Teen Friendships: 7 Questions to Decide If They Are Good Ones
How is back-to-school going, and the teen friendships that come with it?
There are a plethora of things to think about: What are your teachers going to be like? Are you in the same classes as your friends? Did you get the elective you wanted? Will you be able to stay motivated and keep your grades up this year? What are you going to wear on the first day? and… Will that giant stress pimple that decided to show up two days ago disappear from your forehead before the first day?!
That’s a lot to think about. I hope you’re managing ok. As a teen girl, I had mixed feelings about the start of school each year. I was always looking forward to hanging out with my friends, couldn’t wait to get a few new pieces of clothing, and I had a bit of a thing for nice stationary. In fact, a lot of a thing- I even got a job at Staples because of it! I also felt kind of stressed. All this stuff can pile up in your brain, but there’s one that can really make or break a school year and that is TEEN FRIENDSHIPS.
Would you agree?
I mean I’m not saying teen friendships are the only thing to worry about of course. And I’m not saying you should measure your happiness based on your friendships this school year. Let’s be honest, friends are human…. So they can be fickle, moody, change their tastes, change their minds, and well um…. Change just in general.
Motivational speaker Jim Rohn says “You’re the average of the five people you spend the most time with” and someone else once said “show me your friends and I’ll show you your future”. Although you aren’t totally defined and influenced by only 5 people in your life, there is some truth to these statements.
Think about friends who start to kind of dress alike. Best friends who like the same music, watch some of the same shows, laugh at the same kind of humour, back up the same social movements. It’s great to have people who get you. Teen friendships that have your back.
7 Questions to Ask About Teen Friendships
I want to share with you 7 questions that you can ask yourself as a bit of a litmus test to help you see if your current friendships are solid.
(Note: These questions were Inspired by a fun quiz on Kids Help Phone).
Teen Friendships Question #1: Can I be myself?
If you can speak openly and honestly and really feel like you are being You around your friend(s) – this is a good sign. If you need to change or filter out a lot of what you’d like to say, you are probably not able to be your real self around this person. This is a red flag.
Teen Friendships Question #2: Do we listen to what each other has to say?
Listening includes not interrupting, hearing what matters to each person, leaving the judgy comments out so you actually feel like it’s ok to share things that are important to you. It’s not a 50/50 split most of the time, but if you feel like you are not being heard and that what you have to say doesn’t matter, pay attention to this.
Teen Friendships Question #3: Do I feel appreciated? Do I appreciate them?
Are there things about your friend that you really like? If you find yourself cheering them on to succeed in things and they are doing the same for you, that sounds like a solid friendship. On the other hand, if you spend a lot of time feeling jealous and resentful for things going their way or if it’s the other way around- caution- this may not be the best friendship for you
Teen Friendships Question #4: Do we fight fair?
Friends don’t always get along. That’s the nature of relationships. When you are disagreeing or in a conflict with your friend, do you take some time to think it
through? Do you talk it out? Do you cool off and speak up for yourself and allow your friend to do the same? If so, these are the conflict resolution skills of a good friendship. Do you say hurtful things to their face or behind their back? Do you spread rumours? Attack them on social media? Not the best friendship patterns emerging here.
Teen Friendships Question #5: Can I be honest and trusting?
It’s ok to not like the same things or see eye to eye on everything. If you can share a different perspective and trust that your friend will still be a friend, this is good news. If you tread lightly because you fear being the centre of gossip or outcasted from the group or have become a Yes person to appease, it might be time to rethink this friendship.
Teen Friendships Question #6: Are we there for each other?
You don’t have to share all your secrets with your friend(s), but it is important to have someone who wants to help and be there for you when you’re having a tough time. Likewise, if you want to help and be there for them, even if you don’t always know how and what to say- this is definitely good friendship territory. If your friend seems annoyed any time you bring something up that has a smidge of problem to it or you find yourself not caring that much what happens to them when they’re struggling- this might be get-out-of-the-friendship territory. Here’s another thing to consider- if your friendship is one-sided, where you (or the other person)
feels like they’re putting in way more effort than the other one, that’s not usually the best situation for a solid friendship.
Teen Friendships Question #7: Do we have fun together?
Yes, because it is about Karaoking badly and inventing song lyrics about your classmates and putting food on each other’s faces for a game of guess what your “beauty mask” is made of….. Or not….maybe that was just me. It is about having fun. If this is a resounding YES. Keep having fun with this friend. If it is all drama all the time or just a one show pony of sadness, arguing, boredom, etc. It may be time to let this one go.
How did the litmus test go? Are your friends keepers?? You can also use this as a way of vetting new friends as you get to know them. Having great friendships, even if they don’t last forever, or become your ultimate best friend, makes a world of difference in having a great life and funny stories to tell.
Until next time.
Chantal Côté (she/her) is a psychologist and teen life coach living in Calgary, Alberta. After over a decade in non-profit and community mental health, Chantal started Pyramid Psychology, a practice dedicated to supporting teens – a population she is constantly amazed by. Chantal is on a mission to help 100,000 teen girls (and their parents) build bulletproof mindsets so they can weather the ups and downs of life. As part of this goal, Chantal has had the privilege of speaking at various events – virtual and live – to support teens and parents.
Outside of this passion, Chantal is often in nature, writing poetry, playing ball hockey and hanging out with her loved ones.
Each week, Chantal writes a blog article in response to issues she hears from the parents and teens she connects with.