Friends are here to laugh with, spend time doing things we enjoy with, and to turn to when we are struggling. They are there for us and are often the first people we turn to when we need support. In this section, you can learn about what makes a healthy friendship, how to know when a friendship is not healthy, and peer pressure.

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What makes a healthy friendship?

It’s important to feel safe and healthy in our friendships. If we are feeling unsure about the people we are surrounding ourselves with, it’s a good idea to reflect on the qualities that make a good friend.

A good friend:

  • Accepts you for who you are
  • Listens to you
  • Shows you that they care
  • Is not judgmental
  • Sticks by you in tough times and laughs with you in fun times
  • Is honest and does not want to hurt you
  • Respects you for being you
  • Has common interests with you
  • Supports you to try new things
  • Encourages you and helps build your confidence
  • Helps you realize your mistakes

We should look for all these things in our friendships, and strive towards embodying them as a friend to others. It’s important to think about these qualities and try to always be the best we can for those around us.

What happens when a friendship doesn’t feel healthy? 

If our friendships are not healthy, it can feel really awful. It’s important to notice the signs so that we can get support.

Good friends do not:

  • Judge us
  • Make fun of us about things we are sensitive about
  • Make us anxious and stressed out
  • Stop us from being ourselves around them
  • Make us do things we don’t want to do
  • Talk about us behind our backs to others
  • Talk down to us and make us feel bad about ourselves

We can tell when our friendships are not healthy by the way that they make us feel. If you feel any of these things are happening to you, try setting boundaries with your friend. Tell them what hurts your feelings. It’s important for them to know.

We all deserve people who are good to us. If nothing changes, it may be time for this friend to no longer be in your life. When you end an unhealthy friendship, explain honestly how you feel and that the friendship is no longer working for you. Be polite, kind and calm. These conversations can be really tough, especially when you have known this friend for a long time or when they are the closest person in your life. Even though it may help you in the long run because the friendship was not good for your well-being, it is normal to feel loss. It is also normal to have family or other friends ask you about what happened to the friendship or why they haven’t seen that friend around. It can be difficult to know what to say in these situations, and it can also be a sad reminder.

It is a good idea to get the support of others when you are dealing with the loss of a friendship, even when it was your decision because of how the friendship made you feel. Remind yourself of the reasons why you made this choice and take extra care of yourself. Writing about it can also be helpful to process how you feel and will provide you with something to return to if you need it. It can also be a good time to connect with old friends, people who you want to get to know better or reach out to make new healthy connections so that you don’t feel alone.

If you need help with how to have a conversation like this, talk to a supportive adult, peer support worker, counsellor, or friend.

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