Social circles are important, because they can have a big impact on your well-being. For example, high-quality social connections can add meaning to one’s life and are linked to better physical health outcomes.
In this article, we’ll look at what a social circle is, different types of social circles, how big your social circle should be, and most importantly, tips to help you build a social circle of your own.
What is a social circle?
The definition of a social circle is a group of people who are socially connected. It may be a group of friends who hang out together. But your social contacts within your wider social circle may not necessarily know one another. For example, your social circle may contain separate groups of work friends and college friends.
In a social circle based around a group, people may fall into roles. For example, the group may have a “leader” who organizes outings and events for the group and someone who enjoys making food. Someone else may be known as a good listener or “the funny one.” Those are the types of social circles we often see in the media, for example, on sitcoms.
But a social circle may be made up of one, two, or three close friends who aren’t necessarily friends with each other. Your social circle might be made up of people from different places and groups. For example, you may have your work friends, gym friends, and hobby friends.
The way your social circle will look is highly individual. The goal is to make your social circle work for you so that you feel comfortable and content with it.
The short answer is: however big you’d like it to be. The longer answer is more complicated.
You may initially find yourself content to have one or two good friends. You may feel that they are able to meet all your needs in terms of what you’re looking for in friends, and you enjoy spending a lot of time together. However, if these friendships end, you may find yourself alone.
Having a wider circle of people we meet and spend time with exposes us to a greater variety of opinions and a bigger chance of learning new things. If you expand your social circle, you can ensure that you don’t rely on one person too much.
But there is a limit. Anthropologist Robin Dunbar theorized that the human brain can deal with social groups of up to 150 people. Groups larger than that are too complicated for us to deal with properly.
This doesn’t mean you need 150 friends. Our social group consists not only of people we’re in close everyday contact with but also our family, teachers, neighbors, and so on. Even if Dunbar’s 150 isn’t entirely correct, there is still a limit to how many friends you can have due to time issues.
You may have 100 casual friends and acquaintances (people you may invite if you host a big event or party), 50 people you see more often but aren’t very intimate with, and five people you can count on for support.
For more on the science and numbers of social circles, read our article: How many friends do you need to be happy?
Having friends who are also friends with one another may give you a chance to hang out with them as part of a group. Different dynamics can occur when meeting a group rather than one-on-one; some people find groups more fun than socializing one-on-one. On the other hand, meeting more people at once isn’t always better since the conversations may not be as deep. Aim for a healthy balance between one-on-one and group meetings.
How can you get into a group of friends if you’re not currently in one? It seems harder to do so as we get older because we meet fewer people than we would in high school or college. We also tend to find ourselves busier and more tired, with work and keeping house. If there is a romantic relationship and/or kids involved, it may seem impossible to find the time.
Here are some tips for creating a social circle. You might also want to read our in-depth guide to building a social circle.
Meeting fellow lonely people can be great, as you can understand each other and become close friends. But you also want to make it a goal to meet people who are already in a social group or know many people. That way, they can introduce you to their friends, or you can join them in a group outing.
One way you can get to know connectors is to go to group events and talk to people who are there with friends. For example, if you go to a game night, you can ask to join an existing group. We have a guide to joining an existing group of friends that you might find helpful.
Going out to events where you can network and meet new people regularly is a great way to build your social life. Today, most areas have some events where you can be social, whether it’s game nights, group hikes, discussion circles, or other similar type events. You can use Meetup, the events section of Facebook, or through apps like Eventbrite and All Events in City.
If you can find these types of events in your area, consider starting one! Advertise it on one of the sites or apps above. Let others know relevant details (time, place, any costs, if there are any requirements such as fitness level or age bracket, etc).
Meeting new people is the first step to making new friends. But you usually don’t make friends after just one conversation.
Hopefully, your conversations with people will leave them wanting to get to know you better. You can do this by improving your social skills such as: becoming a better listener, knowing how to tell good stories, and being helpful to others.
For more, read our tips on how to improve your social life.
Don’t wait for people to contact you. If you want to have closer relationships, you’ll often need to take the first step. Send messages to people you’d like to get to know better and who you haven’t spoken to in a while.
Our article on how to keep in touch with friends contains lots of tips that will help you maintain your new friendships.
Building a social circle is easier when you know what you’re looking for. Take some time to think about what kind of friends you need. For example, are you looking for someone to go
out with or for deep conversations?
Our needs change at different points in our life, so being intentional can help you build the social circle that’s right for you at this moment. For example, if you’re trying to lead a healthier lifestyle, you could try joining a hiking group to find friends who will support you in building better habits.