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S. Jakes


Being Okay With Less Friends

Posted On:24-Jul-2021/10:05 pm

Your life will be filled with people who come and go. People who you might love to spend time with but, alas, you never became friends. Or those who you were once close with but haven’t spoken to in years. That’s the nature of friendship, especially in the adult world. Making friends is the easy part, but maintaining friendships, especially with those with conflicting schedules or who live far away, can feel almost impossible.

When I was in high school, I was once told by a teacher “in life, you’ll have enough good friends to barely count on one hand”, implying that adults have five close friends or less. I never understood this as a teenager. I had plenty of friends, way more than what I could count on one hand. I thought that this look at life was bleak, and downright pessimistic. However, as I grew older, the more truth I find in what my teacher told me. He was right. Now, as an adult with commitments and a job, I find that I truly only have a few close friends. I still have work friends, old friends from high school, and people with whom I enjoy their company. However, how I interpret the concept is that adults only truly have a few genuine friends – friends who you are excited to see and who you can talk to about anything, and, despite how long you go between seeing each other, you’re still as close as ever.

When I first realized how right my teacher was, my first instinct was to prove him wrong. I was determined to prove that I could be close with a lot more than just five people. For us neurotic people-pleasers, this idea can be daunting. We all want everyone to like us, and to consider us friends, but, spoiler alert: they won’t. You will meet people that you might like, but just might not enjoy your company back. Or those who you wish you were closer to, but it just never worked out. Being an adult – at least a well-functioning adult - means that sometimes, you must let people go, even if there is a potentially budding friendship. Because the truth is, not everybody will be your friend, and regarding acquaintances or work friends, not everybody will be your close friend. To be an adult means to be okay with this idea and looking at who is close to you. Because being an adult with adult friends is really hard, considering conflicting schedules, kids, jobs, and responsibilities. Maintaining adult friendships can be rough but is so worth it when you can make it work.

I was talking to one of my married girlfriends about this. We came to the conclusion that once we leave high school and college, we just don’t have the opportunity to meet people like we did before. I also think we become less friendly because of certain attitudes that we develop. We always have our guard up and we question people who might want to be our friend and get close to us. Also, if we get married, then our new friend also needs to like our partner. When we get married, we have the marriage mentality, a new friend needs to hang out with both of us, so we all have to like each other. The friends you have before you get married are your friends, but once you get married, new friends are “our friends”. I also notice that couples look for other couples to be friends with. So, it’s a package deal. This same friend that I mentioned earlier, started hanging out with a guy friend from work, and you guessed it, her husband thought they were too friendly, and she quickly ended the relationship (even though it was totally a platonic friendship) - talk about complications. For sure, these are just some of reasons why we have fewer friends as we get older.

While we may no longer have a room full of people we consider best friends, I wouldn’t trade those few best friends I have for anything. So, even if you look at those you consider close friends and can only count them on one hand, think about how lucky you are to have those people in your life.



1 : As we get older, it’s harder and harder to make new friends.

2 : Most adults only have a handful of good friends.

3 : Love and cherish the few good friends that you have.

Category:  Relationships / Subcategory:  Is Five Good Friends Enough?

Tags: Friendship, Acquaintance, Adults, Commitments, Work, Marriage

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Bruce Peters


S. Jakes, I do not see what the deal is with counting the number of friends that we have. I have many friends, but even if I did not, no big deal. We only need one or two really good friends. If anyone tells me that they have 20+ friends, I never believe them anyways. One thing quarantining showed me was who was my friend and who was not.

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Amara Kone


S. Jakes--just another fact of life. I once had this conversation with my mother, and I loved her response. She said that when you are married with kids and you are trying to figure out how to pay the bills next month, the last thing on your mind is how many friends you have. Amelia, sometimes I think the exact same thing.

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Nadine Wu


S. Jakes--I think when we are younger, we are not as picky about meeting people. We call anybody a friend and over time we choose the ones we want to continue hanging out with. But, as we get older, when we meet someone, they have to be friend material from the get-go. I think this is another reason why we have less friends as we get older--just my thoughts.

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S. Jakes


Amelia, I think this is one of the effects of covid. I think I lost two friends. I tried to keep in touch, but they did not. It makes me wonder who my real friends are. Thanks for answering my duppydom.

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Amelia Roosevelt


Thanks, Jakes. It is a true review of friends around us. I totally agree with you, Sometimes I wonder "Is there anyone I can call my friend?".