When both of your BFFs are busy on a weekend, and you're fresh out of people to hang with, you might wonder why you can't seem to buckle down with a squad that never leaves you lonely. Why is it so impossible for you to have more than two friends?!
WHY ARE YOU LIKE THIS???
Despite the high volume of #squadgoals grams posted by acquaintances you don't actually go out with, it's actually perfectly normal to have just a few close friends. So whether you've grown apart from your high school or college friend group, or never had one to begin with, here's why—and why it's OK!
1. You have so many things going on in your life!
Finding time to see all two people in your posse can feel like a lot on top of work, meal-prepping, and the rare slivers of designated you-time AKA bingeing Netflix in your sweatpants. You might not have time to make extra plans and keep up with an ongoing group chat.
You might also be better off: While most people consider friendship to be universally beneficial, keeping up with an extra-large group of humans might not be extra fulfilling, according to a 2016 national survey, which found that smart people who spent less time with friends were happier.
2. You move around too often to maintain a solid squad.
There are times in your life where you might need to make a tough choice: stay where you've always been, surrounded by your close friends, or go somewhere new for school or work, knowing that some of your friendships might fade as the distance between you grows.
"If someone moves away from a place where they lived for many years, it may be hard to rebuild new networks of friends," says Dr. Irene S. Levine, PhD, psychologist and professor of psychiatry at the NYU School of Medicine. "Close friendships develop slowly, over time."
3. You climb the corporate ladder too quickly to make lasting friendships at work.
Promotions or frequent job changes can make it difficult to maintain friendships with people you meet in the environment where you spend most of your adult life: at work. "It also can be lonelier at the top, as a manager, with fewer opportunities to socialize with peers," Dr. Levine says, also noting how women who work in a male-dominated workplace can struggle to find female friends at the office.
4. You subconsciously steer away from social groups.
“People differ in terms of their needs and preferences for having more or fewer friends,” Dr. Levine says. If you're the party-goer who tends to gravitate toward one interesting person to chat with in the quietest corner of the room, squad life might not be for you.
After all, the larger your friend group, which grows when members invite their roommates and co-workers to join in the fun, the less tight you are with each individual in it, science suggests. That means you might end up spending group time stuck in boring, surface-level conversations that revolve around catching up rather than deeply-engaging exchanges.
No wonder it’s completely natural for dyads (aka twosomes), to form within bigger groups, according to Dr. Levine—meaning it's normal to prefer intimate relationships, no matter how many times you try to enjoy larger crowds.
5. You're putting extra effort into your romantic relationship right now.
As you get older, new relationships sometimes take precedence over nights out with your squad. "If someone is partnered, they may have less time and need to socialize with friends than when if they were single or divorced," Dr. Levine says.
While spending Friday nights Netflix-and-chilling with your S.O. can isolate you from your extended crew, if you still have a few great friends you regularly carve out face-to-face time for, you are fiiiiine. Besides, having less time to physically see everyone can help you realize which friends you've been prioritizing all along—your besties! You'll catch up with everyone else when you can.
6. You put your all into each of the friendships you have.
It's actually really healthy to fully invest yourself in your friends, regardless of how many you have: In a 2002 analysis, researchers found that the common bond between "very happy people" was their close friendships and relationships, and the fact that they devoted time to meaningful one-on-one interactions.
The next time you scroll through a rando's group photos and find yourself wondering whether more friends would make you happier, check yourself. It's better to be a great friend to a few people—and to yourself!—than it is to be a so-so, kind-of-flaky, kind-of-flustered friend to a lot of people. So stop counting!
H/T Cosmo US