We Overestimate How Much Our Friends Like Us
Nearly all activities are more enjoyable when we’re with our best friends. Have you ever tried going to the movies by yourself? No matter what you watch it always ends with you, alone, crying yourself to sleep that night. Even if we do feel alone, we can always take out our phones and scroll through Facebook to see what our friends are up to. Indeed, having fulfilling friendships makes life more rewarding.
However, a recent study conducted by researchers at M.I.T. suggests that nearly half of all perceived friendships are not mutual. Or in other words, people tend to over inflate how much they mean to someone who they consider to be a close friend.
Have you ever felt particularly attached to someone only to later feel betrayed when you discovered that they didn’t feel the same way? (this article has nothing to do with you, Megan.) Or perhaps you know someone who would consider you their BFF, despite the fact that you would rather get a root canal than spend time with them alone?*
So how do we explain the 50/50 margin of error between perceived and actual friendships? Researchers claim that it’s because human beings are social creatures with fragile egos. If we feel strongly towards someone, we tend to assume that they feel the same way about us.
How can we tell which of our friends are actually our friends? Researchers suggest not relying as much on social media to keep in touch with each other and actually going out and spending some real time with someone to form stronger social bonds.
Try to get plenty of face time in with those you feel closest to you, and if they don’t seem to be as interested, that’s okay! Focus on being around those friends who value you, because who needs friends like Megan anyways. You’ll just end up at the movies by yourself (again).
*Andrew, please stop asking if you can come over and watch The Walking Dead with me. I’m running out of excuses and I would rather not hurt your feelings.
Ryan Trickey is a freelance writer for Weekend Collective and performs stand-up comedy in Kansas City, Missouri.