• Keeping Friends

How many friends does it take…?

Published: July 19, 2007 | Last Updated: April 2, 2016 By | 2 Replies Continue Reading

An MSN Messenger study of the friendship patterns of 10,000
persons among the UK
population cites some interesting statistics:

  • Brits collect an average of 396 friends each over their
  • People wind up staying in touch with about 1 out of 12 of the friends
    they make.
  • The average number of friends they maintain is 33.
  • Only a
    fifth of the keepers are close friends.
  • Ironically, people spend more time with social friends than
    close friends.
  • Women see their social friends every 3.5 days while they see
    their close friends only six times a year.
  • Two-thirds of those surveyed call the attrition of friends
    one of their “biggest regrets in life”

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  1. Anonymous says:

    The article states: “•Ironically, people spend more time with social friends than close friends.”

    This is actually not “ironic”, given the British sense of friendship. Brits usually consider their closest friends to be those friends they grew up with or went to school/university with. The people in that group/clique (and it usually is a small or medium-sized clique, not one-on-one sorts of friendships) stay their core friends through most of their life, even if they don’t see them much as adults. This is kind of strange for an American, who usually is closest with the people she is in most contact with day-to-day and month-to-month and year-to-year.

    Consequently, British people can socialize very frequently and over long periods of time, even years, with people whom they still hold at arm’s length. It is seen as “British reserve”, and it IS reserve. My personal experience is that after about the age of 25, British people don’t make new “real” friends. They can be quite suspicious of someone who wants to become close after that age, because everyone is expected to already have their core friendships (for their life, often) formed. [I lived there 11 years between the ages of 20 and 40, so I had plenty of occasions to observe this and to question the more open Brits, and my British romantic partner, about how friendships work there. Some of them say it’s not this way (yet behave this way anyway, frequently!), although many of them will admit that it’s this way.] It’s hard not to take it personally, if you grew up in the US.

  2. Anonymous says:

    That is interesting–it’s definitely true for me. My closest friends (the ones I’ve known longest and feel the best connection to) I only see a small number of times a year, whereas there are people I see everyday whose company I enjoy but whom I might or might not invite to my wedding (just to use a trite index).

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