You might not have as many close friends as you think. Researchers have provided new evidence that lends weight to a theory that says you can only maintain five close friendships.
You’ve probably heard of Dunbar’s Number which suggests that human beings can only maintain meaningful relationships with between 100 to 230 other people, and that number is typically 150.
But you might not know that Robin Dunbar, the anthropologist behind the number, has since also suggested that those relationships are layered, like an onion. He argues that people typically have five ultra-close relationships, then 10 slightly less cozy companions, 35 at more distance, and then 100 in an outer circle. Now he and follow researchers have published data that appears to lend weight to the theory.
The remaining data was then clustered, to sort out whether there was layering in friendship closeness, where closeness was measured by the frequency of calls between two individuals. Turns out that the clusters shape up rather similarly to Dunbar’s suggestions. The results are published on arXiv.