Brits Have More Online Mates Than Real Friendships, Research Finds

by : Lucy Connolly on : 05 Oct 2018 10:24
Hand Holding PhoneHand Holding PhonePexels

If you’re anything like me, you’ll have gone through a stage in either school or college where you accepted complete randomers on social media without a care in the world.


It didn’t matter if we had no mutual friends or I didn’t recognise them, if I got the request through the chances were I’d accept it.

Obviously I’m much more stringent now and only accept someone if they’re a close/mutual friend or colleague. But it still led me to having more than 800 Facebook friends, most of whom I don’t speak to at all anymore.

And apparently that’s the case for a lot of Brits, as research has found we now have more than 500 online mates each – but just five ‘true and close’ real-life friendships.


A poll of 2,000 adults found they typically have 554 social media friends, but just a fraction of those are friends they can count on in the real world.

The study was conducted by online payment app Pingit, whose managing director, Darren Foulds said:

Even in this golden age of social media, it’s interesting to see many of us consider only a handful of people our closest and most trusted friends.

Our research indicates we’d do almost anything for them, but given the busy lives we lead now, it’s no surprise that getting together can sometimes be challenging.

The study found that Brits will go to great lengths to help their friends, with more than half willing to ‘drop everything’ to help a mate. So what kind of things were people willing to do?

Group of 4 friends huggingGroup of 4 friends huggingPexels

Nearly 50 per cent would allow a friend to couch surf with them indefinitely, and a fifth would even donate a kidney to a friend in need.

Four in 10 would also happily tell a white lie if a friend asked them to.

Many Brits also literally bank on their friends – 49 per cent would give a pal their last £10, and some Brits would be willing to lend a friend over a thousand pounds.


I mean, it’s a nice thought and if I had a thousand pounds spare then of course I would lend it to a friend – but the reality is I usually have a fiver in my bank before payday. Sorry guys.

Darren Foulds added:

The rising popularity of meals out, trips together and sharing other experiences means sorting the finances is an inevitable part of modern friendship.

Apps like Pingit can help to take away the headache of worrying about the budget, so you can focus on more quality time with your ‘inner circle’.

Furthermore, the poll found that 65 per cent of Brits say they would be more willing to trust their friends than some of their own family members.

Well, they do say that friends are the family you get to choose don’t they!

The average Brit has also been hanging around with the same set of loyal mates for an average of 17 years.

Those who apparently constitute our friends for life are schoolmates, followed by work colleagues and those who live just around the corner.

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Lucy Connolly

A Broadcast Journalism Masters graduate who went on to achieve an NCTJ level 3 Diploma in Journalism, Lucy has done stints at ITV, BBC Inside Out and Key 103. While working as a journalist for UNILAD, Lucy has reported on breaking news stories while also writing features about mental health, cervical screening awareness, and Little Mix (who she is unapologetically obsessed with).

Topics: Life