There is often a level of uncertainty surrounding friendships and their genuity, mostly as the generations become faker and more judgmental of others in their age range, area, or specific friend group. You may have felt this before: a friend laughing at a statement you made which actually meant a great deal to you personally, or a friend questioning, “Are you really going to wear that? I don't think it looks that good on you. Just saying.” Fake friends often cover up their ingenuine, rude, and inappropriate comments with phrases such as;
- “Just saying”
- “No offense”
- “It's totally up to you, but I just really think...”
- “Don't you think...”
Whilst I am not saying these comments are always used for negative purposes, if they are used in regard to your beliefs or feelings to invalidate them and start to make you question what is rightfully yours, I'd take a moment to think about whether or not they are respectful of you. However, for those who are unsure—which is completely normal—as to whether your friendship is genuine and healthy or not, here is my list of 20 common signs of a true teenage friendship!
1. They Take Clear Interest in What you Do and Love.
Perhaps they may not like gaming, gardening, or reading anywhere near as much as you do, but they might ask how your book is going, or what games you're playing these days. I have a close friend who shares no interest in writing as much as I do, yet she often checks up on me with how my story is going. This interest is a marker of how much someone listens and/or cares truthfully for their friend, as they may not fully understand but are willing to support and discuss topics that are important to you.
Of course, it's always important that this should be reciprocated in some way, by your interest in things that they love. Personally, hearing a true friend of mine talking about their passion makes me happy in the sense that they are happy — if this is you also, I'd say that you and your friend share a fairly genuine interest in each other, and thus your friendship is strong!
2. If You're Both Anxious, Being Around Each Other is Soothing.
Teenage years account for various anxieties and worries, particularly with the stress of school and extracurricular activities, and the future looming over our heads. Much of the time, the relaxation comes from rushing, binging television shows, or hanging out with friends. This can be a particularly big sign of a genuine friendship, as despite your worries and pressures, being around that one person or group of people can take much of it away.
It may be hard to see at first, but generally, if you come into a conversation or event with a friend whilst feeling upset, and come out the other end with a smile on your face, it means you can let loose with them. Hold onto that, as that connection can be rare but extremely important for your and your friends' mental health.
3. Arguments are Normal, But it's the Aftermath That's Important.
Butting heads with your friends is completely normal, especially if you share similarities and common interests. This contributes towards friction if you do not agree, and the stubbornness only doubles when two of you are persistent or strong-headed. However, it's unhealthy if it happens too frequently, or the two of you neglect to solve these arguments and/or small fights.
I've had a few friendships in which, after we've fought over something petty, we decided to keep it in the past. This can be good and exercise maturity, but for occasions where feelings may have been hurt or bridges broken, it's important you acknowledge that it may have affected one or both of you in that way. Leaving it to build and bubble over can lead to worse situations, which may show signs of ingenuity.
4. They're Someone Who Keeps Your Secrets.
This is the stereotypical definition of a friend due to its representation in the media, but in all honesty, it is a very good sign. I've had many friends with whom I have shared personal information, and have heard some in return a few times. It relieves stress in many cases and also gives you a safe space to share details later on. If you make it clear to your friend or show how much what you're saying means to you, yet they still share it without your consent, it's probably best to keep future discussions to another more reliable friend. Or, you should always talk it through afterward, your friend may have not understood or captured the importance of your words before they spilled them to others.
Secrets do not necessarily just mean topics such as crushes or gossip; they can be extremely heavy, personal subjects such as sexuality, beliefs or family life. If you are in the position of being unsure whether to tell someone about what your friend has said, I would leave it between you until you are able to ask for their permission. It's safer and more respectful that way.
5. They Make an Effort to put Effort in.
Sometimes, life gets hard. Especially in high school and college, with school's pressure adding to the stress, many people struggle with their mental health. In saying this, it's not always realistic to expect your friend to be always leaping at opportunities to hang out or chat. They may be exhausted, mentally challenged, or busy, and as I say, respect is of utmost importance in all relationships. This means that it's very mature if you accept if your friend is too tired or upset to hang out.
However, if this is a recurring situation, perhaps it's best to seek help — they could be anxious or depressed, which deserves attention and acknowledgment. I can assure you, they will be appreciative you are trying to take steps to help.
If this is not the case, and they do not ever put effort in and are rude when declining an offer, it may be a good idea to leave them alone. If they are trying to drift, or move away, letting it simmer down may be the best idea. If someone is your friend, they will truly try to put the effort in.
6. Having Knowledge on What Helps, and What Doesn't.
For some, a good chat is all they need to feel better. For others, time and space could be exactly what allows them to get back on their feet and start smiling again. Everybody has different comfort methods, and that is totally acceptable. The problem can be if a friend does not try to work these comfort methods out and keep working with someone when, in reality, they really need a nap and a bowl of ice-cream and caramel sauce.
A good friend will know exactly the brand of ice-cream you like, and the perfect amount of caramel sauce to suit your tastes.
7. They Remember (and Reminisce) the Little Things.
Having somebody who remembers the time you both said something synchronically, or the time you laughed so hard water came out of your nose, can be a perfect sign of a friend who genuinely enjoys your company. If you are speaking about something completely unrelated, and they bring one of these moments up, it's often because they are reminiscing on your experiences as friends and usually means they truly care.
On the other hand, you may have a friend who pays close attention to what you say. In passing, I mentioned to a friend how much I disliked a particular food, and they randomly stated in a Christmas card years later that they hoped there are options other than that food for Christmas dinner. Needless to say, it made me smile and reminded me how true our friendship was.
8. When Speaking of you Around Different Crowds, There's No Level of Backstabbing.
One of the most painful things to hear from a third party is what your 'friend' said about you. This could be them simply agreeing with a negative statement regarding you, or them bringing up a negative trait you have and picking on it while you're absent. There is a level of betrayal to this, and a sort of disrespect that you should never accept. If someone is saying, agreeing to, or spreading gossip and rumors about you, they are not your friend.
9. You Understand There may be Differences, and Similarities Equally.
No one is exactly the same, not even identical twins. It's unrealistic to expect that you and your friend will always agree or enjoy the same thing, even though this may be a perk to so many when searching for friends. Having differences, however, doesn't mean they break up your friendship. Occasionally, people have deal-breakers such as smoking or dangerous actions, but if they initiate a fight over something as simple as an item of clothing or liking a certain food, it's impolite, and they might be invalidating your beliefs. This is not okay and is not something a good, genuine friend would do.
10. Neither of you are Superior in the Friendship, Things are Mutually Beneficial.
Equality has been a long-standing issue within society, and entitlement comes to play in this. However, it's extremely important that, in a close friendship, you are equals and receive equivalent benefits from the relationship. If your friend relies on you for emotional support and walks all over you by saying thank you but never helps in return; it's more than likely they are using you, and this is not genuine.
11. If you are Upset, They'll Take Time to add Helping you to their Schedule.
People get busy, and often that means you spend long periods of time apart. Maybe you don't meet up on the weekends anymore, and school break times are filled up with studying. This can hurt and increase your feeling of loneliness, and this is can be detrimental, especially with the stresses that are already piling up.
If this happens, you and your friend taking the time to hang out can actually help you in the short and long run. By momentarily taking away the stress and replacing it with laughter, you give yourself a well-deserved break. If your friend pushes you away constantly, or even hangs out with others before they choose to take care of you, it suggests that you might not be a value or important to them. This hurts, but you deserve so much better, and maybe it's time to make new friends! There are so many nice people out there who will take the time for you.
12. They Cheer For You.
This can be literal or metaphorical. You may play a sport or partake in choir or a musical group. Even debating! Your friend's support can help you try things you've never done before, simply because they challenge you and hype you up!
I play a sport for school with my best friend, and hearing her cheer for me encouraged me to be confident in what I was doing. Maybe we didn't make the top team, but the fact that we helped each other completely ruled that out for me — we had plenty of fun!
13. Even if there may be Competitiveness, Support is always Apparent.
In saying the previous point about support, it's totally normal and okay to be competitive! It's human nature, we want to succeed and do well in life, even if that means trying to be above others. That does not mean, however, that we take it to bring others down. Especially our friends. They are there for support and help! Not a shoulder to abuse as a propeller to reach for something you love, or for you to brag when you beat them. That's toxic and rude — nothing should change if somebody has a strength or weakness.
14. You can Always have a Good Laugh.
Maybe humor is not your top value in a friendship, but often being able to laugh so hard your stomach hurts seals a bond in a friendship and also makes you happy! The act of laughing releases all sorts of hormones into your body which keep you happy, and are so incredibly important for your mental and physical health in a way similar to exercising.
15. The Silence Isn't Awkward Around Them.
Think about a time when you've felt awkward in silence around them. Can you think of something? Perhaps it was when one of you trailed off and the conversation ended, and neither of you knew what to do. A scenario like that is totally normal! However, if you can't think of something, it's probable you two are part of a true friendship!
If you can spend time reading by each other's sides, resting and cloud-gazing, this is perfect! You two mix well and are truly comfortable around one another. Usually, this occurs later on in a friendship once you two are close, so it shouldn't be the only sign you look for!
16. You can Be Apart For Long Periods of Time, But Upon Return, the Friendship is Upheld.
School holidays, weekends, vacations, all of it. Perhaps you just graduated (congratulations!) and you and your friend don't see each other 5 days of the week anymore. You may only see each other once a month, yet whenever you meet up things go smoothly, and you can both happily laugh and chat for a solid 2 hours.
The spark has not been lost, and this is something special!
17. They Listen, and I mean Listen.
You know that look some people have when they listen to you? That's what I'm talking about here. Sometimes people don't have it, but there are many signs and clues as to whether someone is really listening to you. As in, they take in the information, and they remember it and engage in conversation with interest, curiosity, and care.
If you click here, you can read about some signs to tell if someone isn't listening! If they are listening, you may notice over time how somebody picks up and recalls what you said in a passing conversation. Such an act generally means they are invested in what you're saying, and take the time to remember little things about you.
18. They are Accepting of your Beliefs, Feelings, and Opinions.
People often disagree on topics that can be important to them. This works with consideration of course. If something is wrong, or they are taking others down using beliefs or opinions as a justification for their rudeness; never feel that you have to support them. The same applies to you, however, if a friend tells you that your religious beliefs are wrong or tries to change you, contemplate if it's worth your mental or emotional health.
For example, if you come out as bisexual, asexual, non-binary, or any of the above to your friend, and they pull a face and completely ignore you, that's rude. They could be invalidating your feelings once again, even if they are trying to suppress or hide it. Give them time, sometimes that's what people need to accept or adjust to something such as this, and that's okay. However, if you continue to feel judged, they push away that matter of conversation, or they then make fun of you, I would express this and move away. It's unsafe and unhealthy to surround yourself with people like this.
19. They do not Make Fun Of or Mock These Beliefs, Feelings, and Opinions.
This is a level on top of what was mentioned above; they may take steps to mock your beliefs or feelings. This can take the form of prods and pokes with the excuse of joking, but it can still affect you deeply. Most of this depends on the context, but if your friend has taken the time to understand you, they won't make jokes about that topic if they believe it could upset you. A true friend might not even try just in case, as they care enough not to risk hurting you.
20. They Always Treat you With Respect.
I've littered this throughout, but respect is such a high value of mine and many people all around the world. If your 'friend' is disrespecting you in any way and refuses to apologize when they wrong you, this is not okay. If you continue to let them treat you in this way, you're teaching them that it's okay and that you can and should handle the disrespect — no matter what you may doubt, you all deserve a friend who shows you genuine appreciation and reverence.
Friendships are truly one of the hardest relationships to navigate, what with the often artificial and expectant standards of our generation. It's much harder when you look online, where people carefully select the life that they want you to see on their social media. It's hard to tell who wants clout or attention, and who is here for a true, genuine friendship. I urge you to take on these signs of friendships that, over my 16 years, have discovered to be accurate. A good friendship can be all that one needs in their teenage years.