Friendship Issues

Young women's version of this guide

Friendships are fun and make us feel special, but it’s also normal for friendships to be complicated and confusing sometimes. Choosing the right kinds of friends is important.

Why do all of my friendships seem to be changing?

Friendships often change over time, and that can be normal. Usually, friendships are changing because you and all of your friends are changing. The teenage years are a time of physical, emotional, and social growth and change. These changes don’t happen at the same time, or at the same speed, from one person to the next.

Is there anything I can do to keep from losing my friends?

You might not have to end old friendships, but some relationships may change. You may find that you and a certain friend(s) don’t have as much in common as you used to. It’s important to pay attention to your feelings, and to know what makes you happy. If your friends seem to be spending more time in activities that you don’t enjoy, you may be happier finding some new friends who share your interests.

How do I begin a friendship with someone I like?

Some people are naturally outgoing and have no trouble making new friends. Others might be shy and find it harder to get to know people. When you want to get to know someone, it helps to think of some things ahead of time that you could talk about. You may want to compliment them on something you noticed like their sneakers or sweater or ask them something about school or an activity they are involved in. It may also help if you have an interest or activity in common.

What can I do to try to hold onto a friendship?

There are a few things you can do to try to keep a friend even though you and your friend seem to be growing apart. You can try to talk to your friend about your feelings, letting your friend know that he or she is still important to you even though your interests are changing. You might try out something that your friend has become interested in, such as a sport or invite your old friend to share a new interest of yours. If there are one or two activities that you both still like to do, maybe you can plan to get together once in a while to enjoy them, even though you may spend more and more time apart.

What if my parents don’t like my friends?

Sometimes parents think that a friend may be a bad influence on you. It’s worth listening to their concerns. You may be able to reassure them about your friend or they may have observations about your friend that you haven’t noticed.

What if I like my friends but I don’t like what they’re doing?

Sometimes friends, even people you have been friends with for a long time, may begin to do things that you are uncomfortable with, such as using drugs, drinking, or stealing. They may or may not pressure you to join them. It may be hard, but you will need to decide for yourself about how much time to spend with these friends. It can be difficult and uncomfortable to turn away from your old friends and make new ones, but it may be necessary and worth the effort in the long run.

How do I know when it’s time to give up on a friendship?

It’s not easy to lose someone who has been an important part of your life. However, if you’re feeling really uncomfortable with your friend, or if you feel like your friend is putting pressure on you to do things that you don’t want to do, or doesn’t treat you with respect, or makes you feel bad about yourself, then it’s probably time to move on. Trust your feelings. You may also need to “take a break” from certain friendships at times. You can always try to be friends again later if it makes sense.

I don’t feel the same about my old friends, but I don’t want to end up alone and bored. What can I do?

As you find yourself growing away from old friends, you’ll want to make some new friends who share your interests. Here are some great ways to make new friends:

  • Check out clubs at school and after school activities
  • Consider participating in sports, music, dance, or fitness classes
  • Volunteer for something you feel passionate about
Changes in friendships can be hard, especially while you’re dealing with all the other changes during your teenage years. The good news is that it will get easier. The most important thing is to focus on being yourself, even as you seem to change from one day to the next. You might find it helpful to talk to an adult such as a parent, relative, teacher, or counselor, because, after all, every adult was a teenager at some point in their life, so they may remember what you’re going through and be able to help you get through the tough times.