I'll be there for you - why friends are the new family for two-thirds of Brits

03 October 2018
  • Despite Brits having on average 554 friends online we only have five ‘true and close’ friendships in real life
  • New research examining the nation’s take on friendships reveals that two-thirds are closer to their mates than their relatives – half are happy to give their best bud their last £10 and one in five is even willing to donate a kidney
  • The ‘shoulder to cry on’ is the most revered member of the friendship group, followed by ‘the organiser’ and ‘the joker’
  • Some of the biggest struggles to get the gang together include finding an activity that works within everyone’s budget and bill splitting

More than half (51 per cent) of Brits claim to have more online friends now than they did five years ago, with the average person today boasting 554 virtual mates. Yet even in the ‘Golden Age’ of social media, we can count close, ‘real-life’ friendships on just one hand – with only five ‘true and close’ pals in our inner circle.

These figures were released in new research from Pingit – the app that allows for fast, easy payments between friends and family with just a mobile number – that provides a ‘state of the nation’ report on modern British relationships.

The findings reveal two-thirds (65 per cent) of us trust our closest friends more than our own relatives and best buddies are more likely than family to cheer up a third (36 per cent) in hard times.

A friend in need is a friend indeed, with over half (55 per cent) saying they would ‘drop everything’ to help a mate. 49 per cent claim they’d be happy to have a friend couch surf at their place indefinitely, 38 per cent would tell a white lie and one in eight (13 percent) would tell a whopper. But it’s not just furniture and half-truths that are shared – one in five (21 per cent) would take it a step further and donate a kidney to their cherished chums.

Many of us are also ‘banking’ on the financial generosity of our friends. Nearly half (49 per cent) would give a pal their last £10 and in flush times, they’ve offered a lot more – the maximum amount Brits have loaned their buddies is, on average, £1,860.

Finances play a role when getting together with the gang, too. A quarter of us (26 per cent) struggle to find an activity that works within everyone’s budget, whilst one in ten (9 per cent) admit that splitting the bill is a challenge.

Pingit released the findings to highlight how the app, which offers instant, easy payments and features such as bill-splitting capabilities, can help us spend less time sorting our spending and more time bonding with our buddies.

According to the study about friendship groups, the most appreciated person within the ensemble is the ‘shoulder to cry on’ (42 per cent) followed by ‘the organiser’ – who initiates social events, finds the best deals and splits the bill afterwards – and ‘the joker’ friend who lightens the mood (19 per cent respectively).  

And it’s old friends that are the best for Brits. The research shows that we’ve been knocking around with the same set of loyal mates for an average of 17 years. Those who constitute our friends for life are school buddies (38 per cent) followed by work colleagues (29 per cent) and those who live just around the corner (23 per cent).

Darren Foulds, Managing Director of Pingit, said: “Even in this golden age of social media, it’s interesting to see many of us consider only a handful of people our closest and most trusted friends. Our research indicates we’d do almost anything for them, but given the busy lives we lead now, it’s no surprise that getting together can sometimes be challenging.

“The rising popularity of meals out, trips together and sharing other experiences means sorting the finances is an inevitable part of modern friendship. Apps like Pingit can help to take away the headache of worrying about the budget, so you can focus on more quality time with your ‘inner circle’.”

Psychologist Honey Langcaster-James, who specialises in analysing group behaviour, said: “The research from Pingit shows just how aware we are that different friends take on different roles within a friendship circle, and crucially, it reveals which of those roles are valued the most.

“Psychological studies have shown that believing you have a reliable and dependable social support network is good for your health – it can even increase your ability to heal and prolong your lifespan. It’s entirely plausible that the dependable friend who you’ve always turned to for support during times of need, could one day save your life just by saying ‘I’ll be there for you’!”

Research polling 2,000 people in the UK, conducted by Ginger Comms 17 September to 19 September 2018


For further information or images please contact:

Linda Yang, Barclays


0203 555 5586 

About Pingit

Pingit is a mobile payment service that lets you send and receive money using just your mobile phone number. If you are aged 16 or over all you need is the Pingit app, a UK bank account and a UK registered mobile phone number. It's powered by Barclays, but you don't need to be a Barclays account holder to use Pingit. It's quick, free and totally secure.


About Honey Langcaster-James

Honey Langcaster-James BSc MSc PG Dip MBPsS PPABP is an independent Consultant Psychologist, TV Broadcaster and Media Commentator. For more information about Honey’s credentials please see her website www.HoneyLangcaster-James.com