Noa Ní Aoláin Gross
What is more important: quality or quantity? The answer to that question depends on the situation and what is being measured, and this balance is incredibly present in day-to-day relationships.
We can get caught up in measuring our self-worth and happiness based on how many friends we have or how many people like us. This is a desire for quantity, but in reality, quality is what is more necessary in relationships.
Having a smaller number of strong friendships is more beneficial than having a lot of surface-level ones.
Close friends bring love and support into one’s life. It is crucial to put energy into relationships with people that bring happiness, comfort, and trust.
Being in relationships that bring one down or lack trust and deeper care can be detrimental, and not having positive close relationships has even been proven to affect overall health, both physical and mental.
According to the Mayo Clinic, having strong social support reduces “risk of many significant health problems, including depression, high blood pressure and an unhealthy body mass index.”
In addition, close friends give a sense of belonging, reduce stress, prevent loneliness, and improve self-worth.
These are the relationships that need to be nurtured most and aren’t always as easily developed or maintained because they require a deeper level of trust and commitment.
However, this does not mean to only focus on the people you are close with; it is still critical to be friendly to everyone, without feeling the pressure to be friends with everyone.
Being friendly with a large quantity of people is beneficial because, first of all, it is a kind thing to do, and second of all, doing so can help find deeper connections to forge strong and more meaningful relationships.
A study done by the Journal of Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology found that “it appears that popularity is important for setting the stage for relationship development, but that it is dyadic friendship experiences that most directly influence feelings of loneliness and depression.”
Diverse surface-level relationships are extremely valuable in the search for those deeper connections. Being kind to peers shows care for others – a friendly smile and wave in the hallways can brighten someone’s day, and those little acts of kindness can even spur a deeper relationship, creating the starting point of a closer connection.
While being friendly to everyone, it is nevertheless important to recognize that excess energy doesn’t need to be put into developing deeper relationships with everyone. Doing this can be extremely draining and often leads to more loneliness because energy is put into numerous, more surface-level relationships rather than a few deeper ones.
So, don’t spread yourself thin trying to be friends with everyone. Self-worth shouldn’t be measured based on the number of friends one has.
Find those who make you most happy and who you have developed the most meaningful and positive connections with.
Put energy into nurturing those relationships rather than relationships with everyone or relationships that aren’t beneficial. You can still be kind to everyone without being close to them.
This editorial was originally published in the March print issue of The Rubicon.