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two friendsFriendships can be tough sometimes. You may be making new friends while still trying to keep old friends. It can also be hard to know what to do when you don’t agree with a friend. Keep in mind, you can have a good friendship and still fight sometimes.

Keep reading, or jump directly to:

Peer pressure
Making new friends
Tips for handling a fight with a friend
Helping a friend in need
Ending a friendship

Peer pressure top

There are two kinds of peer pressure: positive peer pressure and negative peer pressure. Peer pressure is when you try something because “everyone else is doing it.”

Positive peer pressure is when you act a certain way because your friends are acting that way, but it is for a good reason. For example, if your friends talk you into joining the soccer team, and you end up really liking soccer, that’s positive peer pressure. Or, if your friend volunteers to tutor younger kids, and you decide you would like to do the same, that’s another example of positive peer pressure.

Negative peer pressure is when you feel you have to act a certain way because everyone else is, but the end result is bad. If your friends are mean to the new girl at school and so you treat her badly, too, then that is an example of negative peer pressure.

So why do some girls follow their friends, even when it’s not a good idea? Girls may worry about what their friends will think, not know how to say no, or fear being left out. Some friends may pressure you to do something because "everyone else does it," such as making fun of someone, using alcohol or drugs, or smoking. The best thing to do is say, “No, thanks” or “I don’t want to.” Keep in mind, you are always in charge of what you do and don’t do. It can help to talk with your parents or guardians about how to handle pressures that may come up.

Learn more about peer pressure from the Cool Spot.

Popularity top

There are lots of things that you and your friends may do to fit in. It may be having the right clothes or being friends with the cool kids. It is normal to want to be liked by others, but it is more important to focus on what matters to YOU. Having lots of friends and dressing like everyone else may seem important right now, but try to focus on being yourself and having real friends who care about you.

Here are 7 ways to know if your friends really care about you:

  • They want you to be happy.
  • They listen and care about what you have to say.
  • They are happy for you when you do well.
  • They say they are sorry when they make a mistake.
  • They don’t expect you to be perfect.
  • They give you advice in a caring way.
  • They keep personal things between the two of you.

Cliques top

A clique is a small group of friends that is very picky about who can and cannot join the group. While it’s nice to have a close group of friends, being on the outside of a clique may not be fun! Girls in cliques often leave out other girls on purpose. They may bully girls who are not “cool enough.” If you are being picked on, try to make friends with new people who care about YOU. Keep in mind, it is the quality or value of the friendship that counts, not how many friends you have. And, if you are leaving someone else out, think about how you would feel if you were the one being left out. If you are having a hard time with moving, read about dealing with The Moving Blues.

There can be a lot of peer pressure in cliques. You may feel like you need to do things like drink or do drugs to be part of the gang. Keep in mind, you always have the right to say no! Real friends will respect that. You also have the right to make new friends.

Bullying top

Friendships are very important to young women, especially when it comes to having a group of people to hang out with. Sometimes girls compete with each other for friends. When this happens, some girls may leave others out of a circle of friends or even bully them in more open ways. Being left out of a group can really hurt someone’s feelings, so think about how what you do makes other people feel. You would want others to include you and treat you nicely. If you are the one being left out, scroll down to “Ten Ways to Make New Friends” for some helpful tips. Also, check out our Bullying section to learn more about when girls bully.

Making new friends top

It can be really tough when you are meeting a whole bunch of new people at once if you are new at school. You may feel shy or embarrassed. You may feel like you don’t have anything to say. But, the other person likely feels the same way. Half the battle is feeling strong enough to talk to new people. And, it will help to just be yourself!

  • If your friends are not as nice as you thought they were, what can you do?
  • The people you thought were your friends drop you, or a clique won’t let you in — what can you do?
  • What do you do if a new student comes to your school?
  • What do you need to do if your family moves and you have to go to a new school?
  • What should you do if the people you hang out with have been getting into trouble?

The answer to all of these questions? Make new friends!

It can also be tough to start hanging around new people at your same school. You may need to do this if you have friends who have been getting into trouble for things like ditching school or doing drugs. Even though you may care about these friends, you have to look out for yourself and make smart choices for YOU. If you have a hard time breaking away from old friends who may be bad news, talk to a trusted adult for help on how to do your own thing. Learn more about having fun and staying safe in our Safety section.

Sometimes, you may just want to branch out and meet new people. This is totally okay and you can still keep your old friends. It’s easy to hang out with people you’ve known a long time or have a lot in common with. But, it can also be fun to spend time with new people.

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Tips for handling a fight with a friend: top

  • In a healthy friendship, you should not be afraid of losing a friend because you say "no." Good friends should respect your right to say no and not give you a hard time. You should show your friends the same respect when they say no to you.
  • If you and your friend fight about something, it does not mean that you have an unhealthy relationship. You will not always agree with what your friend has to say. But you should always respect one another’s ideas. As long as you and your friend listen to what the other has to say, you should be able to work through a fight.
  • The relationships you have will help you learn a lot about yourself. You will learn about the kind of friends you want to have and the kind of friend you want to be.

For more helpful tips, check out the Dealing with conflict section.

Helping a friend in need top

Are you worried about a friend who isn’t eating? A friend who is smoking or drinking? Or maybe a friend who is having trouble at home? You can listen and give advice, but your friend’s problems may be more than you can handle alone. Don’t be afraid to tell a trusted adult, such as a parent/guardian, teacher, or school nurse. Even though your friend may get mad at you for telling an adult, it is the only way to protect your friend’s health.

  • If you think a friend may have an eating disorder, read "How to Help a Friend."
  • If you have a friend who smokes, help him or her quit. Send your friend to the web site TeenQuit.
  • If you think a friend may have an alcohol or drug problem, find out how you can help.
  • If a friend is being abused at home, give him or her the number for the 24-hour Childhelp National Child Abuse Hotline: 1-800-4-A-CHILD (422-4453).
  • If a friend is being hurt by someone he or she is dating, give your friend the number for the 24-hour National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) or 1-800-787-3224 (TDD).
  • If a friend is talking about suicide, you must tell a trusted adult right away. You can also give your friend the number for the National Suicide Prevention Hotline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255).
  • If a friend is talking about hurting someone else, you must tell a trusted adult right away.
  • If a friend is in trouble in other ways, Nineline (800-999-9999) can help.

Ending a friendship

Sadly, not all friendships last a lifetime. Sometimes friends grow apart, and sometimes you might need to end a friendship. So how do you know when you should end a friendship?

You should end a friendship if your friend:

  • Is sarcastic or mean to you often
  • Tells your secrets
  • Goes after your crush (or significant other) again and again
  • Doesn’t want you to have other friends
  • Doesn’t listen to you
  • Pushes you to do dangerous things
  • Blames you for what's not good in their lives
  • Complains all the time

You could just stop taking your friend’s phone calls and stop talking to her at school, but that’s not always the best way to end a friendship. The other person may be confused and not understand why you’re acting different. A direct talk with the other person may be better. You could try saying, “I feel that you don’t listen to me, and friends should support each other.” (Visit the Learning to say “I” instead of “you” section of this web site for more tips!) Remember: honesty is often the best policy!


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Content last updated September 22, 2009

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office on Women's Health.