Making new best friends in adulthood isn't always easy. How do you date a new friend long enough to get her to wifey status? Who even has time to maintain a nascent emotional, platonic connection when you have other established emotional, platonic connections to tend to? Well, never mind, your brain will take care of that for you. According to research recently published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, if you make a new best friend, you have to make space for her by getting rid of an existing friend, lest you overwhelm your social network.
By analyzing the cell-phone data of 24 British students, researchers from Oxford University noticed patterns in communication that indicate that, in general, people don't have the wherewithal to maintain too many close, intimate relationships. Maybe due to schedule overload, emotional limits, or some combination of both. "Because of these constraints individuals cannot increase the number of friends they communicate with at maximum rate, but most downgrade (or drop) some individuals if they wish to add new ones to their preferred network at high level of emotional intensity," the study says.
While Taylor Swift somehow defies this theory, once you hit that finite number of friends (the number varies from person to person), the brain enacts the same one-in, one-out policy as a club bouncer. New friend enters, old friend leaves.
Does this mean we all have a subconscious short list of friends? And there is at least one friend — maybe the one who is always late, or still owes you money, or humblebrags too much — who you could easily put on the chopping block? Oh my god, is it me?
Thank you, Academy of Science, for debunking my favorite elementary-school song: "Make new friends, but keep the old." Instead, let's teach kids the truth: "Make new friends, but be prepared to ditch the old. One is silver and the other your brain just physically cannot acknowledge anymore even if she was in your wedding and you used to call her three times a daaaaaay."
Most Viewed Stories
Connecticut Politician Arrested for Pinching Woman’s Genitals
The Sheer Perfection of Donald Trump’s Golden Shower
The Ultimate Guide to Preparing for the Women’s March
15 Protest Sign Ideas for the Women’s March on Washington
The Divorced Mom Who Cries After Sex
Pakistani Pop Star Stops Concert When He Spots Sexual Harassment
What Romance Really Means After 10 Years of Marriage
Madame Clairevoyant: Horoscopes for the Week of January 16
I’m Anti-Trump, But I Refuse to March
From Our Partners
powered by PubExchange
The Cut’s Latest Love and War FeaturesA Holiday Season Weekend Through London
A good guide for avid The Crown fans.It’s About Time You Learned Tove Lo’s Name
The singer has crafted pop hits you’ve heard a thousand times by now.Marina Abramovic Has Outlasted Her Lovers and, She Hopes, Her Critics
The world's most famous performance artist at 70.The Wing: Do Women Still Need a Space of Their Own?
This exclusive social club for women, is part sorority, part start-up.In Virtual Reality, Women Run the World
A new generation of female artists is making VR the most diverse corner of the male-dominated tech space.The Novelist Disguised As a Housewife
Shirley Jackson wrote 17 books while raising four children — and she couldn't have had a successful career without them.Ava DuVernay on Hollywood Racism, Modern-Day Slavery, and Why She’s Still an Optimist
The director, whose new documentary The 13th chronicles America’s history of racial subjugation, talks to Rebecca Traister about Bill Clinton, Newt Gingrich, and the modern criminal-justice system.What No One Tells Couples Trying to Conceive
It helps to be rich.The Hidden Black Women Who Helped Win the Space Race
A segregated unit of mathematicians born of desperation during World War II became the secret to NASA’s success.Slut-Shaming Squids Are Everywhere
The “Bermuda Square” comic strip is back.
The collaboration that dreams are made of.Good Morning America Host Amy Robach Apologizes for Saying ‘Colored People’ on Air
She quickly apologized.Unknown NFL Player Tries to Get Attention by Asking Aly Raisman Out in Video
That’s one way to do it.Don’t Mess This Up, Mischa Barton
Marissa Cooper is poised for a comeback ... maybe.California Votes to Remove Time Limit on Prosecuting Rape Cases
In light of the Bill Cosby case.Beyoncé’s Behind-the-Scenes Lemonade Photos Belong in a Museum
She had the "Boycott Beyoncé" sign already in formation on set.The Rise of the Male Celebrity Full-Frontal
An ex-publicist explains.Gabby Douglas Will Be a Miss America Judge
The gold-medal gymnast will help choose the 2017 pageant winner.Camille Becerra’s Photo Diary of Rockaway Beach
An ideal trip to add and cross off your summer bucket list.Sorry Nerds, Ian McKellen Won’t Officiate Your Expensive Lord of the Rings–Themed Wedding
Not even for $1.5 million.