Fourteen and Having Trouble with Friends

Reader’s Question

I’m a 14-year-old girl and really I’m just stuck in the past. I can’t get over the fact that me and my old best friend are not friends anymore and now I’m so shy I never talk to anyone I used to talk to all the time. It’s like when I look at myself I’m a different person. I don’t talk to anyone I did in the 7th grade. I feel like now I push everyone away that I care about and I just miss that life so much. Every day I wish I could just go back to that year were I was not scared to talk and I had awesome friends. My friends now are just people to me. I don’t really like them. I don’t know what to do anymore. It’s like I’m just watching my life pass me by. What do I do?

Psychologist’s Reply

If we focus in life on having one best friend, we are likely to have our feelings hurt and lose that friend as time passes. The best way to avoid that is to spread out your friends. Begin making friends in school — then in your neighborhood — then in your church — then in your extended family (cousins?) — then in your hobbies and so on. Adults do this all the time. As you develop a friendship in these different groups, some of those friends will graduate to become good friends. Then you have five good friends rather than one good friend at school. People who do this get a lot of calls and text messages.

I also believe that if you’ve made a best friend in the past — you may not be shy. You may just not have a lot of experience and at the age of 14 years — that’s not unusual. To gain more experience in adding friends to you life, I might recommend:

  1. Smile and look at people. When we’re down in mood, our head is often down. If you don’t make eye contact and smile at people they won’t talk to you. Nobody pats a growling dog.
  2. You can attract people to you by your choices. If you wear a college sweatshirt, people will ask you about the college. If you wear a shirt with a music theme, people will talk to you about that musician. This is why guys in college often buy cute puppies to walk on campus — that puppy is a girl magnet.
  3. Watch how outgoing students act in class and in the halls. They make eye contact, speak to people, and remember things about other students.
  4. You can expect to change “best friends” and friends about 10 times over the next 40 years.

Your high school friends may not be the same as your current friends. College friends are totally different than high school friends. Friends at work and in the neighborhood are totally different. This is why improving our skills at making friends is more important than having a best friend right now. As long as you have the ability to make friends, you can have one in a short time no matter where you go in life.

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