So I was flying to Baltimore to participate in the DE Partners in Policymaking program and was fingering through the in-flight magazine. I came upon an article titled; "It takes 50 hours to make a friend," and as I am always looking for information related to social capital, I read on.
It was a short teaser article summarizing an article by Dr. Jeffrey Hall that appeared in the "Journal of Social and Personal Relationships." The short piece did not dive deeply into the article, but highlighted his key findings in looking at the time it takes to build a relationship. Hall found that once you are acquainted with someone, it takes a good 50 hours to move that connection from acquaintance to "casual friend." Then it takes an additional 90 hours to move from "casual friend" to "friend;" and finally a good 200+ hours to move from "friend" to "close friend."
Further, Hall found that the typical undergraduate student spends nearly a third of their waking hours with one close friend. This nets to almost 6 hours/day invested in one close friend.
Now all of this is interesting to me as it suggests the importance of time in building meaningful friendships. Of course we all know that time is critical, but for the advocate, helping people to build friendships we must understand the importance of regularity. If we want to help people build social capital, they must make a regular commitment to be present with the folks they hope to befriend.
So instead of community outings, it would do us better to find places that meet on a regular basis and make sure that the person being supported can make the commitment to the group. Then the real work begins, because connecting with others require that similarity emerges and that people can begin to share and compare that which they have in common.
Not fool proof, but building relationships takes time and we must be prepared to make the time if we want more friends. So, the next time you are with your friends, think back to the time you have invested. In these cases, time is more than money!