Accidentally Intentional

How Many Friends Should I Have & Do I Actually Need? (Science Reveals The Answer) | What It Takes Series

March 30, 2023 Zoe Asher Season 2 Episode 7
Accidentally Intentional
How Many Friends Should I Have & Do I Actually Need? (Science Reveals The Answer) | What It Takes Series
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Maybe you're seeing all of the recent studies on loneliness and thinking to yourself: "this is me, and dang, I need to make some friends." If this IS you, you're not alone. Not even close. But it begs the question...what will it take to make genuine friends this year? This is the beginning of a 3 part series where we answer some of the biggest questions people have today around the idea of friendship.

Would you believe that a conclusive number has been scientifically revealed as to the healthy amount of friends we should have. We unpack the science and the results, as well as what you can do about it in this episode!

Chapter Markers
0:35 - Intro
1:47 - The 2 Types of People Asking This Question
2:41 - Introduction to the Dunbar Principle
3:35 - The "Core" Explained
6:01 - Close Friends Circle Explained
7:17 - Meaningful Contacts Circle Explained
7:52 - Acquaintance Circle Defined
9:17 - How Many People Do We Have the Capacity to Recognize?
9:43 - Signs of A Good Friend, According to BetterHelp
12:31 - Signs of A Bad Friend
14:25 - 2 Challenge Questions

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Remember, you're worth having and building relational wealth! The connection you’ve been looking for is on the way, and it all starts by being Accidentally Intentional.

Did you know we also have a YouTube channel?! It's true, just for all of you lovers of visual formats! For the video version of this episode, head to the Accidentally Intentional YouTube channel!

Join the conversation and follow along on Instagram! I respond to DM's! Let's converse! Say hi, or share your biggest takeaways! I'm all ears! @accidentallyintentional or @zoeasher


70% of people do not have a single person that they can call in the middle of a crisis. Let's face it, we are relationally broke. And my mission is to make that percentage zero. But how? By building relational wealth, the embodiment of all your relationships with yourself with others and experiences that enrich your life. I promise you this podcast will help you build wealth in every way that money cannot. And it all starts by being accidentally intentional. Let's begin. Welcome back to another accidentally intentional podcast episode, we're starting a three part series. And it all revolves around what it will take to build incredible relationships this year. So the three questions we're going to be answering in this series are one, how many friends? Should I have? Or do I need? Yes, there really is a scientific answer to this to what type of friends should I have? And three, how long will this take? How many hours do I possibly have to put in in order to invest into new friendships and relationships? Well, we do have scientific data to back up an actual amount, which we'll get into in later episodes. But today, in this episode, we're gonna be discussing how many friends do I actually need? And if you're watching this video, then I know you're already looking for the answer to that question. And I'm so glad you're here. 70% of people don't have a single person they could call in the middle of a crisis. And so the entire goal of this show, this YouTube channel and this podcast, is to ultimately bring that number to zero. So let's get after it. So we're looking for the answer to how many friends should I have? And do I actually need, which means that there's two types of people out there one, the type of person who is looking for this answer because they currently feel like they don't have anybody that will qualify or definitely not enough. Here's some interesting research. Julian Holt Linstead, a professor of psychology and neuroscience at Brigham Young University in Utah, concluded that loneliness is as harmful to physical health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day, let's let that sink in for a minute. Loneliness does harm not only to our mental state, but our physical state as well. Perhaps you're on the other side of that coin. And you're looking for the answer to this question. Because right now, you feel extremely overwhelmed, or tapped out as if you can't keep up with everybody in your life, no matter what side of the coin you're on. On this, we're gonna get you the answers that you're looking for. And it all comes down to what's called the Dunbar principle. anthropologists and sociologists Robin Dunbar created what's known as the Dunbar principle to explain our social and cognitive limits, meaning these are legitimate studied numbers for where you will socially max out, but at the same time, it also shows an ideal number of relationships in each circle that someone should and could have. And before I go into all the circles, I want to point out something very important. The circles start with multiple people, there isn't a circle with just one person in it. In fact, the smallest circle starts with to two people, because we're not alone on an island and you are worth fighting for incredible relationships. Okay, so with that being said, we're gonna go into and start with the tightest, smallest circle, which is called the core as in your core of relationships, an ideal number of people that could be in someone's core group is two to five individuals. Now, this is the most important circle, because these are your closest relationships. These are the people in your life, who would answer the phone, in the middle of a crisis are genuinely there for you and truly cared deeply for you as well. These are your absolute closest connections, Titus relationships, and people that you would consider Ryder dies, they walk through life with you in all of its challenges, and triumphs simultaneously. An interesting thing to note about the core is that the people in your core would also rely on you the exact same way. So everything about all of our relationships are ultimately a two way street. These are people that want to check in on you. And you also want to check in on if you heard me talk all about this core group in the smallest tight knit circle. You're thinking that nobody qualifies for that. There's good news incoming. We started with the most important circle, which is the core and that should ideally be between two and five people. Max, interesting sidenote is that the happiness study which is one of the most famous and longest studied Harvard has Ever done, showed that the optimal happiness for people had three to five close friends, aka people in this core circle, finding people to be in your core is definitely a daunting task. It doesn't happen spontaneously. In fact, if you listen to my story, a couple of episodes back, then you know that in college, I had a confronting moment where I realized I had no friends, and started a new year's resolution to essentially make friends, I had over 250 meals, I call the meal dates with practical strangers acquaintances, in order to find one person to be in my core group. And that's another interesting piece is that these are concentric circles. So it starts with the smallest, then it goes out from there, and you can move in these circles, you can move throughout them, someone who's in your core in one phase of life might not be in another, they might bump down to the second concentric circle, which is considered close friends. Now, close friends is different than core, or your rider dies. Because these are the greatest friends in your life versus close friends, in the close friends category. You can have 12 to 15 people in it before you get maxed out, mentally and socially. To contrast what this looks like, people in your core, the two to five, these are people who you probably talk to almost daily, whereas people in the close friends group, aka the number of 12 to 15 people in this camp, these are people that you talk to probably at least monthly, and they're not just people that you happen to see once a week, for instance, you know, at work, or let's say, If faith is something that's important to you, at church, you see people once a week, just because you say hey, you know, Ebola doesn't mean they're considered a close friend. These are people that you genuinely want to keep communication and connection with throughout your life. So that's the second concentric circle. So we moved from two to five in the core to 12 to 15, considered close friends, the next most commonly discussed concentric circle out from there is considered meaningful contacts. This is 150. What does that mean? That means that you can have meaningful connections or communication with up to 150 people in one year's time. That is our cognitive limit. And our max out number. When it comes to frequency of communication, I say that these are people that you probably reach out to maybe once or twice a year, but you still care about them. And so you consider them a meaningful contact. The fourth circle out is your acquaintance circle, meaning that our cognitive limits are up to 500 people that we consider acquaintances in life. Now, I want to pause here because I think this is a relatively important circle as well, you might be saying, well, not really, because I don't really know much about him. We're just like, kind of acquaintances, right? Well, what if I told you that most of your closest relationships in life start from the acquaintance pool, so we cannot discount the acquaintance pool here? Because, as you know, people can go in and out of these concentric circles. Think about it. I know, this is a thing girls talk about, especially you're in college, and someone could say, if you were to get married today, who would you want in your bridal party? You might be 10 years down the road now laughing at that time thinking man, 10 years ago, the people the core group that I would have said, hey, I want them to be my bridal party. We rarely talk anymore. And that's just how life changes in different seasons. But it's important to know that there's so much power in your acquaintance ships, because who knows, someone who's an acquaintance can suddenly with one meaningful connection can be considered a friend, and then be considered a close friend. If enough effort is put in equally between both parties just could become a writer die in your life. And then I just find this a fun fact the last concentric circle, the widest one is 1500 people. This means that there are 1500 people that you can recognize. That's it. That's that's our actual limits. But when we're asking, How many friends do I need, or should I have? It all comes down to this Dunbar principle. The ideal number science continues to show is anywhere between three and five really deep, powerful, meaningful relationships. But let's talk about signs of someone who could be a good Read, Write someone who could potentially move through the circles to become one of the most important people in your life. Because there actually are signs that you can watch out for. And take note of, oh, man, this person, oh, he says this and this, and wow, this too. And when a friendship goes from an acquaintance, ship to meaningful contact, that's because there's a certain type of interaction that happens that makes it meaningful. So BetterHelp actually outlined signs that someone might be a good friend, you may want to start spending more time with to grow a deeper relationship. One, they are there for you. Now, this is a catch 22? Because how do you know if someone's there for you, if you don't let them in? Right. So something to keep in mind with that, too. Again, kind of a catch 22 Not only are they there for you, which can take on different meanings, but they listen to you intently, and want to hear what you have to say, number three, I think is really important. You feel good, when you're around them. You felt like they literally gave you life. And you know, with so much talk of toxic friendships, this toxic friendships, that everything's toxic. Let's just boil it down to this. Am I a friend that gives life to the people around me? And at the same time? Am I paying attention to people in my life, that give me that same life and make me feel good, as well? And yeah, as a side note, if you're these five characteristics, too, there's pretty high chances that you're going to be an awesome friend, as well. Because I fully believe that we should not be ever expecting anybody else, to be a great friend, if we aren't willing to have those attributes of a great friend, ourselves first, number four signs of a great friend. They're empathetic towards you. What does that mean? They show that they care by trying to understand where you're coming from, and they hold space and room for you to also express your candid feelings. And five is a huge one, and one that we need to all continuously work on. It's the ability to forgive and apologize. I mean, how easy is it to look at the world through the lens of can you believe they did that to me instead of what could I have done better? First, okay, so we have five possible signs of a good friend to keep an eye out for and so on the inverse of that we should probably talk about five signs that you should look out for, to know that this might not be a good friend, after all, someone who isn't the most quality friend will do things like only show up or be around when they need something from you to they frequently badmouth other friends, you can't actually think that they're not doing the same to you behind your back. Loyalty translates this is how you can get the first insight as to whether someone is actually going to be a loyal friend, is whether they are talking about other people behind their back or not. Number three sign of a friendship that might not be the highest quality. They don't tolerate differences and almost act threatened if somebody is different, or has different viewpoints on things than them. Number four, they're flaky, as in, they don't do what they say they're going to do. Now, for me personally, this is one of the most important things of my life, and I hold myself to a really high standard of it as well. Do I always do it? No. But am I always trying to? Yes, I want to be a person who by yes is yes. Am I no is no. That way people know, hey, I can rely on XO, I can trust, XO. And the number five sign to look for for someone that might not be a good friend is they're pushy. And they're not seeking to understand at all. And a lot of this revolves around this concept of a growth mindset or not having a growth mindset. And having a growth mindset into friendship is actually really important. And I'm going to talk about that in the next episode. Now that we've discussed an answer the question, how many friends should I have? Or do I actually need and then discussed the signs of a good friend versus the signs of a bad friend, I have two challenges for you today. Let's start writing down the names of the people that we would consider to be in our core, or at least close friends if you don't think that you necessarily have a core group to begin with. Pick one or two of those people that you wrote down the names of this could be up to 20 people remember? And I want you to pick two of them and ask for honest feedback. What are you asking them specifically? If we go through those five good friend qualities we talked about being there for someone listening to someone Feeling good when you're around the person empathetic and able to apologize and forgive, ask two people on that list. Hey, how would you grade me? Based on those five qualities? How am I doing? Because their honesty, no matter if it's positive or negative, is a gift, because we know exactly what we need to lean into to unlock a new level of friendships and relationships in our life. And challenge number two, maybe go through social media, even, I'm not sure what it's like for you. But start thinking about people who you don't have a really, really tight relationship with, but would love to get to know them better. And reach out to two of those people this week, as well, not to gain anything, but just to let them know, Hey, you mean a lot to me? And I'm thinking about you. Or if you don't know much about them yet, you can be like, hey, you know, I know we don't see each other or talk that often. But I would really love to grab a coffee or grab a meal or, you know, grab a drink with you. So I can actually get to know you a little bit better. Yeah, that's a risky question, because they might not feel the same way. But you know, what also could happen. You could just unlock a new level of friendship with this person. And they could jump through those circles going from potentially acquaintance to meaningful contact to a close friend, even or even get into the core of the two to five friends. Eventually, yes, we have social limits. But the majority of us studies show consistently. Don't feel like we have enough meaningful relationships. And let me tell you, you are worth finding, creating, building and having meaningful relationships. And I believe in you. So what if this was the start of our journey of investing into relationships, to ultimately find our people find our core, which is a mutual gift, because you'd be in someone else's core as well. I feel like this is how we can change the world. I feel like this is how we can make that 70% statistic, zero. And it all starts with me. And you and us. Let's go. In the next episode, we're going to be discussing the happiness study which is an 80 year long study from Harvard. It's important study because it's going to help us answer the question, what types of friends should I be looking for? So make sure you subscribe or follow along to get that next episode?

The 2 Types of People Asking This Question
Introduction to the Dunbar Principle
The "Core" Explained
Close Friends Circle Explained
Meaningful Contacts Circle Explained
Acquaintance Circle Defined
How Many People Do We Have the Capacity to Recognize?
Signs of A Good Friend, According to BetterHelp
Signs of A Bad Friend
2 Challenge Questions