Treasure your relationships, not your possessions.
—Anthony J. D’Angelo
Why do we form relationships in the first place? Are they part of the very way we are wired?
The simple answer to both questions is, “Yes.”
Forming relationships is at the very core of what makes us human. It is tied to the great psychological morass that we call our psyche.
Over the past few hundred years, psychological inquiry has shown that we form relationships for two reasons. The first is to receive something we want, something that fulfills our basic psychological needs (i.e., to be loved, wanted, etc.). The second reason we form relationships is because we have something to give.
Moreover, that simple explanation conveniently explains why some people like (or need) deep relationships with just a few people, while some are happier maintaining shallow relationships with lots of people. It all depends on how we are wired, how much we want or need, and how much we have to give and value giving.
Great or small, we have limits to the number of relationships that we can maintain. Although there are a lot of other practical reasons (such as we cannot have our entire day consumed with tending and forging relationships), apparently our brains are only wired to handle a finite number of relationships. According to Robin Dunbar, that number is approximately 150.1 His definition of this number was based on years of research watching chimpanzees, ...