A recently-published study from the University of Virginia has confirmed what your mum told you all along – cool kids are not all that they’re cracked up to be. Much like the numerous tragedies that befell The Harbor School’s former Social Chair Marissa Cooper, popular kids are far more likely to experience difficulty with relationships and drugs than their more socially awkward peers.

The ABC report that, in a far-reaching study, academics from the university followed 184 adolescents, tracking their development from the ages of 13 to 23, and found that those who were perceived as “cool” and “popular” by their younger peers struggled in various key areas by the time they reached adulthood.

For instance, that dreamy bad boy who used to pash off with various girls behind the basketball courts, inscribe his name on stuff in permanent market and treat himself to five-finger discounts from City Beach is probably not looking so good through a more sober, grown-up lens.

By the time they hit the age of 23, many of those who were one perceived as “cool” found it difficult to form new friendships and romantic relationships, and had a 45% higher rate of issues relating to alcohol and marijuana use. The kinds of behaviors that make one popular as an early adolescent will get one shunned as a fully-grown adult.

There are various other reasons why cool kids struggle. For one, popular kids thrive within the rigid social structures of school, but once they’ve left that behind, they find it harder to adapt to less structured world of adulthood. For another, popular kids may be driven by the insecurity of needing to stay popular, which can breed various anxieties and insecurities.

Perhaps the most obvious one is that the unpopular kids, who spend most of high school banding together while trying to avoid getting the shit kicked out of them, develop better coping mechanisms and closer friendship bonds, equipping them to deal with the world outside of school far more effectively.

Keep in mind, however, that this study was written by academics, who are the least cool of the least cool, and somewhere in the Behavioral Sciences Department of the University of Virginia, a professor may be rubbing his or her hands together with glee at how nicely this plan to smear the popular kids is coming together.

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