British anthropologist and “mathematician of relationships” Robin Dunbar insists in his new book “Friends: Understanding the Power of our Most Important Relationships” that people can only maintain a certain number of friends at one time. Not only that, he believes that having too many friends can be just as bad as having none at all.
According to Dunbar’s research:
- 150 is the “magic number” when it comes to quantity of friends a person needs for success.
- These 150 people are described as “regular” friends, such as people you see at things like weddings or reunions, but don’t necessarily see all that often.
- But within that group there are other, more important friends.
- He says people need 50 “good" friends, described as those you’d invite to a birthday party but necessarily dinner at your house.
- Then there are the 12 to 15 “supportive” friends people need; these are friends who’d be very upset if you died.
- Finally, and probably most importantly, folks need five ”intimate” friends, who are friends that are so close to you they’d give you a kidney if you needed it.
Dunbar’s theory suggests there’s only a certain amount of “emotional capital” people can invest in others, and having too many people in your social circle, would cause people to stretch themselves too thin and burnout.