Wednesday, 3 June 2009

Do you change your friends every 7 years?

In our book we talk a great deal about the centrality of relationships in our lives so it was with some interest that we discovered that sociologist Gerald Mollenhorst of Utrecht University claims that you lose about half your friends and replace them with new ones after about seven years.

He conducted a survey of 1,007 people ages 18 to 65, and then contacted them again seven years later. From the original group, 604 people were re-interviewed. The survey contained questions such as: Who do you talk with, regarding personal issues? Who helps you with DIY in your home? Who do you pop by to see? Where did you get to know that person? And where do you meet that person now?

The results showed that personal network sizes remained stable, but that many members of the network were new. About 30 percent of discussion partners and practical helpers had the same position in a typical subject's network seven years later. And only 48 percent were still part of the network. This finding goes against previous research which had showed that social network sizes are shrinking.

As we get older many people report that it is more difficult to make new friends. But this is probably because they lose their curiousity which could take them to new places, learn new things or tapping into new social networks. Social media can help here enormously. You are never too old to make new friends- preferably younger ones who will outlive you!

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