What are the Circles of Closeness?

The Circles of Closeness, aka Dunbar’s Number, is a thought experiment that states we as individuals are fundamentally incapable of maintaining relationships with more than 150 people at any given time.

That is derived from the maximum tribe size when we were hunter/gatherers across the plains of whatever-its-called and are overlaid into concentric circles a little something like this...


Breaking down the Circles

May as well be on Mars Circle

Also known as the Orbiter/Simp Circle.

Your likes/followers on social media are not a personality trait.

Nothing more to add there.

Outer Circle

The Outer Circle consists of the bulk of people you encounter on a semi-regular basis. They’re the people you’re friendly with, but not exactly friends with. Acquaintances. This is the largest circle and a good fifty to one hundred people live in this realm.

You may find you have multiple smaller Outer Circles. For me, that’s the Motorcycle Circle, the Jiu Jitsu Circle, the Tech Circle, the Party Circle, and so on. No doubt you’ll identify your own and recognise who lives in which, and how some people overlap multiple.

It’s hard to put into words why people are here and not the Inner Circle, and you don’t have to explain it either. They exist here because they do, and you don’t feel strongly enough to put them in the Inner Circle. And that’s perfectly ok.

Inner Circle

The Inner Circle is where you exert most of your emotional energy. These are the people you regularly see and interact with, including family, friends, and likely partner(s).

I’ve found ten to twenty-five to be the right amount of people occupying this space. As lives evolve and change, people will float in and out of the inner/outer circle; as you will for them.

People wind up in the Inner Circle for assorted reasons, but it’s usually shared interests or hobbies PLUS proximity. Proximity makes an enormous difference. It’s hard to have people in your inner circle if you seldom see them.

People in the Inner Circle are those you enthusiastically catch up with, invite over for drinks, and help each other out when needed. My qualifying question about whether someone belongs here is;

Does interacting with this person consistently make me feel good?

If the answer is no, well ... That speaks for itself.