Do you become like the people you spend most time with? originally appeared on Quora - the place to gain and share knowledge, empowering people to learn from others and better understand the world.
Most people are the average of their twenty closest friends. The average traits of the friend group — even traits like gender, weight, height, age, income, and more — are translated to the person.
Happy people have happy friends. Smart people have smart friends. Interesting people have interesting friends. Hard-working people have hard-working friends.
Of course, this is only in aggregate. There are plenty of exceptions. But overall, this is a good heuristic. In the dating pool, you will almost certainly learn more about someone from meeting their friends than you will from going on three dates with the person. If you like someone’s friends, you will likely like the person.
It is not just self-selection (though that is a lot of it). Traits are very contagious.
While height or gender is unlikely to change based on who you hang out with, weight might vary substantially. If you become friends with a lot of people who go to the gym, you will likely go to the gym. If your friends are all going to Burning Man, you will probably start going to Burning Man. If your friends vote a certain way, you will be more likely to change your vote that way. And, of course, softer traits like music, art, food, wine, and more can change in just a few week’s time.
Mostly, your friends inject a virus in you. It could be a benevolent virus that changes you for the better or a terrible virus that ruins you. Likely it will be neither — it will affect your personality on the edges but not your soul.
Summation: Choosing your friends is one of the most important things you can do. Peers can define you both as an eight year-old and as an eighty year-old.
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