From a young age, we’re encouraged to go out into the world and make friends.
We meet people at school, join clubs and find people who share our hobbies and have family friends forced upon us.
However, as we get older, some of the people we once considered pals begin to drop off our radar, one by one, leaving us with a much smaller social circle.
Some of us might have one person we consider our best friend and no one else we really bother with, others might have so many friends they can’t keep track.
But how many friends do you really need in life?
When it comes to good, close friendships the magic number is three apparently.
This is according to a study by GalaBingo.com who found that almost three quarters of Brits (72 percent) have five or fewer good friends and the average Brit has just three.
While one in 14 (seven percent) said they had no close friends at all.
And when it comes to which characteristic people value most in a friendship, 69 percent of those polled said trust was most important.
This was followed by honesty (68 percent), loyalty (56 percent), a sense of humour (54 percent) and being a good listener (37 percent).
That said, nearly half of Brits (45 percent) find it difficult to maintain long-lasting friendships, with the main reasons for friendships breaking down being naturally drifting apart and struggling to find the time.
Psychotherapist Dr Jo Gee explained why it is that people often have fewer good friends.
She said: “A leading anthropologist called Dunbar found that due to our brain structure and size, humans can only maintain stable relationships with a limited number of people.
“Having a lot of friends can be resource draining, while having just a few means that our friends are likely to know us better and to understand what we need in terms of support, ultimately making the relationship more rewarding for us and our friends.”
If you are someone who struggles to maintain friendships, here are five top tips from relationship coach Kate Mansfield, to help you do just that:
- Make time for just the two of you, even if it means if it means getting a date in the diary months in advance.
- Surprise your friend when they least expect it – send a card or a treat, or even tagging them in memes on social media lets them know you’re thinking of them.
- Text frequently, but also make the time to pick up the phone and, when you hang out in person, don’t just be sat on your phone – make them the priority.
- If you’ve arranged to meet up, unless there’s a good reason, don’t let them down at the last minute.
- Remember to consider their interests and hobbies, not just your own, when planning to meet up.