I’m breaking my own rule here, but this new research couldn’t wait until Wednesday. It’s too fascinating.
Think true love is priceless? Think again. According to Oxford University researchers, led by Robin Dunbar (the anthropologist behind the 150-person max social network), the cost of a romantic relationship is exactly two friendships.
According to the study, the average person has an inner core of five friends (the people we see at least once a week, the ones we count on in a crisis), but as a new romance grows, those numbers change. “People who are in romantic relationships, instead of having the typical five [individuals] on average, they only have four in that circle,” Dunbar told the BBC. “And bearing in mind that one of those is the new person that’s come into your life, it means you’ve had to give up two others.”
When I cited this to a colleague yesterday she seemed unsurprised. She lost a friend when she started dating her husband, she said, because that friend had just gotten out of a relationship and was bitter that anyone else was happy and in love.
Friendships end, or diminish, for various reasons when it comes to romance. Maybe your BFF doesn’t like your significant other (or vice versa). Or maybe she doesn’t want to hang out because she hates feeling like the third wheel.
Researchers chalk the lost friendships up to time constraints. When you’re dedicating a chunk of your schedule to romance, girl-time gets whittled down. And as soon as you stop seeing friends consistently, “emotional engagement starts to drop off, and quickly.”
Now that we’re aware of this friend-for-romance tradeoff, we should probably do something about it.
If you’re in a romantic relationship, remind yourself of the importance of platonic ones. They’re meaningful especially when you’re in love. Nothing kills passion like talking to your man about the TMI stuff. He doesn’t want to hear about bodily functions, or how your butt looks in those jeans, or your 800th analysis of the conversation with your mom last week. That’s what BFFs are for.
Have you lost friendships due to romance? What should people do to avoid this relationship evil? Is it possible to maintain close friendships and a quality romantic relationship, or should we just accept we can’t have it all?