New research reveals around half of the people you were planning on going out with after work tonight—the ones you call “friends”—probably don’t like you that much.
To reach this sad conclusion, researchers surveyed 600 students in Israel, Europe, and the US to verify how many were in mutual friendships and discovered that a staggering half were unrequited. So, if you thought that you had 20 friends, you actually probably have only 10.
One of the study’s authors explained that we’re terrible at judging when a platonic relationship is reciprocal. “If you think someone is your friend, you expect him to feel the same way. But in fact, that’s not the case,” explained Dr Erez Shmueli.
Obviously, one-sided friendships aren’t as valuable as relationships in which the friendly vibes go both ways. Researchers found that when a friendship is mutual, the two people have more influence over each, and in one test only real friends were able to help motivate each other to exercise.
Now, the big question: Which friends secretly dislike you? Well, if you two aren’t really in the same social circle, that could be one clue. Many non-reciprocal friendships are apparently aspirational, meaning people often want to be close to “higher-status individuals” and dub these people as “friends” when they really aren’t. Researchers explained that because these higher-status folks have a greater choice in which friendships to reciprocate, they may choose to only behave as a friend to a subset of the friendships offered to them. And you—well, you just might not make the cut.
To read the whole study, head over to scientific journal PLOS ONE