For some of you aiming to have only 5 friends will improve your social life

This article that you are about to read was not something I was going to write at first. Why? Because it is an absolute mind twister. As in it will seem confusing to a few of you, and unnecessary to others. But then I realised that for some of you, this article will be the perfect article for you to read at this stage in your journey. It will be just what you need to dramatically improve your social life.

So here it is, take it or leave it, depending on whether you need it. But don’t hate on it, cause it might be helping someone else if not you.         

For some of you, aiming to have only 5 friends will fix your social life.

Some of you have become so obsessed and caught up with chasing popularity, that you have fallen for the unrealistic goal of wanting everyone to like you, and to have more friends than anyone else. This is not psychologically healthy. It will only mess you up in the long run. You need to find something else to base your self-esteem on.

The paradoxical thing about popularity is that the harder you try to be popular, the less popular you become. The more emotionally invested you are in becoming popular and having more friends than other people, and making it your identity; the less successful you will be in this endeavour.

I call this the ‘Popularity Contradiction’. The more you try to become popular, the worse you will do at it.

Trying to be popular
Trying to be popular doesn’t work, and leaves you feeling miserable.

The best advice I can give people is to have something better to do than popularity, and to base your identity and self-esteem on something else. Become more emotionally invested in something else and spend more time on something else.

I spend around 90% to 95% of my time on other areas of my life (such as work, hobbies, exercise, etc), and only 5% to 10% of my time and thoughts on my social life. There will be periods in my life where I will be so busy that I will go for months where only 4% to 5% of my time and thoughts are spent on my social life.

That is how much other areas of your life should mean to you. And the counter-intuitive thing is that such a mindset, of realising that while a social life is important, it should never be made one of the top priorities in your life, will actually dramatically improve your social life.

That is not to say I do not break this 5% to 10% rule for my social life. There are definitely times when I will spend more than 10% of my time and energy on my social life. I once set aside three months where all I did was just party and focus on my social life. But these are the exception.

The majority of the time, you want to be spending only 5% to 10% of your time and energy on your social life. This is a baseline which you should be at if possible. This allows you to focus more on other more important areas of your life.

So the less you aim to be popular, the better your life will be.

Some people have realised this, and they have made it socialising only a small part of their life.

Unfortunately, others have not, and have gone in the exact opposite direction of making popularity their number one goal in life, dedicating the majority of their time over a really long period to making friends and becoming popular. And a side-effect of this is that they start wanting everyone to like them, and they become competitive about their social life, wanting to have more friends than others.

This makes it harder to make friends, as because they start wanting everyone to like them and be their friend, they come across as needy and desperate. They put too much pressure on themselves, struggle to think of things to talk about, and are nervous around people. This causes others to avoid them.

These people have unfortunately mistakenly decided that the aim for their social life to be considered a ‘success’ is to have everyone like them and have more friends than others. This is where the problem comes from.

To fix this, they need to change their aim for a successful social life to having only 5 friends.

Five friends
Five good friends is more than you need.

The reason I say 5, is because some researchers have discovered this is the maximum amount of close friends an adult will have, with the other people in one’s social life being different levels of acquaintances.

So for someone who has become obsessed with popularity, change your aim for social success to only having 5 friends. Chances are, you probably already have more than 5 friends. You will then feel that you have too many friends, as you have more friends than you aim for. This will give you a different energy.

When you talk to people, you will no longer feel the pressure of wanting them to be your friend as you already have more than enough friends. You will not be needy, desperate or nervous, as because you already have enough friends, it does not matter if the person you are talking to wants to be your friend or not.  To attain this state, you have to aim for 5 friends to be the definition of a successful social life.

This is not to say that you get rid of your excess friends, you can still keep them around. But do so with the mindset of “I have more than enough friends. I only want 5 friends, and I already have more than that. I am glad I have so many friends.” This is the type of thinking you should have to accompany the new social aim of only having 5 friends.

To make this switch to a new social aim effective, you need to be comfortable with other people seeing you as not being popular or thinking you only have a few friends. You need to stop worrying what people think of you.

If you are so attached to what people think of you, get another identity that is not dependant on being popular, something like student, or runner, or a hobby you have like tennis player or cook. Focus more on one area of your life, and work harder on it and think about it more. This can then become your new identity.

The mental energy that you normally direct towards popularity, focus it into your work, or a hobby, or learning a new skill like cooking or gardening, or learning a new language, or exercising, or something else. This will be a more productive way to spend your time and energy. And as mentioned earlier, having something better to do than make friends ironically makes it easier to make friends.

So don’t spend most of your time on your social life, reduce your aim for you social life to 5 friends, and direct your time and energy into other areas of your life instead of chasing popularity.

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