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

Posted by
Susan Devaney

If there’s one long-standing lesson we’ve learned from female-focused TV shows from yesteryears – like Sex And The City, Charmed, Gilmore Girls and Grey’s Anatomy – it’s that female friendship is, ultimately, what’ll get us through the ups and downs in life.

For many of us our first friendships were formed on the school playground. And, the lucky ones amongst us, will still hold those friendships close today.

But life can take us from one city to the next, and one country to another, meaning we’re forced to forge new friendships on fresh ground as an adult. You only have to ask Google, ‘how to make friends as an adult’, to be met with over 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 recent 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.

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,” explains Hall.

“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 (and not talking to the walls).

Images: Unsplash