Advice for young people

Moving away from frenemies

Frenemies are the friends that can be relied upon to put you down. They make you feel insecure and are not very supportive of your choices or decisions. You might not realise it, but often their behaviour is actually bullying.

If your friends do not have your best interests at heart, don't waste another day pretending it's ok. Everyone deserves to have good friends, and you will be amazed at how happy and confident you will feel when you do. Changing your friends can seem really scary at first, but there are ways you can do this without things turning nasty.

Try the following steps:

Talk to your friend about how the way they are acting makes you feel

If you are confronting a group, talk to them separately or to the person who tends to lead the bullying behaviour. Explain calmly and without accusation, so they do not think they are under attack.

See how they respond to what you have said

Good friends would be extremely sorry and feel very bad about the way they made you feel. They would reassure you that they never meant to be hurtful, and will promise to stop immediately.

Bad friends will respond with an attack, listing your faults and blaming you for everything. They might also talk among each other and gang up on you; trying to make you feel like you are the nasty one. This will not be a nice experience, but at least you will know once and for all that you are better off without them.

Give them a chance to improve

If your friends were really apologetic about their behaviour, hopefully things will change. See what happens over the next couple of weeks. If your friends are genuine they will make a big effort to make you feel good, and will stop acting in the way they did before. However, if they fall into old habits it is likely it will take a long time for them to change. It is not your responsibility to teach them how to be nice. Don't stick around as there are hundreds of good friends who would love to have you in their lives.

Find new friends

Start to distance yourself from the people you currently spend time with to allow yourself to meet new friends. Pretend to be busy when they want to do things, and avoid working with them at school to make the transition smooth and subtle. Otherwise, if you feel confident enough and want a quick change, you may wish to tell your friends directly that you no longer want to be so involved in the group.

Stay firm

Time, like they say, is a healer. But don't allow yourself to slip back into an abusive friendship. If you are able to, stay welcoming to your old friends, but don't get too close. Focus on a fresh start surrounded by new, supportive people.

It will be a hard transition, but so worth it in the end! Friendships are about quality not quantity, so it is far better to have only a handful of wonderful friends than a load of unsupportive ones.  

And remember, bullying is the exception not the rule. Although you have been unfortunate in your current friendships, this is not the norm! There are plenty of amazing people out there, you just have to talk to them!

Related advice

How to meet new friends
What makes a good friend?
Don't be a bystander

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