Well girls, it appears we have more in common with baboons than we thought. Yep, a recent study has found that, like human women, female baboons flourish when they have fewer mates. The ideal number for humans is between 2 and 4, while the lucky number for our furry friends is 3. Gosh, who knew?
Well, I think I did.
In a time where Facebook and Twitter have turned ‘friend’ recruiting into a competitive sport, I’ve slowly started to realise that, while I’m all for keeping in contact, I don’t need the numbers I once yearned for.
When I was growing up, popularity was based on two things: the number of parties you were invited to and the amount of times your mobile rang on the weekend. Oh, how times have changed; now, I screen my calls like my life depends on it and spend my life juggling work RSVP’s with gentle let-downs.
Which brings me back to the research findings. Your brain can effectively deal with 150 friends, but for women, the biggest payoff comes from having a tight-knit core of only 2-4. Apparently, this smaller number assists in levels of happiness, stability and coping, proving that, like most things in life, abundance isn’t the path to happiness.
I know this to be true for me. I have a small, close circle of girlfriends (well, one’s a guy but he’s fabulously gay) who I would walk over hot coals for. Some I’ve been friends with since school, others uni and one I’ve picked up along the way. Plus, there’s my sister who I definitely count as a best friend, but I don’t know where family sits in the findings.
Anyway, this mad lot are my core, my life, my everything. We talk openly about sex, life, food, travel, happiness, sorrow, stress… anything. They’re all I need when it comes to friendship and there’re less than 5 of them. These friendships are small and deep rather than big and finely spread and, I think, that’s what makes them all the more amazing.
Perhaps this has something to do with being a woman. The University of Kansas found that women expect more from their friendships than men, but we put more into them too. Women need more than footy, boobs and beers to feel satisfied in a friendship, whereas guys are happy with the surface stuff.
When it comes to happiness, one of the biggest contributing factors is a sense of community – that support system or ‘catch me if I fall’ sense of safety that accompanies this. Friendship (as well as family) is the crux of this notion, so if that means having more time to play with fewer true friends rather than being stressed out trying to attend every party, then wrap me up and tie me in a bow because I’m all for it.
Tell me Happies…
Have you found that you need fewer, more meaningful friendships in your life as you grow older?
How many friends do you need?