Secret to keeping friendships alive revealed

Your ability to keep long-distance friendships alive may depend on your gender, according to a new study.

Whereas a good gossip on the phone is enough for women to stay close to each other, regular calls have absolutely no effect on men.

According to psychologists at Oxford University, male friends need to make the effort to meet up face to face if their “bromance” is to survive.

Professor Robin Dunbar followed a group of 30 teenagers as they left home to start university or pursue careers, and found a “striking sex difference” in the factors that decided whether a friendship flourished or floundered.

He said: “The caricature is if you move away to another town, girls will be on the phone or Facebook with each other to keep the relationship going.

“With guys, it is ‘out of sight, out of mind’. They just find four more guys to go drinking with.”

Guys need face time, not Facetime, for their friendship to last
Image Caption: Guys need face time, not Facetime, for their friendship to last

Prof Dunbar explained that male friendships endure when mates meet up and do stuff together – whether it is a drink down the pub, watching the football, or playing a five-a-side game.

He believes that telephone calls work better for women because female friendships have a greater intensity than male ones – and are more similar to romantic relationships, which can break catastrophically.

Because of this, women are more motivated to safeguard their friendships – even over long distances.

Prof Dunbar is best known for his theory that all primates, including humans, only have the mental capacity to maintain a stable friendship with a maximum of 150 people.

This threshold is known as Dunbar’s Number, and it is believed to be because our brain sizes – not to mention our time – is limited.


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