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f the idea of ex­tend­ing your friend­ship cir­cle by one or two mates has you fran­ti­cally reach­ing for your di­ary, anx­iously leaf­ing through each page, won­der­ing how on earth you’ll ex­plain you have zero free evenings for the next three weeks – we feel ya. Once upon a time, hav­ing loads of mates was cool. Now it’s in­con­ve­nient.

Wel­come to friend­ship’s new door pol­icy, where the ‘one in, one out’ rule must ap­ply to main­tain qual­ity friend­ships with a small group of friends. Your new boyfriend’s sis­ter is great, but sorry – no room at the inn. It’s def­i­nitely a new trend and it seems that our in­creas­ingly over­loaded sched­ules are to blame.

‘Any re­la­tion­ship takes work and ef­fort,’says, psy­chol­o­gist Dr Glenn Ma­son. ‘I of­ten use the metaphor of fit­ness. If we want our bod­ies to stay in shape, it re­quires work and ded­i­ca­tion. It’s ex­actly the same with friend­ships – they need to be nur­tured and main­tained.’

A sur­vey ear­lier this year re­vealed the av­er­age Brit makes ap­prox­i­mately 104 so­cial ar­range­ments every year – but only sticks to around half. This could ex­plain why, in our life­time, we make around 396 friends – but only one in 12 will ac­tu­ally go the dis­tance.

Ac­cord­ing to a 2016 study, we con­tinue to make friends un­til our mid-twen­ties, but af­ter this our new friend­ships start to de­crease rapidly. It’s said to be be­cause we find it more dif­fi­cult to make friends – and be­cause as we get older, we favour qual­ity over quan­tity. This, cou­pled with

Iour busy life­styles and so­cial me­dia (a sur­vey by Diet Coke re­vealed Brits count just five per cent of their so­cial me­dia fol­low­ers as ‘close’ friends) is lead­ing peo­ple to be se­ri­ously choosy over who they ‘let in’ – if any­one.

‘I stopped mak­ing new friends a few years ago,’ says 38-year-old Chantelle Znideric, a per­sonal stylist. ‘It’s not that I’m not a so­cia­ble per­son, but my life is very busy. I strug­gle to sched­ule in see­ing my clos­est friends, never mind hav­ing time to go through the mo­tions of mak­ing new ones.

‘My job is de­mand­ing. I work closely with clients for lengthy pe­ri­ods of time and it can be quite in­tense, so at the week­ends, I’d rather spend time with “good” mates. I also try to make time for my­self, which means less time to make new friend­ships.’

Be­ing con­tent with your ex­ist­ing pals isn’t a bad thing, but is it dan­ger­ous to veto po­ten­tial friend­ships? Are we miss­ing out? ‘Meet­ing new peo­ple is great,’ adds Dr Ma­son. ‘But we all need a core group of near­est and dear­est. Adding a new friend­ship to an al­ready busy life may in­crease stress lev­els, but the real prob­lem here is a healthy work/life bal­ance. I see a lot of peo­ple get­ting this wrong and it of­ten im­pacts friend­ships in a neg­a­tive way. Find what’s right for you, but as­sess this bal­ance first.’

We reckon qual­ity over quan­tity is im­por­tant, but it’s al­ways good to keep our op­tions open. As long as we have time to see our friends and binge-watch The Keepers, we’re happy.

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