I’ve got some not-so-great news to share from the behavioral science world.
And it might make you question every relationship you’ve ever had.
Research coming out of MIT and Tel Aviv University has found that only half of our friendships are reciprocal.
That’s right...half the people in your life who YOU would consider your friends? I’m sorry to say—they just aren’t that into you.
While this little fact may hurt our egos, don’t forget…
The opposite is also true—there are people who consider YOU to be a reciprocal friend, but they don’t make the cut on your friend list.
Before we start categorizing our friends and over-analyzing our interactions, let’s discover new ways to build reciprocal relationships with people in our network.
Whether you’ve been in the Contact Mapping Community for a year or for an hour, you need to check this out.
In this short video, you’ll see how 26 seconds can make a difference in your relationships and discover just how easy it is to use the Contact Mapping App. Take a look!
THE SCIENCE BEHIND RECIPROCAL RELATIONSHIPS
As part of their research, scientists surveyed a college class and had everyone rank each classmate on a scale of 0-5 (0=”stranger” and 5=”BFF”).
And then, in a practice of self-reflection, each person recorded how they believed their classmates ranked them.
While 94% of students believed their perceived relationships would be reciprocated, the truth is only 53% actually were.
The researchers concluded, “These findings suggest a profound inability of people to perceive friendship reciprocity, perhaps because the possibility of non-reciprocal friendship challenges one’s self-image."
So why does it matter? Can’t we all just live in our own little bubbles pretending our friendships are reciprocated?
Not if we want to build meaningful relationships, the research suggests.
As part of their research, scientists took this finding one step further and set up a friendship algorithm that predicted whether relationships were one-sided or mutual. Once in place, scientists put this algorithm to the test.
Participants were encouraged to start a new workout routine and researchers watched to see how the relationships affected a person’s decision to work out or not.
Over the course of the study, scientists found that reciprocal relationships were more effective at persuading each other for good than those that were one-sided. In short, we are more motivated when our bestie wants to meet at the gym than when our new acquaintance does.
TIPS AND TRICKS
The issue with our inability to judge the quality of our friendships comes down to the power of persuasion. When friendships aren’t reciprocated, we lose the ability to be persuaded or persuade others for good.
I’m not talking about persuading someone to change their beliefs or understand why the Denver Broncos are the best football team of all time — I’m talking about the ability to have a positive influence on someone’s life. That only happens in reciprocal relationships.
So how can we ensure our relationships are reciprocal? Start by trying these 3 things:
Make sure you KNOW your friends: We all have different ways we feel loved and connected. Now would be a good time to review the 5 languages of appreciation and make sure you’re expressing care for your friends in a way they can receive it. If your friend enjoys frequent communication to feel supported (even though YOU don’t), set your next follow-up in a few weeks—NOT in 6 months.
Listen well AND deliver: With limited time on our hands, make the most out of every interaction by listening well and hearing what your friend needs. But then, DELIVER. If you agreed to a coffee date, make sure you follow-up. If you set a time to catch up, be there. If a friend feels like you’re “too busy” to catch up, you can’t expect them to reciprocate your feelings.
Don’t take it personally: We all have different tastes and preferences—if someone’s just not that into you, it’s ok! It doesn’t mean you have to stop reaching out, just be realistic about the connection you have.
And as always—MAP YOUR CONTACTS. By using the Contact Mapping App you’ll not only launch yourself into the superconnector realm, but your super connections will be reciprocated by those in your network!