As the acclaimed sociologist Kanye West once asked: Real friends, how many of us?
According to a new study from Tel Aviv University and MIT in the journal Plos One, the answer is: Not as many as you think. Researchers looked at 600 students from Europe, the U.S., and Israel to see how many of their friendships were reciprocal. While 95 percent of participants thought their friendships were mutual, the study discovered that in about half of the cases, the friendship was unrequited.
“It turns out that we’re very bad at judging who our friends are,” says Dr. Erez Shmueli, one of the researchers.
Thankfully, there are some clues that can help you decide whether to dole out the Champagne (for your real friends) or the real pain (for your sham friends). Turns out, if you and your friend have similar social statuses and a large number of mutual friends, the relationship is more likely to be reciprocal. Conversely, many non-reciprocal relationships are aspirational, because “people want to be friends with higher-status individuals and behave in ways that indicate friendship.”
Basically: If you’re in Taylor Swift’s squad, and you’re not Selena or Karlie, it’s time to take a long, hard look in the mirror.