The Lowdown
30 June 2022 • 8 min read

Friendships

Having good friendships is really important to our happiness. It helps us to feel secure in our lives, gives us someone to talk to about whatever is on our mind, and gives us special people to hang out with and enjoy the things we like to do together. They can be someone you can talk to about the things you can’t share with anyone else – not even your family. A good friend is someone who’s there for you when you need support, and that’s important to have in your life.

Three guys are huddling in front of a triangle with golden Pacific patterns. In the middle of the triangle are two hands shaking. 

Relationships – Friendships

Having good friendships is really important to our happiness. It helps us to feel secure in our lives, gives us someone to talk to about whatever is on our mind, and gives us special people to hang out with and enjoy the things we like to do together. They can be someone you can talk to about the things you can’t share with anyone else – not even your family. A good friend is someone who’s there for you when you need support, and that’s important to have in your life.

Making friends

One of the easiest way to find potential new friends is to think about the people who already exist in your wider life. Think friends of friends, the people you know at school but don’t really hang out with, or your sports teammates.

Try and identify a few of these people who you like and would want to be friends with, and follow them on Instagram, TikTok or Snapchat. Over the next little while, start engaging with their stories and content. If something they’ve posted is cool, give it a like. Try responding to one of their stories with a positive message or a question, and see if they engage with that – it could turn into a conversation.

If they respond to you in a friendly way, keep it up – try and start conversations about things they’re posting about, and from there, see if you can keep those conversations going into other topics.

You could say something like “Hey, have you seen Demon Slayer? I can’t wait for the new season!” and if they have, ask them another question related to the topic. If they haven’t, then ask them what they are into and see if there’s something else there you can connect on.

It can take time to build a connection with someone and it won’t always work – not everyone will be a good fit for you as a friend and not everyone will have room in their life or even want to be your friend, but that’s ok. Just like you probably know some people who just aren’t your type of person, you’re not going to be everyone else’s type and if you can recognise that that’s ok, it might save you feeling hurt unnecessarily. Don’t give up trying!

Losing a friendship

At times, too, you may lose friendships. This can be painful and make you question yourself and the relationship you had, but remember that friendships have seasons and many of the connections you find yourself developing with others aren’t meant to last. When you’re at a certain stage of your life you might connect really well with someone, but over time you both move on and grow in yourselves, you have less in common or less to say to each other, and find new friends. That’s ok.

It’s normal to feel sad and even grieve when you realise you’re not close with a former friend anymore, but try to think of the relationship as a positive thing in your life that you’re glad you got to enjoy, and now as you’ve grown, it’s time to look forward to what’s coming next.

Keeping your Identity intact

Finding good friends to start with is really tough - especially ones you can trust and who help you see the best in yourself. Friends will come and go in your life but the really good ones stick with you and stick up for you no matter what.

It’s important to remember that you – exactly as you are – are enough and you are awesome. You don’t need to change yourself to make other people like you, and if your friends want you to change who you are and what you like in order to fit in, they may not be a positive part of your life. Stick to your values and don’t let a friend’s opinion change your identity and what you believe in.

That’s not to say you shouldn’t try to grow as a person though! At times our friends can help us become more aware of areas in which we could do better, and that’s a good thing. Just keep an eye on how they’re influencing you and whether the changes you make are making you feel like a happier, more evolved version of yourself or whether you’re starting to feel disconnected from yourself and your roots.

Pro tip - It is important not to trust people too easily, so take your time and make sure you know who someone really is before you fully trust them. If you make an online friend, ask them to video chat with you to confirm who they are. If they give you a lot of excuses and don’t want to, that’s a red flag and you need to be very careful about how you interact with them.

If you’re being asked for money or find yourself having to pay for everything when you’re out together, that’s a big red flag and you should re-evaluate that friendship and whether the person is taking advantage of you.

Struggling to connect?

If you’re more introverted than others, it can be especially hard because putting yourself out there in new situations and talking to people you don’t know well can feel scary, stressful and exhausting. Reaching out and connecting with others, however, is the best way to resolve that gap in your life where you’re needing a friend.

If you find in-person interactions tough, it’s ok to use the internet to connect with new people as long as you’re safe. Instagram, Discord, Snapchat and other internet forums and social media platforms give us a place to meet people without the pressure of an in-person conversation or busy environment. Just be careful to make safe choices and never meet someone from the internet in person without bringing a buddy, and never share personal details like your address with someone until you’re sure you know who you are and that you can trust them.

Friendship troubles

It’s not all easy though, even the best friendships can also be difficult. We’re all different, unique people, so it’s natural that you’re not going to agree on everything. Even best mates have their ups and downs and sometimes they just don’t get you.

Problems with friends are normal. Everyone goes through it. But if your friends are giving you crap all the time, or they’re not accepting you for who you are or listening to what you have to say, it can start to affect the way you feel about yourself.

If you’re feeling like your friends don’t care about you, take a step back and think about why. Are they just really busy right now, or are they dealing with their own problems? Have you grown apart? Maybe they’re really just not being present with you, when you hang out?

It could be that your mates just aren’t the kind of people you need them to be. You can tell if someone is being a caring and present friend to you by looking at the actions they take –both big and small – that show they care.

If they’re talking behind your back in ways that hurt you, leaving you out of things, or saying unkind things to you then this is bullying. Yes, bullying can even come from the people you see as your friends.

Friendships can come in a variety of shapes and forms. You might have a close group of mates, a few individual friends who don’t really know each other, or even just one bestie. You might see them every day at school, once a week at practice, live close to each other or live in different countries and talk online.

However often you see your mates, continue to check in with yourself and your friends around whether your friendship is working for you both or not. Different people have different needs, and while one friend might need heaps of time to hang out, and others may just want to catch up every now and then.

But how do you tell if a friendship is positive?

A positive friendship can look like:

  • Telling the truth, even when it can be hard to. You’re both open and honest about who you are when you’re with each other.
  • Building each other up, encouraging each other to live your best lives and wanting to see each other achieve.
  • Genuinely caring about each other. Being kind, respectful and not judging despite what’s going on in your lives.
  • Sticking with each other even when you make mistakes.
  • Understanding each other’s unique differences and not trying to change each other.

It’s important to remember that friends sometimes hurt each other, but you can always apologize and forgive. Sometimes it might be hard to swallow your pride, but it’s worth it to keep that person in your life.

In contrast, sometimes there are people who we think are our friends, but they actually don’t really care about us as much as they appear to. We need to be careful when having a friendship with these people as they can hurt us or cause problems in our lives.

A friend who is having a negative impact on you might be:

  • Talking about you behind your back
  • Constantly putting you down
  • Not wanting you to spend time with your other friends or meet new people
  • Not willing to compromise in disagreements
  • Encouraging you to do things that might harm you or get you in trouble

If you think you have friends like this, it may be time to create some distance. Ending any friendship is never easy, but by choosing to see them less and creating space between you, it will allow you to take the time to see if the friendship is truly right for you.

Having good friends is important, but it’s also important to be a good friend to yourself. Be the type of ideal friend that you want to have, and people will be drawn to you and enjoy spending time with you.

When you’re trying to figure out who you are, your friends will play a big part. Think of your close friends and your family as your mirrors. It’s not always easy, but the best thing you can do is be true to yourself. That way when you’re around your friends, the reflection of yourself that you see back from them will be someone you admire, and not someone you don’t like.

If you’re finding that your friendships – or lack of them – is having an impact on your mental health, or you want to talk through any worries about friendships that you have, reach out to a trusted adult or mental health professional and share with them how you’re feeling. They can help you to navigate difficult situations and relationships and ensure that your mental health is supported.

Where to get help:

If you’re thinking about harming yourself or are having suicidal thoughts, call Lifeline on 0508 82 88 65 now to talk to someone who cares and can support you.

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