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
Looks Like Kate Middleton Is Enjoying the View in Canada
Brad Pitt Fights Back Against Angelina Jolie and Her Plot to ‘Destroy’ Him
Trump Campaign Manager Accidentally Refers to His ‘Abuse’ of Women on Live TV
Megyn Kelly Roasts Trump’s Campaign Manager for Claiming He Doesn’t Make Sexist Comments
Finally Someone Called Donald Trump a Giant Baby and It Was Michelle Obama
What It’s Like to Be a Female Reporter Covering Donald Trump
22 Intimate Lost Photos of Marilyn Monroe
Prince Married to Commoner Still Too Good to Tweet
Democratic Women Senators Are Very Concerned About Donald Trump’s Weight
It’s Finally Possible to Understand What Happened to Amanda Knox
From Our Partners
powered by PubExchange
The Cut’s Latest Love and War FeaturesThe 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.Santigold’s New Video Is the Result of a Spontaneous Run-in With Kara Walker
The collaboration that dreams are made of.Emma Stone and Andrew Garfield Spotted Together Again, Love Might Be Real
They could be back together ahh!Teen, Forced to Go on Vacation With Her Family, Calls 911
The logical decision.Report: Hearst Fired Seventeen EIC Michelle Tan During Her Maternity Leave
Tan had been at the magazine for about two years.Good Morning America Host Amy Robach Apologizes for Saying ‘Colored People’ on Air
She quickly apologized.
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.Miles Teller Is Still Upset About Being Called a Dick
He wants to set the record straight.Why Parents Shouldn’t Talk About Weight With Their Teens
New guidelines seek to banish weight talk.