Advice for young people

Friendships and frenemies

Gossiping girls

In popular culture and films, bullies are often portrayed as thugs who hide in dark corners and steal your pocket money.

While there are some that fit this mould, bullying can also be very subtle, and it can come from the people who are meant to be your friends.

We often call these people 'frenemies'.

Are my friends bullies?

When you have been friends with someone, especially for a long time, it can be extremely difficult to face up to the idea that they treat you badly. Bullying among friends can be hard to spot, as it often happens little by little over a long period of time. Consider the following questions:

Does your friend/group of friends:

  • try to embarrass you or make you look bad in front of others for fun, or to make themselves look big in front of a new group of people?
  • put your achievements down, try to make you feel stupid about your interests and act out of jealousy and spite when you succeed at something?
  • often make fun of you or say nasty comments about things they know will hurt you?
  • try to make you feel left out and excluded within the group, or when you all hang out with other people?
  • talk about you behind your back and spread secrets or rumours about you?
  • pressurise you into doing things you don't want to?
  • like to manipulate and have power over others?
  • not like to negotiate, and only agree to do things they want to do?
  • like to scare or intimidate and/or be verbally of physically aggressive?

If you have answered yes to any of these, and if they happen regularly, these 'friends' are really not friends at all. If you have hung around with the same group of people for a long time (especially if they all treat each other in the ways described above), you wouldn't be blamed for thinking this is normal friend behaviour. But it is time to realise this is not what real friendship is about.

Read through this 'friendships and frenemies' section for practical tips and advice on how to make the positive changes you deserve. 

Related advice

What makes a good friend?
Moving away from frenemies 
Have I been involved in bullying?

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