How does Taylor Swift possibly have time to text all those friends she has? Her thumbs would fall off. It's dizzying being surrounded by so many people and it’s not like she’s not busy. It just seems that there are too many best friends, and that can mean a lot of surface friendships, and only a few that are meaningful.
In Taylor's world, it looks like quality over quantity. All those stars she picked to share the stage with her on tour, that annual Fourth of July party where you have to wear matching outfits, the sleepover, dinners, and award show plus ones. Didn't she make girl squad famous? It's all so oddly curious.
Who are you people? Why are you in my house? And who invited Blake Lively?
So we called the famous Irene S. Levine, Ph.D., friendship expert, professor of psychiatry at the New York University School of Medicine, creator of The Friendship Blog, and author of Best Friends Forever: Surviving a Breakup With Your Best Friend, to better understand how one (Taylor) can possibly navigate so many friendships with ease.
PS: Is there such a thing as having too many friends?
Irene: “People differ in how many friends they want or need based on their personalities and life circumstances. For example, some people are extremely sociable and outgoing while others are more introverted, preferring to spend more time alone, with a spouse or sibling, or with close friends.”
PS: At what stage in life do you typically have the most friends?
Irene: “It’s easy to form fast friendships in high school and college, when everyone is doing virtually the same thing, in the same place, at the same time. People have so much in common. It can be more challenging for a working mother to find times for socializing with friends outside the workplace. Some communities are also tougher than others for forming new friendships.”
PS: What are potential consequences to having too many friends?
Irene: “If someone feels that he/she has too many friends, they may feel stressed about keeping up with all these relationships. They also might be sacrificing other important elements of their lives (e.g., whether it’s work or family).
“They may also spread themselves so thin that these friendships turn out to be more superficial rather than intimate. They may not have time to listen or be there when friends truly need them; conversely, when they need an ear to listen, they may not feel close enough to any one person. Their friends may feel hurt, disappointed or angry---or otherwise unsatisfied.”
PS: How is it possible to manage a lot of friends and make time for them all?
Irene: “It’s a matter of setting priorities. It’s always useful to periodically take stock of your relationships and determine which ones are most mutually satisfying. Focus on strengthening those (by devoting more time and attention to them) and treat the others as more casual acquaintances that you stay in touch with from time to time.
“Also, recognize that there may be certain times in life when you have more or less time for friends. Realistically, it can be challenging for a first-time mother or somewhat building a demanding career to spend large amounts of time with friends.”
PS: What type of personality prefers quantity over quality?
Irene: “These people are generally the life of the party. They thrive at cocktail parties and large social gatherings. They find small talk easy. They are people magnets and derive energy from socializing.”
PS: Can you have more than one or two best friends?
Irene: “Yes, you can and it’s desirable. Different best friends can serve different purposes. One may be a mentor for your career and another can be a role model for parenting. One may be somewhat who is convenient to meet spontaneously (because they live nearby), while another may be a legacy friend (whom you’ve known forever) ,but who lives far away. If you lose a best friend (illness, death, getting dumped), it can be especially devastating if you only have one!”
PS: Is it possible to truly be liked/like that many people? Is it different if you are world famous like Taylor Swift?
Irene: “Knowing someone’s persona on social media or through pop culture isn’t the same as really knowing them as a friend. Celebrities like Taylor Swift may be admired by many people and appreciated for their talents but it’s impossible to know what a real friendship with them would be like. Often, it’s a matter of chemistry. In truth, many stars often have a hard time connecting with friends because of their status. They may worry that they are being used for one reason or another.”
In conclusion, Taylor is young, famous, rich, and probably finds one thing she enjoys and supports in most of her friends. The problem then is that she probably couldn’t depend on many of them to come through for her in a pickle if she wasn’t famous or wealthy. But she is famous and successful, so she doesn’t have to worry about that. So the problem isn’t who she likes, it’s which of her friends really likes her. That's something she may never know.
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