The Friendship Doctor

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International Day of the Girl

Friendship advice for young women under the age of 18

Today is the International Day of the Girl, created by the United Nations General Assembly last year to promote awareness of the unique challenges young girls face in societies across the globe. The term “girl,” as used in the U.N. proclamation, refers to young women under the age of 18.

The readers of my blog come from every decade of life, which allows women to share with their peers but also to benefit from the experience of those who are younger and older. Adults on the blog have always been generous in offering their own life lessons to the younger readers who write about their friendship dilemmas and problems.

On this day especially, it would be nice to share with young women (perhaps, some of them our daughters and nieces) some of the lessons we women of a certain age have learned about friendship. I’ll start with three life lessons and hope that other readers will have a moment to reflect and add their own:

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Friendship Lessons for Girls/Young Women

1) Everyone can’t be popular. We all don’t look the same, dress the same, act the same, or think the same---thank goodness! Just because you aren’t popular now doesn’t mean you can’t or won’t find a friend who appreciates you for who you are. Don’t give up on friendship.

2) Not all friendships last forever, especially friendships we make when we are young. It’s wonderful to feel like you’ve met your forever friend but don’t be too upset to discover that friends may not always grow in the same directions.

2) Losing a friend is never easy. It can feel annoying, disappointing, and embarrassing all at once.  Remember that you’ll get over it and learn more about yourself and friendship.

Anyone else care to add to the list of lessons they’ve learned about friendship that they would share with young women?

Irene S. Levine, Ph.D., is a psychologist and professor of psychiatry at the NYU School of Medicine. Her latest book is Best Friends Forever: Surviving a Breakup With Your Best Friend.

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