Love the one(s) you’re with

A simple tweet from a group I am following led me to re-think my expectations regarding people who will be my friends after retirement.  I missed the news when it was widely covered in 2009 that, according to a Dutch researcher, every seven years we replace half of our friends.  The link to the original research page is dead and half of the so-called analyses I could find referred to Facebook friends, who are never quite the same as flesh and blood pals.  Despite not being able to find many legitimate sources for more information about this study, the notion makes sense.  When my parents retired they moved to Arizona and made new friends for the six months they spent there every year, while still keeping in touch with some of the old ones when they returned in the summer. I’m currently committed to my vow to keep friends I made through work, but some of them will retire in the next few years, maybe leave the area to be closer to grandchildren. Others will be working for many years, perhaps for a different employer or in a new job for same employer, and the activities that once brought us together will no longer be part of either of our lives.  Those whom have I counted on for more than 20 years will still be around as long as we are alive, but I can see how those on the periphery might slip away only to be replaced by someone I meet through a new avocation.  Another reason for the appeal of this claim is the famous “seven-year itch,” which was once known as a time when people “re-evaluated their relationships.” It also represented the average length of a marriage in this country, though that number is apparently much smaller now.

Interestingly, some friends from the past, even from as long ago as college days, are coming back into my life.  They retired or left education years ago, but now we are re-united by other interests, for instance, blogging, writing, or making sock animals.  I could test the research myself, assuming it exists, by writing a list of current friends and checking over the list in 2017 (using my retirement year of 2010 as a baseline).  But I won’t.  At this moment, I’ll follow the advice in a song lyric from Crosby, Stills and Nash to “love the one(s) you’re with.”

About stillalife

I retired June 30, 2010 after working for 40 years in the field of education and most recently doing school public relations/community outreach in a mid-size urban school district. I wrote for superintendents and school board members. Now I'm writing for me and I hope for you. In this blog, I offer my own views coupled with the latest research on how to preserve our physical and mental health as we age, delve into issues most of us over 50 can relate to like noticing wrinkles and forgetting where we left our keys, discuss the pros and cons of different ways to engage our minds and bodies after we leave the workplace, and throw in an occasional book review, all peppered with a touch of humor, irony, and just plain silliness. Also, I'm on the third draft of my second novel since retirement.
This entry was posted in changes after retirement, friends and family, personal reflections and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Love the one(s) you’re with

  1. Jill Turnell says:

    Being an introvert, I have never had a large group of friends, so I value those I have. I have also wondered why some of the friendships have ended. Some of the reasons are obvious – as you mentioned – moving, perhaps the common interests are no longer there, etc.. I believe the biggest reason for maintaining a friendship is the desire to do so on the part of both people. One of the biggest reasons for my friendships ending has been the marriage of the friend. For some reason, this one-time “good friend” is not interested in maintaining a friendship with her single friends. I can hardly think I have ever been seen as a threat, but it is a shame just the same.
    I do have a few friends with whom I’ve remained in close touch even though we are separated by miles – (and they are also married!) One I have not seen for at least 30 years, yet we keep a close connection – thank goodness for email! The other is near enough for an occasional visit, but we too exchange weekly emails. I value these relationships greatly – and by the way, am happy that you want to resume our friendship now that you are retired. I enjoyed our writers’ group and the fun we had.
    And as a footnote – one friendship was made at the grocery store! I noticed that this woman was always in the produce department at the same time as I, and so one day I spoke to her. We have since become good friends – going out to lunch and exchanging emails.

  2. Jackie Smith says:

    Your post hit home with me. Because of some sort of wierd senrendipity, during this last year, I’ve renewed friendships with my childhood best buddy, high school pals, college chums, and even colleagues from the school district, where I used to work more than a decade ago. Obviously this doesn’t fit into the seven-year cycle, but still serves to remind me that my circle of friends really is wonderfully wide.

    What surprises me — although it probably shouldn’t — is how with each one, we are able to pick up right where we left off. As an added benefit, the years, the wrinkles, the gray hair seem to be washed away by girlhood giggles when we are together.

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