Dunbar’s donut—our all-too-common lack of skill in intimate relationships creates an unfulfilled hole in our emotional lives

Dave Cortright
1 min readNov 7, 2022

I previously blogged about Dunbar’s Number, which describes the distribution of human relationships by number and level of intimacy. I was speaking to a male friend about this and he joked about having a “Dunbar’s donut”; he didn’t have anyone that really qualified as a member of his support clique, so the closest he really got with friends was in the sympathy group. I think this is far too common in our society—especially for males.

I feel like I too was there for a lot of my life. Or maybe better said that I had friends I considered in my support clique, but I didn’t really have the skills or understanding to feel entirely comfortable expressing myself with them. In short, I didn’t know how to be emotionally vulnerable with close friends for fear of losing the tenuous connection I currently had.

We need to fill the hole in Dunbar’s donut so that everyone out there has a complete Dunbar Disk.

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Dave Cortright

Professional coach, effective altruist and audaciously optimistic about helping to fix the global mental health crisis. https://designingthis.life