Life

This is how long it takes to make new friends, according to science

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Susan Devaney
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Monica and Rachel from Friends

Want to make a new friend? A study has revealed just how much quality time you need to spend with a potential mate in order to form a strong bond – and it’s probably a lot more than you expect.

There are few feelings more special in life than the warmth we feel when we make a new friend. After all, if there’s one long-standing lesson we’ve learned from female-focused TV shows from yesteryear – like Sex And The City, Charmed, Gilmore Girls, Grey’s Anatomy or the aptly named Friends– it’s that female friendship truly is a powerful thing.

Unfortunately, however, making friends as an adult is often far from simple. It’s just not as easy as it was when we were making friends in the school playground – we’ve no longer got the uninhibited confidence to walk up to whoever we want and immediately start a conversation. You only have to ask Google ‘how to make friends as an adult’ (and be met with nearly two billion results), to see how common the occurrence can be. On the playground you bonded with your new friend over your mutual love for Pokémon, but in adult life it’s not such an easy feat – or is it?

A 2018 study, carried out by Jeffrey Hall, a communications professor at the University of Kansas, found out just how much time is required before you make a new friend as an adult. Because nothing in life worth having comes easy, right? So take note because, on average, it takes around 50 hours of your invested time before you consider someone a ‘casual friend’, and 90 hours before you feel truly comfortable in your fresh friendship.

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By dividing the study into two parts, Hall firstly recruited 429 online participants who’d moved to a new city in the past six months and asked them to select someone they’d met since making the move. All participants then completed a survey about their newly forged friendship, answering questions such as: what they did when they hung out or how much time they’d usually spend together in a week. They then rated their new friend in their life against a scale of closeness.

In the second part, Hall compared the results to a similar survey completed by 112 new university students, asking them to rate their closeness to a friend they’d made after enrolling on the course.

And, in doing so, Hall found that it takes at least 200 hours of quality time before you consider you and your new friend to be really close.

“When people transition between stages, they’ll double or triple the amount of time they spend with that other person in three weeks’ time,” Hall explained.

“We have to put that time in. You can’t snap your fingers and make a friend. Maintaining close relationships is the most important work we do in our lives - most people on their deathbeds agree.”

Invest time in your friendships now because you’ll be truly thankful when you’re old. 

A study carried out in 2017 found that being healthy later on in life can come down to how well you’ve nurtured your friendships. The research, carried out by Michigan State University, surveyed 271,053 people in nearly 100 countries and found that people who claimed to have a stronger bond with friends had a higher happiness level in general.

However, the researchers found that the one and only link between good relationships to health and happiness in older participants was from strong friendships.

So invest time in your friendships now, because you’ll be truly thankful when you’re old and wise.

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Susan Devaney

Susan Devaney is a digital journalist for Stylist.co.uk, writing about fashion, beauty, travel, feminism, and everything else in-between.

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