11 Truths About Friendship Every Girl Needs to Know

Debunking the Myths Surrounding Bully-Proof Friendships

Schoolgirls walking hand in hand at school isle
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Most young people, especially girls, have bought into the idea of a BFF, or best friend forever. But this idea of finding a best friend and keeping her forever may be more of a myth than a reality for most girls. What’s more, the idea of a BFF has morphed into a fantasy—one where they never fight; they are super close; they are always happy. And, the more BFFs they have, the cooler they are.

Consequently, many girls succumb to the pressure to find a BFF and fall into the trap of trying to be liked by everyone and to please others. Not only is this unhealthy, but it also opens the door to cliques and peer pressure. Meanwhile, research published in 2010 has shown that girls who are more authentic with their friends, including being open and honest about their true feelings, have closer connections with their friends.

Yet, for many girls, when their social life goes awry, they interpret it as a catastrophe instead of par for the course. They blame themselves and often suffer in silence. For this reason, it is important to talk with your daughter about real-life friendships. Teach her that friendship issues are a fact of life. Tell her that it is normal for a friend to be occasionally moody, that girls will sometimes like the same boy, and that friends do not have to agree on everything. Make sure she also can spot mean girls and fake friends, and that she knows the attributes of a healthy friendship.

But most importantly, share the cold, hard facts about real-life friendship. When you do, then your daughter is less likely to beat herself up when conflicts occur. And she will be more willing to seek out support and move on. Instead of expecting the perfect friendship all the time, she will learn to adapt when her friendships hit a bump in the road. 

Here are 12 hard, but important, truths about friendships that every parent should tell their daughters. By doing so, maybe you can spare her some excessive heartache down the road.

The Idea of a Perfect Friendship Is a Myth

No friendship is perfect. There will be moments in every girl’s friendship where she is irritated by something her friend says or does. In a healthy friendship, she can share her true feelings without fearing that the relationship will be over. In fact, these conflicts sometimes make a friendship stronger and closer. Additionally, there will be times when your daughter needs to accept little quirks about her friends that bug her and let them slide. She shouldn't try to fix or change her friends. When she accepts her friends for who they are, and they accept her for who she is, the friendship will become stronger in the end.

"Yo-Yo" Friendships Are Not Healthy

These friends are the ones that are super nice to your daughter for a few months and then suddenly drop her like a hot rock. Out of nowhere, the two girls are no longer friends. But there really is no explanation for the change. The other girl just seems to have moved on—until suddenly she is back in your daughter's life again. This type of behavior is where the term "yo-yo" comes from. These friends are only friends when it's convenient for them, and relationships with them will rarely move beyond a surface-level friendship. Because this type of friendship is unfair and can be exhausting, warn your daughter ahead of time to watch out for these types of friends.

Sometimes You Will Be Left Out or Excluded

Sometimes your daughter will be excluded because someone is bullying her or attempting to ostracize her. But other times, it's a simple mistake and someone forgot to include your daughter; or it's a matter of space and the person doing the inviting was limited on how many people she could include. Remind your daughter that this will happen and that it's normal to feel sad about it. But it also does not mean life is over. Help your daughter realize that she doesn't have to wait for invitations to do something fun. Instead, encourage her to do the inviting next time.

Friendships Break Up and That's Normal

Remind your daughter that “best friends forever,” rarely happens. It is just like dating. Sometimes friends break up, too. When a friendship does end, it's usually a sign that something was broken. Encourage your daughter not to dwell on what could have been, but to instead view it as an opportunity to let the next good friend in. Recognize that your daughter may be sad, but remind her that her heart is resilient. She will find a new close friend again soon.

Spending All Your Time With One Friend Isn't Healthy

It is normal for friendships to ebb and flow and expecting something different is not healthy. Remind your daughter that there will be times when her friend is too busy with activities and commitments to spend time together. Or, there may be times when she is too busy. Either way, it may hurt to not have time together, but it is rarely personal. Making it personal usually makes things worse. Be sure your daughter understands that being too clingy or demanding can drive a friend away. Likewise, she shouldn't allow her friend to pressure her into being "exclusive." Help her recognize that a break from a friend is not a bad thing. Instead, it allows her the space to figure out other friends she can connect with.

Boyfriends Can Get in the Way of Friendships

Many girls make the mistake of dropping their friends as soon as a boy comes along. But just like her friendships, her dating relationship is healthier when she doesn’t spend all of her time with that one person. It is especially unhealthy if her boyfriend demands all of her time. Monopolizing and controlling your daughter’s schedule is a warning sign of dating abuse. Be sure your daughter knows that the healthiest relationships are balanced, with her spending some time with friends and some time with her boyfriend. Also, be sure she knows how to spot a bullying and abusive boyfriend before she gets in too deep.

Comparing Your Friendships to Others Isn't Wise

Girls often compare their friendships to what they read about in books, see in the movies, or watch on television. Remind your daughter that these examples are fiction and not real-life examples. They also are not attainable. Likewise, what she views on social media sites, such as Instagram and Twitter, also are not good indications of what other people’s friendships are like. Remind your daughter that social media is just a highlight reel of someone’s life. Most people only post pictures that show the exciting parts of their lives. What your daughter does not see are the times when these classmates are also at home bored or feeling lonely. Be sure your daughter knows that it's unrealistic to compare her entire life to such a small portion of another person’s life. 

Sometimes Your Friends Won't Like Each Other

Research shows that it is not only healthy to have friends in different circles, but it also helps prevent bullying. For instance, your daughter may have friends who play the same sport or instrument, friends she has known since elementary school, and friends that she knows from church. But what she may not realize is that just because she has friendships with each of these different people, this does not automatically mean that they will like each other. Tell her not to force the issue. It's natural to spend time with different sets of friends. But she also should watch for anyone who is being rude, disrespectful, or mean to one of her friends. While it is fine for her friend to not to click with someone, it's not a license to bully either. If your daughter witnesses bullying among her friends, be sure she is equipped with the tools to stand up against the bullying. She should never be a bystander to bullying among her friends.

Some Friends Aren't Really Friends at All

Make sure your daughter knows that there will come a time when she realizes that at least one of her friendships is one-sided. This realization will hurt her, but remind her that moving on allows room for other, healthier friendships. It is especially important that she distances herself from mean girls and toxic friends. The more time she spends with unhealthy people, the greater the toll it will take on her. The sooner she realizes that she needs to move on, the better it will be for her.

Friends Who Try to Control You Aren't Friends

Teach your daughter how to be assertive and to stand up for what she believes in. Once she hits middle school, the social hierarchy intensifies with cliques and mean girls emerging from the shadows. If your daughter knows who she is and is comfortable in her own skin, she will be more resilient in withstanding the pressure to fit in. It's natural to want to belong and be popular, but not at the risk of being controlled by others. Equip your daughter to deal with this temptation. Remind her about the pitfalls of popularity and the importance of being true to who she is. And, teach her how to spot controlling girls.

It Takes Work to Maintain Friendships

Young girls often wrongly assume that because they text and use SnapChat, that they can keep friendships alive. Remind your daughter that being friends on Facebook, liking pictures on Instagram, and making a Snapchat story does not equate to a meaningful friendship. Healthy friendships develop when people spend time together, face-to-face. Encourage your daughter to make time for her friends. Open your home and allow them to hang out there or be willing to take them shopping, to the movies, out for ice cream, or sightseeing. Teach your daughter that spending time with her friends builds a strong friendship.

Working on Your Friendships Is Worth the Effort

Your daughter's friends will make mistakes; they may even hurt her. No one is perfect. But a good friendship is worth the effort she puts in. It will require an investment of her time and her energy. And, it might get a little messy along the way. But if she works through conflicts, she might find that she is able to build something meaningful along the way. What’s more, there will be a lot of fun in between. 

A Word From Verywell

When it comes to talking to your daughter about friendship, it's always best to listen first. While it is important to share these 12 friendship truths with her, you want to avoid being critical or trying to direct her to do certain things. Instead, your goal is to empower your daughter to take the lead and decide which friendships are right for her. With your gentle guidance, she will be just fine.

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Article Sources

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  1. Theran SA. Authenticity with authority figures and peers: Girls’ friendships, self-esteem, and depressive symptomatologyJournal of Social and Personal Relationships. 2010;27(4):519-534. doi:10.1177/0265407510363429.

  2. Rivara F, Menestrel SL. Preventing Bullying through Science, Policy, and Practice. Washington, DC: National Academies Press; 2016.