Have you ever tried to pinpoint the moment when you and your best friend moved from being acquaintances, to friends, to totally inseparable besties? You probably can't quite remember every single detail about how you two grew to love each other throughout the years, but according to new research, that timeline might matter more than you think. Teen Vogue reports that a new study from the University of Kansas reveals just how long it takes to become to become best friends with someone, and TBH, this might just serve as a reminder that patience really is a virtue, girl.
The study, which was led by Jeffrey Hall, an associate professor of communication studies at the University of Kansas, essentially demonstrated one fundamental truth about friendships: It takes time to truly become friends with someone — like, a lot of time.
I know, I know, you might be shaking your head with skepticism right now, with a long, epic story on the tip of your tongue about that one person you met years ago and instantly clicked with. Still, even if you feel like you have an immediate connection with someone, this new research, which has been published in the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, suggests it may take several dozen hours of time spent together before you truly feel close, and consider one another close friends.
According to the study, you have to spend around 50 hours in close contact with someone before you even enter what study author Jeffrey Hall considers a casual friendship.
Let me repeat: Fifty hours together will get you a casual friendship, or an acquaintance, according to this study. To call someone your friend, this research says you're looking at about 80 to 100 hours of bonding time. And as for a full-blown, ride-or-die friendship between two besties? Hall's research claims it'll take at least 200 hours until the relationship can move to that point.
Yeah, that's a lot of time, guys. Here's an easy example to help put all those hours in perspective: The entire run-time of the TV show Friends, from seasons one to 10, is about 135 hours, according to the online calculator Tii.Me. So you and a stranger would literally have to hang out through two full viewings of the entire run-time of Friends, and you'd still be cutting it close to enter best-friendship.
According to the University of Kansas press release covering the new research, Hall divided this study into a couple of different parts to yield the most accurate results. In the first part, with the use of an online survey, he gathered hundreds of responses from adults who said they'd moved in the last several months and were looking for new friends in their area. In the second part of his research, Hall surveyed freshmen in college via an online tool that was developed to estimate the closeness of a friendship, based on a series of questions. Though it isn't clear what those exact questions were, the survey respondents in both parts of this research offered information about the progression of certain friendships in their lives, as well as how they would rate different friendships (acquaintance, casual friend, friend and close friend).
One thing Hall noted in the results of his study is that young people tend to become friends faster over shorter periods of time.
This doesn't necessarily mean younger people tend to spend less time getting to know one another when building a friendship, he explained in the study's press release, but it could mean they're more likely to dedicate more time each day to bonding with friends. He said,
[College students] will double or triple the amount of time they spend with that other person in three weeks’ time. I found freshmen who spent one-third of all waking hours in a month with one good friend.
This makes sense, if you think about it. When you become friends with someone in a school setting, you're usually able to spend several hours together every day, simply because of the way college campuses, classes, and the like are set up. On the other hand, if you befriend someone as a real adult, while you're working a 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. job, or even while juggling kids at the same time, you can probably only get to know someone in smaller, less frequent chunks of time.
Although this study is a fascinating take on an everyday topic, remember that this isn't necessarily a one-size-fits-all explanation for how all friendships are born. The science of friendship is one with many lenses, and many influential factors, like how similar you are to the person you're bonding with, for one thing, as was shown in a recent study from Dartmouth College.
But if you do want to become closer with a friend, this new research definitely offers one of the easiest and most straightforward ways to go about it: Spend more time with them. It's the best gift you can give to another person, after all.