Social media is great at making people feel as though they’re alone in the world, but the truth is, not having a ton of friends is normal and healthy.
There have been a lot of studies on exactly how many friends you need to feel satisfied, but a post from The Atlantic rounded them up to give people a step-by-step guide on how to make new buds. There is a general estimate that three to five close, trusted confidantes is about all any of us can expect or hope for in this life, but many of us want more.
What The Atlantic mentions that seems more important than widening your circle of close friends is the huge number of people who buoy you up all the time that you might not be counting — acquaintances. There may not be a lot of people who would visit you at the hospital, but having a network of people you kinda, sorta know is as important to your social well being as BFFs.
Our real life “social networks” can run from about 250 to 500 people, and that’s nothing to sneeze at. You may not be able to tell the barista you see every morning about your recent breakthrough in therapy (at least, I hope you don’t do that), but a friendly social encounter has a big effect on how your day goes.
Much of your life is spent with acquaintances at work, with neighbours, at places such as church or a basketball pick up game. Treating those acquaintances with friendliness and respect will make you feel as though you’re part of a larger community, which also satisfies the need for connection.
And some of those acquaintances may one day be in your special five group:
A recent study out of the University of Kansas found that it takes about 50 hours of socialising to go from acquaintance to casual friend, an additional 40 hours to become a “real” friend, and a total of 200 hours to become a close friend.
That’s a lot of basketball games. But it’s worth it.