Friend Turnover

Seven years from now, a new study reports, your friend group will probably look entirely different, even though it’ll still be the same size. Utrecht University sociologist Gerald Mollenhorst surveyed 604 people about their friends and again seven years later, and found that only 48 percent of people’s original friends were still part of their network after that time period. How will social networking tools like Facebook and Twitter affect the rate of friend turnover in the next seven years? [%comments]


After going 4000 miles out of my way to meet online acquaintances, I realize that all the gongho-ness of meeting online friends was like a high school reunion: not lasting.

Being a nomad (bedouin, tramp) makes it difficult for people to befriend people on the move constantly. Circles of friends always change. Depending when and if you start a family, at 29 they revolved around children. At 39 they revolved around homes and neighborhoods. At 49 with freedom from direct family ties, they don't exist when you live like a sole gypsy.

Of course many people have office jobs and their friends revolve around that. When folks retire, friend membership also just disentegrates. You might be able to replace this with facebook type relationships but i still bet on physical proximity and not online clicks.


Given that I don't think I'll be in the same city, nor province, in 7 years time. I'd say that the make up of my friends will change 100%.


My guess this has a lot to do with other life changes and the way in which the people answered the question. I recently moved from NYC to DC. I had friends in both places, and haven't really made any *new* friends in that time. But if you were to ask me a year ago (while still in NY) who my three closest friends were, I would have likely named 3 people in NY who I saw quite often. Ask me now, and I will likely say the 3 people in DC I see most often. None of my relationships have changed; I am still just as close with the friends in NY as I was previously, and no closer with the friends in DC than I was previously. Yet, because of circumstance, I would probably answer the question differently. So, my guess is this phenomenon has less to do with people actually making drastic shifts in their social groups, and more likely is the result of outside circumstances. One way I think you could control for this would be how you ask the question.

Saying, "Tell me who all your friends are," would likely result in a list of people who are at the forefront of a person's mind, whether or not this represents the extent and depth of their social network.

Saying, "If you were to get married today, who would be in your wedding party," would be much more likely to actually determine if the core of an individual's friend network has shifted.


Eric M. Jones

"...surveyed 604 people about their friends and again seven years later, and found that only 48 percent of people's original friends were still part of their network after that time period..."

Now wait a minute! After any number of years, my family will still be part of my network if they remain alive. My Inlaws will also be part of my network, depending on whether or not I stay married.

Female friends are problematic. Although I might want to stay wife would rightfully object.

So all these relationships and many others have little to do with time.periods, nor social-networking pages. Some friends have merely remained in touch by whatever methods person, by phone, telegrams, letters, email, video, facebook ...whatever.


Not having read the study, the following question comes to mind:

Is there a difference between age groups? I would expect higher turnover after 7 years from an 18 year-old leaving high school and going to college than someone aging from say 45 to 52.


Mine turns over less as I get older.

Garvit Sah

With the rapid change in jobs and places of working, friendships are bound not to be long lasting. People keep on moving around the country, even across the wolrd.

Social networking sites reduce the effort needed to keep in touch with old friends but practically many of these people would not meet each other ever again in their lifetimes even though they can remainvery good online friends. This reduces the issue to one of how one defines friendship - for some just meeting online might be enough, for others chatting some people over the net might not mean anything.

Christian Bieck

If there is an average, some people must be above and some below, I guess.

At 48 percent, I would question the study's definition of "friendship", though. If distance is a factor, that is not a friend, in my opinion, but merely an acquaintance. The core of my real friends has grown during the years, with very few drop-outs.

Family is not automatically in the friend-category, some are, some aren't.


I make new friends and some fall away, but the core group tends to stick hard. My closest friends have been my friends for at least a decade, with the longest for nearly 30 years.

I relocated a year ago, and picked up a couple of new folks in the new location, but the phone (rather than "networking" sites) keeps my old friends close.


"How will social networking tools like Facebook and Twitter affect the rate of friend turnover in the next seven years? "

Facebook, emails and twitter make it easier to keep in touch, but I reckon on the whole your facebook/twitter friend list will increase, but your actual "core group" of close friends will remain the same sort of size...


Friends come and go, but enemies accumulate.


I had a huge party for my 40th birthday with about 70 people. I had a huge party again on my 50th with about the same number. I was the only one at both parties.

science minded

perhaps I am in the minority, but I still have my high school buddies (somewhere between friends and friendly), my best-friend (my husband). Have recently become re-acquainted with a neighbor friend- from growing up. My oldest and dearest friend- well- that is another story. And then there are people with whom I have been friendly for years--Otherwise, I wish that I could say that I had "new friends." To me, there is a big difference between friendly and friendship. Real friends stay friends. The rest, are like "sands through the hour glass." They come and go.


That seems really wrong to me. In the past 15 years, I've lost some friends (to death, divorce, weird relationships with women who couldn't tolerate me, some friends have become less close, some more close, but my friendship circle overlaps probably 90%. Granted I'm 40, not 20. My circle changed a lot around the end of high school, end of college, end of graduate school. Now that I'm settled in, with a job, a house, kids, and all that, my friends have remained, and I expect them to remain over the next decade as well.


Facebook, Twitter, and other social networking tools help to acquire and maintain weak social ties, not close emotional relationships. Rate of turnover in friends circles is largely independent of social networking tools.


I'm in high school and currently have over 700 'friends' on Facebook. That's over half the students in my school and then some; why is there such an emphasis on 'friending' people even if you've never held a conversation with them before? I feel like especially at my age, and even those in the generation above me, have multiple circles of friends: one circle of real-life close friends (people you actually talk to and keep in touch with), real-life acquaintances (high school buddies, people you met 'that one time') and then network-friends (people you don't know yet follow their lives via Facebook and Twitter).
My question: why do we care so much about other people's lives these days? Has social-networking enhanced this urge to become involved in strangers' lives?


I realize my following comment has nothing to do with the actual post, but I've wrestled with this question for quite some time: Is it possible for one to NOT fear death?

Allow me to tell the following joke/story told to me by my Pastor of all people at Easter Sunday service to emphasize my question.

Three men are asked what they would like to be read at their eulogies.

The first man responds with the following: "I would really love if they said, 'Bob was a selfless man, one who put others before himself, and gave without second thought.'"

The second man thinks for a minute, and responds with the following: "Nothing would satisfy my heart more than if they said. 'Jim loved his family unconditionally, and will be dearly missed.'"

The last man smiles for a moment and then says: "Nothing would please me more if the only thing said at the ceremony was, 'Look! It moved!'"

As I first heard this joke, it occured to me that even a man such as the pastor of my church, could fear death. Fearing death appears to be a natural human instinct, one that has been felt not only by our generation, but by every single human that ever lived as some point. So I ask my question once more: Is it possible for one to NOT fear death?