Who do you count as your friends? From our BFF to a work mate, it’s good to have someone to chew the fat with or offer comfort and support. But when it comes to friendship, is it more important to have quantity or quality?
The recent isolation we have endured due to the coronavirus pandemic has made some of us question our friendships. We’ve fallen out of touch with friends and acquaintances, and it may feel awkward, but do we actually have to rekindle every relationship we once had? It might be time to take stock and think about who you kept in touch with, who you missed talking to, and who you didn’t. In short, maybe it’s time to reset your list of real mates.
There’s no obligation to stay friends, and writing for BBC Worklife, Bryan Lufkin says: “While people have known for years that friendships are unquestionably good for your health, experts say it’s only natural for acquaintances and even friends to fall by the wayside as time goes on – and it’s nothing to feel guilty about.”
Of course, it can be hard to choose who’s in your friendship circle. This is what Suzanne Degges-White, professor of counselling at Northern Illinois University, calls our ‘friendscape’. She says, “in life, as we go through certain stages and ages, our attention shifts, and we want to be around people who are like us.”
So, changing friends is normal, but we still need those special pals who’ve known us long term. These are friendships we invest time in. According to Robin Dunbar, a professor of evolutionary psychology at the University of Oxford, these are your inner circle of friends – your “shoulders to cry on” – and you have to see them at least once a week to keep them in that circle. He adds that the friends that do drift are mostly “friendships of convenience”. But the advice for maintaining a good friendship is to share how you feel with someone you trust – this can help strengthen your friendship as well as giving you both a chance to support each other.