It takes hundreds of hours to make a new best friend

When we're kids, it seems so easy to make a friend. You hang out before school, at school, and after school; and in less than a few weeks, you and your bestie are exchanging friendship bracelets and texting each other for hours.

But things seem to change once you enter the real world. Whether you enter right after high school or college, anyone who has had to get a job and live out on their own has probably encountered that their social life isn't the same as what it was when they were younger. And it turns out, it's because friendships cannot exist unless you put in the time. And if you're spending 40+ hours a week grinding, you're probably not spending hours building close relationships.

A new study from the University of Kansas found that it takes 50 hours of quality time to turn a casual acquaintance into a casual friend. It takes 90 hours to go from casual friend to actual friend. And if you want a drive-you-to-the-airport-kinda bestie then that requires 200 hours of work. The study also said that the time together needs to be fun--like hanging out, joking around, really connecting. Just being in an office together working isn't enough.

“We have to put that time in,” Associate Professor of Communication Studies at KU Jeffrey 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.”

Hall surveyed 355 adults who had moved in the past six months and were looking for new friends. He asked them to think of someone they had just met and how the relationship had progressed. He then analyzed how much time the respondents spent with their new friends and the level of closeness the parties had. 

Hall then surveyed 112 KU freshmen who were also new in town and were seeking friends. He combined the two surveys' data to determine the number of hours needed to reach each level of friendship, but another thing he noticed was that when young people fell for each other, they fell. Hard.

“When people transition between stages, they’ll double or triple the amount of time they spend with that other person in three weeks’ time,” Hall said. “I found freshmen who spent one-third of all waking hours in a month with one good friend.”

Hall noted that for people who want to make friends, it's a two-way street. Each party has to want to be each other's friends for this hourly process to work. 

“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.”

If you're interested in figuring out how close you are with your friends, try out this handy-dandy friendship evaluator!