Expensive: The cost of finding love is, on average, two inner circle friends, scientists have found.
Ever found yourself dumped by a friend embarking on a romance? Don"t worry, you"re probably not the only one. For according to Oxford University scientists, every time we start a relationship we jettison two of our closest friends.
Most of us simply don"t have enough time for intimate friendships with more than four or five people, their research shows.
And a new love interest leads to two friends being pushed out of the inner circle.
Professor Robin Dunbar, one of Britain"s leading experts in evolutionary biology, explained: "If you go into a romantic relationship it actually costs you two friends in that inner core of relationships.
"Instead of having the typical five friends, they only have four in that inner circle. And bearing in mind that one of those is the new person that has come into your life, it means you have to give up two others."
Men tend to have four or five intimate friends, women five or six, he said.
However, men were just as likely to jettison friends at the start of a new romantic attachment as women, found the study of those aged 18 to 60.
"Your attention is so wholly focused on the romantic partners, you just don"t get to see the other folks you had a lot to do with before," the professor told the British Science Festival in Birmingham. "Those relationships start to deteriorate."
But it"s not just romance that can push out close friends, he explained. Children or buying a dog can have the same effect.
"You can only have five slots for deeply intense and meaningful relations. Those individuals don"t have to be human. They can be your dog - or your favourite chrysanthemum plant. They can be people in an entirely fictional world - they can be soap opera characters. They can be God or they can be saints."
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