If your daughter believes these common myths, she might be making the normal ups and downs of friendship more difficult. Check in with her and see if she has picked up these false beliefs the media likes to perpetuate:
- Something is wrong with me if I don’t have a best friend.
Having a BFF is wonderful but sometimes the pressure & expectation that girls SHOULD have one is too much. The truth is, most middle school girls feel socially neglected. Instead of focusing on the “best friend” title, try focusing on the 84% of girls who feel left out and enjoy the company of whoever is around you, without worrying about what it means.
- Friendships should be easy and last forever.
It always blows my mind that a few people don’t struggle with their friendships. It’s much more common for friendships to be a major source of frustration, confusion, tears and drama. Good friends will change, move away, disappoint you, and leave you out. Even you will out grow your friendships and have to make hard decisions and hurt people’s feelings. Friendship changes are a part of life but they don’t have to be challenging once you recognize there are no rules.
- Friends should always be loyal.
Here’s a secret nobody talks about: people get to do whatever they want to do. Seriously. There is no rule book on what makes a good friend. You get to behave how you want to behave in a friendship. If you value loyalty, be loyal. If you value kindness, be kind. But expecting others to share your same values just sets you up for disappointment.
- Good friends tell each other everything.
Girls use friendships to help them learn more about themselves. They try on friendships like they try on clothes: too tight,
too scratchy, too out dated, until they find the style that feels the best to them. Girls don’t always know what’s going on inside their heads or hearts, so it’s hard to share everything when you hardly know what’s true for you. Trusting and confiding in each other takes time and mutual reciprocity. Start off slowly by sharing facts and opinions. Over time you can work your way towards sharing the deeper feelings and whatever feels true in the moment.
- The more friends you have the better.
The rise of social media has encouraged this myth with increased focus on how many “friends” and “likes” you have. The truth is genuine friendships require time and attention so investing in online friends, actually takes you away from those who really matter. What feels better to you? One friend that you love, trust, and can count on? 500 followers? A small but loyal group of 4 friends?
Ask yourself, “If I had wonderful, loyal, trustworthy best friends that I loved, how would I feel?” Happy? Connected? Appreciated? Like I belong? That is the feeling you are yearning to feel. Instead of waiting around for other people to make you feel that way, create that feeling for yourself. You are the only who determines how you feel so take your power back and decide to be your own best friend first. Find thoughts that make you feel the way you want to feel like: “I appreciate my sense of humor.” “Good friends are waiting for me to discover them.” “I share my favorite qualities with my favorite people.” Be a good friend to yourself first, and you’ll find friendships are just the icing on the cake.