Why Your Middle School Friendships Were Doomed From The Start

Photo: c.Sony Pics/Everett/REX USA
Are you still friends with that bestie you made way back in middle school? If so, kudos to you both — you're an amazing anomaly. According to a new Psychological Science study on adolescence reported by New York Magazine, only one percent of the friendships formed in seventh grade will make it through high school. (Way to go, Kimmy Gibbler and DJ Tanner. You continue to inspire us all.)

To complete the study, researchers at Florida Atlantic and Radboud universities followed 410 teens, checking in with each of them once a year, every year, from seventh through twelfth grade. And while the results may not be too surprising to anyone who has walked the sometimes horrible halls of middle school, seeing the unwritten social realities of adolescence translated into clear statistics is fascinating.

Of all friendships formed during any grade of middle school, approximately half do not last a school year. (Love you in September, ditch you in November? Oof, we've all been there.) Friendships formed in either the sixth or the eighth grades are considered particularly unlikely to last; the study labels friendships made during these times as "highly unstable," citing the transition to middle and then high school as pretty much guaranteed friendship killers.

But those who found the social perils of middle school particularly difficult to navigate should take heart (talking to you, Weiner-Dog): When it comes to making friendships that actually last, the popular kids had it just as hard. According to study authors Amy C. Hartl, Brett Laursen and Antonius H. N. Cillessen, peer acceptance, or popularity, had no impact on whether or not a student's friendships lasted into high school. Nether did sex, age, ethnicity, aggressiveness, or academic competence, for that matter. It's all simply a matter of kids' basic personality differences driving them apart; as two kids get older and their interests diverge, so too do their youthful friendships.

Logical. And while it can be sad to think about friends long forgotten — and recognize that making friends only gets more complicated as we get older — let's take a moment to salute the lasting friendships we do have. After all, they're helping us stay healthy. (Or if you're Taylor Swift, they're helping you win social media.)
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