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Warmest regards: Fun facts about friendships

Published December 01. 2018 07:46AM

By Pattie Mihalik

How long does it take to make a friend?

When I read that headline, my first thought was that it depends on age.

Kids make friends in mere minutes.

One kid sees another kid about his age then soon asks, “Wanna play?”

Off they go, two new friends.

For adults, new friendships don’t generally start that quickly. Some do, but it’s not the norm.

So how long does it take for an adult to make a friend?

Kansas professor Jeffry Hall has a precise answer: He says forget about making fast friends.

He claims it takes 50 hours to go from acquaintance to casual friend; 90 hours to go from casual friend to friend and 200 hours to go from friend to close friend.

It was while paging through an airline magazine that I read about Hall’s study on the time it takes to make a friend.

The subject of friendships must interest a lot of people because I saw that article repeated in three other magazines and in one scholarly journal.

All the articles were short and didn’t tell me how the research professor determined the hours it takes for various levels of friendship to develop. So I went online to read the original article first published in the Journal Social and Personal Relationships.

The professor said his research involved two studies, one with 355 adults relocated to a new place and another with 112 college freshmen at the University of Kansas.

After I read the article I thought about my own friends. Some were years in the making, while others were the result of instant chemistry.

Fran is now one of my closest friends. We became close friends in just a few weeks, and the friendship itself developed instantaneously.

In fact, I watched her across a room as she was photographing a group of people and thought she looked like someone I wanted to know better.

When we ended up in the same discussion group, we discovered our first impressions were spot on. We have so much in common and always enjoy being together. After a few weeks of knowing her, I thought I knew her forever.

While I was reading the study on how long it takes to develop a friendship, I found some other related studies. Most were done by college professors who must need the publishing credits.

One study on friendship concluded the easiest way to make friends is to have a dog. Every dog owner knows the truth in that statement. Few need research to make that point.

A new couple with a dog just moved into our development. Within weeks they seemed to know the name of every pet and its owner in the neighborhood.

“For those dealing with loneliness and stress, a dog can be a source of emotional and social support as well as being the means of easy social contacts,” noted Dr. Stanley Coren.

Maybe that’s why so many people who lose a spouse buy a dog.

How many friends are “just what we need” and how many friends are “too many?”

Dr. Ronald Dunbar from the University of Oxford researched those questions.

He concluded: “We are usually closest to no more than five people, call about 15 people “good friends” and label about 50 people as friends.”

His research also concluded 150 friends is roughly the limit to the numbers of meaningful relationships our brain can handle.

His study must have been done before the days of Facebook friends. Many of my own friends have hundreds of Facebook friends and a few have over a thousand.

Actually, a Facebook friend is in a class by itself because we often agree to friend someone on Facebook that we don’t even know.

While it seems we’re stretching a point to regard Facebook friends as true buddies, I’m told I’m wrong about that.

When my friend Jeanne mentioned on Facebook she was moving and was overwhelmed having to do it by herself, a couple she knew only from Facebook came along to help.

Another woman told me each and every one of her Facebook friends is important to her. “From the things they post each day, I know more about them than I know about my friends in town,” she said.

When it comes to Facebook friends, many people believe, “The more, the better.”

I have to admit I have limits to how many friends I can manage. There is no way I want to be Facebook friends with strangers.

On the other hand, on a person-to-person level, I thoroughly enjoy meeting and getting to know strangers. When you’re with newcomers in social settings, it’s a great way to make new friends.

I also found one friendship article that asked: “Do smart people make good friends?”

My answer: I certainly hope so.

I have always been drawn to smart people. They are interesting conversationalists and are enjoyable on many levels.

There is an extremely bright woman with two doctorates in my church who I wanted to know better. I asked if she wanted to meet for lunch, and that was the start of what is turning into a great friendship.

Sometimes, the best way to make a friend is simply to ask.

While not very attempt at making new friends works, the law of averages is on your side. So go ahead. Try it.

Contact Pattie Mihalik at

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