Kenya Foy
August 03, 2017 12:01 pm
ABC

The eternal debate between whether your blood relatives are more important than friends will always feel like wading into murky waters, but we’ll brave the muck to toss in our opinion: There are plenty of reasons the family you choose is more important than the one you’re born into.

We know, we know: We’ve heard it all before, and we’re all for choosing family first. However, it’s totally not necessary for members of your beloved inner circle to all share the same lineage. When your friends are your family, you come to understand that things like DNA, having grown up in the same household, or bearing the same last name don’t matter as much as others would have you believe, especially because you have the option to choose your friends carefully.

When your core unit consists of hand-picked people who love and respect you and enrich your life, it becomes crystal clear why the family you choose is the most important one you’ll ever have.

1Friends may have more of an impact on your overall well-being.

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A recent study explored why friendships are more important than family as we age, and the findings published in the journal Personal Relationships show that those with whom we choose to form the closest bonds are more crucial to our overall well-being in the long run.

As Time reports,

2Friends don’t *have* to be there, but they are.

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Not that they always abide by them, but blood relatives face various legal, cultural, and societal expectations to look after one another in a way that friends don’t. Knowing that someone is there for you, not out of some genetic obligation but because they genuinely care about you, makes that type of bond infinitely more significant.

3 The family you choose comes with less pressure.

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When it comes to the families we’re born into, we’ve all been subjected to calls for conformity based strictly off the fact that we’re from the same gene pool. From statements like, “Don’t do anything to embarrass the family,” or even having family scolding us because of our social media posts, the pressure to live up to relatives’ standards — no matter if they’re outdated or totally out of alignment with your ideologies — is a huge reason why friendships can easily trump the relationships with the family you’re related to.

4 Friends we choose help to broaden our horizons.

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Often, some of the well-meaning relatives in our lives are laser-focused on protecting us from the evils of the world, which is great…until their desire to keep us safe begins to prevent us from living our lives to the fullest.

Friends, on the other hand, still want the best for you, but a connection without the familial history can leave room for them to encourage us to be smart risk takers who live on our own terms.

5 Trust is earned.

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With relatives, we tend to give away our trust out of familiarity, which doesn’t always work out in our favor. But those we choose to call family are forced to earn our confidence over time and with experience, resulting in a much more valuable bond.

6 We *might* be better at picking our own family.

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When it comes to choosing our family, scientific research shows that we’re actually pretty good at it. A 2014 study conducted by genetics researchers at Yale and the University of California at San Diego found that friends can share the same amount of genes as fourth cousins.

“In a lot of genetics research, the assumption is that we are interacting with lots of people who are not related to us, so genes aren’t going to matter,” study researcher James Fowler, Ph.D told Huffington Post. “This paper suggests that this is not the case at all; our friends are sort of like our family. It’s quite extraordinary.”

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