You probably know that adding people to your inner circle takes time, but how much time it actually takes to go from strangers to buddies has been somewhat of a mystery—until now. A new study suggests you need to spend at least 90 hours with someone before they consider you a real friend.
The report, published in the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, found that it usually takes roughly 50 hours of time together to go from acquaintance to “casual friend” (think drinking buddies, or friends of friends that you see at parties); around 90 hours to become a true-to-form “friend” (you both carve out time to specifically hang out with one another); and over 200 hours to form a BFF-type bond (you feel an emotional connection with this friend).
To clarify, those are waking hours where you’re doing things together. It can be anything—grabbing coffee, watching TV, playing games, etc.—as long as you’re both choosing to spend time with them. That means the hours you’d earn working with someone don’t count as much, according to the study. Coworkers can be still become friends, of course, but you need to spend time together outside of the workplace for it to happen.
So, what does knowing these numbers do for you? Well, it emphasizes an important aspect of friendship we all sometimes forget about: personal investment. Jeffrey Hall, Associate Professor of Communication Studies and lead author on the report, explains that making friends really comes down to putting the time in. As he puts it, “You can’t snap your fingers and make a friend.” Don’t hang out with someone a couple times for a few hours and expect to be “besties” already. Give the people you like your time, hope they’ll give you theirs, and stay focused on having a good time. Friendship will follow.
If you’re not sure where you stand with someone you consider to be a friend (or is a friend candidate), check out Hall’s Interactive Friendship Tool a try. It asks you several questions regarding how much time you spend with that person, how long you’ve known them, and how you feel about them, then compares your situation to the dataset. Give it a try.
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