Wednesday, September 20, 2006


The Opportunity Cost of Friendship

Two weeks ago I was faced with a dilemma. I had been invited to a large-ish party in Chapel Hill where I knew about half of the people in attendance and had also been invited to a small gathering to watch "Army of Darkness" with some close friends.

I ended up doing both, because I didn't want to say "no" to anyone.

Which brings me to my point: the opportunity costs of friendship. Post-college, I've discovered that making friends isn't as easy as it once was, and often has a lower payoff. I feel like my time is already sufficiently spoken-for; if I make additional friends, I'll have to diminish the time I spend with current friends. (Alternately, I could decrease the time spent on my dissertation proposal, but it's already woefully neglected.)

I wonder if this is something that I alone have experienced. Was I already so wonderfully popular upon graduating from college that I needed no additional friends? (Unlikely.) Are my friends just unusually demanding? (I don't think so.) Or unusually giving of their own time? (Not really - they're busy people.) Or, is this something that everyone experiences to some degree?

It probably seems rather ruthless, but for now at least, I'm full up with friends. The opportunity cost of making any more of them is too high to pay.

At least until one of my current friends pisses me off.


There is definitely a trade-off (like all things) between investing more into current friends and investing into potential new friends.

There is also an element of risk, that we were probably more willing to assume in our youth, for the payoff of friendship.

Expectations and potential return on investment are also considerable concerns to put into the equation.
Discovering new music has a similar diminishing marginal return. That's why I'm still listening to the same bands I did ten years ago.
Ah, I hadn't thought about the risk factor. That does make a difference. I know I like my existing friends. New ones are a mixed bag. Good point.
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