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Having a friend is something just about everyone can relate to.

It is no secret what brings friends together. The True Meaning of Friendship, an article posted in Psychology Today, lists four things that will draw people together to form friendships. The first is a no-brainer — common interests. If you have a friend, chances are you enjoy similar hobbies, activities or subjects. The second item on the list — time — is tied to the first. The more time two people spend together the more history they develop. Going through experiences together builds rapport and can turn into a friendship. Sharing common values among friends is common. Though shared values alone aren’t exactly what causes a friendship to start, differing views can end a friendship. The last item is equality, the partnership cannot be one sided if it is going to last. Friends support each other but not to a level where one person is dependent on another.

The idea of friendship is one of the first things we learn as kids. A study published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology suggests babies could recognize similar interests in friends. We know from a very young age that having friends is a good thing. As we grow older, friendships become more complicated. There is a reason why some friendships end.

A study done by Florida Atlantic University shows that early friendships almost always end due to dissimilarity. As we grow up we change as people, especially in our early teenage years. The stress of growing up and developing as a person is often what drives friends apart. While opposites do attract later in life, the likeness is key in the early teen years. Sometimes this means we have to say goodbye to a friend.

In 1993, an anthropologist from the University of Oxford determined that humans were capable of maintaining relationships with 150 people at the same time by studying primate groups. This was before technology exploded and created social networks designed to increase friend count. That same anthropologist, Robin Dunbar, now admits that technology has enabled humans to keep more than 150 friends. Technology has also let us hang onto friends that would have been separated by distance or lack of time.

As we grow up school friends turn into work friends. That is a natural change, but be careful. Being friends with your coworkers or boss can be tricky. A workplace is also a place of ambition where climbing the ladder might mean burning a few bridges. LinkedIn did a study and found that 68 percent of millennials would put their career ahead of their work friends. That is a drastic shift from the 62 percent of baby boomers who, when also surveyed by LinkedIn, said they would never consider placing their aspirations above their work friends.

This is not to say making friends at work is a bad thing. The same LinkedIn study found that having work friends can positive. Millennials reported that having friends at work made them feel happy, motivated and productive. So, it is not surprising almost one in three millennials also feel socializing at work will help their career.

Friends are great, the connections are important and socializing with other people can make us happier. The one threat to friendship, apart from dissimilarities, is love. Robin Dunbar found that “when you gain a romantic partner, you may lose two of your closest friends.” The reason for this is simply time. New relationships take up a lot of time and that means less time for your friends. Dunbar explains that “If you don’t see people, your emotional engagement with them drops off and does so quickly.” So be mindful you don’t lose some friends in exchange for a new romantic partner.

Friends are a huge part of our social lives. Without them, we would be alone. Cherish the friends you have, understand when sometimes a friendship has to end and stay mindful of how your choices could affect who you get along with.

b.sheldon@dailyutahchronicle.com

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