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How Many Friends Do You Really Need?

Margaret Minnicks makes a living by writing online about entertainment, celebrities, books, movies, foods, drinks, health, and spirituality.

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There are cases for and against having a lot of friends. Some people have a lot of friends. On the other hand, some people have a few friends by choice. So, is it better to have a lot of friends or only a few? How many friends do you really need?

Friend: Definition

According to the dictionary, a friend is a person who has a bond of mutual affection for another. A friend is also someone who has a special relationship with another person. The bond between friends is deeper and much stronger than merely being acquainted with someone.

Just because someone is associated with someone does not count as being friends. You can be acquainted with and have something in common with your classmates, co-workers, or neighbors. However, that doesn't mean you are friends.

Even though you accept people's requests to be your friends on Facebook and other social media sites, they do not fit the definition of a real friend. You don't know those people, and they don't know you.

Below is my favorite definition of a friend.

Having a Few Friends

Everyone needs friends. Friendships provide satisfaction, minimize stress, and even contribute to better physical health. The relevant question is "How many friends do you need to obtain those things?"

Some people believe that when it comes to friends, quality is much better than quantity. In other words, it is not how many friends you have. It is about the characteristics of the friends you have. Therefore, it is much more important to have only a few good friends that you can always count on instead of having a long list of fair-weather friends who are only available during happy times. However, they are not available to give support when you really need them.

Psychologist and friendship expert Marisa Franco, author of the upcoming book Platonic: How the Science of Attachment Can Help You Make — and Keep — Friends, says having one friend is a net positive. She says, “If you can get that deep with one person, it’s going to be powerful and it’s going to be impactful, and you don’t need to have a ton of friends.”

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Having Many Friends

Having many friends does have some benefits. When you have many friends, you will always know that you will have someone around at all times. It might not be the same friends, but you do have enough friends to choose from when you need advice or help with something.

Younger people have more friends than older people. That's because they spend a lot of time in school together, and they hang out together. Older adults have put away those things, and they limit the number of friends they have. Their interests are not the same as the ones they had when they were much younger. Besides, some friends might have moved away or even died.

One disadvantage of having many friends is that all your friends might not get along with one another. Therefore, you will have to be a peacemaker. That could be exhausting and have an unnecessary impact on your relationship with them. This is less likely to happen when you have only a few friends.

How Many Friends Do You Really Need?

Because people have a limit on how many deep friendships they’re able to maintain, some relationship experts say all you need is three to five friends. Evolutionary psychologist Robin Dunbar published a study claiming that not all friends are created equally. Therefore, he suggests that five might be an ideal number of friends for most people. He concluded that three to five close friends are usually enough to feel fulfilled.

Researcher Jeffrey Hall contends in order to achieve a deep relationship with someone is time consuming and could be exhausting.

Whether you have one true friend or five, they should make you feel energized, comfortable, restored, authentic, and valued. You should make them feel the same way. Good friends help us feel loved for who we truly are rather than who they want us to be.

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Example of My Friends

I have a deep relationship with a few friends who help me fulfill different roles in life as I help them fulfill their roles. I can talk to one friend about watching television because we like watching the same television shows. I wouldn't dare bring up something about a television show to another friend because we don't enjoy the same television shows. I can talk to another friend about the church, theology, the Bible, and spirituality and we understand each other. Then there is one friend I can talk to about technology and social media. Talking to some of my other friends don't know anything that would be helpful to me in those areas.

I wish I could talk to all my friends about everything. However, that is not likely to happen. Over the years, I have discovered that I do not have a single friend with whom I can discuss everything. Therefore, I am comfortable having only a few friends in my inner circle. It is more rewarding and less exhausting that way.

For Further Reading

The Case for Fewer Friends

How Many Close Friends Do Most People Have?

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