It may be the case that the ease with which we can now remain in touch makes Dunbar’s number less relevant.There may well be limits to the number of people we can keep a quality friendship with, the type of friend we phone for advice and help.I thank you all for your involvement and enjoyment of the site, and I wish all of you the very best of friendships throughout your lives.
Some are less important – the girls from our old netball team, the people in the office downstairs and Michael from marketing, with whom we went to the cinema once last year.
We are capable of exchanging an email with all these people, and may have mutual acquaintances with a good number of them, providing common ground.
While it opens the opportunity to connect with the multitude, it also invites the possibility of rejection, where people can be ‘defriended’ by existing connections, or friendship requests can be turned down by prospective ones.
People who need to affiliate are more likely to find these rejections particularly crushing.
While Juliette, 43, regards a friend as someone who provides ‘emotional support both ways’, Mark, 40, considers a friend ‘someone whose life has crossed mine’.
Dunbar’s number might broadly describe the number of people with whom we share trusts and obligations, but it may underestimate the number of people with whom we might associate – whether sharing a drink with someone at the water cooler, or a glass of wine at your sister’s wedding.
For the past decade, it has been my pleasure to provide women across the US with a community where they could make meaningful and longterm friendships – and thousands and thousands and thousands of you did!
I started the site long before the idea of online friendships was supported or even understood, and did so because I understood how important and real the need is for solid friendships, community and connection.
On Christmas Day, Simone Back, 42, from Brighton, announced on Facebook to her 1,082 friends: ‘Took all my pills be dead soon so bye bye everyone.’ There were 150 online responses, including taunts and bickering.