We have most friends at the age of 26 after having spent thefirst quarter of our lives building up our friendship circle, a newstudy has revealed.
The report into friendship showed that our social circle peaks at26 years and seven months, at which we typically have fiveclose friends.
Women are most popular at 25 years and 10 months, with men hitting the friendship high point alittle later at 27 years and three months.
The research, by greetings card firm Forever Friends, shows that a third of adults (36 per cent)met their closest friends while at school with a fifth (22 per cent) saying they met them at work.
Social networks such as Facebook and Twitter now also play a major role in nurturing newfriendships.
The study found that 25 to 34-year-olds make 22 friends via Facebook, compared to 18 to 24-year-olds who make 12, and 35 to 44-year-olds who will have made just four.
Forever Friends relationship coach Sam Owen said: 'It is no coincidence that over a third of usmeet our best friends at school.
'It is a key time in our lives where friendships are grown through sharing notes, giving gifts, seeingeach other regularly and laughing a lot.
'As adults we can often forget how powerful these small things are and how the little things canmake a difference. Small gestures are just as important as big ones.
'With growing external pressures being put on friendships these days, it's important to nurture andmake time for our friendships.
'If we could only do one additional thing a week to show we care and love our friends, it wouldcreate a stronger framework for the future.'
Later in life we find ourselves losing friends.
Over half (54 per cent) of us have lost friendships through moving, while 36 per cent say that overtime they grew apart from close pals.
Having children has also caused 19 per cent to drift away from childless friends.
And new relationships play a big role in finding - and keeping - friends, with one in 10 people (11per cent) saying their friendship circles had expanded due to a new relationship and 10 per centrevealing their partner did not approve of some.
The study also looked into the amount of friends we would like to have. It found that the averageBrit has four close friends, but ideally we want six.
Tellingly, almost half (48 per cent) of women and 39 per cent of men have at least one secret theyshare with their best friend, which they would never tell their partner.