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Two girls leaning against eachother.

Friendships can be tough sometimes. You may be making new friends while still trying to keep old friends. It can also be hard to know what to do when you don’t agree with a friend. Keep in mind, you can have a good friendship and still fight sometimes.

Keep reading, or jump directly to:

Peer pressure
Making new friends
Tips for handling a fight with a friend
Helping a friend in need
Ending a friendship

It's so important in relationships to be able to say what you think. Speaking up can boost your friends’ respect for you — and your respect for yourself! Get inspiration and tips for being a great and strong friend.

Peer pressure arrow top

There are two kinds of peer pressure: positive peer pressure and negative peer pressure. Peer pressure is when you try something because “everyone else is doing it.”

Positive peer pressure is when you act a certain way because your friends are acting that way, but it is for a good reason. For example, if your friends talk you into joining the soccer team, and you end up really liking soccer, that’s positive peer pressure. Or, if your friend volunteers to tutor younger kids, and you decide you would like to do the same, that’s another example of positive peer pressure.

Negative peer pressure is when you feel you have to act a certain way because everyone else is, but the end result is bad. If your friends are mean to the new girl at school and so you treat her badly, too, then that is an example of negative peer pressure.

So why do some girls follow their friends, even when it’s not a good idea? Girls may worry about what their friends will think, not know how to say no, or fear being left out. Some friends may pressure you to do something because "everyone else does it," such as making fun of someone, using alcohol or drugs, or smoking. The best thing to do is say, “No, thanks” or “I don’t want to.” Keep in mind, you are always in charge of what you do and don’t do. It can help to talk with your parents or guardians about how to handle pressures that may come up.

Learn more about peer pressure from the Cool Spot.

Popularity arrow top

There are lots of things that you and your friends may do to fit in. It may be having the right clothes or being friends with the cool kids. It is normal to want to be liked by others, but it is more important to focus on what matters to YOU. Having lots of friends and dressing like everyone else may seem important right now, but try to focus on being yourself and having real friends who care about you.

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Here are 7 ways to know if your friends really care about you:

  • They want you to be happy.
  • They listen and care about what you have to say.
  • They are happy for you when you do well.
  • They say they are sorry when they make a mistake.
  • They don’t expect you to be perfect.
  • They give you advice in a caring way.
  • They keep personal things between the two of you.
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Cliques arrow top

A clique is a small group of friends that is very picky about who can and cannot join the group. While it’s nice to have a close group of friends, being on the outside of a clique may not be fun! Girls in cliques often leave out other girls on purpose. They may bully girls who are not “cool enough.” If you are being picked on, try to make friends with new people who care about YOU. Keep in mind, it is the quality or value of the friendship that counts, not how many friends you have. And, if you are leaving someone else out, think about how you would feel if you were the one being left out. If you are having a hard time with moving, read about dealing with The Moving Blues.

There can be a lot of peer pressure in cliques. You may feel like you need to do things like drink or do drugs to be part of the gang. Keep in mind, you always have the right to say no! Real friends will respect that. You also have the right to make new friends.

Bullying arrow top

Friendships are very important to young women, especially when it comes to having a group of people to hang out with. Sometimes girls compete with each other for friends. When this happens, some girls may leave others out of a circle of friends or even bully them in more open ways. Being left out of a group can really hurt someone’s feelings, so think about how what you do makes other people feel. You would want others to include you and treat you nicely. If you are the one being left out, scroll down to “Ten Ways to Make New Friends” for some helpful tips. Also, check out our Bullying section to learn more about when girls bully.

Making new friends top

It can be really tough when you are meeting a whole bunch of new people at once if you are new at school. You may feel shy or embarrassed. You may feel like you don’t have anything to say. But, the other person likely feels the same way. Half the battle is feeling strong enough to talk to new people. And, it will help to just be yourself!

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  • If your friends are not as nice as you thought they were, what can you do?
  • The people you thought were your friends drop you, or a clique won’t let you in — what can you do?
  • What do you do if a new student comes to your school?
  • What do you need to do if your family moves and you have to go to a new school?
  • What should you do if the people you hang out with have been getting into trouble?

The answer to all of these questions? Make new friends!

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Content last reviewed September 22, 2009
Page last updated March 19, 2014

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office on Women's Health.