Why you should have fewer friends

By Joshua Burt ( China Daily ) Updated: 2017-03-04 07:23:38

11 reasons why a smaller social circle may be beneficial to one's pocketbook, calendar, reputation and overall peace of mind

The results of an Oxford University study revealed yesterday that when it comes to sustaining friendships women need to get on the phone and men need to get down to the pub. Those who move from their home town to study elsewhere and don't do this could find their friendship circle diminishing rapidly - by around 40 per cent after just six months.

But frankly, is this really a bad thing? Do we really need to spend all our time tending to friendships like hungry houseplants. What's wrong with generally moving on with your life and culling the dead wood?

While being popular has always been regarded as a sign of success (as if you've somehow got life right), men are generally awful at developing new friendships and while this is generally regarded as a negative trait, maybe there is some benefit to having a friendship circle that you could fit in a VW Beetle.

Let's count the ways ...

1 It ultimately saves you lots of money: For all that is great value about money saving experts, they very often miss the most basic money-draining scams. Birthdays, stag dos, weekends away, parties. If you want a cheaper way to get through "wedding season", be less popular. If you want to have more money in your bank, get culling - that way you'll have at least 12,000 more a year to spend on poetry writing courses and tables for one.

2 You know your role within the group: Look, you're a grown up, you know how this works - at a certain point friendship isn't about LIKING people, it's just about being familiar with them. You have your role in the group, you perform it to the required level, and the world spins merrily on its axis. Introducing another element into this universe can contaminate the waters - NB. there's a very good reason why there weren't two Chandlers in Friends (and it's not just that their shared syntax would have BECOME almost unbearable).

3 You don't have to invest in too many other people's doomed relationships: If you take on a new friendship, you're not just adding one extra person to your life, you're adding a small tribe. Their other half, the other half after that one, perhaps a few more other halves, possibly some of their old friends "from home" (always weird, should be approached with caution). Save yourself the turmoil of having to constantly predict how many kisses someone will require as a greeting. Keep yourself to yourself.

4 There's far less small talk ruining your life: Meeting new people means making more small talk and small talk is an awful thing to have to endure. All of that boring swapping of inoffensive information, while the blood drains from your face and you slowly die behind the eyes. In most cases it ends, not in friendship, but with one of you desperately looking around for another person to drag into the conversation so you can politely make a run for it. No one enjoys chit chat. No one. With the possible exception of hairdressers.

5 You don't have to spend so long listening other people's dreams: The problem with investing in friends is that you have to listen to them droning on endlessly about their thoughts. Some of them, and this happens far more often than you'd imagine, will actually start a conversation with the words "oh man, I had this incredible dream last night". No one should ever have to endure what comes next.

6 You also don't have to spend so long listening to other people's feelings: Following on from that, another issue that often arises when you've got "friends" is that they will want to confide in you - to take you on a detailed tour of their anxieties, their feelings, their insecurities, their ambitions. They will say things and look to you to react accordingly - perhaps with a little nod, or with a sigh, sometimes they will require a hug. It's too much to ask. TOO MUCH! You could be watching telly.

7 You get to stick to a simple, familiar routine: The world is massive, it's buzzing with people and full of opportunities, which - you're absolutely right - is far too daunting for any sane person to deal with. So do the right thing, find your select group, find something you enjoy doing together (eg. drinking until you can't remember your name) and then do that on loop without once deviating into unknown waters. Because do you know what's in unknown waters? Sharks. And skeletons of people eaten by sharks.

8 It's less likely that you'll shame yourself at work: Your one goal in any job is to get through the year without publicly humiliating yourself in front of your colleagues by getting off with the entire post room, or performing an interpretive dance to Justin Beiber. This is made far more achievable if you simply refuse to socialise with them on any level.

9 You don't need to angst over bridesmaids/best men/godparents: Who should be Baby Cornelius's godmother? Who should be my best men out of Crinkles, Harry, Fabio, Robbo, Wheels, Boom Boom Shagger and Drake? I don't know who to pick as my matron of honour out of the hockey team or the netball squad, or the cheerleaders, or the Territorial Army, or the Glee Club. You know who doesn't have to endure these endless inner struggles? People with the same three friends their whole lives.

10 You won't seem completely absurd on Facebook: As a general rule you shouldn't trust anyone with more than 1000 friends on Facebook - it's sociopathic. Look at the very basic maths of it - that means making a new friend every day for over three years, or a new one every other day for six years. Even a new one every few days for twelve years is completely barmy. A normal person should have no more than 300 Facebook friends, and only really, actually know nine of them.

11 You will actually get things done: Think about all of those things you keep meaning to do but can't because friends keep popping over to be friendly to you, or inviting you out with them because they care about you, or introducing you to other people because they think you're nice. Think about all of the things you could do - like, you know, build an empire. Become the President even (always end with a political joke!).

 Why you should have fewer friends

When it comes to sustaining friendships women need to get on the phone and men need to get down to the pub. Photo By Nbc / Nbcu Photo Bank Via Getty Images

(China Daily 03/04/2017 page21)

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