Humans are social creatures that need to stick together to survive. We encounter thousands of people throughout our lives, but there are few whom we call friends. Some people enjoy having a wide group of friends, others just a few. It all depends on your personality and how extroverted you are. But is there a golden number of friends a person must have, or is it a random thing?
This is a complicated topic on which many researchers and behaviorists have done many studies. These studies have found that most people tend to have more friends in the early stages of their lives between 11 to 24 years of age. After 24, the number of friends tends to go down as life becomes busy and people get less time to socialize. They start losing more casual friends and, by ages 30 to 40, are left with only a few close ones.
In your early schooling days, half of the school might have known you. In your high school days, these numbers were likely reduced, and by the time you reached college age, they were likely reduced to half. By the time you complete college, you will probably be left with a handful of friends that are close to you.
How Many Friends Do You Need To Have?
There is absolutely no number associated with how many friends that you need to have. Still, Robin Dunbar, a famous British Anthropologist who has worked on human behavior for years and has made some astonishing revelations about friends.
He named our inner friendship circle a support clique. This inner circle is the most valuable and meaningful group of friends that have the most impact on our social behaviors. According to research, a person must have a genuine support clique to reduce their chances of depression and anxiety. Dunbar proposed that around five such friends could make a real difference.
While he concluded that a person has a close circle, they can keep up with around 150 meaningful relationships, including those held over online spaces, though these relationships vary from person to person.
Dunbar concluded this number based on his studies of the human brain. Our brains have a cognitive limit on the number of slots that we have to keep up with people. On top of that, we have an acquaintance limit of around 500 spaces. This slot is primarily for colleagues or coworkers: people you’re not emotionally invested in but are around often.
How Can You Have More Friends?
Being supportive, being yourself, and being honest are essential parts of keeping and acquiring meaningful friendships. Vying for friendships that ultimately mean nothing will not help your support clique, and it is best to stick with a few close friends that many unsupportive ones. If you stay true to who you are and show it to others, you’ll gain more friends than you might think.