More than half (54 per cent) of Brightonians 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 four ‘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 (67 per cent) of us across Brighton trust our closest friends more than our own relatives and more than a third (37%) say their best buddies are more likely than family to cheer them up in hard times.

A Brighton friend in need is a friend indeed, with over half (61 per cent) saying they would ‘drop everything’ to help a mate. 54 per cent claim they’d be happy to have a friend couch surf at their place indefinitely, 40 per cent would tell a white lie and 13 percent would tell a whopper. But it’s not just furniture and half-truths that are shared – a quarter (26 per cent) would take it a step further and donate a kidney to their cherished Brighton chums.

Many of us are also ‘banking’ on the financial generosity of our friends. More than half (55 per cent) would give a pal their last £10 and in flush times, they’ve offered a lot more – the maximum amount Brighton chums have loaned their buddies is, on average, £3,000.

Finances play a role when getting together with the gang, too. A third of us (34 per cent) struggle to find an activity that works within everyone’s budget, whilst 7 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 Brighton ensemble is the ‘shoulder to cry on’ (51 per cent) followed by ‘the organiser’ (23 per cent) – who initiates social events, finds the best deals and splits the bill afterwards and ‘the joker’ friend who lightens the mood (14 per cent).

And it’s old friends that are the best for Brighton. 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 work colleagues (30 per cent), secondary school buddies (29 per cent), followed by those you have met through other friends (24 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’!”