Her post was inspired by one of the factoids that captioned my appearance on Katie’s Take (with Katie Couric): An on-screen statistic accompanying the ABC/Yahoo video mentions that on average, most friendships—even very good ones—last only seven years. The statistic was cited in my book, Best Friends Forever: Surviving a Breakup with Your Best Friend.
In her blog post, Rachel writes that this statistic doesn’t hold for her. Since the statistic is based on an average, she seems to be among the lucky ones. Now in her thirties, Rachel has kept all the besties she’s made in high school and college.
Why do some people defy the averages and others don’t? Here are some factors that come into play:
- Some people are more invested in keeping old friends than others and work harder at nurturing relationships. They find ways to connect, both online and in-person, and make (sometimes heroic) efforts keep in touch with people from their past. For better or worse, other people may feel more comfortable letting go and making/allowing changes.
- Some people have better communication skills than others. In any relationship—even between spouses—conflicts, disappointments and misunderstandings invariably arise. When people are more skilled at resolving friendship problems, they have a better chance of heading off breakups.
- The circumstances of people’s lives change over time, which makes some friendships fray simply because people grow so far apart (psychologically). If the lives of you and your friend(s) have become very dissimilar or out of sync, the odds are more likely that the friendship will lose its relevancy.
- Sadly, age is also be a factor in losing friends (even though it may be a time of life when we most need friends). Chronic illness and disability often makes it hard to reach out to others and some friends literally die off.
Another thought about this statistic comes to mind: Our friendship memories tend to be selective. Sometimes, after a breakup, the natural tendency is to relegate a once-close or good friend to something less. When that happens, we are less likely to include that person on our list of close friends who were lost over time. This may suggest that the average length of a close friendship is even shorter than the data suggests.
What is your sense of your own track record in keeping friends for the long haul?
Also see on The Huffington Post: The Seven-Year Expiration Date on Friendships
Category: MAKING FRIENDS