ARE YOU IN THE FRIENDSHIP QUEUE?
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.