This weekend I went to a friend’s BBQ. It’s been a while since this particular group of friends were together making it a great opportunity to catch up. We also played a few competitive games, which is a common pass-time when getting together.

Most of this group I’ve known less than five years (through membership of a local drama society). Other friends I’ve had for longer times. Some since school, others since university and yet more picked up along the way through social or work activities.

Like most, I have different circles of friends forming a Venn diagram of intersecting categories. I have people whom I consider amongst my closest friends who have never met each other and as we live in a world connected across geographies I suspect I’m not alone in this.

How long does it take to make a friend?

I’ve never believed in befriending others quickly. Making many friends quickly leads to losing them at similar haste. Throughout our lives we meet many people and, if we make good choices, a selection of those stay with us for many years to come.

Some recent friends quickly become confidants, but there’s undeniably an unwritten rule that the closest are the ones you’ve known longest. The ones you can more honest conversations with without fear of causing offence or embarrassment.

What makes a friend?

I find two things lead to long friendships. Similar outlooks and shared experiences. Of these, shared experiences are more important. I have close friends who I disagree with on many topics, especially politics and football, but our shared memories bind us together.

A test of true friendship is if you can go a long time without seeing each other and then instantly roll back the years and regain the shared link when you meet.

My university friends easily fit into this category. I can go a year without seeing them but the moment I do we are back at university, talking nonsense over a beer at the George Knox student pub, and sharing tall tales of our adventures since we last met.

We are family

The best friendship circles become siblings. A family grouping created by shared emotions rather than blood. Sometimes a different type of family grows from friendship. My wife and I were friends before becoming partners. The perfect way to explore each others personality without worrying how a relationship will develop.

Friendships are important, but there is no ‘right’ number of friends to have, or a minimum acceptable number to prove you are social person.

Numbers shouldn’t concern you, only the quality of those connections. If you have one true friend hold onto them, as that relationship will prove more rewarding than a lifetime of chasing transient connections.


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