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Circle of Support: A Message for Teens About Friendship

Identifying true friends

Angel Nieto/Deposit Photos
Source: Angel Nieto/Deposit Photos

We all need friends to help us get through life’s good and bad times. True friends make us feel special and treasured. They push us to achieve our dreams, celebrate our accomplishments, and provide support during difficult times. Good friends are honest, loyal, kind, helpful, and dependable. They are the people who make us laugh, wipe away our tears, care for us when we can’t care for ourselves, and have our backs when we need them most.

Good friendships, go both ways – meaning that our friends do for us what we do for them. Friendship is not a one-way street. Our friends have different and important purposes in our lives and they make up our circle of support. A circle of support is a network of special people who are present in times of trouble, sadness, and celebration. They have a vested interest in our lives and our success. Some friends are closer to us than others, these are our inner circle friends. They are the people we trust, confide in, and let our guard down around. You can think of friendship as a dimensional circle.

Imagine a circle with two rings: an outer and an inner circle. The inner circle is made up of friends we can be “real” around. They don’t judge us and want what’s best for us. They “get us” and connect with us emotionally. These people accept us for who we are and we don’t have to pretend to be someone else around them. Some people have a lot of friends in their inner circle, but most have only a few; either way is okay. The important thing is that we have someone we can trust and turn to during tough times.

Question: Who are the people that make up your inner circle of support?

The outer circle, is made up of casual friends. These are the people that we enjoy hanging around. We take delight in their company, but we may not tell them our deepest secrets. They aren't as close and as trustworthy as those in our inner circle, but they are still on our side. While we may not invest as much time with these friends, they still serve a fulfilling purpose, and we need them, as they need us.

Question: Who are the people that make up your outer circle of support?

Sergey Nivens/Deposit Photos
Source: Sergey Nivens/Deposit Photos

It takes time to find true friends. We may have a lot of people who we associate with, or a ton of “friends” on social media sites, but how many know, like, and accept us for who we are? How many of these people are “true friends”?

We have to be cautious of friends who aren’t good for us, these are known as “toxic friends”. These friends belittle, back-stab, gossip, and intentionally exclude us from fun events. They are selfish, self-absorbed, rude, condescending and controlling, and worse yet…they hurt our feelings. Toxic friends take from the friendship, but seldom contribute, leaving us feeling drained, sad, and lonely.

There is no doubt about it, friendships can take a lot of effort and energy. Sometimes we may have a good friend, but something happens to interrupt the relationship, like miscommunication. Miscommunication can sabotage a friendship, and it can stir up unnecessary drama. Friend drama can be scary and cause a lot of undue stress. Being overly worried about what our friend may think about us, angrily stewing over how we have been wronged, or being worried about what is being said about us to others, can result in a lot of sleepless nights.

Over time, friend drama can take a toll on our well-being and eat away at us. The only way to work through miscommunication and drama is to talk. Talking things out may be easier said than done, but it’s the only way to work through relationship problems. So, whether it’s now or later, it's a bridge that has to be crossed. If our friend refuses to work on the relationship, then we need to reevaluate whether this is a person we want in our circle of support.

Angel Nieto/Deposit Photos
Source: Angel Nieto/Deposit Photos

There is nothing in this world like a true friend. When we find someone to share life with, we feel more confident and secure. Friends give us a sense of belonging and purpose. They help us to feel happy and loved. True friends walk alongside us in life, and should we stumble they catch us before we fall. The number of friends that make up our inner and outer circle is not important. What is important is the quality of our friendships.

Friendship... is not something you learn in school. But if you haven't learned the meaning of friendship, you really haven't learned anything. ~ Muhammad Ali

More from Raychelle Cassada Lohmann Ph.D.
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