How Many Close Friends Do You Have? It Could Affect How Long You Live

How Many Close Friends Do You Have? It Could Affect How Long You Live

Meaningful friendships are harder to make as we get older. But they’re important at work, for our overall success and, Psychology Today suggests, our longevity.

Picture: Wrote/Flickr

Social gerontologist Dawn Carr writes that meaningful relationships with others who share our values can not only make us more resilient to negative feelings, it could protect us physiologically. One study showed volunteers, for example, have lower levels of inflammation.

She offers this test to see where you’re at:

Outside of your family, how many people would you be willing to call in the middle of the night if you needed help, and how many would be willing to get out of bed and come rescue you? And, what about if you met one of those important life goals? Who would you call? If you don’t have at least two people on both of your lists, perhaps you should take more seriously the role of social relationships in your life. And, if you don’t have any clear life goals from which to evaluate the way you spend your time and who you spend your time with, perhaps you should step back and take stock. If you pick the right friends, they could very well play an important role in your longevity. So choose carefully…

Do you have at least two friends on your speed dial to rely on?

Your Friends Impact How Long You Live [Psychology Today]


  • I have a half a dozen who’ll celebrate my successes — I’m sure of this, because I recently got a big one, and everyone cheered, repeatedly. There are several I’d call in the middle of the night if I was in trouble, but only one of those, and that’s only a maybe, who’d feel I was important enough to them that they might come rescue me. I’m an older lifetime single with no living family left. So many people’s lives, especially at my age (50), revolve around and prioritise their families, that it’s difficult for someone in my situation to have people actually willing to rescue him or her in the middle of the night. This is a deplorable situation, I’ve known it for over a decade, and I’ve worked to change it. But the fact remains that others rate much more highly on my priority scale (because of fewer closer people in my life) than I rate in theirs, often by far, and that’s a tough problem to solve. No amount of volunteering that a full time worker can do, can change that, for example. You’re valuable as a volunteer resource but not a a friend at a level more than an acquaintance, for example. I’ve done something that I’m mildly known for around Sydney, and am sometimes recognised on the street, but that doesn’t translate into close friendships.

  • Zero, can’t rely on anyone but myself
    Modern society makes it hard to foster close relationships, most people are happy living isolated superficial lives where nothing can bother them

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