a secret about your inner circle

Are your friendships driven by your preferences or more by your social opportunities? It’s the later, according to a study out of the Netherlands. Sociologist Gerald Mollenhorst interviewed more than 1000 people and interviewed them again seven years later. His finding: Our personal networks are not formed solely on the basis of personal choices.

Mollenhorst says you’ll have a turnover of about half of your closest friends at least every seven years. But don’t blame it on fickleness or disloyalty. Circumstances will play a major role in who stays in the inner circle as your favorite discussion partners and practical helpers. When parts of your friendship network move away or change jobs or have babies, you replace them. As you make life-changing decisions about marriage and divorce, your best mates will be determined largely by the happenstance surrounding the decision.

Friends come and go. But you should hold on to some of them. Who makes you a better person just for hanging around with them? Who expands your world and helps you to better define yourself? It takes extra effort--but hang on these friends. They're worth it.

Stephen Goforth