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Respect Your Peers

– Traditional Unanga (Aleut) Value

Friendship can come in a variety of forms. You could have a large close group of friends or a small group. You could see them every day, once a week, live close to each other or on opposite sides of the state or country. With today’s technology, keeping in touch is easy and distance doesn’t matter so much.

But how do you tell if a friendship is healthy?

  • Trust. You need to be able to trust that a friend will not cause physical or emotional harm. This includes trusting that they will not try and poison other friendships. Another level of trust is that we can trust them to keep their word and to keep our secrets.
  • Talking and listening are very important. Everyone needs someone they can talk to, whether it is a causal conversation or a more serious one. When you talk with a good friend, you are able to talk about whatever is on your mind, no matter how deep or shallow it may be. They will give advice is that is what is needed, or they listen to you rant and let you cry.
  • Supporting each other in all ways possible makes for strong friendships. When you are younger it is easy to think that everyone is heading in the same direction. But as life progresses, each person has their own course. If the course heads in a different direction, the parties in a healthy friendship will continue to support each other.
  • Understanding and supporting each other’s goals adds a lot of strength to a friendship. As a friend, you should encourage each other to continue towards your individual goals.
  • Having mutual understanding, respect, and appreciation for each other is crucial in a healthy friendship. There must be equal give and take. Friendships should not be one-sided.

Friendship bullying has many similarities with regular bullying, but because it happens within a friendship group, it can sometimes seem normal. Friendship bullying includes:

  • Verbal abuse, such as name-calling and gossiping
  • Threatening, intimidating, or humiliating behavior (for example, “if you tell on us, we’ll tell everyone something embarrassing about you.)
  • Excluding someone from the friend group, leaving them out of plans, and/or whispering behind their back
  • Undermining a person by spreading rumors or constantly criticizing them (‘I don’t know why I let you hang around me’, ‘I’m so much prettier than you.’)
  • Controlling or manipulating them (‘If you don’t leave me a copy of your homework, I won’t be your friend anymore’)
  • Online, text, or cyberbullying

Friendship groups often involve power imbalances, and sometimes, playful behavior and banter can go too far and become hurtful. Take a look around and see if there are things you’ve neglected or stopped doing that used to bring you joy. If this change in your happiness is attributable to one person, or group, in your life, you might need to take another look at that friendship. 

Get Help

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Are you in immediate danger?

Call 911 or your local police. If not in an immediate threat, please view resources on the Get Care page.