One of the best pieces of advice I ever got, back when I was 23 and newly out of school, is this: look around and figure out who you want to be on your team. Figure out the people around you that you want to work with for the rest of your life. Figure out the people who are smart & awesome, who share your values, who get things done — and maybe most important, who you like to be with and who you want to help win. And treat them right, always. Look for ways to help, to work together, to learn. Because in 20 years you’ll all be in amazing places doing amazing things.
A central tenet of minimalism is eliminating unnecessary things. You can apply this principle to virtually anything, including relationships. It may sound cold, but there’s simply no reason to waste time and energy maintaining a relationship that contributes nothing of value to your day.
Of course, some relationships are unavoidable, so it’s also possible that you might need to minimize a relationship to only its essential aspects. My roommate freshman year, for example, was absolutely nothing like me and had little to offer besides copious amounts of alcohol and chicks, bro, chicks. I’m sure he had similar feelings about me. Requesting to switch rooms was probably an option, but rather than go through all that hassle, we opted to peacefully coexist instead. We didn’t have to hang out all the time just because the university decided to pair us up; we just had to sleep in the same room and not kill each other. When the year ended, we went our separate ways, save for the occasional, “Hey man, how’s it going?” in the cafeteria line.
Now obviously, human relationships are enormously complex, and I don’t mean to undermine them. But it’s important to remember that, even though this is the Age of Facebook, you don’t have to be friends with everybody. It’s alright to let someone go when your relationship has run its course. It’s not about being a cold-hearted jerk, it’s about accepting the fact that not everyone needs or even deserves a place on your team. There’s no need to feel guilty about it because you’re freeing yourself to focus on those who matter most.
Different personalities have different needs, and some may enjoy the challenge of keeping up 500 friendships. In that case, by all means do what makes you happy. For me, though, relationships are one of the foremost examples of quality beating quantity every time.