Students lose 40% of friends every six months, according to research

A study from Oxford University has found that many friendship groups deteriorate when students leave home and go to university.

The researchers, who analysed both male and female original friendship groups, said the core reason was because many students could not get home every weekend to see their friends.

Following a group of students moving to university throughout their first year, Evolutionary psychologist Professor Robin Dunbar said: “We looked at what happened to the original set of friendships – they deteriorate really rapidly over a matter of months. The churn was phenomenal”.

Dunbar, speaking at the AAAS annual meeting in Boston, revealed that the research showed how the students lost forty percent of their friends every six months.

Speaking to students at The University of Leeds, many agreed with the research.

Many students at Leeds University agree with the research. Hannah Gravett, an undergraduate medical student, said “There are some friends I still speak to but others I hardly see anymore. It’s difficult to catch up with each other when you’re both so busy”.

However, speaking about the figures, Gravett added “I might not talk to one or two friends anymore but forty percent of my friendship group hasn’t disappeared!”

The study also proposed a “very striking sex difference” suggesting that the research shows girls needed to ring each other to keep friendships strong, while boys needed to meet up in person.

“Women clearly have much more intense close friendships,” he said. “They’re very intense, very like romantic relationships – in the sense if they break they break catastrophically.”

Comparing friendships, Dunbar added talking didn’t strengthen or weaken boys’ relationships.

“What held up their friendships was doing stuff together. Going to a football match, going to the pub for a drink, playing five a side. They had to make the effort.”

Professor Dunbar also stated that having a large group of friends could make women stressed, which might affect their fertility. He said, “Women’s infertility is heavily driven by social stresses. The stresses you incur destabilise the menstrual system endocrinology and very quickly lead to infertility”.

However, having a tight knit group of friends of around five is said to potentially cancel out the effects of this stress.

Dunbar added, “If you do not have these friends, you are more likely to have your menstrual cycle and endocrinology disrupted”

William Marriott 

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