How many true friends do you have

Only Half of Your Friends Actually Like You, Science Reveals : ScienceAlert

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When you call someone a friend, it goes without saying that they too consider you a friend - you like them, they like you, it's a reciprocal thing. 

But a 2016 study found that this is probably only true about 50 percent of the time - only half of perceived friendships are actually mutual, and that's a problem. 

Led by researchers from MIT, the study analysed friendship ties in 84 subjects aged 23 to 38, who were taking part in a business management class.

The subjects were asked to rank how close they were with each person in the class on a scale of 0 to 5, where 0 means "I do not know this person," 3 means "Friend," and 5 means "One of my best friends."

The researchers found that while 94 percent of the subjects expected their feelings to be reciprocated, only 53 percent of them actually were. 

The study is of course limited because of its tiny sample size, but as Kate Murphy reports for The New York Times, the results are consistent with data from several other friendship studies from the past decade, comprising more than 92,000 subjects, that put reciprocity rates at 34 to 53 percent.

This perception gap when it comes to friendship hints at a number of pretty significant problems, from our inability to clearly define friendship and the impact this could have on our own self-image, to us having the wrong idea about the kind of people who could actually affect social change.

While one of the team, computational social science researcher Alex Pentland, suggests that this inability to read people is largely due to us desperately trying to maintain a favourable self image - "We like them, they must like us." - the concept of friendship is actually really difficult to define.

"Ask people to define friendship - even researchers like Mr Pentland who study it - and you'll get an uncomfortable silence followed by 'er' or 'um,'" says Murphy.

It wasn't always this hard. When we're kids, the concept of friendship is pretty simple, as the kids from everyone's new favourite show, Stranger Things, spell out: 

  • A friend is someone that you'd do anything for.
  • You lend them your cool stuff, like comic books and trading cards.
  • They never break a promise.

And, most importantly, "Friends don't lie."

But in adolescence through to adulthood, things aren't so simple - especially when we've got social media pushing friendship as a commodity, which is pretty much the exact opposite of how you're supposed to think of them.

"Treating friends like investments or commodities is anathema to the whole idea of friendship," Ronald Sharp, a professor of English at Vassar College, who teaches a course on the literature of friendship, told Murphy. "It's not about what someone can do for you, it's who and what the two of you become in each other's presence."

Sharp adds that for many of our friendships, we spend way more time tweeting at each other than actually hanging out with them, and this is how perceptions can get seriously skewed.

"People are so eager to maximise efficiency of relationships that they have lost touch with what it is to be a friend," he says.

But hey, it's not all bad news. If you cut your friends by half and end up with five true pals who really do love you back, you're exactly where you're supposed to be, says renowned British anthropologist, Robin Dunbar.

According to a study led by Dunbar, while 150 is the maximum number of social relationships the average human can maintain with any degree of stability, we're only able to maintain a mere five close friendships at a time. 

"People may say they have more than five but you can be pretty sure they are not high-quality friendships," he told The Times.

So don't sweat it if your friend lists on social media aren't as massive as your friends - chances are most of us are actually pretty equal when it comes to real friendships. 

And don't believe what you hear about the people with the biggest following having the most influence, because what's the point when half of them aren't likely to be reciprocated?

"We shouldn't assume people with a high number of social ties are 'influencers'," Pentland writes for the Harvard Business Review.

"Such people are no better, and often are worse than average people at exerting social influence. Our results suggest that this is because many of those ties either are not reciprocal or go in the wrong direction, and therefore won't lead to effective persuasion."

So if you're looking for someone who can influence others and affect social change, says Pentland, don't look for one individual with lots of friends, look for groups of people with a similar number of friends, and lots of friends in common.

Because their connections are going to be a whole lot more real than anything in Kim Kardashian's feed.

The study was published in PLOS One.

A version of this article was first published in August 2016.

How Many Friends Should You Have and Why?

There’s no “right” number of friends you should have, but research says most people have between 3 and 5 close friends.

Friendship is necessary, but it can feel challenging to find people who really “get” you. What’s more, what you need from your friends might change as your life circumstances change.

Add in a culture where the number of friends you have is shown on your social channels and it can feel intimidating not to know exactly how many friends you’re “supposed” to have.

How many “real” friends a person has varies a lot, and it usually changes through the course of your life. Some people have higher social needs than others, which means they may want to have a greater number of friends. Those who value their alone time may need fewer friends, and that’s OK too.

In general, based on 2021 survey data, the average person in America has between 3 and 5 close friends. According to this survey:

  • almost half (49%) report having 3 or fewer close friends
  • over one-third (36%) report having between 4 and 9 close friends
  • 13% say they have 10 or more close friends
  • 12% say they have no close friends

Your number of friends might depend on many factors, including:

  • your age
  • marital status
  • occupation
  • cultural background
  • gender
  • where you live location

For example, the survey found that 76% of young adults have a friend they’ve known since childhood, versus 60% of seniors. It also found that young women (29%) are slightly more likely than young men (22%) to rely on friendships for support.

And the differences also extend to ethnicity, with 58% of Black Americans, 56% of Hispanic Americans, and 49% of white Americans reporting they are very or completely satisfied with how many friends.

Numbers aside, the type of friendships you have and the quality of those relationships tend to matter most later in life.

“The quality of friendships — to a person getting older — becomes more important than the number of friends they have,” says Colleen Wenner, a Clinical Director in Florida.

Humans are social by nature and friendships bring us many health and wellness benefits, including:

  • bringing joy and happiness
  • decreasing loneliness
  • elevating your self-confidence
  • helping you cope with stress

In short, good friends are good for you.

A 2020 study of 422 women (ages 31 to 77) found that being someone’s best friend related to higher life satisfaction. Feeling like you belong to a group increased life satisfaction, too.

The same study also found that more frequent visits with friends, plus how satisfied you are with your number of friends, were significant predictors of life satisfaction.

Why do friends make our lives better? According to Kara Nassour, LPC, NCC, in Austin, Texas, it’s because humans are naturally a very social species.

“We evolved to survive in groups of close friends and family,” explains Nassour — and, therefore, “a lack of friends increases our risks for anxiety, depression, trauma, and other mental illnesses.”

Finding friends can be challenging for many reasons, but rest assured you can find your people. Here are a few tips to help you make friends.

1. Be authentic

When making friends, you may feel inclined to mold yourself to meet others’ interests — but being inauthentic won’t result in true friendship.

On the contrary, “the best way to connect with others is by being yourself,” says Wenner. “You don’t have to be perfect, but you do have to be genuine.”

2. Stay present

It’s natural to get distracted by your thoughts or worries in social situations, especially when trying to make new friends and overthinking, well…everything.

It’s essential to pause and bring yourself back to the moment to keep yourself open to connecting. Wenner shares how “if you stay present, then you won’t get so caught up in your head that you miss out on opportunities to meet people who might become friends.”

3. Know your interests

What are you doing when you feel your best? By knowing what lights you up, you set yourself up to meet more like-minded people.

“It’s much easier to get along with someone who shares your interests than with someone who doesn’t,” says Wenner. “Take the initiative to discover what interests you, pursue it, and then the friendships will naturally follow.”

4. Embrace awkwardness

Making friends can feel…awkward. But Nassour suggests not to be put off by a little awkwardness.

“It takes more than twenty hours of shared time for a friendly acquaintance to become a good friend,” says Nassour. “You will have to get through the awkward stages before you start feeling a real sense of trust and comfort.”

5. Get out there

To make friends, put yourself in places where you can meet new people.

You might try taking up a new hobby or visiting somewhere you haven’t been before. By getting out there (especially if it’s out of your comfort zone), you can learn more about yourself and what is important to you, including friendships.

How many friends does the average person have? The consensus is that it varies — and for a good reason. You are not average, but so much more.

If you are trying to make new friends or assess your current friendships, try starting with yourself. Consider what you need to feel fulfilled. Ask yourself:

  • What interests me?
  • What is holding me back from being authentic?
  • Where do I really want to end up?

Go deep so that your friendships can go deeper. And if you’re still curious, there are TED talks and podcasts for more. Good luck, friend.

Doesn't matter Important and how much they will remember you when they feel good !!! — Discuss

No matter how many friends you have…… It is important - how many of them will help you in difficult times, and how much they will remember you when they feel good !!! — Discuss


It doesn't matter how many friends you have......
What matters is how many of them will help you in difficult times,
and how many will remember you when they feel good !!! friend minute nine0003






Natalia Volodina

The truth, tested for the first time during the Chernobyl tragedy, again - during the current war... Many "friends" fell off like dirt from shoes. .. And new stars shone in the sky of true friendship


Vladislav Kravtsov

What's the question?! This is a fact that has been proven time and time again. I'm in a difficult position right now, so at least someone can help. Even those who promised fled. for that I, damn it, in constant readiness for some reason



But now you know if you have real friends ... and the fact that you are always ready to help will be taken into account


Vladislav Kravtsov

I can't wait for this fact. Somehow I want to take it into account during my lifetime)



Must be taken into account))


Vladislav Kravtsov

Okay. I'll wait another



Everything will be fine!!!


Hope Xxxxxxxxxx

Many will help in difficult times, but only the only true friend will be happy for you when you are happy, the rest are jealous and .... friendship is not the same


Asya Wise

To understand life, you don't need a prescription, you just need to hear the sounds, not notes, look not at the palette, but at the color, look for words in the soul, and not in the notebook ..))))))


Vladimir Rakivnenko

Asya!. ..


Asya Wise

I ....


Vladimir Rakivnenko

...playing around???


Asya Wise



Vladimir Rakivnenko



nine0002 Alla Yuzikeyeva

That's for sure!!! few will help, they will remember even less, and they will be happy for you when you are lucky - even less . ..



Let it be small, but the most reliable


Alla Yuzikeeva

and God forbid everyone to have them...






Only a few can survive the success of a friend, but many can be close to their advice in difficult times.



These units are real friends



I already answered. You understood correctly.



Friends are ONLY THOSE who will help and remember!!! The rest are FRIENDS.





Vasilyeva Natalia

We just need to immediately call friends those who are capable of it. nine0003


Alexander Zubritsky

I agree! therefore I introduced a difference in my life: friends and acquaintances



Friends and acquaintances are completely different things


Alexander Zubritsky

OF COURSE! and I call those friends who remember me and whom I do not forget



Yes. .. but the main thing is when they can help in difficult times


Alexander Zubritsky

that's it, they can! And if they can't?



The main thing is that they want to do it with all their heart and soul


Alexander Zubritsky

sometimes a handout helps!





Tatyana Agafonova

That's right!!! That's why I don't breed friends like seaweed in a pond!!!


Alexander Teplyakov

No matter how many friends you have, it's important to know that you don't have any.


Alexander Teplyakov

He swam, in the sense of being pulled apart like a boa constrictor on asphalt.)))



Wow... the word swam turns out to have many meanings))


Alexander Teplyakov

Each word has many meanings, each meaning has many underlying reasons. )))



That's right


Alexander Teplyakov



nine0411 On this occasion, in my opinion, Omar Khayyam said best of all


shopping mall

Tatiana Kuflina

And even more important - how many people will sincerely rejoice at your luck. ..



Olga ))))))

no friends in our time, there are acquaintances and friends



Azamat Uspanov

One friend is enough for me if he is real.



It also happens, but in general there should be only a few real ones


Inhabitant of Planet Earth

yes, right now, such friends that you don’t need enemies ...



I have good ones!!!


. ......

I'm afraid then to be completely without friends...



Don't be afraid...the real ones will always be with you



Thank you....comforted





Tamara Mirzoyants

life will show....who is a friend and who.....





Ermek Nusurov

need to share friends and buddies!!!



In a difficult moment everything will share by itself


Nadezhda Yakusheva

I read this note somewhere. .........


Next page

How many REAL friends do you have?



and those with whom you can hang out at any time there are a lot of them

Yes, and there are not so many



Another dozen who are always happy to see and chat with whom it is interesting to spend time and do not quit in difficult times. I can call them friends too.

I always say that I am lucky with people. #7







Endeous anxiety

which, as in that joke, will come and help to bury the corpses without excessive questions.








One - former husband.





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I am good, good and proactive, and proactive, and proactive, and proactive, and proactive, and proactive, and proactive, and proactive, and proactive, and proactive and proactive I help people. My good friends are aware that I help because. I'm good, not bad. H

Send ***!) Someone who asks and suddenly hears such an answer has such a funny expression))

You need to be a strong person, not be afraid to lose the r who wants to use you. The author of the topic, maybe you are too good a person and at first it will be hard for you to refuse, but eventually get used to it.


One example: through her husband's acquaintances, she brought a friend to a potential employer. We sit, drink coffee, discussed all the details of the contract. The employer (an old acquaintance) talks about his sister's illness. My friend, who without our help could not get anywhere, says after we said goodbye to this person: "How I was sick of other people's problems, I wanted to get up and leave!" And I, in principle, needed this meeting only for her sake, and it took me 1.5 hours to get to the meeting place so that she had a good money job! nine0003

Is this normal or am I, as they say on the forum, a sucker? ;-) An example, alas, is far from the only one and not only with this girlfriend. I must be a very outdated person. That is, with my head, I understand everything, but I begin to justify such people. More like for your own peace of mind. And my friends can smell when I reach the boiling point and by this moment they become paws, pour oil. And when I lose my vigilance and see only the good again, everything starts the same way. What is the conclusion? Probably just stop talking...



who are only interested in their own skin and are only interested in spending time with their own skin which immediately sit on their heads if you allow








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