and see how the relationships had changed. - The Journal of Social and Personal Relationship
The more time you spend with someone leads to differing levels of friendship. This could be a DUH! moment for many of us, but then again, it may be important to reflect on these numbers.
Hall found that it took about 50 hours of interaction to move from acquaintance to casual friend, about 90 hours to move from casual friend to friend, and more than 200 hours to qualify as a best friend.
Of course, this does not mean that if you spend all this time with someone, you will become besties just because the clock says so. Some people we are just stuck with, may it be a coworker or a roommate and lord knows, there are many coworkers we will never move into any of the layers of friendships.
Why do we care about these results? I think they are rather interesting and lead to reflection.
After I moved to Florida, I was looking to make new friends. Yes, I already knew it takes time to do so. We all do have that one friend that was ‘best-friends at first exchange.” Those may have happened and I may be at my 5 limit already, but I was looking to increase my good friends number up to 15 to match Hall’s projection.
I was getting close to moving some people from the acquaintance realm to the 15 good friends category, but then I hung out with them a little longer, had some exchanges on Facebook and … delete. What is peculiar is that it was about the 50 hour mark over a year’s amount of time, if I had to add it all up.
Losing those friend, not just keeping them at the acquaintance level, but dropping them out of the 150 members club completely was a little upsetting. I knew that they would never come back in. I burned that bridge, but they and their issues helped make that separation permanent. It was upsetting because, yes, it does take that much time vetting someone, but in the end, time spent helps to lessen issues in the future.
Okay Instincters ...
Do you agree with Hall’s findings? Do you have your 5 / 15 / 50 / 150?
Is it harder to make good gay friends?
Looking at your friendships and all of their levels, are fellow LGBTQ+ers a majority or minority of that magical 150?
Do you personally have peeps from the L, the G, the B, the T, the Q, the + as your friends? Or are they all from one letter?