A couple days ago, I was rejected by a boy I’d been crushing on for nearly a year now. While it’s disappointing, I’m not really upset about it. I haven’t even cried about it. I’m actually pretty good at getting over people. I’ve had friends ask me how I get over people so quickly, and I’ve never really been able to give them an answer. I mean, it’s not like I have any rituals or something that help me get over people (aside from blasting angry girl music or classic rock). It’s really just a mindset that I have. Kind of like people who aren’t afraid of death because they realize we’re all going to die someday and they just want to focus on living life to the fullest.
My mindset has to do with Dunbar’s Number, which I’ll explain in just a moment.
You see, I’m an introvert. Dealing with people all day wears me out, and all I want at the end of the day is to go home and be alone. When I’m feeling particularly worn down during the day, I tend to have the attitude of “I hate people.” I don’t actually hate people. In fact, I love people. I love hanging out with people. I’m very outgoing. (Introversion is not synonymous with shyness.) But because I get worn out by people so easily, I tend to be very conscious of where I’m spending my energy. Or rather, who I’m spending my energy on. There are a few people that I’m almost always willing to drop everything and come hang out with them, simply because hanging out with them is at most once a week. There are other people, who I love just as much, that I spend all day everyday with, so when I go home after class, I’m not really in the mood to talk to them any more. Still, there are others who I have some sort of special interest in that I’m willing to expend more energy on. These type of people include romantic interests, my mother (she’s gone through a lot and I like to make sure she’s doing okay, so I’ll usually put a little more effort into conversations with her than with most other people), and people who I feel protective of for one reason or another. With all this energy expended, it’s quite a relief when I discover a romantic interest is not interested in me because that means I don’t have to make as much of an effort anymore. We agreed to still be friends, and now that I know he’s not interested in me, I don’t have to worry so much about every little thing I do or say (though it’s probably going to be a little awkward now.)
That being said, when a friend and I completely stop talking to the point of not being friends any more, it really doesn’t bother me. I don’t care about losing friends because I’m aware of Dunbar’s Number.
Dunbar’s Number, basically, is the idea (or theory, I’m not quite sure) that the human brain can only maintain 150 healthy relationships. There are four circles of acquaintanceship: the 5 intimates, 15 close friends (that includes the 5), 50 friends (includes the 15), and 150 (includes all previous circles) acquaintances.
Now, I don’t know if this is a scientific fact, but it definitely makes sense to me. It’s hard to keep up with everyone. And I think that my number would probably be a lot less than 150, as I also tend to go by “Out of sight, out of mind.” If I haven’t seen you in a while, I probably haven’t talked to you in a while, either.
Now, if we’re to take Dunbar’s Number as truth, then that means as we meet new people and make new friends, we have to get rid of some old ones because our brains can’t keep up with all the relationships.
Knowing this, I don’t get upset about losing friends because I know that just makes room for me to make other friends.
In the meantime, I’m expending less energy and am much happier.