There's nothing quite like the loyalty of a true friend.
But for many of us, friendship is very personal, and everyone has different friendship preferences and tendencies. For example, some people may love being part of a large group of pals, whereas others might prefer smaller, more intimate circles.
ATTN: asked friendship experts Andrea Bonior and Irene Levine what friendship habits say about an individual's personality and well-being. Whether you're a person who collects a lot of friends over time or someone who has been friends with the same crew since childhood, here is what your tendencies say about you.
1. You collect a lot of friends over the years.
I have a handful of close friends from different stages of life, but I tend to fall into the category of "friend collector" when it comes to newer friendships, meaning that I befriend people out of circumstance and convenience but usually don't get too close to these friends once my situation changes.
I used to worry that this made me a bad person. But both Bonior and Levine said that this is fairly common behavior.
"The large majority of friendships don’t last forever. We tend to lose many friends we make through different stages of life or as our circumstances change," Levine told ATTN: via email. "For example, a friendship may drift apart when two friends become geographically removed or no longer share the same workplace or hobby. The more peripheral those friendships are, the more likely they are to be transient."
It's "natural" for adults who are moving around a lot or finding their footing in the real world to struggle maintaining solid friendships, Bonior told ATTN: over the phone.
2. Your best friends are from childhood as opposed to college or other adult-related experiences.
College is well-known for producing lifelong friendships, but even if you find that your greatest pals are from earlier in life, that doesn't mean you're immature or unable to adapt to adult experiences. Bonior and Levine agreed that childhood friendships are special, and that it's great when people can hold onto them.
"Childhood friendships are priceless, because they entail shared memories," Levine said. "A childhood friend may have been with you on your first day of school or on your first date. They may have known your parents, siblings, and house where you grew up. Being able to maintain those friendships over the years is admirable, because as people grow and mature, their lives tend to veer in different directions."
3. You mostly have work friends.
Developing a lot of workplace friends can be a way to rebuild your circle after the breakdown of "naturally occurring communities," such as the college and neighborhood environment, Bonior said:
"[For] some people, that community is the workplace, and certainly some people get very close to their coworkers. But if you don't want to get close to your coworkers, or you work in a place where there aren't a lot of people who have stuff in common with you, or you just don't always want to hang out with your coworkers outside of work because you're tired of them, that can be really hard. Then you have to really work on building a new community, and it takes a lot more effort than it did in college."
It makes sense to invest so much in work friendships, given how much people tend to work these days, Levine said.
"It’s not surprising," Levine said. "Since we spend so much time at work and our identities often revolve around our professions/careers, the workplace is often a fertile environment for making friends."
4. You prefer one-on-one relationships to big groups.
"Some people really love being in a room full of people and [that sense of belonging]," Bonior said. "Other people could totally do without that, because, you know, a bunch of people talking at once doesn't appeal to them. They don't want to go out a lot, [and] when there are groups, a lot of times it involves going out places."
No matter your preferences, Bonior stressed the importance of prioritizing friendships, no matter how chaotic life becomes.
"More and more research shows us that feeling like you have quality relationships is just as important to your physical health as exercise and not smoking and adds longevity, so I really think it's a matter of prioritizing it," Bonior said. "For so many people, friendship is kind of last on their list. ... In reality, it should be high up there, because it really is a health and psychological benefit to have good friendships."