Whether you are in your twenties, forties, sixties or even eighties, a good friendship makes life so much more beautiful.

There are friends and friends however.

The key element in any relationship (and a friendship is a relationship), is TIME.

According to the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, it takes about

  • 50 hours before you can call an acquaintance a casual friend,
  • 90 hours to move from casual to friend
  • at least 200 hours before you can call someone a real, good friend.

Renowned evolutionary anthropologist Professor Robin Dunbar asks: “How many friends does one person need?

According to him, we cannot have more than 150 friends (Dunbar’s number), because our brain cannot handle (or keep track of) more and we don’t have enough time for more.

These 150 are divided in layers of quality (or amount of time spent). Most people have an inner “sympathy group” of around 15 people to which we devote about 60% of our total “social effort”, and a smaller ring of about five intimate friends, which Dunbar dubs the “support clique”.

Dunbar wrote the book
Friends: Understanding the Power of our Most Important Relationships.


I wasn’t surprised about the above.

I have a support clique of 5 intimate friends.

And I have about 15 friends I devote most of my time to.

When I turned 50 (just in time before all parties were banned), I threw a party with my 20 best women friends and we had a blast.

So if you look around you, does the Dunbar number apply to you as well?