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It takes four years of knowing someone before they can be considered a "best" friend, according to new research.
A poll of 2,000 Americans found the average respondent needs to go through four different personal experiences with a friend before they can qualify them as a best friend.
One in three said they must go on a vacation with a friend before earning the moniker of "best" friend, while a further one in five has to share clothes first.
The study, conducted by OnePoll on behalf of Evite, aimed to reveal what friendship means to Americans — and uncovered two in five must go through a life-changing experience with a friend before they can upgrade them to a "best" friend.
There are certain milestones that must be checked off before any friend can become a best friend — from experiencing a breakup (32%) and doing something spontaneous together (28%), to texting each other at least once a day (27%) and staying up until the early morning just chatting (25%).
The results showed that Americans would do almost anything for their besties, including traveling across the country (42%) and keeping their secrets (36%).
A third would lie for them while another 24% would miss work just to hang with them. But that’s not all Americans are willing to do for a best friend.
Forty-three percent would bail their best friend out of jail, while a quarter (25%) would actually take their place in jail.
The study also found that nearly half (49%) of Americans have made friends through a partner – an average of three.
But what happens when people break up with a partner who previously introduced them to a new friend? Three in four say the friendships are able to survive the awkwardness of the breakup, with over half saying they actually steal their partner’s friend.
The reasoning behind keeping these friends? Fifty-six percent say they had mutual interests with this friend while 54% reveal they became closer with this friend than their partner originally was.
But Americans aren’t just making friends through their partners — many make pals at the office. Of those who are employed, 56% reveal they knew they made a friend at work when they found themselves communicating with their co-worker outside of the office about things unrelated to their work.
Nearly half (49%) of employed respondents revealed they knew they’d made a good friend at work when they’d discuss their personal lives daily, while a further 43% knew their colleague became a friend when they exchanged phone numbers.
“Friendships can be formed anywhere, but crossing into the BFF territory takes time and shared experiences together," said Zaria Zinn, Celebration Expert at Evite.
"It’s through these face-to-face bonding experiences that we build trust with one another and improve both our own well-being as well as the well-being of those around us. Good relationships keep you happy, healthy, and as the research shows, just might get you out of jail someday.”
While the average American currently has three best friends, they are also juggling three different friend groups at one time.
And according to results, they don’t like those friend groups intermingling; nearly seven in 10 respondents said they actively work against their different groups interacting with each other.
Of those who avoid mixing friend groups, 56% say it’s because they act differently when they’re around their different friend groups, which could lead to awkwardness when all together.
Another 53% say they're worried what the groups will say to each other and a further 47% are worried one friend group will reveal a secret about them to the other group.
But for men and women, juggling friendships is handled differently. Compared to women, men are more likely to consider inviting friends to every party they throw and going out to eat at least once a day with pals as significantly more important to maintaining their friendships.
Also, a quarter (25%) of the men studied revealed they value "best friendship" through sharing clothes, compared to just 16% of female respondents.
Men also place a higher value on keeping secrets than women do. Forty-one percent of men studied revealed they greatly value a friend who can keep a secret, compared to just 30% of women studied.
And men were also more likely than women to have celebrated a "friendaversary."
"Mixing friend groups doesn’t have to be scary; in fact, we encourage it," said Zinn. “Meeting new people might seem awkward for your friends at first, but they all have something in common – you!
"If you’re still hesitant, I suggest mixing friend groups in an event that is focused on celebrating you, like a birthday party or a celebration of a work promotion. Instead of focusing on how your friend groups are different, focus on the aspects that make them similar and bring those up as you introduce them to each other.
"You could be introducing someone to their new best friend.”
TOP 10 THINGS AMERICANS MUST GO THROUGH WITH A FRIEND BEFORE BECOMING BEST FRIENDS
- Go through a traumatic experience 40%
- Go on vacation 34%
- Road trip together 34%
- Talk on the phone 33%
- Showing loyalty/having each other’s back 32%
- Ask/give advice 29%
- Do something spontaneous together 28%
- Text at least once a day 27%
- Invite them to every party you throw 25%
- Stay up until the early morning hours just chatting 25%
TOP 10 THINGS AMERICANS WOULD BE WILLING TO DO FOR THEIR BEST FRIEND
- Bail them out of jail 43%
- Travel across the country 42%
- Keep their secret(s) 35%
- Lie for them 33%
- Stay up all night 27%
- Spend more on a gift than anyone else 26%
- Take their place in jail 25%
- Willing to drive insane amount of hours 25%
- Miss work to spend time with them 24%
- Move to a different state 23%
TOP 10 POP CULTURE GROUPS AMERICANS FRIEND GROUPS RELATE TO
- New Girl
- The Avengers
- Gilmore Girls
- Golden Girls
- Sex and the City
- The Office
- Stand by Me