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Saturday, January 19, 2019

Our brains seem to have an innate limit to the number of people with whom we can maintain a meaningful relationship. Someone who is active on social media could easily have 1,000 Twitter followers, and maybe 400-500 friends on Facebook or connections on LinkedIn. But when it comes to close friends, they probably can be counted on one hand.

Since the mid-1990s, British anthropologist Robin Dunbar has been studying the size of sustainable social networks in ancient cultures, the military, workplaces, churches and other communities. His findings have resulted in what is known as Dunbar’s Number, “the cognitive limit to the number of individuals with whom any one person can maintain stable relationships.” While there is some individual variance, the typical Dunbar Number for most people is around 150. Newer research shows that the growth of social media hasn’t changed this metric.

The 150 or so people that make up someone’s Dunbar Number aren’t all “best friends.” Rather, there are increasingly smaller subsets of progressively more intimate connections. Of the 150…

There is a large group, usually 100 or so people, that we see as “Friends,” ones that Dunbar loosely defines as “people you would not feel embarrassed about joining uninvited for a drink if you happened to bump into them…” Out of this group, there are about 50 we would consider “Good Friends,” defined as those you might invite to a group dinner. You may see these people often in social or work settings, but you probably don’t divulge the most personal aspects of your life to them.

The next subset is the 15 or so people you see as your “Best Friends,” those with whom you would comfortably share details of your personal life and could count on for support and sympathy.

The smallest group is your “Intimate Friends.” Their number is usually around five, and most often include one or more family members, particularly a spouse.

As our Facebook accounts may attest, many of us have more than 150 relationships. But when we move beyond our Dunbar Number, these connections aren’t as strong or consistent.

What about your “professionals”?

We all have relationships with individuals who provide us essential professional services. They could be…

  • Healthcare professionals
  • Tax professionals
  • Legal professionals
  • Insurance and investment professionals

Professional relationships aren’t necessarily friendships; there is a transactional component, and the exchange of money for services often changes the relationship dynamics. It is understandable that these relationships should retain their professional elements, such as high-performance standards, confidentiality regarding client information and accountability.

And yet, there’s something to be said for knowing your financial professionals well enough that if you happened to cross paths in a restaurant it wouldn’t be awkward, for either one of you, to engage in some comfortable conversation, and perhaps have a drink together. After all, these are the people you are collaborating with to reach your financial objectives. You want their professional services, but you might also benefit from a stronger relationship connection. Issues in finance can impact the most personal parts of our lives. In those moments, you may want a financial professional who is more than just an acquaintance.

This article was prepared by an independent third party. Material discussed is meant for general informational purposes only and is not to be construed as tax, legal or investment advice. Although the information has been gathered from sources believed to be reliable, please note that individual situations can vary. Therefore, the information should be relied upon only when coordinated with individual professional advice.

Registered Representative and Financial Advisor of Park Avenue Securities LLC (PAS), 355 Lexington Avenue, 9 Fl., New York, NY 10017, 212-541-8800. Securities products/services and advisory services offered through PAS, a registered broker/dealer and investment adviser. Financial Representative, The Guardian Life Insurance Company of America (Guardian), New York, NY. PAS is an indirect, wholly owned subsidiary of Guardian. Wealth Advisory Group LLC is not an affiliate or subsidiary of PAS or Guardian.

PAS is a member FINRA, SIPC.

Neither Guardian, PAS, Wealth Advisory Group, their affiliates/subsidiaries nor their representatives render tax or legal advice. Please consult your own independent CPA/accountant/tax adviser and/or your attorney for advice concerning your particular circumstances.

20158-65861 Exp. 9/20

2018-68543 Exp 9/20

Submitted by Elozor Preil