Monthly Archives: January 2011

1 Is The Loneliest Number…But 3’s A Crowd…

He who is unable to live in society, or who has no need because he is sufficient for himself, must be either a beast or a god. – Aristotle

Ok, so I might have to divide this post into a couple/8 different posts otherwise it’ll be way too long. I have been chewing on a thought for quite some time and there are many different topics and sub-topics contained within it. But unfortunately we’re a “headline” society and 10 pages would be 10 pages too long to keep people interested in the primary topic. But who cares? My blog is more cathartic for me than anything else, so what do I care if you read it?  {passive-aggressive-narcissistic sarcasm alert}  So I’ll start with one post and see what else comes out of it later.  But in this post I am primarily just going to lay some ground work in which I will just post snippets of thoughts and questions to consider for later.

Friends are a very important part of our lives.  They are there when we celebrate, when we cry, when we get married, when we have our kids, when we need to talk, when we lose a family member, when we are just grabbing a beer watching sports, and also a multitude of other times. But how many friends are too many?  I think the answer is 4. End of discussion, thanks for reading. Ok, so maybe there’s not a concrete answer to, “how many” but I want to explore a thought that Jon Bowles (my pastor in KC) and I were talking about in a conversation we had about 8 years ago. Maybe for some there is no ceiling for number of friends, but I do believe there is a limit to how many close friends we can have – although you may be able to have more close friends than I can and I might be able to have more than my wife – it just depends on the person and how we interact with our close friends.  “Who” are our close friends might change but the number of those close friends, I believe, is not going to vary by a number of 10 people. But I believe this ring has a ceiling for how many we can have. The reason for “why” we have a ceiling will come in a future post. For me I have about 6 close friends, and that’s even pushing the upper number of people for me – my wife, Jeremy, Dan, Jeff, Josh, and Steve.

I’m a visual person so illustrations help me.  Consider a big bulls-eye with four rings, laid out flat on your kitchen table.

In the inner ring is going to be your good close friends. They’re the people you can tell anything and are with you through thick and thin. They probably stood up with you in your wedding and were there when your children were born. They are the most important friends in your life.

In the second ring are good friends that you hang out with or talk with on a regular basis.  You go out of your way to do things with them or physically talk with them.

In the third circle will probably be people that you are around on a normal basis but only because there is a common cause – work, hobbies, interests, community groups, etc. But you might not hang out with them outside of these common events that you share.

In the fourth circle is everybody else.  They are still considered “friends” but only because you know their name and had some sort of involvement in the past.

It’s normal for there to be cross-over and for people to move from one ring to the next although I would say that the inner ring will probably stay more set in who those people are compared to the other rings. And as you move from the inner ring to the outer ring the number of people in each ring increases.  The inner ring might be 3 close friends compared to a broad network of 5,000 people in the outer ring of people you just know who they are.

In a future post I will dive into how social media/technology impacts all of this. But here are some thoughts to consider before I start writing a second post that dives into “why” we have a maximum number of close friends.

Thoughts to consider:

–          How many people can we fit in our lives?

–          How many people should we fit in our lives?

–          How can having too many friends lead to a problem interacting with the friends who are truly important to us?

–          How many friends do we have in our inner ring that are close confidants?

–          Why do we want so many friends?

–          Why do we connect with “friends” in so many technological ways?

–          Why do we allow facebook/twitter to be our main interaction with others?

–          Why do people get on facebook to play Farmville?

I do know that when I am hanging out with my close friends we can have some amazing times and complement each other much like Rowlf the Dog and Fozzie Bear…

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Posted by on January 23, 2011 in culture


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