Why Having a Support Network of 15 is Better Than 500

Five person support network

What is a support network?

Think of your support network as your team: the people in your life who you go to for support, encouragement and to share the ups and downs with. Having a strong support network is important when it comes to maintaining our mental health and physical wellbeing. 

In today’s world, we live a lot of our lives online, so how does that impact our support network? It makes it more difficult to maintain strong, genuine relationships with lots of different people. Even if social media tells us we should have thousands of friends all following our life updates, it’s actually better for us to have 15 good friends than 500 acquaintances. 

There’s an interesting theory from a British anthropologist called Robin Dunbar, who says the “magic number” of your network is 150. Anything more than this means relationships won’t be sustained, and your network will fall apart. It’s not about having 150 best friends though, it’s more about the layers of friendships within this. You have your tightest circle of 5 loved ones, 15 good friends, 50 friends, and then your 150 meaningful contacts – people you know but wouldn’t necessarily keep in regular contact with. This then expands out to 500 acquaintances and 1500 people you can recognise, for the people who come in and out of your life.

Quality over quantity

Despite the social media pressures mentioned, which force us into thinking we need to have hundreds of best friends, there are  many advantages to having a smaller network of people in your life. With our closest friends or family, we don’t feel the need to be anyone other than ourselves.  There’s no need to put a mask on or pretend we’re someone we’re not. We’re completely comfortable and feel good when we spend time with them. Our network of five fills our cup, as opposed to draining our social battery. 

It also leads to stronger connections. Think about it: the smaller your network, the easier it is to have more meaningful conversations -instead of being stuck with the surface level “how are things going, yeah fine, work is all good” chat we often end up having when we’re talking to people in our wider network. It’s all about the quality of your connection, as opposed to the quantity. The next time you find yourself comparing your small circle to another group on social media, try to remember how many of your close friends would be there for you when you need them.

How to build your support network

Honesty, support and loyalty are key cornerstones when it comes to building good connections, and it’s important that they’re equally reciprocated. Carving out time for your closest friends is also crucial – you need to always find moments to connect, even amid busy workdays. Checking in regularly and making sure you always have the next plan in place to meet your friends are two easy ways to maintain your close connections, but it’s also about being there when they need you most. Just listening to someone and making them feel truly understood and heard can have hugely positive impacts on both yours and their mental health and wellbeing. 

Good friends relieve stress by giving you comfort and joy, but they also go a long way to helping prevent feelings of loneliness or isolation. But friendship is a two-way system, and it feels just as good to be there for your friends – it boosts your happiness and sense of belonging, ultimately fostering stronger connections between you.

How to boost your support network

Dunbar’s theory really resonated with Morale, and we strongly believe in the power of having a smaller but trusted network of people. That’s why we encourage you to share Morale boosts of support every day with your five closest friends,meaning you can give your close network the time, energy and effort they deserve. Morale is on a mission to help you support the wellbeing of your close network of friends and family, but also boosts your own mental health in the process. Put simply: doing good, feels good. 

Interested in downloading Morale and boosting your network? The app is available to download on Google Play and Apple’s App Store.  You can also follow us on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn for the latest news and updates – we promise positive vibes only and NO ads!  

Any feedback? We’d love to hear from you – send us an email to contact@moraleapp.co