This article was written by a young person from Wigan.

"About a year ago, I met a girl who I thought was hard, cold and perhaps a little snobbish. Neither of us showed a real interest in each other and probably went home without a second thought as to developing a friendship.

A couple of months later, we ended up sharing a room together on a weekend away with our youth group. I soon realised my first impressions had been wrong and she was lovely, kind and caring. We have grown close since, so much so that she is now one of my closest friends and we try to spend our spare time together whenever possible."

This true story demonstrates the first rule of friendship, don't just go off first impressions. Sometimes, if you judge somebody wrongly, you miss the opportunity to get to know somebody who may be a brilliant friend.

Friendship is a central part of everyone's life. We all long to feel loved and accepted and want to develop bonds with people who we feel we can trust.

Friendship, however, is not always an easy thing. It takes effort from both friends to listen to each others problems and 'give and take' in the friendship, so that both people feel happy.

Things can sometimes be difficult when two friends have very different opinions, but that is usually a healthy thing. It’s fine to disagree, as long as you don’t become bitter or hold grudges. Sometimes friends actually become closer the more different they are. As the saying goes 'opposites attract'.

Choosing friends

  • Try not to fall out over small things. If you have very different opinions, then 'agree to disagree' is a good policy
  • Accept that your friend is going to make some mistakes - as will you, so give them second chances
  • Be a good listener and make sure the friendship is equal
  • If your friend is making you more unhappy than happy, it’s time to consider distancing yourself
  • And remember, when potential new friends come along, do not always go off first impressions.

What makes someone a good friend?

  • Being kind, caring, helpful and loving
  • Sharing things
  • Being friendly and happy
  • Good at keeping secrets
  • Someone who’s reliable
  • Being there for each other
  • Having trust
  • Being a good listener
  • Loyalty
  • You can tell them anything and they won’t judge you
  • When they listen, make you laugh and make you feel wanted

Is it ever right to stop being friends with somebody?

This is quite a tough question as it seems like quite a harsh thing to do. It is, however, definitely the right thing to do in some cases. Sometimes friendships can become poisonous. The following are some signs that a friendship may be going downhill:

  • Your friend is only really talking to you when they want to, rather than when you want to
  • Your friend is using you (e.g. always getting you to do homework for them, always borrowing money, etc.)
  • You no longer enjoy the time you spend with your friend
  • You are treated as a much lower priority than other friends.

That being said, it is always good to give people second chances, as everybody slips up on friendships at some point or other, but if you find that you are giving ninth and tenth chances, maybe you should consider whether your friend is really being a friend to you, or just using you and being a 'fair-weather friend'.

It's OK to stop being friends with someone if:

  • They’re being mean
  • They’re picking on you
  • They’re bullying you
  • They’re making you feel depressed
  • They’re being a prat, getting into trouble and you don’t want to be a part of it
  • Someone does something behind your back and you can't trust them anymore
  • They make you feel unwanted
  • They were mean or there was a betrayal of friendship
  • 'My boyfriend cheated on me with my best friend' – that is not OK
  • 'My friend spiked my drink and put me in danger. I am not friends with them now.'

Has a friend ever done anything good to help you out or have you helped a friend?

  • My friend has always been there for me when I've needed them most
  • I help my friend with homework
  • My friend took me on holiday
  • They took me in and gave me a place to stay when I needed it
  • They lent me money when I needed it and I paid it back
  • I saved them from getting run over by a van
  • Being there when I’m upset and helping me through some tough situations
  • I stuck up for my friend when she was being bullied
  • They always share things with me
  • We help each other out all the time.

For more information and advice on friendship visit Childline (external link).


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