In the first study of its kind, a University of Kansas professor has defined the amount of time necessary to make a friend as well as how long it typically takes to move through the deepening stages of friendship.
The short answer? More than you think.
The study: Published in the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, Associate Professor of Communications Studies, Jeffrey Hall, found that it takes about 50 hours to cement a friendship between two adults. That is to say, going from mere acquaintance — that person you find yourself waxing poetic about the utility of avocados in the super market every week with — to a casual friend.
If you’re ready to kick it up a notch, it’ll take about another 40 hours (90 hours total) to be actual friends — the type you might ask to water your plants while you’re on vacation, or to help you move.
For good friends, you’re looking at an investment of about 200 hours, at minimum. These are the friends you communicate with using a series of shifty glances and grunts, and they just sort of understand what you mean.
This means time spent hanging out, joking around, playing video games and the like. Hours spent working together just don’t count as much, Hall’s study found.
“We have to put that time in,” Hall said. “You can’t snap your fingers and make a friend. Maintaining close relationships is the most important work we do in our lives—most people on their deathbeds agree.”
Takeaway: As an adult, a common gripe I hear from other adults is how difficult it is to make new friends once you’re past the days of bonding over a shared hatred of trigonometry.
As kids, you’re almost forced into these relationships based on the amount of time you spend together in and after class, at lunch, and doing after school activities. As an adult it takes actual work. That means finding the energy to nurture a friendship when Netflix is the only appealing thing on your radar after yet another 50 hour work week.
“You can’t make people spend time with you, but you can invite them,” Hall said. “Make it a priority to spend time with potential friends. If you are interested in a friendship, switch up the context. If you work together, go to lunch or out for a drink. These things signal to people that you are interested in being friends with them.”
Adulting is hard.
Our advice: Just get a dog, people are overrated.