Forget Chemistry- Your Friendship May Be “Wired”

For years, no one could really explain why we are better friends with some and not others.  Most of us believe it’s simply shared interests.  For others, it’s the old adage that opposites attract.  A recent study, however, shows that our reasons may be much deeper than we think… genetic, in fact.

According to research done by James Fowler, associate professor at the University of California, San Diego, our genes play a significant role in choosing who we spend time with. He cites The National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health that shows that alcoholics tend to seek out others who have the genetic marker associated with alcoholism to help them on their path to–and maintaining–their sobriety. This is clearly seen in support programs such as Alcoholics Anonymous.

Alternately, those who have the gene involved in metabolizing foreign substances, such as nicotine, tend to connect with those without it. In other words, people who have a hard time not smoking look for friends who can easily resist the lure of nicotine. This gives them a source of strength to draw from and keeps them out of environments that are conducive to smoking, like bars, and in more restrictive places like non-smoking restaurants.

Certainly, this is just observation at this point, but it does give us something to think about. And on some level, may actually be a little comforting to know that, even if we are pre-disposed to things that are not good for us, we may also pre-disposed to rise above them with a little help from our friends.

24. January 2011 by Ruth Folger Weiss
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