Be Friends, not Frenemies
Mean girls and frenemies: What's the deal?
Sometimes people say “that’s girls being girls.” It’s not, and we can do better.
Everyone’s experienced someone treating us like a total “bitch” at some stage - it happens with people who we think are our friends, but they’re not actually people that we feel comfortable with – they’re not accepting and supportive the way that true friends are. These friendships are what we call “conditional” - there are unspoken rules for being liked and accepted.
Being included, accepted and feeling part of a group is REALLY important to us when we are teenagers - so when we feel like we have to act a certain way to be accepted, we can end up doing things we wouldn’t normally do. It can turn our lovely selves into mean girls, or make us do things we don’t actually want to be doing. In these kinds of groups, you can be on the “in” one day and “out” the next. We know that we could be the next one on the chopping block, but we don’t know how to stop it.
So, why does this happen?!
The idea of not being accepted in a group is really scary. It can feel like the end of the world. This kind of fear can make people mean.
Being mean comes from the worry of not belonging or not being good enough. Groups can also become mean when they're feeling anxious or upset; which is why sometimes girls who have been through something really tough, like an unwanted sexual experience, can get pushed away, when what they really need is support and care.
What can we do?
- First up, we can get informed like we are doing right now. Once you have more info, it is easier to SEE it and NAME it. Whenever you can do this you take away some of that mean girl power.
- We can make sure our friendships are REAL and SUPPORTIVE. This will make us feel safe and accepted which means WE are less likely to be mean to others. It also means we are in a better place to…
- STAND UP FOR THOSE WHO NEED SUPPORT. It’s cool to be strong and #beaforce: If you see someone on the outs, or hurting, invite them to spend time with you and your friends. Stand up to bullies - you can do it, you’re awesome.
- Have friends in different groups, different places in our lives. If we have different networks we will feel a lot more confident and not as reliant on the acceptance of ONE group. It makes us less SCARED of rejection, which means we are less likely to be mean ourselves and more likely to move away from or call out meanness in others.
GOOD NEWS - Our good friends are good for us. There is scientific research to say that good friends can help our health and wellbeing. Not only that but friends bring fun, confidence, support and they help us figure out how we feel about things.
So because friends are so important it’s good to make sure your friends are the kind that’s making you feel better and more like your BEST self.
Here’s how to know your friends are doing you good;
- They don’t judge you. They make you feel accepted, not judged.
- They are genuine, and you can trust them. They don’t spill your secrets or act differently around others.
- They support you through the hard times, as well as being with you in the fun ones.
- There is respect on both sides, which means that your friendship is balanced and not more about one of you then the other. Your friend listens to you when you need her to.
- They want you to be your best self, your happiest, healthiest you. This means they don’t pressure you into doing things you are unsure about, or encourage you to do things that might harm you, like drinking too much or doing drugs.
Being a good friend means your friend might tell you something that she hasn’t told anyone else, friends are much more likely to tell each other when something goes wrong, or they experience something like their boyfriend making them do something they don’t want to. This can feel intense, but we have a guide on how to help here.
Check out our top tips on being a good friend to help you build some amazing friendships in your life today!
Remember the basic rule of friendship is to RESPECT OTHERS AND EXPECT RESPECT IN RETURN.
Want to read more? Check out the 13 essential traits of good friends.