How many friends can a person have? According to a theory called Dunbar’s number, we may have a maximum limit to how many people we can maintain relationships with – around 100 to 230 people. As the theory goes, our brains simply can’t manage more.
How many good or close friends do you think a person can have? What happens if they try to maintain more than that? Is there a fixed number, or are there things a person can do to be connected to more people? What about social networks like Facebook and Twitter?
Well I think this depends on your definition of friend. I think you can have contacts, people you know and you can get in touch with, be it via email, phone, social networking or face to face. You can catch up, ask for help or offer advice; but I wouldn’t term that as friendship. You can have relationships which are closer than that, where you share personal details, have things in common, often important life experiences and the people are there for you if you need help; but you have to ask for it, because they don’t know you well enough or see you often enough to know what’s going on in your life.
Then there are good friends who you see regularly, can hang out with, relax and be yourself; but there’s a distance between you and you still need to be the one to ask for help. They may guess that things are going on; but they don’t feel close enough to get involved on their own.
Then there are the great friends who are there for you no matter what. People you have weekly, even daily contact with, who know you and understand you, without you having to say a word. People who know there’s something wrong without you ever saying a word, just able to tell by the way you look or even breath. I have one person in my life like that and another that’s moving in that direction.
I would like to be closer to more people; but I find deep relationships take a huge amount of energy (on both sides if they’re truly worthwhile) and having ME means I don’t have a lot of that. They also take a close proximity, you need to see someone to get that close to them, because over the phone or online it just isn’t the same, you need to be able to see all the micro expressions, the tones of their voice and the way they act, to really get to know them.
I would like to have more friends, or be closer with the friends I’ve got; but unless I get a sudden surge of energy or more time in the day I’m not sure how to make that happen.
I agree there is a limit to the number of friends you can have, contacts are unlimited; but true friends need time and energy and that’s just not possible with more than a handful of people, not if you’re doing it right.