When it comes to maintaining groups of friends, I think size definitely matters. I’ve had many friends throughout my lifetime and some of them have been in my close-knit group and others have been co-workers or classmates, some of who socialize differently than I do.
It’s been my experience, and from what I can tell, the experience of many others that there tends to be more closeness when you have a small group of friends. There tends to be less tension and more overall cohesiveness.
One year some time ago, me and my friends decided to go on a big trip to Halloween Horror Nights at Universal Studios. We wanted to get a nice hotel room and to help with the costs, we invited a lot of our other friends, resulting in a group of about fifteen people. Some were closer than others but we all knew each other and were all friends. What ended up happening when we got to the park was that there was so many of us that we could barely decide what to do. When we walked around, we split up into smaller groups and deciding where to go next was like a 20 minute tribunal complete with voting.
This is a small scale example of what happens your group of friends is very big. Some people will inevitably be closer to some than everyone else, which could lead to conflict or tension or jealousy. Even simple things like planning a birthday dinner can become a hassle because of people’s conflicting schedules.
Bigger groups also tend to lead to more inter-group gossip. And while this can be seen as immature and something people grow out of, that is certainly not always the case. I have seen my grandmother bickering and gossiping behind her friends’ backs about others. It tends to be human nature. In a small group of friends, you all know each other so well, you probably wouldn’t have anything to gossip about.
In terms of communication, which is extremely important for any social relationship, having a small group of friends tends to help you work out problems. If you have 4 or 5 close friends and you’re really having a problem with one of them, you are more likely to talk to them directly about it and work it out. In contrast, when you have a big group of friends, you have the option to vent to someone more removed from the situation but that you are still close to. This doesn’t solve the problem and just leads to backstabbing and trash talking.
These are some of the reasons why I keep my social circle at a manageable size. I love them all to death and I wouldn’t have it any other way.