True Friends Can Be Counted on One Hand

· October 20, 2016

True friends can be counted on one hand. This isn’t surprising to most of us once we’ve reached a certain stage of life and accumulated many experiences.

We usually try to build good relationships and truly connect with people. We look for people who get us, people who we can count on. We want friendships that embrace the soul, that give us a variety of feelings to explore.

However, we don’t often achieve this, and most of our friendships end up being out of convenience, or at least not as deep as we want them to be. In other words, we don’t have as many “soulmates” as we’d like.

friends arm in arm

Only half of the friends we consider soulmates actually are

Think about the special friends that you have and give them a specific honorific title in your heart, and count them up. Then divide that number in half, and those are the actual “true friends” that you have.

This was confirmed in a study done by the Tel Aviv University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology: only half of the friends we consider soulmates actually are. 

A team of scientists from the two institutions created something like a “friendship machine” that, using an algorithm, can evaluate the bidirectionality and reciprocity of our social relationships.

In other words, the algorithm tries to figure out if the people we consider true friends feel the same way about us, and therefore, put us on a similar level that we put them.

silly faces

The results obtained by the friendship machine indicate that only half of the friends we consider soulmates feel the same about us. 

This study was done with 84 people, and afterwards, it was supported by a survey of students in Israel, the US, and Europe. As the head of the study, Erez Shmueli, stated:

“We found that 95 percent of participants thought that their relationships were reciprocal. If you think someone is your friend, you expect him to feel the same way. But in fact that’s not the case—only 50 percent of those polled matched up in the bidirectional friendship category.”

bright green eye

True friendships are rare

True friendships are rare. This wouldn’t take anyone by surprise, right? However, it is a little worrying. We really can’t generalize and state that the same happens to everyone, but it is true that it does happen to most.

Maybe it’s just that certain life circumstances bring us together and take us away from the people that we consider friends today (or considered friends yesterday). So it’s not really a question of quantity, but quality. With the passage of time and the accumulation of experiences, we learn to love our life companions more, but the number of them is noticeably reduced.

This isn’t bad or strange in itself; quite simply, it’s the law of life. Over time, our feelings get more intense towards the people we trust the most and who give us good vibes.

It often comes down to instinct and willingness to approach someone. If you believe that someone will be good for you, you’ll trust them more and feel better about them. This brings you closer to people you like and creates healthy, sincere, and “true” friendships.

Illustrations by Kristina Webb

Friendship Is Not Always Forever