The definition of relationships has drastically evolved. What once was only thought of as romantic, relationships mean everything from friends to family to lovers. While the description has expanded positively to encompass all types of relations humans have with one another, it also has downsides. As a society, we’ve gotten to the point where we’ve treated our relationships like they are dispensable instead of treating them as indispensable.
150 is the magic number
According to Dunbar’s number, a theory that suggests the number of people with whom one can maintain stable social relationships, humans can only sustain 150 stable relationships. This means anyone from family to friends to acquaintances. Any more than 150, and it’s information overload for the brain. From this 150, they break down into three subgroups: top 50, top 15, and top five.
● Top 50: people you’d call close friends, those you might invite to a party at your house. You like them but probably wouldn’t confess your deepest secrets to them.
● Top 15: you’re closer to them than the top 50
● Top five: we spend 50 percent of our social time with — the people you would feel able to go to in a “deep emotional or financial crisis.”
Even Facebook confirms this data; 50 percent of users have 200 friends or fewer. From that, we only talk to three to 10 friends on average, which are considered real friendships. Some argue that technology could change this, but it’s not possible due to the amount of time that relationships take.
Spend your time wisely
The reason that we can’t sustain more than 150 relationships is the time that it takes to maintain each relationship. We all know that we only have so many hours in the day, most of which we devote to working, leaving a limited amount of time to leave for social activities. That being said, time plays a critical role in relationships in that the amount of time you invest in your personal bonds makes it a relationship.
If you’ve ever had a close friendship or an intimate romantic relationship, you know this to be true. You feel closer to someone the more time you spend with them. Most of us know that closeness in a relationship comes from face-to-face time as opposed to digital time. This provides better communication than any other form. The more we laugh with someone, the stronger our bond will be as laughing releases endorphins in the brain akin to a slight opiate high.
In week 6 of our 8 week boot camp, we discuss how you can use Dunbar’s Number to relieve your relationship anxiety. We dive deep into how the math of relationships works and that you should really only be spending your time on maintaining 5 to 10 relationships with friends, family and significant others.
To learn more, talk to one of our co-founders about Personal Connection Boot Camp.
A dispensable world
In the world we live in today, many things are dispensable: jobs, food, money, etc. But the one area of our life that we shouldn’t make dispensable is our relationships. Let’s face it: we are all guilty of dropping connections for one reason or another. Maybe they were toxic. Perhaps you were only friends with them because you shared a class with them. Perhaps it was only because they were dating your best friend. Regardless, we are all guilty of doing this.
We forget to consider how it makes the other person feel when cutting people out of our lives. Whether you are the culprit or the victim, we’ve all been there.
We’ve all felt the impact of a friendship break up. Not going to lie, it doesn’t feel great, especially if they were one of the top five people that we invested a lot of time with. Often, these people will cut ties out of the blue, without an explanation or to make an effort to fix problems at hand. They treat the other party as if their time is dispensable.
Creating indispensable relationships
While it’s easy to just cut people out of our lives, we don’t have to. We don’t have to do what everyone else out there is doing. We can still make our relationships the one part of our lives that are indispensable. Remember, our relationships are human, and they have human feelings. At the end of the day, how we treat others is a reflection of our character, one of the most important traits we have.
You’re probably wondering how to create indispensable relationships. Relationships can be kept without needing to be close to every single person you meet. Not everyone you have a relationship needs to be in your top five. Maybe you have a relationship with these people on a professional basis or a networking connection. Regardless, you don’t have to cut them out of your life at the drop of a hat.
Reevaluating your relationships
Like anything else, it’s a lot easier said than done. ake the time to evaluate your relationships. Which ones are working, and which ones aren’t? Which ones are you getting a return on investment from aka are mutually beneficial? Which ones are you not? These are the questions you need to ask yourself when doing a relationship audit. Maybe it’s time to move some people from your top five to your top 15 or 50.
Taking the time to do this will ensure that you aren’t just spending your time on meaningless relationships. You want relationships that are fulfilling and worth your time and investment. Doing this will also give you the knowledge you need to make your relationships indispensable in this dispensable world we live in.
Join us in week 6 of our 8-week Personal Connection Boot Camp in harnessing the power of Dunbar’s Number to evaluate what relationships are serving you, and what relationships are bringing you down.
Talk to one of our founders to learn more about how we can work together.