The One-Sided Relationship You're in Right Now and You Don't Even Know It

May 6th 2016

Danielle DeCourcey

College is obviously a place to expand your mind and get the best education possible, but let's be honest, it's also a place to cultivate an amazing social life and make some great friendships. Fun isn't a crime, am I right?

Here's the thing though, it may not be going as well as you think.

A study of 84 college students taking the same undergraduate class revealed that almost half, about 45 percent, of the people they considered to be friends didn't feel the same way about them. Oh, the horror. The students' ages ranged from 23 to 38.

Researchers had each of the 84 college students taking the applied management course rate each other on a scale of 0 to 5. A zero meant "I don't know this person, a three meant "friend," and a five meant "one of my best friends." Anything above a three was counted as friendship. They were also asked to guess how the other person would score them. It didn't go well.

In what is possibly the saddest, "I need to give you a hug right now" information in this study, about 94 percent of the college students expected that their friendship would be returned. However, considering only 45 percent of friendships were actually two-way friendships, that wasn't true.

The authors of the study theorized that huge gaps between friendships living in the mind and actual two-way friendships are because of social aspirations. Basically, you're Lindsey Lohan at the beginning of "Mean Girls" but you want to be Regina George:

"The phenomenon of frequent unreciprocated friendships may be tied to the prevalence of social status and power hierarchy. This suggests that many of the non-reciprocal friendships are aspirational: people want to be friends with higher-status individuals and behave in ways that indicate friendship (e.g., naming them as friends), but higher-status individuals have greater choice in which friendships to reciprocate and choose to only behave as a friend to a subset of the friendships offered to them."

RELATED: The Surprising Way That People in 24 Countries Can Spot True Friends