The turnover of friends

When talking about occupations or jobs in general, the word “turnover” is often used to refer to the amount of employees who leave a company each year. A high turnover rate can give people a negative view of a company.

The “seven-year itch” describes the tendency for a man in a relationship or in a marriage to become bored with his partner after a period of (on average) seven years, and as a result, will resort to cheating on his partner, or ending his relationship. Why this seems to mainly refer to men, I don’t know. It’s something that has been deduced from social and psychological studies, and has also been applied to the duration of friendships.

The simple way of putting this is: “if a friendship lasts more than seven years, it will last a lifetime”. Some people were asked to complete a study with a summary of their friendships, and when asked seven years later, most of their friends were different, while only a few remained the same. Despite this study, people have deemed the statement as false, because of reasons like a friend passing away, a friend moving to another country, or something as simple as “she betrayed me” or “we just drifted apart, even though we had known each other for so long”. It should also be noted that quantity does not equal quantity, and from my own experience I can say that I have known some friends for a long period of time but feel like I don’t really know anything about them at all – and others I have known for not much more than a year, but feel like I’ve known them my whole life.

I look back on my own lost friendships that have lasted almost seven years, and an existing one, in particular, which has lasted about thirteen. A lot of friendships develop because you are in the same situation or environment – school, extracurricular activities, work. Not many people really go out of their way to make friends, or at least, not many people go to a bar really hoping to meet the love of their life or someone who will be their friend for a really long time.

I have known my best girlfriend Lilian since the beginning of high school when we were both eleven years old. Twenty-four years old now, this relationship is an example of something I know needs nurturing and care from both sides. A friendship, above all, is a two-way street, and when that street turns into one, it can be easy for a friend to be lost.

Coincidentally, I was in a relationship for almost seven years before it ended. Although a friendship started before the relationship began and we had been friends for over seven years, we don’t really talk to each other now.

I knew someone else since I was fourteen, and broke ties with them eight years later. There was a several-year period during which we lost touch. I don’t believe I referred to them as my friend during that time.

I refer to a lot of friends from my childhood or teenage-hood as “my primary school friend” or “my high school friend” or “my friend from dance school”. I’ve since lost touch with them, and although we had the best of times then, they are no longer my friends now. I don’t interact with them enough – or at all – to be able to comfortably call them my friend. Nothing ended bitterly or badly – just simply that we moved on.

Sometimes, all sorts of people in our lives will move on, no matter how close or not-so-close we are to them, and that can happen at any given time. I can say I have zero friends from the first half of my life, and that I lose x friends each year, and I can count on my fingers the number of friends I have, and maybe even guess how many I’ll lose this year…

They say time will tell, but many of us know that a good friendship knows no bounds.

Comments on this post

I never heard about how being friendship that’s seven year long will last a lifetime, but I can guarantee that that doesn’t always fly! Ultimately it depends on the individuals, and some friendship will last longer than others :) The longest friend I’ve had is my bestie since first grade, so we’ve been friends for almost 24 years! It’s mind boggling how I’ve been friends with her that long!

I never thought of it in this way. Really interesting, I can think of a friendship that ended in its 5th year, and one that didn’t even make 4. Most of the time in my case however I have lost friends due to opinions and attitude and feeling like it was becoming a one way street. It would be nice to lose a friend from losing touch, rather than the way my friendships ended. But as I look back on the failed ones for me I often see that I gave to much and received so little, and I wasn’t really valued. The world revolved around everyone but me. I have my best friend since Kindergarten however, we are going onto 16 years this year of friendship. Crazy, and still we are closer than ever.

This sounds like something we talked about in an email. How I told you I had to let go of a friend due to her negativity? Well, like you, I’ve had friends that come and go in my life, as I’m sure they have in all our lives.

Just recently, I noticed that one particular friend that I thought was a friend was just a friend when we lived near each other at the apartment. Our friendship drifted as they say. We’re still friends on Facebook, but we never talk to each other. I try to communicate to her, but I think the friendship is done. I just hate it when people can’t even reply back and say “Hi” or pardon my mouth “Piss off.” Instead, they just see the message and don’t respond to it. To me, that’s a bit rude. If I was mad at someone and they didn’t know it and I knew that a person was trying to communicate with me I would at least say “I’m fine, how are you?” Or let them know “Hey, I’m sorry. But I don’t have anything to talk about.” May be that’s just me because I’m polite and mannerly moreso than the next person, but I don’t know. I just think it’s rather rude to ignore someone. I don’t call this person my friend at all. This person is more of an acquaintance to me now. She left the state of California, and her mom and I talk more than she and I do (and yet, I don’t know her mom), still her mom is an acquaintance as well. The only friend I have in real life besides Tristan and his sisters is my friend Susan from college. That’s it. Everyone else that I grew up with and don’t have contact with anymore are merely acquaintances, and that’s okay. I know some of still think of me as a friend. And that’s okay too. I’m glad you wrote this post.

Speaking of the 7 year relationship. I was notified that if you’re in a 7 year relationship, apparently, you’re considered married. I’ve never heard of that until I was talking to Tristan’s dad and grandfather about it. But, I’ve also noticed that some times when couples are doing great in their relationships and they want to take it to the next level (marriage), it never works out (sometimes). Tristan’s mom for example. Had a great relationship with her now husband “D”. However, they’re not the couple they used to be because of marriage. It’s sad really. I’m just hoping that this couple is the only I know that is like that and not all will turn out like that.

I’ve never heard of that honestly but if you really love someone then I don’t understand the excuse for cheating on them. I understand there are complications and I’ve seen them and you can’t leave immediately, but what’s the point of hurting someone if you don’t love them anymore? Same with a friendship If it has run its course, why continue being in it? Just because you have a shared past, doesn’t obligate you to stay. You are in charge of your happiness and who belongs in your life. That’s the biggest lessons I’ve seen and I’m seeing in that a friend of mine. The longest friendship is from childhood and it’s my bestie and her sister =) I love them both! I’m glad we both went to the same high school and we keep in contact.

We can stop talking for awhile and then pick up where we last left off, that’s true friendship!

That’s very true, though I suppose some people are afraid to leave a relationship or end it – it can be really difficult, too, depending on the situation. A story for another day, I guess, since a lot of relationships can be quite complicated for some people, even though to outsiders it might just be as simple as breaking it off.

But I do really like how you have said “just because you have a share past, doesn’t obligate you to stay”. I think most friendships end when people drift apart, but whenever you feel like you are forcing yourself to stay in touch with someone, it’s probably best to relax and let the friendship run its own course.

I definitely have that kind of relationship with some of my closest friends. Sometimes I feel guilty for not catching up, but if we can pick up from where we left off, we can go into insanely long phone conversations, text message threads, or just talk for hours. =D

Hahaha my last job had a turnover of 10 people last year. For a company of 25.

My mom was just telling me the other day about the seven years thing. I think friendships work mysteriously. I met my childhood best friend when I was 8 years old (I am 23 this year) and we stopped contacting each other when we started university at age 18. I suppose it’s because we didn’t have much in common and distance just separated us. I met my current best friend when I was 13, and stopped talking to her once again at age 18! But then last year I decided to catch up with her, and now we talk regularly. We also have nothing in common, but we do live in the same city and care about a similar future.

I also lost a lot of my friends from university because we had nothing in common upon graduation. I had known them for four years, but now that I’m going for my Master’s degree I feel like I know the friends I’ve met in the last four months so much better. Similar situations definitely is a key factor if you don’t have much in common in terms of interests. Having both probably build the friendships much quicker.

I think the only thing that matters is keeping the friends you want because I agree, a good friendship has no bounds. I don’t see a single pattern upon the friendships I’ve just described for you. :)

Our company of about 90 (excluding offices outside of Australia) lost about 20+ people in the past year – I think that’s pretty bad. (Story for another day.)

I was close to a handful of people from university but I only end up talking to four of them. Two from one of my classes, and two from another. We had other friends who hung out with us but I slowly lost touch with them – I guess because we didn’t contact each other because we didn’t have a reason to. I find that I have less in common with some friends I have known for a while but we still get together every now and then and catch up, which is good.

I think I was very far removed from my peers during my Masters degree. I was the youngest, I was only 21 and most of them were married or had children. I wasn’t really able to connect with them. They were so friendly but I feel like I was the weird one with differing interests and I wasn’t as well travelled as most of them so I found it hard to talk to them about things I would normally talk about with other friends.

I’ve had to cut ties with a few people over the years but, well, sometimes it is best to let some people go. :)

I’m in a kind of “friend limbo” right now. I haven’t really stayed in touch with anyone from university other than Matt (and our friend Kelsey, but she moved away for grad school), and I haven’t really made any post-graduation friends yet, either. There aren’t a lot of people my age at work. I do go to a knitting group once a week and there are a couple girls there who are only a few years older than me, but we don’t talk outside that Thursday evening. I haven’t been able to go to my running group either because of injury and that is the other place I tend to make friends. So, maybe if I keep getting healthier, I’ll be able to run with a group again and stay in touch with people better.

Was it 2008 when we first started talking? I miss those days chatting on MSN. Remember potato rockers? xD