The Reason You Don’t Have As Many Friends as You Think

Robin Dunbar’s 150

Have you ever questioned whether your “closest friends” are really that close?

If you have 6 friends/family that you love equally, you’re lying to yourself. Someones always at the bottom. Ever seen Survivor? No alliance is equal, there’s always a top, there’s always a bottom.

Frankly, you don’t have the time. The more time you devote to someone the closer you will become to them. It’s really simple. There are variations in the formula: females value talking over spending time together; males value spending time together over talking.

Dunbar’s TED talk on his favorite number, 150.

Long Distance Relationships

As a guy, I get how long distance relationships don’t work. Dunbar says 6 months without seeing each other forget it, it’s over. I agree. Whether it’s a bro or a girlfriend, 6 months not spending time together in person and that relationships toast.

It’s easier for girls, because they are ok with talking on the phone. For guys, the phone’s not enough. It’s about seeing people.

Humans are adaptable. If we move somewhere, it will be hard for a while. We will miss our mates from home. Over time though, we will adapt. What happens to the pals back home? Those relationships dwindle until they are only a memory.

I know I’m sounding harsh right now, but it’s no joke. You don’t devote enough time to a relationship (in person, not on social media or texting) = that relationship will diminish.

Who Are Your Closest Friends/Family?

My sisters and I decided to write down our top 5 and 15. Dunbar says the top 5 are “the ones you’d go to in moments of deep emotional or financial crisis.” Those 5 are your strongest pillars. The top 15 you’d go to for emotional support, just not in the same way as the top 5. Those 10 are your secondary pillars.

A romantic partner counts as 2 top friends, because of how much time is devoted to that relationship.


It’s shocking what you find when you force yourself to lineup friends and family from 1 to 5 and 6 to 15. And how hard it is to find 15 you rely on emotionally. Try it out.

What to Take Away

Developing and maintaining quality relationships is hard.

Make sure of the people you want to be truly close to and give them your time.


My Question to You

  • Do you agree with Dunbar?

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