Some friendships can last a week, some for a lifetime.
Friends are the people you share your time with, hanging out, having a laugh and confiding in them. They are people that you grow to know, like and trust and can be there to offer you help and support when you need it. They’ll listen to you and give you advice – even if sometimes you don’t want to hear it.
A real friend will appreciate and accept you for who you are, and won’t bully you or pressure you into doing things you aren’t comfortable with. It’s normal for friends to argue sometimes, just because you’re friends doesn’t mean you can’t disagree on something. Good friendships are based on respect and honesty.
Everybody is different and some people want more friends than others. Some people have large circles of friends, while others have one or two close friends. Some people choose not to have many friends and spend a lot of their time on their own or with their family and that’s fine too. Making friends comes naturally to some people, whilst others find it more difficult. If you find it difficult, try talking to different people until you find someone that has things in common with you. Friends can introduce us to new things and interests – you’ll always learn something different from each friendship that you have.
If you can’t see your mates as often as you would like to, you can keep in touch by phone, text and email.
For more information, check out Childline‘s helpful pages.
Friendship At 11-16 Years Old
Moving from primary school to secondary school is an exciting time, but it can be difficult if you are leaving friends behind or find yourself in a different class from your friends for the first time. This can be a good opportunity to make friends, but it can also be a scary time so talk to your friends if you feel worried or if you think they are worried about something.
Remember, true friends will stay friends even if they aren’t together all the time or if they make new friends. You can still see your friends after school, on weekends or in school breaks.
When you move schools, you will meet lots of new people and you might make some new friends, but it is important not to forget your old friends. Introduce them to your new friends.
If you think a friend is having problems at school, talk to them and try and get them to talk to their parents or guardians or a teacher they trust.
Around the ages 11-14 years old, your body will go through some physical changes as you go through puberty. You can find out more about this on our Sexual Health page.
Your friends will be going through a similar thing so try talking to them and offer support for your friends if they want to talk to you too.
From 15-16 years old, you will be revising and sitting your exams. This is a stressful time and the exams can mean you see less of your friends. Your exams are an important part of your education and a true friend will encourage you to do your best and will still be there after the exams are over.
The exam period can be a worrying time and if you are feeling anxious or nervous, you might want to try talking to your friends. They will likely be feeling the same way and can relate to what you are going through. They might also want to come to you and talk about how they feel so be supportive and be there for them if they need you.
Boyfriends And Girlfriends
You and your friends might start going out with boyfriends or girlfriends and this might mean you see less of them. This is perfectly natural but, at times, you might feel they are neglecting you. Try talking to them about how you feel and suggest arranging some time to spend alone together.
If you are in a relationship, it is important to remember that your friends will hopefully always be there for you, but your current boyfriend or girlfriend might not, so don’t lose touch with them.
If you are both in relationships, arrange for your boyfriends or girlfriends to meet each other and try going out as a group.
If you or your friends are worried about anything at all, talk to each other. True friends accept you as you are.
Friendships At 17+ Years Old
You may find you or your friends move away to university or to start a career and meet new friends. Some friendships will continue throughout university or time away by keeping in touch during term time and over the summer holidays, but others may not. This is nothing to feel guilty about and it is quite common.
Sometimes people lose touch as their lives take different directions and you have less in common. It is no-one’s fault. Sometimes friendships come back into your life at a later date, so even if you lose touch for a few years it might not mean that you’ll never have your friendship again.
You will meet lots of new people at university or in your new job and many of these people can become lifelong friends.
As you get older, you or some of your friends might be in long-term relationships, living with their partners, getting married or starting a family. They might move to a different town, city or country for work.
Your friends might need a different kind of support than they have from you in the past and it may be more difficult to arrange time to spend together. Keeping in touch is important even if you can’t see each other face to face – you can use social networking or text or phone them to let them know you are still there for them as a friend.
Although they might have other things going on in their lives, they still need their friends so make yourself available to them. Your friends may ask your advice as they go through big changes in their lives, like moving in with their partner or having a baby.
It can be hard to juggle a full-time job, a relationship and family and seeing your friends so you could try arranging specific dates to see your friends such as a regular night-out, doing something that you both enjoy together or visiting each other.