People can have lots of different kinds of friendships. You may have one close friend or a few very close friends, and friends who are connected to you through specific activities or places (e.g. camp, school, sports teams or a job). You may have friends who you are very close to and who you spend a lot of time with, or friends who you see only a few times a year. No matter what form your friendships take, they are an important part of life.
During adolescence you’ll probably want to spend more and more time with your friends. The friendships you make during this time become very important for developing your sense of identity and self-confidence.
The hardest part of making friends is usually making an initial contact. Generally, it’s easiest to meet people somewhere that you spend a lot of time – like at school or in your community.
- School – because teenagers spend most of their time at school this is an excellent place to meet people. Some places to meet people at school are:
- In class
- In the cafeteria
- Through extra-curricular activities like clubs or sports.
- Community – What are your interests? Do you enjoy sports, theatre, music, poetry, books, volunteering, or other things? Many of these things are offered in your community and lots of them are free. Check your local newspaper to see what’s going on in your community that you’re interested in.
The reason that these are good places to meet people is because the easiest way to meet people is through common interests.
It’s important to remember that friendships don’t always happen over night. They take time. So what can you do after the initial "hello" to help build a friendship? Here are some ideas that may be helpful:
- Talk about a common interest/assignment etc.
- Ask the person to go for a walk, for lunch or for coffee
- Share a piece of exciting news
- Offer your help, or ask for help on something you are working on
Some people meet friends on the Internet. While this can be a good place to chat with people, it’s not always a safe place to meet new people for friendships. Unfortunately there is no way of knowing who you are chatting with when you’re online. This is why it’s important not to give out any identifying information about yourself. This includes:
- Your address
- Your phone number
- Your school
- Your passwords
If someone you are chatting with online is asking you for this information, please tell an adult like a parent, teacher, or principal.
Once you’ve started a friendship, you’ll need to think about maintaining it. Relationships take work. Even when a friendship is strong, it’s still important to check in every once in a while in order to not take the friendship for granted. Some suggestions for keeping friendships strong include:
- Keeping the lines of communication open
- Trusting your friend and being trustworthy
- Being honest
- Trying to accept differences
- Listening and sharing
- Taking equal responsibility of the relationship
- Respecting each other’s space
- Spending time alone
- Learning conflict resolution
Last checked: March 2010