Is Having a Lot of Friends Bad? (According to Psychology)

We all love to be more popular and have a lot of friends, but is it a good thing to have a lot of friends?

It is not a good idea to have a lot of friends. By having too many friends, you will lose the depth of the relationship, and you will have acquaintances more than friends. So it’s better to have only a few friends and focus on increasing the depth of your relationships.

“The next time you’re feeling lonely, start getting rid of some friends”

The first time I’ve read this phrase it’s was the weirdest thing I’ve read. But after I started digging deep into the subject, I understood how much value this phrase has. You probably have too many friends, or more specifically, you have too many acquaintances in your life who you think are your friends, and that’s might set you up for failure, because it will set you up for loneliness.

Loneliness isn't necessarily the outcome of being alone. It's more often being surrounded by people you call your friends. Friends you don't like, friends who don't like you. Friends you don't know, friends who don't know you. Friendships that travel in one direction.

The definition of friend and friendship they’ve both been broadened so much so that they include everyone. And because of that, they’re kind of meaningless.

We used to call these kinds of relationships “frenemies”, the friends that we don’t like. It’s a better term than using the term friend with everyone. It’s an honest appraisal of the relationship because it creates a boundary in that specific relationship, and this is the solution to loneliness. Making boundaries in our relationships except for those who we really know and trust and want to spend our most valuable time with.

We think that we need to be open in our relationships, but that’s not 100 percent true. It’s not true because of a faulty definition. The assumption that being friendly makes us friends or implies friendship. Friendship is a term that needs to be well understood before use. It’s a relationship built on trust and acceptance. When we befriend someone, it means that we are accepting him as he is. We know his mistakes and his flaws but we still love him and give him every possible support, and we are expecting the same from him, and that’s not available in many relationships we call friendships. By embracing boundaries in relationships we accomplish two things: we get rid of the friends we don’t need, and we stop feeling lonely. Because the friends who are left, like you as much as you like them. So the next time you’re feeling lonely, start getting rid of some friends.

“A very superficial butterfly type of person (going from one flower to the next) may have many acquaintances but no real friends”

Friends are Important

The University of Essex looked at 35 years of study of 10000 students and found more friends means more money. The research looked at kids while in school and compared that to their lifetime earnings. It turns out those with more friends as kids made more cash as adults, 2 percent more for every school-aged friend.

Studies found that when friends interact, our bodies release Oxytocin (it’s that feel-good bonding hormone). Endorphins are also released rewarding us with a little shot of happiness when we are interacting socially with our bodies.

Studies suggest that not having friends could be dangerous. In 2010, Plos Medicine have found those with social connections live longer, while those without had a 50 percent higher risk of death in the seven and half years following their study.

The health benefits don’t say: have tons of friends to be healthier and happier, instead, it would seem that you just have to have a few.

6 reasons why you shouldn’t have too many friends

1- Social media makes it look very cool:

In social media, people love to appear to others as social and well-liked. They tend to selectively post photos with a large group of friends or at social events. This will make social media users think that they have only a few friends, while in fact, they are pretty much like everyone else. People think that what they are seeing on social media represents real life. But the truth is much of what we are seeing on social media is fake because people are only posting their highlit reels. People automatically compare themselves to others and this does affect self-esteem and self-evaluation.

2- It’s hard to truly have six or seven equally-best friends:

“The problem is that when one has lots of friends, one may not be able to invest as much time as the friend would like,” says Dr. Pickett. “For example, always being too busy to call or go to dinner. It is possible, but likely very difficult to have six or seven best friends.”

Close friendships require time and energy, and one can only have a few close friends that he can spend a good amount of time with every day.

3- As you get older, you prefer close friends over squad:

Dr. Laura Carstensen has a theory called (Social Selectivity Theory) which suggests that as people get older, they start to invest more time in meaningful activities. They start to shrink their social networks and focus on those relationships that are more socially satisfying.

The theory explains that when you’re younger, future goals like becoming more popular and successful are what mostly drive you. The older you get, the more focused you are on the time you have left and the more you’re focused on meaningful activities, like spending more time with one or two close friends. And when you know that having only a few friends is what will make you happy down the line, why waste your time worrying about being with a large group of friends.

4- By focusing on having lots of friends you might lose some:

In friendship, prioritizing quantity over quality can make you lose some of your best friends. When one person feels that they are investing more in the relationship than the other person, they will feel unsatisfied, and this will lead them to leave. No one wants to feel that you only meat them when the others are not available.

5- The hierarchy will probably cause drama:

Because not everyone in the group is your best friend, if there is a conflict between two of your best friends, you’ll probably have your own biases and be closer to one friend over the other. And this will cause drama.

6- Balancing too many friendships could affect your health:

Based on a study from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, having too many friends can result in stress. This feeling of obligation to so many friends can be overwhelming and lead to depression and stress.

The bottom line

It is better to focus on the quality of your relationships rather than the quantity. Having friends around you is important for both your physical and mental health. But having a lot of them will turn your life into trouble.

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