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A teen struggling with friendship problems asks for help

Published: September 7, 2013 | Last Updated: September 7, 2013 By | 8 Replies Continue Reading
Teens can feel overwhelmed by friendship problems and feel as if they have no place to turn.


Hi Irene,

I’ve had this same group of friends, formed over the course of two years. They were really nice and have always been there for me. But this year, we all hit high school and things have gotten really rough. Everyone has turned mean or has changed so much I don’t know them anymore.

One of my friends has been problematic right from the start. She seemed nice at first and we had a lot in common, but soon I began to see that she makes mountains out of molehills all the time, blowing up and shouting in my face because I have problems with vegetables she likes or don’t agree with her on the whole Coal Seam Gas issue. I don’t feel comfortable in her presence anymore and I’m afraid to say anything because I’m scared she’ll start screaming in my face again.

When she’s not picking fights with me, she’s really nice. She is supportive and kind, and this makes me feel like maybe I’m the ‘bad guy,’ that I’m the one with a problem and I’m taking her words wrong or something. That can’t be the truth though, because no one else in the school likes her very much either.

It’s getting really bad. A few weeks ago, she went up to my friends and said, “Right. I can’t stand this anymore. It’s her or me—time for you to choose!,” while I was STANDING THERE. Thankfully, they all chose me, but she put all of us in an uncomfortable position, me especially, because I had to sit there and watch her face everyone.

I feel like I need to leave but I can’t get away from her  because even though the rest of my friends hate the way she’s treating me, they’re too passive to help me talk to her or confront her. I tried hanging out with other groups but no one wants to accept a new girl into their circle.

The other issue is that I think one of my friends is suffering from depression, and it’s affecting me. Most of the time she seems just like any other happy, normal teen, but when I have a sleepover at her house, we have this thing where we tell each other all the secrets we feel comfortable telling, and she’s been saying things like “I’ve always wondered what it would be like to slit your own wrists’ or ‘Sometimes I think death would be easier than life.’

I’ve been reading up on depression because she’s scaring me, and she DOES seem to be showing other signs, but not many. The only ones I could spot were that she’s not getting enough sleep and that everyday problems like getting school vaccinations have her curled up in a ball, rocking on her heels and fervently praying to God.

Sorry, I know that was a lot to read, but I needed to get it out and I don’t know how to talk to anyone else without damaging my friendships forever. All my other friends have changed so much that I can’t connect with them anymore, and telling someone about the depression would make her hate me forever cause she didn’t tell anyone else and I swore confidence. She’d never trust me with anything again.

I really need some help, so thanks in advance if you decide to answer.

Signed, Cindy


Hi Cindy,

The situation you find yourself in is not uncommon. Young people change a great deal as they move from middle school to high school—as a consequence,  so do their friendships and allegiances.

In terms of your “problematic” friend: Although she has many nice qualities, she sounds like she’s very strong-willed, controlling and a bit of a bully. If you want her to stop picking on you, I think you need to call her on her behavior (privately) rather than expect your other friends (who are probably also intimidated by her) to do it for you. If you are uncomfortable doing this, you need to minimize your contact with her.

In terms of your “depressed friend: If a friend is talking about death and slitting her wrists, there is a good chance she is depressed. This is too much of a burden for you to handle on your own. Next time this issue crops up, you need to tell your friend you think she is depressed and urge her to speak to a responsible adult, perhaps, her mother or a counselor at school. Let her know you are so concerned about her welfare, this isn’t something you can keep confidential, and if she won’t tell her mom, you will, because you are worried about her well-being.

The larger question, it seems, is that you’re having trouble navigating your friendships and feel like you have nowhere to turn. These are problems that sometimes crop up among young people and adults, and it sounds like you are doing a good job about thinking before acting.

It is hard to change groups; maybe it would be a good idea to work on developing a friendship with one person you trust rather than giving up on your group as a whole. You can also use the Forums on this blog as a sounding board to ask questions. Many people, of all ages, have had similar experiences to yours.

Hope this helps.

Best, Irene

Other relevant posts on The Friendship Blog on teen friendships:

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Category: Dealing with difficult friends, RESOLVING PROBLEMS

Comments (8)

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  1. nikita says:

    okay so my internet friend of almost a year doesnt want us to be friends anymore,i have no idea what i did tho??she wants to drop out of school and become a singer i simply reminded her that if that plan backfires then wheres she gon’ get another job?and if that happened she wouldve dropped out for nothing.It pretty much sounds negative..i think,,idek tbh.So the following day she goes like: “mom said we’re gonna move to london and that i aint going to the bi.tch,thats probs the most amazing idea she ever had”.She never went to school for a week just bc she had the flu so i mentioned this girl who was in my class last year who stayed absent for 50+ days so she failed.Then she goes like “whatever who cares if i fail?i already failed” so i replied with “attitude,you do realize that without school you’d have to do jobs w out a qualification” then she goes like “and?i dont care.if i want to sing then i have to drop out of school in the first place” and then i replied with “lmao you dont “have” to drop out of school,if singing doesnt work out then you’d drop out for nothing bc where are you gonna get another job” then she replied with “its better if we dont talk anymore” it feels like i came off as a bit judgy but perhaps yall could give me your point of view on this??

  2. Alea says:

    At a church camp, my friends who I’ve been having relationship problems with were in the same tent as me. One night when they thought I was asleep they snuck out to a different tent leaving me alone with two Spanish girls who spoke no English, later the tent they went to flooded, and they came crawling to my tent. I thought it was super rude and uncalled for, and I told them how I felt. They apologized to me saying they didn’t know ( personally I think they had to have known.) I told them that I needed time ( it’s been a few days.) The girls have done other mean/rude things, and I don’t know how to continue on with them. Ideas?

  3. Margot says:

    I have a serious problem!!

    Right so, my friend (lets call her MS) was making fun of a girl who’s both really rude to us and I wasn’t really laughing, but I was giggling. That was Friday but today which is Monday I hurt myself accidentally and went to the first aid room and I was sitting there but then I noticed a paper on the wall, it had all the kids who have like anaphylactic stuff and epileptic people on it. And I saw the name of a the girl who my friend was laughing about in Friday under epileptic. I was so shocked and I took a photo of it ( I have no idea why) and sent it to MS. I wrote: OMG I JUST FOUND OUT THAT …… HAS EPILEPSY OMG AHAHAHHAA. It was so stupid of me and then as soon as I sent it I had a bad feeling about it and MS wrote back:

    “no offence but if someone has epilepsy u don’t laugh about it people die when they have that, she’s had a really shitty life, that’s pretty disgusting. I thought you were better than that”

    I immediately felt terrible and I wrote back:

    I really don’t know why I wrote that, I’m so disappointed in myself, I would never intentionally make fun of her or anyone with a disability. It was just that I was surprised to find out about her, not that I was making fun of her. And I meant to convey that but instead it came across as mean. It was never my intention, I wish I could change how that came across. I’m deeply sorry and I will apologise and explain to her that I meant no offence.

    I hoped it would stop there but u have a feeling that ill get in really big trouble. I know it was a spiteful thing to do and I’m definitely not proud of myself. I’m not a rude person but I don’t know why I wrote that. Any suggestions?

  4. lora says:

    I have a friendship problem and i don’y know what to do
    My best friend ignores me. She zooms past me at school and replies to my texts with one word. We’ve been friends for 2 years now.
    This is what happened…
    There was this science project and she was partners with sandy. From that day on she only talked with sandy at lunch, before school, after school. I understand that she is making new friends, but that doesn’t mean she can just pretend i don’t exist. She lives in my neighborhood and when we get off the bus, she gives me this weird glare. I’ve tried talking with her, and i even took the blame. But, she talks to me like a stranger. I have cried for days about this. Please help.

    • Irene says:

      It takes two people to have a friendship, Lora. If your friend is not acting like a friend, there isn’t much you can do. You’ve apologized and tried to connect so now you need to back off.

      It’s not easy to lose a friend–at any age. Try to get involved with other things you like to do after school and see if you can make a new friend at school by acting friendly to other people. You can continue to say hi to your old friend when you see her. She may or may not tell you why she is acting this way.

      I’m sorry this happened to you but it happens to many girls and women. You deserve someone who treats you nicely.


  5. Inlifehealthcare says:

    Good post!! Thanks for sharing.It is very useful to teenagers

  6. Claire says:

    Last year was my first year of high school. All my friends from intermediate were in my class. Everything was going well, then a new girl called Kate joined. She became best friends with one of my good friends called Kylie.

    My best friend Kelly stopped hanging out with the group and didn’t like them anymore. Then Sophie joined the school, so me, Sophie and Kelly became best friends. We started sitting away from the group but I felt like we were still friends.
    This year Kelly left the school. Me and Sophie tried to joined our old group again (they are still in our class). But they started running away from us at lunch so that we couldn’t sit with them. If we found out where they sat they would find a new place to sit the next day. If we did sit with them the made excuses to leave with each other and ditch us. If we went to where they said they were going they would just be hanging out there and would say “oh sorry we were just heading back now.” But it was obvious they weren’t. They have a group chat on Facebook and I’m sur ether bad mouth me and Sophie on there. They always have these inside jokes and really exclusive . I’ve decided to not bother trying to be friends with them anymore. But at the end of last year another girl called
    Georgia joined their group. I have known her for ten years and feel like i am pretty close to her again and I have a few classes with her and she is really nice to me then and if I ask to sit with her when Sophie is away she lets me. But when she is with the other girls in the group she still runs away. My birthday party is coming up, Sophie, Kelly and another who goes to another school but is my best friend is going. I wanted to invite Georgia but I’m not sure if she wants to come or if she declines and that makes it awkward between us or worse if she tells her other friends that I invited her and they laugh about it behind my back. I want to ask her what the deal is with her group or if they just hate me or Sophie. Iin class when Sophie is away I am often forced to sit by myself because they don’t leave any room for me or purposely exclude me Georgia doesn’t do anything or say anything. Later she pretends like it never happened and she also does this after I see them run away from me. It might be because she would rather be loyal to them and pretend to not like me or care about me or she may not like me at all but just feels sorry for me so she talks to me in class. I often over hear Kate, Kylie and Jessica (Georgia’s best friend) talking about how they will exclude me and at the end of the period discussing which way to run. Even when Sophie is away from school they still run and I’m left completely alone. I want to join this new friend group which accepts me but they are student librarians so they are often busy during lunch. I really don’t know what to do, should I confront Georgia and ask her to be honest about why they don’t like me, should I invite her to my party, should I just leave them and forget about them altogether and join the librarians? Please help!!

  7. Amy says:

    You’re very kind to try go understand possible reasons why your friend might be acting out. You’ve probably already read that children and teens often have different depression symptoms than adults, and being quick tempered is one of those signs.
    The best time to have difficult discussions with someone is when you’re both calm, not during the middle of an argument.
    I think you need to choose which conversation you want to have with her, because if you try to have both at once, she probably won’t be receptive to either. If it were me, I’d probably have the depression talk first, since her health is at stake. If your school counselor has any brochures, you might want to include them in your talk. You can also send her Internet links after you’ve talked.
    Tell her you’re worried and that you’ve noticed a change. Let her know depression is morning to be ashamed of. This is a big conversation to have, so you might even seek your school counselor’s advice on how to approach her, or if you feel you aren’t the right person, your school counselor can speak to her on your anonymous behalf. Many high schools do depression screening.
    Even if your friend is depressed, you shouldn’t put up with being treated poorly. That’s not an excuse. I always tell people, we train others how to treat us. Irene is absolutely correct in having a detailed conversation privately and not embarrassing her in front of a group, but you can say, “Please talk to me with respect.” when she starts going off on you. A great tool for squashing a tirade is to stop giving her an audience and walk away. Say, “I won’t allow you to talk to me like this.” and leave the room. When little kids have temper tantrums and their parents ignore the tantrums, they stop. When the parents give them attention, it reinforces a negative way to get attention, rather than teaching the way to get positive attention is to behave appropriately.
    The transition from middle to high school is difficult for everyone, kids just show it differently. You’ll be happier if you’ve got a variety of friends, rather than sticking to one group, because then you avoid putting all your eggs in one basket, to quote a cliche. You avoid giving away all your “power” to a group and you can maintain your individuality. Plus, you’ll meet more friends that way. If you’re just in one group, you sometimes have to compromise your own values to stay in that group. You seem like a bright, insightful young woman, because you’re able to see beyond your own hurt feelings to understand your friend might be depressed. That’s a great quality. Even in a group of friends, there are some you’ll feel closer to, others you won’t. If you concentrate on the girls you like best, and try to minimize your individual contact with those you prefer least, you’ll likely be less stressed.
    Good luck.

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