If you’ve ever found yourself feeling like a failure when it comes to maintaining solid relationships with all 2,000 of your best friends, the MIT Technology Review is now saying there’s a science-backed reason for your struggles. According to new research, we’re only capable of having a finite number of relationships due to the size of the neocortex in our brains, the breakdown of which was theorized to be as follows: five best friends, 10 close friends, 35 acquaintances, and 100 additional contacts. A subsequent study confirmed these numbers, stating that “the average cumulative layer turns out to hold 4.1 (besties), 11.0 (close friends), 29.8 (acquaintances), and 128.9 (others) users. The research also found a difference between introverts and extroverts in terms of the number of individuals each personality type was able to include in each level of friendship, though both had the same number of levels of friendship.
Thinking you may need to downsize? Check out our advice for eliminating toxic relationships from your life. If you’re on the opposite side of the spectrum and could stand to find a few new besties, here’s our advice for making friends as an adult. Either way, another recent study showed that the more friends you have—especially in that secondary level of your circle (close friends)—the better you’ll be able to tolerate pain, so be sure not to cut into your contact list too deeply.