You were doing so well with socializing, giving gifts and hitting cut scenes all through the winter months, then you ended up spending spring and summer creating mega crops to get the farm up to par for one of the all-time great pumpkin harvests, courtesy of your dozens upon dozens of quality and iridium sprinklers.
In Stardew Valley you can lose hearts with characters in three ways:
- Not interacting with characters for a long period of time
- Giving characters gifts they dislike or hate hate
- Giving negative/non-supporting responses in some cut scenes from heart events
Most players know about the last two, but might be surprised at learning that friendships in Stardew Valley do (slowly) degrade over time. If you make a moderate effort to socialize with everyone it’s not a major problem.
But for those NPCs who can be really hard to find, or if you spend a LOT of time getting lost in mega fields of crops, this can crop up as an issue, especially if you want to see advanced storylines for each character or were busy wooing a favorite bachelor or bachelorette who, after two seasons of not seeing you, seem to be more in the “Let’s be friends” area of hearts.
Read on to learn all about how you gain hearts, lose hearts, and what you need to do to keep this from being a problem.
How Friendship Works in Stardew Valley
In Stardew Friendship is a very important mechanic that affects storylines, who you can marry, the gifts you get in the mail for free, and more. The good news is that the friendship mechanics in Stardew aren’t complicated: it’s a simple point system where certain actions or inactions either add or subtract from a point total.
Things like talking to villagers once a day, giving liked or loved gifts, and responding in positive ways during cut scenes can drastically improve your friendship points with them while giving them gifts they hate, not talking them to daily, and choosing obviously antagonistic answers during cut scenes will cause hearts to fade away.
At it’s score, the relationship/heart system is thus:
Each heart = 250 friendship points.
This is important to keep in mind because it helps you know (roughly) how many hearts certain actions can affect, more or less. Any action giving you 125 points would be worth half a heart, for example, while a negative 500 points would lose you two hearts with an NPC.
All actions have a point total tied to them, which is why knowing hearts are 250 friendship points helps you get a sense of how many actions need to be done to gain or regain a heart, or how many hearts can be lost in a month.
Let’s dive into how to re-gain lost friendship hearts in Stardew Valley.
How Friendship Hearts Are Lost in Stardew Valley
Stardew valley has a social mechanic known as friendship decay. A reflection of how casual relationships often work in real life, as long periods of time pass by without interaction, the friendship slowly takes a backseat to other relationships.
This friendship degradation in Stardew Valley stops with most characters at a certain heart level, unless you are romancing a character in which case rapid decay can occur from ignoring them (though even then it takes nearly a full month in the worst case scenario to lose a full heart).
How you lose friendship hearts in Stardew Valley
- Not talking to an NPC during the day (-10 points)
- Giving an NPC a disliked gift (-20 points)
- Getting caught by an NPC searching a garbage can (-25 points, except for Linus)
- Hitting an NPC with a slingshot (-30 points per hit)
- Giving an NPC a hated gift that day (-40 points)
- Getting the “Bad Soup” response from Governor during the Luau (-50 points with ALL NPCs)
- Giving an NPC a disliked gift on the Feast of the Winter Star (-100 points)
- Getting the “Disgusting Soup” response from the Governor during the Luau (-100 points with ALL NPCs)
- Giving an NPC a disliked gift on their birthday (-160 points)
- Giving an NPC a hated gift on the Feast of the Winter Star (-200 points)
- Giving an NPC a hated gift on their birthday (-320 points)
Keep in mind that the same multipliers in place for giving a liked/loved gift on a birthday also applies to disliked/hated gifts, so unless you really want to crash and burn a relationship in-game, be wary!
There are some special heart events with certain romanceable characters where the answers that you give can negatively affect a friendship (an in the case of Penny, potentially crash and burn it).
Keeping in mind that 250 points is a heart, unless you are gunning everyone with daily slingshot hits, there are only a few occasions where a major drop in friendship hearts in Stardew Valley can happen in a single day.
On average if you don’t interact with a Stardew Valley NPC at all you’ll lose one friendship heart a month with them due to decay.
Best Ways To Re-Gain Hearts in Stardew Valley
The good news is that as many ways as there are to lose friendship points with characters in Stardew Valley, there are even more ways to gain friendship points, and most of these give more points to the player than the inverse causes them to lose.
For example: Not talking to an NPC causes you to lose 10 friendship points a day, but talking to them causes you to gain 20 friendship points.
There are many different ways to regain friendship hearts by winning friendship points in Stardew Valley, and here are some of the best ones (IMPORTANT NOTE: With liked and loved gifts, higher quality gifts increase the number of friendship points received).
- Kissing a spouse in the morning (+10 points)
- Talking to a villager once per day (+20, unless interrupting an action like exercise/photography then +10)
- Giving a neutral gift (+20 points)
- Giving a liked gift (+45 points)
- Giving a loved gift (+80 points)
- Giving a neutral gift on Winter Star Celebration (+100 points)
- Completing an item delivery quest from Pierre’s (+150 points)
- Giving a neutral gift on NPC’s birthday (+160 points)
- Giving a liked gift on Winter Star Celebration (+225 points)
- Choose an NPC as a partner for the Flower Dance (+250 points)
- Giving a liked gift on NPC’s birthday (+360 points)
- Giving a loved gift on Winter Star Celebration (+400 points)
- Bulletin Board Friendship Bundle Completed (+500 points every non-datable NPC)
- Giving a loved gift on NPC’s birthday (+640 points)
This doesn’t even cover the many heart events where you can earn even more friendship points, or bonuses that you can get from interacting with people in the Night Market during winter.
While friendship decay does exist in Stardew Valley, the mechanics are really good and give more weight to good experiences, time socializing, and really does a great job or reflecting how friendship growth or decay tends to work in most situations in real life.
Can You Lose Hearts with Spouses in Stardew Valley?
The friendship decay is really interesting in Stardew Valley because with all other NPCs you can hit a point where there is no longer any decay at all. Once you hit a certain “best friend” point, you become the type of friends who could go years without speaking to one another and pick up right where you left off.
The only exception is with your spouse. I actually really love how this reflects on married relationships in real life, because you need to keep working to make that relationship thrive, which is why for a girlfriend/boyfriend or wife/husband, the continuing to talk to your spouse daily is crucial or the relationship will deteriorate.
While you can lose hearts in Stardew Valley, it’s a much slower process than gaining friendship points from talking daily and especially from good gifts. This is a nice balance as ignoring ALL socializing is going to slowly erode your friendships, at least until you’re BFF status with everyone, but small token efforts go a long way to building up the friendship points much faster than you can lose them.
While friendship decay is a problem in Stardew Valley, at a high enough friendship it stops and that means when everyone in town sees you as a best friend, the only relationship you really need to work on is that of your spouse, which always needs attention for that long-lasting happy marriage.
Other Stardew Valley Articles You May Enjoy
- Stardew Valley Watering Guide
- Beach Guide Stardew Valley
- How to Catch a Gold Star Void Salmon Stardew Valley
- Clay Farming Stardew Valley Guide
- Best Stardew Valley Mods
Proud to embrace the locally created moniker of “Corrupt Overlord” from one of the all time great Lords of Waterdeep runs, Shane is one member of the Assorted Meeples crew and will be hard at work creating awesome content for the website. He is a long-time player of board games, one time semi-professional poker player, and tends to run to the quirky or RPG side of things when it comes to playing video games. He loves tabletop roleplaying systems like Dungeons & Dragons, Pathfinder, Werewolf, Fate, and others, and not only has been a player but has run games as DM for years. You can find his other work in publications like Level Skip or Hobby Lark.