What is Friendship, Why They’re Important, What’s in this Blog?
Having friends and making friends is important for our development as teenagers. We are social animals much like cats who hang out in a clowder! Sure, some of us can be introverts (people who like to be alone) but to some degree we all need social interaction.
Friendship is a platonic state of enduring affection, esteem, intimacy, and trust between two people. Usually, two people will start a friendship over shared interests or circumstances. Sometimes the people we meet can be defined as “our people” meaning that we get along with them with little to no effort and at other times it can be a slow burn towards friendship. Some platonic relationships can be very close and powerful, others can be very relaxed. An example of meeting a new friend could be at a another friend’s birthday party or sitting next to each other in class. Another example could be playing in the same sports team or meeting while doing an activity you both like!
Our friendships can come to define us. Over time the people we choose to hang out with can reflect upon us as individuals. We can learn new things from one another and the experiences we share within that friendship can shape our future.
In this blog post, we are going to discuss some major points of friendship dynamics including what does a good friend look like and how we can be one, what are some signs of toxic behaviour and bulling, how best to disengage from negative people in a healthy way, and how to recoup after losing a friendship circle.
What Does a Good Friend Look Like & How Can I Be One?
As teenagers, we have so much going on within our minds and bodies (umm hello, hormones) so it’s important for us to learn what a good friend is and how we can be one. As children, our friendships were usually made by our parents introducing us to people, but now we have some independence and we can choose our own friends!
Maybe you’ve met someone and thought that they’re pretty cool and want to start a friendship or you’ve been hanging out with someone for a while and you’re not sure if they’re a good person. Here are some signs that they are a good friend:
- They are there for you, no matter what.
- They are loyal, king, respectful, and don’t judge you.
- They use active listening.
- Comfort you when you cry.
- They are trustworthy and are willing to tell you the truth, even when it’s hard for you to hear.
- You enjoy their company.
- They don’t put you down or deliberately hurt your feelings.
Maybe you’re wondering if you’re a good friend or how to better your relationships around you. That’s awesome! Wanting to be a better person for your friends, family and other relationships is a great step towards maturity.
Ways You Can Be a Good Friend:
- Keep in touch – You don’t have to live nearby someone to be a good friend. You can always keep in touch on social media, via text or with a phone call. Show your friends that you are there for them by dropping them a line!
- Listen – Active listening is a great way to deepen a connection. This means facing the speaker and trying to make eye contact, not interrupting, don’t judge or jump to conclusions, don’t impose your opinions or solutions, stay focused on the subject and ask questions when they are finished speaking.
- Tell them how they make you feel – You don’t have to go above and beyond for this one, it could be just telling someone how they always brighten your day or letting them know how important they are to you! You could have really made them feel more secure about who they are as a person.
- Ask – If one of your friends is acting different to their usual self, you can ask them what they might need. Maybe they just need to talk to someone or they’re having a bad day because of something going on in their life and they need your advice. If they don’t want to talk to you about it, then that’s totally fine! By asking you are showing your support for them.
- Reach out to adults when necessary – You might have to make a tough call if one of your friends tells you something that seems out of your depth. Sometimes we don’t have the right advice to give someone if they are facing a problem that needs adult attention. When you’re worried about a friend’s safety you might have to act without their consent and get help. It be can be a hard choice to make and you might be worried about how they’ll react but remember that good friends look out for one another and step up to protect each other from harm.
Signs of Toxic Behaviour & Bullying
Friendships that are toxic and display signs of bullying can be detrimental to our health both physically and emotionally. You might have one friend you’re having trouble with or you’re not sure how to deal with a toxic friendship. Remember, no one deserves to be treated badly no matter the circumstance. Losing a friend can be hard and it will most likely leave you feeling really bad about yourself. But… remember what we said above, your friendships can define you for the rest of your life and choosing to end a friendship will lead you to another path which can be amazing for your journey!
This is a bit like writing a pro’s and con’s list. If you find yourself having more negatives than positives then that is a tell-tale sign of a toxic friendship. If you’re unsure about ending a friendship, ask yourself these questions:
- How does this person treat me? How does it make me feel?
- Do you like being friends with this person?
- Is their behavior upsetting you and you’d like that to stop, or would you like an apology?
- Is this friendship leading to you being in trouble a lot?
- Do you change your behaviour when you’re around them?
A friend who pressures you into having sex, doing drugs, or criminal behavior such as stealing cars, theft or drug dealing is not a positive person. Another sign of a toxic friendship is someone who continually puts you down (bullying). Friendships that should end will display more negatives than positives.
When someone decides to do those things, such as put you down or engage in risky behavior like drugs you may feel powerless. However, you have a lot more power than you think in these situations. This is because you can control how you behave and react. Just because they are doing them doesn’t mean you have to.
Let me give you an example, if your friends are saying that you aren’t loyal because you don’t want to do things that make you feel uncomfortable, this doesn’t make you a bad friend. What this really means is that you feel uncomfortable with it and they aren’t respecting how you feel. When you feel uncomfortable and you say no, you’re setting a boundary. You can never control someone else, in fact it is really unhealthy to try to control another person.
Ending these friendships can seem like a mountain you do not want to climb. But you need to make a choice and distance yourself from them. You don’t have to openly tell someone you don’t want to hang out with them anymore – you can just stop talking to them and stop making plans with them. If you have future plans with them and you don’t want to do it anymore, let them know and if they ask why just say because you don’t want too!
If you are worried about your safety when ending a friendship, reach out to an adult you can trust they can help you navigate this.
How to Recoup After Losing a Friendship or Friendship Circle
After ending a friendship or losing a friendship you will most likely feel horrible. You may be wondering if you made the right choice, so go back to those questions above. You will feel lonely but you will be okay. Some ways to cope after losing a friend could be telling someone you trust about what happened, speaking with a counsellor or adult, spending time with people who make you feel good, and taking time to do healthy things that make you happy.
Live with the courage that you showed and know that you will make new friends. Life comes with ups and downs, but you will find people who appreciate you and who are good for your mental wellbeing. Trust the process of finding your people!
If you’re still struggling to find friends after a loss, you could try a new hobby or skill class such as painting, netball, or soccer. Some schools offer after school activities like drama class or spots, those are great places to find likeminded people who you could become friends with!