If you grew up on ’90s TV, you saw New York through the lens of Seinfeld, Friends, and Will & Grace. You probably had a favorite character (are you more of a Monica or a Phoebe?) and maybe even started to feel close to them. Bonds with fictional characters are actually so common we have a name for them: parasocial relationships.

Parasocial relationships offer social surrogacy, a fancy scientific term that means TV characters can become stand-ins for IRL friends. Like any relationship, connecting with a book or movie protagonist takes time. Eventually we start to empathize with fictional characters and become emotionally invested. They can even help us feel less lonely. So don’t sweat it if you cried when Dumbledore died, we all did.

(h/t Science of Us)