friends
Unsplash | Priscilla Du Preez

Apparently, We Replace Our Friends Every Seven Years

Many times in life we stop and look around at how much our circle of friends has changed. We tend to drift away from friends we once thought would be around forever from our youth into adulthood.

While we aren't sure exactly where or how it happens, there are moments when we get concerned that there's something wrong with us when we lose a few friends in our lives.

When we look back, not many of our childhood friends are still our closest friends.

friends
Unsplash | Simon Maage

Looking back, those friends we grew up with and had some of our best childhood memories with are not the ones who are by our side now that we have our own children. In fact, some of us are lucky if we still even keep in touch with those friends from our grade school days.

Growing up, my closest friends are people I rarely ever see or speak to.

friends
Unsplash | Helena Lopes

Growing up, I had a tight-knit circle of friends that I did everything with—from kindergarten all the way to our first middle school dance. However, I don't speak to any of them now that we're all adults. While that may seem strange to some, it's actually pretty "normal" according to research.

Every few years, we go through big changes in our lives.

life
Unsplash | Sasha Freemind

It's clear that throughout our lives, as the years pass, we change a lot. From milestones—like college, landing a job, getting married, having kids—to just personal, overall changes to ourselves. As we go through life with these changes, our needs in our friendships also change.

That's why we tend to "outgrow" some friendships over the years.

growth
Unsplash | Melissa Askew

While we go through these major life changes, we also change some of our friends and groups, as well. As a matter of fact, a recent study indicated that every seven years, we go through "replacing" our friends.

A study from the Netherlands proved that our friendships change more often than we think.

study
Unsplash | Aaron Burden

Gerald Mollenhorst, an assistant professor at Utrecht University in the Netherlands, decided to conduct a study of 1,000+ people ages 18-65 about the people they rely on the most to talk to about their lives and issues. They asked specific details about the people they rely on the most.

Seven years later, they reconnected with the same people they had interviewed originally.

talking
Unsplash | Van Tay Media

Seven years later, they reconnected with the same people they had originally spoken to in the study and asked them the same questions. The idea was to find out if the people were still "relying" on those same friends from the seven years prior or if those people had changed.

The results spoke for themselves.

friendship
Unsplash | Antonino Visalli

The study indicated that only 30% of our "closest friends" remain the same after seven years. That means that 70% of our friends totally changed completely. In addition, 48% of friends remain in our immediate social circle.

While that percentage is low, the size of our friend group remains the same.

friendship
Unsplash | Matheus Ferrero

The people whom we turn to may change, but the size of our social circle does not. That means if we only have 30% of the original people around, but the same size social circle, we are clearly seeking out and hanging out with new friends.

It does make a lot of sense when you think about it.

friendship
Unsplash | Priscilla Du Preez

Looking back on your life, you do have different needs in your friendships at different times. When we're in college, we want to go out and have a good time. Then, we start working and we want to network and meet new people in business.

Eventually, when we get married and have kids, our friends change again.

kids
Unsplash | Spikeball

Once we get married and have kids, our friends shift a bunch, too. If some of our friends aren't with families, we tend to drift from them a lot. Also, we start to hang out more with our spouse's friends and their spouses, too.

And, if you're feeling rather bad about your friend changes, at least know you're not alone.

friendship
Unsplash | Cornelia Steinwender

You may look around and start to feel bad that you have drifted from some people, or even that you may be the reason that you aren't as close with your old friends as you once were. If you feel this way, take solace in knowing that it's not you—it's science.