Research Reveals How Many Hours It Actually Takes to Make a Friend
Surrounding yourself with a solid support system is important for your health, outlook, and overall wellbeing, but establishing new friendships can be challenging as you grow older; when once you could simply accumulate new friends without trying, it seems to take so much more effort once you reach full adulthood. And according to a study, what it mostly takes is time.
A study from a researcher at the University of Kansas tried to find out exactly how long it would take to make a new friend, from that first handshake to BFF bracelets or becoming an emergency contact (or the person you call when you need a hug). The research consisted of an online survey, which asked questions like "does this person's opinion of you matter to you?" and "do you feel emotionally close to this person?"
It also, perhaps most importantly, asked how many hours per week you spend with your friend, and how many weeks you've known each other. The survey was exclusively asked of people who had moved within the past six months and said they were looking for new friends (fun fact: a person's brain can only handle about 150 friendships).
The lead researcher on the project identified three levels of friendship: casual friendship, regular friendship, and close friendship. It takes a certain number of hours spent together to reach each of those levels; 40 to 60 hours for a casual friendship, 80 to 100 hours for a regular friendship, and more than 200 hours for a close friendship. This also explains, to some degree, how friendships can be made easier while younger. College students, for example, can spend many more hours in a shorter time period together, while adults post-college have other responsibilities and probably don't live in the same room or building.
Having a strong, reliable group of friends can yield many health and career benefits, but as the research indicates, those relationships take time to cultivate. Spending quality time with your pals, going on vacations together, and even taking time to dish about your favorite podcasts can keep your bond healthy and strong.