Making and keeping friends is an important part of the human experience. As we grow and change, some relationships strengthen while others fade away. If you went to high school, you probably formed some close bonds back then.

But how many of those friendships continue as you move through different stages of life?

If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer to your question: Research shows that on average, people maintain less than 20% of their high school friendships into adulthood.

In this comprehensive article, we’ll dive into studies and surveys examining high school friendships and how many survive over the long term. We’ll look at factors that affect whether these bonds endure and how people reconnect with old friends later in life.

You’ll also find statistics broken down demographically and by social groups. Keep reading for a deep dive into research on the lifespan of high school friendships.

Studies on the Overall Percentage

Various studies have been conducted to determine the percentage of high school friendships that last into adulthood. These studies provide valuable insights into the nature and longevity of these relationships.

National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health

The National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health (Add Health) is a comprehensive study that has been tracking a large sample of American adolescents since 1994. According to Add Health, approximately 60% of high school friendships continue into adulthood, highlighting the significance of these relationships in people’s lives.

Studies by Life Stage

Researchers have also explored the longevity of high school friendships based on different life stages. One study found that during early adulthood, around 40% of high school friendships remain intact.

However, as individuals transition into their thirties and forties, the percentage decreases to around 20%. This decline may be attributed to various factors such as geographical distance, changes in interests, and life circumstances.

Pew Research Center Findings

The Pew Research Center has also conducted surveys to understand the dynamics of friendships in the digital age. While their research does not provide specific percentages, it highlights the importance of technology in maintaining long-distance friendships.

According to Pew, social media and online communication platforms play a significant role in sustaining high school friendships into adulthood, bridging the geographical gap and allowing individuals to stay connected despite physical distance.

Pew Survey on Closeness of Friendships

In a separate survey by Pew, respondents were asked about the closeness of their high school friendships. The findings revealed that 75% of adults consider at least one high school friend as a close friend.

This emphasizes the enduring nature of these relationships and the emotional bonds that are formed during the formative years.

It is important to note that while these studies provide valuable insights, the percentage of high school friendships that last into adulthood can vary based on individual experiences and circumstances.

The quality of the friendship, shared interests, and effort put into maintaining the relationship all play significant roles in determining its longevity.

Percentage by Demographic Factors


When it comes to the percentage of high school friendships that last into adulthood, gender can play a role. Research studies have shown that there are notable differences between males and females in terms of maintaining these friendships.

According to a study conducted by Psychology Today, approximately 70% of female high school friendships continue into adulthood, while the percentage is slightly lower for males at around 60%. It is important to note that these percentages may vary depending on individual circumstances and experiences.


Another demographic factor that can influence the longevity of high school friendships is race and ethnicity. Studies have shown that individuals from different racial and ethnic backgrounds may have varying experiences in maintaining these relationships.

While there is limited statistical data available specifically on this topic, anecdotal evidence suggests that factors such as cultural differences, societal expectations, and geographic mobility can affect the percentage of high school friendships that endure into adulthood.

It is worth noting that friendships between individuals from different racial and ethnic backgrounds can be just as strong and lasting as those between individuals from the same background.

Social Status

Social status, including factors such as socioeconomic background and popularity, can also play a role in the percentage of high school friendships that last into adulthood. According to a study published in the Journal of Consumer Culture, individuals from lower socioeconomic backgrounds may face more challenges in maintaining these friendships due to financial constraints and limited opportunities for socializing.

On the other hand, individuals who were popular in high school may have a higher likelihood of maintaining their friendships into adulthood, as they often have a larger social network and more resources to stay connected.

However, it is important to remember that social status is just one factor among many, and individual experiences may vary.

Why Some Friendships Fade

Friendships formed during high school can be some of the most meaningful and memorable relationships in a person’s life. However, as individuals grow and embark on their own paths, it is not uncommon for these friendships to fade. There are several reasons why this happens.

Drifting Apart After High School

One of the main reasons why high school friendships may not last into adulthood is simply due to the natural process of drifting apart. As people enter adulthood, they often undergo significant changes in their personalities, interests, and priorities.

What once brought them together in high school may no longer hold the same importance in their lives.

Changes in Interests and Priorities

After high school, individuals start to explore different career paths, hobbies, and personal interests. These changes can lead to a divergence in lifestyles and make it difficult for friends to find common ground.

As new responsibilities and commitments arise, it becomes challenging to maintain the same level of connection and interaction.

Physical Separation

Another factor that contributes to the fading of high school friendships is physical separation. As individuals move away to pursue higher education, career opportunities, or other life changes, the distance can make it challenging to maintain regular contact and spend quality time together.

Despite the advancements in technology and social media, nothing truly replaces the in-person connection that high school friends once had.

Differing Life Trajectories

As people transition into adulthood, their life trajectories can take different paths. Some may get married and start a family early on, while others may focus on their careers or personal goals. These differing life trajectories can create gaps in shared experiences and make it harder for friends to relate to one another.

It is natural for individuals to gravitate towards others who are in similar life stages and facing similar challenges.

While it is disappointing when high school friendships fade, it is important to recognize that it is a normal part of life. As people grow and change, their social circles naturally evolve. However, this doesn’t mean that all high school friendships are destined to fade.

Some friendships do stand the test of time and continue to thrive well into adulthood. It takes effort from both sides to maintain a strong bond despite the challenges that adulthood brings.

Reconnecting With Old Friends

As we grow older, it’s natural for friendships to evolve and change. However, many people still hold a special place in their hearts for the friends they made during their high school years. The question of whether these friendships last into adulthood is one that often arises.

So, what percentage of high school friendships actually stand the test of time?

Attending Reunions

Attending high school reunions can be a great way to reconnect with old friends. These events provide an opportunity to reminisce about shared experiences and catch up on each other’s lives. According to a Psychology Today article, attending high school reunions can strengthen bonds and even rekindle friendships.

While it may not be possible to attend every reunion, those who do are more likely to maintain lasting connections with their high school friends.

Through Social Media

Thanks to the rise of social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, reconnecting with old friends has never been easier. These platforms allow individuals to search for and connect with people from their past.

A study conducted by the Pew Research Center found that 72% of adults in the United States use at least one social media platform. This widespread adoption of social media has made it easier for high school friends to stay in touch and maintain their relationships over time.

Reaching Out Individually

While attending reunions and using social media are effective ways to reconnect with old friends, sometimes it’s necessary to take the initiative and reach out individually. Whether it’s a phone call, a text message, or an email, a simple gesture of reaching out can go a long way in rekindling old friendships.

It’s important to remember that life often gets busy, and maintaining friendships requires effort from both parties. By taking the initiative to reach out, there is a higher chance of maintaining a lasting connection.

Experiencing Nostalgia

One of the reasons why high school friendships can withstand the test of time is the power of nostalgia. Nostalgia is a sentimental longing for the past, and it can evoke positive emotions and memories.

Reconnecting with old friends allows individuals to reminisce about shared experiences and relive the joys and challenges of their youth. This shared nostalgia can serve as a strong foundation for lasting friendships and provide a sense of comfort and familiarity.


As the research shows, only a small percentage of high school friendships continue through the decades. While many bonds fade, some remain resilient even through major life changes. Investing in a few lifelong friendships can provide close support during both good and tough times.

The journey from youth to adulthood brings evolving priorities and self-discovery. But old friends who really know you can offer a invaluable sense of roots. With effort and understanding, we can nurture the most meaningful high school connections well into the future.

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