There's A Limit To How Many BFFs You Can Have At Once, According To This Study

Less is more.

Friends — you love them all and they all love you.  But is there a limit to how many people you can actually be friends with at a time?

According to psychologists, the answer is yes. A study by Robin Dunbar, an evolutionary psychologist at University of Oxford,  shows the average person can only manage five close relationships at a time. In 2007, Dunbar and his colleagues analyzed the phone logs of 27,000 European people and found that most people interacted with the same 4-5 people in their phonebook, repeatedly. 


It's not a surprising fact if you consider the classic adage, "quality over quantity." However, it's fair to wonder if our idea of what makes a quality friendship has changed since the rise of social media. For example, many people have formed long-lasting bonds with online friends they've never met in person. This is especially true for millennials, who've redefined many traditional social constructs, particularly where romance and networking are involved.  But In a 2015 study by Adriana M. Manago, a psychology professor at the University of California, Santa Cruz, it was found that while millennials have more access to social capital and a wider network, their feelings of fulfillment by these interactions is transient and heavily based on shallow connections and public perception. 

While social media may be more of a "millennial thing," the desire for having a lot of friends has been very common among young people, no matter the generation. Often the older we get, the less friends we have, and most times those adult friendships serve us more. In a recent interview with A Plus, William Chopik, PhD, an assistant professor of psychology at Michigan State University, expanded on his study that suggests the quality of our friendships impacts our health and overall happiness. According to Chopik, older people tend to have a better perspective on life and time, thus harbor healthier friendships. "This realization motivates people to invest in things that are more emotionally enjoyable," he explained. "One of the most enjoyable things in life are our good friendships."

Dunbar's study supports Chopik's notion that good friendships can affect our well-being. Dunbar says the reason why these quality friendships come in short supply is because we are only able to fully invest and build with up to five people. That number can be even less if you are in a committed relationship.

If you don't have five BFFs, no worries. A person with  just one really close friend can be as happy as a person with five close friends. Even beyond the fact that it is humanly impossible to seriously invest in every single friendship in our current lives, it's worth noting that not every relationship is meant to last a lifetime. There's a reason and season for everything. If you look back at all of your friendships that have withstood time, you'll probably be able to only count a solid few. 

(H/T: Business Insider )

Cover image via Shutterstock


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