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.”