Friendships

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Friends are important. They can inspire us, support us, and make our lives more fun and interesting.

Friendships don't just look after themselves, though. This page has tips for making friends, helping friends out, and ways to deal with things like peer pressure and bullying.

Topics on this page include:

> Making friends & meeting people
> Helping friends out
> Peer pressure & conflict between friends
> Bullying
> Links to helpful organisations

Making friends & meeting people

Making friends isn't always easy, but it's worth the effort. Friendships can be made in lots of different situations, like when someone new shows up at school or work.

If you want to make new friends, consider putting yourself in new situations, like:

  • accepting invitations to parties
  • going out to see bands/festivals/live shows
  • joining a volunteer or community group
  • joining a club
  • signing up for a short course in something you're interested in.

Remember that making new friends can sometimes take time. Just because you try something new and don't end up with lots of new BFFs straight away doesn't mean you should give up or stop trying. 

There can be times in life where it seems there's no one around or you don't feel confident about meeting people. It's important to remember that circumstances can change, especially if you're willing to make changes yourself.

Making friends can be easier if you think about your own social skills and work out ways that you can be more social.

Try things like:

  • asking people questions about themselves
  • watching what other, more social, people do
  • listening to others more than talking about yourself
  • not taking out your phone when you're by yourself

ReachOut! has some great tips and personal stories about making friends and getting past your social anxieties in their Meeting New People section (new window).

Making friends online

Making friends online is a great option, especially if you live somewhere remote or you're a bit shy. 

Using technology to find friends can pose some problems, though, including risks to your privacy and your safety. Our Friends - Quality vs. Quantity page has more about managing online friendships.

If you meet someone online and then plan to meet them in person for the first time, it's a good idea to meet in a public place, and to take another friend with you if you can. You should also let other people know where you're going.

It's also good to have a mix of online and offline friends. If you think your online friendships are hiding a fear of going out into the world, there are things you can do to change this.

Reach Out! has some good information on: 

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Helping your friends out

Helping out is part of being a friend. Friends can support each by listening and being open-minded. Reach Out! has some tips for ways to help out your friends (new window).

If you want to talk a friend about a problem they're dealing with, or if the way they're behaving is worrying you, Beyond Blue's Check-in app (new window) helps you plan the kind of conversation you want to have, and gives you tips on how to go about it.

If you're wondering what to do and who to talk to about a friend's problem, there are heaps of websites with advice and support on many issues including:

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Peer pressure & fighting with friends

Sometimes friends can encourage you to make bad decisions. Sometimes good friendships go bad. It's important to recognise when friends are having a bad effect on you, and to know how to get out of those situations.

"Peer pressure" is the term used to describe situations where the desire to fit in, or the fear of losing friends, makes you do things that you don't really want to, or even that you shouldn't do. In situations like this it can be hard to be sure you're doing things for the right reasons. 

Remember that arguing or fighting with your friends doesn't necessarily mean the end of the friendship. There are lots of ways to make sure a friendship can survive conflict (if that's what you want to happen).

Reach Out!'s Friendships section has some great information about:

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Bullying

Some people, including so-called "friends", can make your life a misery by:

  • teasing or making fun of you
  • deliberately embarrassing
  • ignoring or excluding you.

You don't have to put up with it.  

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Links

Reach Out! - Friendships
Information and real stories from young people about making new friends, social anxiety, ways to go about helping your friends, peer pressure, fighting with friends, "good" vs. "bad" friendships and bullying.

eSafety - Social Networking
Things to think about when making new friends online.

Beyond Blue - The Check-in app
Practical step-by-step tips for ways to prepare for talking to friends who need your support.

Bully Stoppers
Advice about dealing with bullying.

Eating Disorders Victoria
Information about eating disorders and how you can get help, or help your friends.

Love, the Good, the Bad and the Ugly
Information about relationships, including dating advice and help with relationships that have become unsafe.

The Lookout
Information about domestic and family violence support available across Victoria.

Youth Support and Advocacy Service
Helping young people with substance dependence and misuse issues, mental illness and social disconnection.

Victorian Responsible Gambling Association
Helping people affected by problem gambling, their families and their friends. 

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