Added: Raul Silas - Date: 11.11.2021 11:21 - Views: 23281 - Clicks: 4322
Technically, I have friends on Facebook. These days, I only ever open that app if I'm hit with a sudden desire to know what Stephanie or Ali or Tess from high school are doing with their lives. But I remember a time when it was tempting to measure my self-worth in how many friends I had collected there.
Now I know that genuine friendship is more precious and more wonderful and more complicated than a social media transaction — and that, truly, I am a lucky, happy woman if I can count my real friends on one, maybe two hands. This one time I wrote 82, words on the topic of friendship — a book called The Friendship Cure — so I've thought about it a lot.
In my research, I met an evolutionary psychologist called Dr Robin Dunbar at Oxford University who used some fancy maths to work out the maximum of friends we, as human beings, can have. He measured the size of our neocortex the part of our brain responsible for sensory perception as well processing language and emotion compared to the rest of the brain something he had ly done with chimpsand concluded that our minds can deal with roughly friendships.
Part of that is to do with our having cognitive restraints that limit how many relationships we can cope with, and part of it is how much time and energy we are willing and able to devote to those people. It's really anywhere between anddepending on how extroverted we are. Within that figure, though, we can break our friendships down into according to intimacy. Typically, we have a core group of five very close friends — something Robin refers to as our "support clique".
They're our real, ride-or-die, deep, meaningful connections. From there, we tend to have a cluster of 10 close friends who round out our most important support network. They're people whose deaths would devastate us, whose loyalty we cherish, who we probably like to see on our birthday. After that, we usually have 35 less close, still lovely friends, and then about people in a more tenuous friendship category about 75 per cent of this group are acquaintances and 25 per cent extended family.
Any of these circles can include family members — because sometimes they're the friends with whom we happen to share DNA. Our romantic partners get their own bonus category. They're our most important allies in the pursuit of things like happiness, self-esteem and wellbeing. Research by an academic called Susan Degges-White found that people with three to five close friends report the highest levels of life satisfaction.
People who are pleased and comfortable with the of friends they have, no matter what that was, also reported high life satisfaction. The study suggests we benefit from "feeling a sense of belonging within one's social network" and, really, that could be achieved with any of buddies. The ideal is three to five, but it's of course possible to have fewer than that or more and be living your best life.
I love all this evolutionary psychology stuff, but I also hesitate to prescribe an exact of friends for every wildly unique person to have in order to be happy. Summer has also stopped accumulating new friends because life and age tend to make us more discerning about who we have in our lives. This is extremely common — one study followed people over a year period to evaluate their psychological wellbeing in relation to their social network.
It found that we are happiest later in life if we prioritised the quantity of friends in our 20s but focused on the quality of our friendships in our 30s and beyond. So our future selves benefit from the vigorous socialising we tend to do in our first decade as an adult, as well as a more discerning approach as we get older. Andre Rangiah, also in his early 30s, agrees that as he gets older he's more comfortable having fewer friends, but wants to stay open to meeting new people. I have less time for friendships based in nostalgia or simply mutual kindness, but infinitely more time for meaningful connections.
I don't wish for more, nor do I stop myself from forming new relationships. I enthusiastically recommended that we continue to find joy in new friendships Possibly friends and more all life stages. As Andre says: "Nothing beats a new friend crush, when that new person widens your perspective, shows you shiny new worlds, languages, ways of being and challenges and validates the choices you've already made. And that is perhaps the greatest joy of having good friends, whether it's one, five or they can introduce us to new and exciting things, but somehow, magically, also make us feel like our oldest, truest selves in Possibly friends and more company.
Having spoken to countless people about their friendships, I can truly only conclude that it is so much more about the depth of our connections than the of names we could put on an invitation list. Forget what the Facebook tally says; it's all about the precious few who make us who we are. Get our newsletter for the best of ABC Everyday each week. ABC Everyday helps you navigate life's challenges and choices so you can stay on top of the things that matter to you. We acknowledge Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples as the First Australians and Traditional Custodians of the lands where we live, learn and work.
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