Friendship myths your teen need debunked
We receive a lot of ideas about relationships that may not be healthy for us. Movies, advertising, books and even other people give us messages about how relationships should be. Friendships in particular usually aren’t featured in nuanced conversation in the mainstream. And what is talked about is often outdated, harmful or just plain wrong. We need to be constantly talking about relationships with our children, especially as they reach adolescence and friendships become more complex. So, what are the myths around friendship that we need to challenge with our young people?
Myth: The more friends you have, the better
Fact: While some people like having a lot of friends and acquaintances around, others are very happy just having a couple of close friends. More isn’t necessarily better—it’s about the quality of our friendships!
Myth: You should have a ‘best friend’
Fact: Friendship isn’t about weighing up some friendships against or over others. People will offer you different things and different kinds of friendship. And the closeness you share with different people will wax and wane over time. This is all normal
Myth: Men and women can’t be friends
Fact: Of course, men and women can be platonic friends. This myth often stems from another myth that all men want sex all the time (untrue, duh). Take a look around at the people you know, do any of them have platonic friends of the opposite sex? Besides, even if there is some level of attraction from one or both parties at some point, that doesn’t immediately cancel out the friendship and its importance. Surely we don’t want to dismiss having friendships with roughly 50% of the population because of this outdated idea.
Myth: Friendship is forever
Fact: It’s not often that a friendship lasts a lifetime. Some people will only be in your life for a few years, or a summer, or even an afternoon. People change, lives change. People drift apart. On an odd occasion, a friendship may end with a falling out. It doesn’t mean these aren’t or weren’t real friendships or that they’re not valuable.
Myth: Good friends talk to and see each other all the time
Fact: There’s no rule about how often friends should see or speak to each other. For some people, it might be every day. For others, it could be once every few months. Neither is a ‘better’ or ‘truer’ friendship. If you have a friend who is pressuring you to be in constant contact, gently let them know if this isn’t the friendship model that works for you – but it doesn’t mean you care about them any less
Myth: True friends will never let you down
Fact: We don’t expect our romantic relationships to be perfect, so why do we so often expect this of our friendships? All humans are complex and flawed. We all have moments where we don’t behave as well as we should, and we need to have compassion for when others might not always meet our every expectation. That being said, if a friend is constantly letting you down, you might need to think about whether they should be a close person in your life.
- our article,’How to support your tweens and teens in their friendships’
- A Mighty Girl (‘The world’s largest collection of books, toys and movies for smart, confident, and courageous girls’)
- KidsHealth (helping kids cope with cliques)
- Kidshelpline (helping kids handle conflict)
- Linda Stade (educator, writer and speaker to grow happy, healthy kids)
- Reachout (helping young people feel better)