Friend Problems

by Jen on July 9, 2005

A Jen Magazine reader emailed this question:

“I just wondered if you guys had any advice on getting friends, because I really am lacking in the department, and I think its because I have higher standards than a lot of people at school. Will you give me some suggestions?”

Jen says: Wow, what a good question! I could give the usual answers like “be yourself” and stuff, but there is more to it than that. In fact, I didn’t have a lot of friends in high school or college, just a few close friends. Part of it is that I tend to be quiet/shy around a group of people I don’t know, but that’s not all of it. I actually started out with a lot of friends in middle school. The schools I went to were pretty “ghetto” and there was a lot of bad stuff going on. My high school was near downtown and a lot of people at school lived in the inner city projects and weren’t raised with very high standards. As my friends started doing more and more bad/stupid things I distanced myself from them. I realized they were being a bad influence on me and it was kind of impossible to hang out with them and feel good about it anymore. Even though most people thought I was cool and liked me, I didn’t have many close friends left at school by the time I was a senior in high school. Most of my close friends went to other schools or had already graduated.

My high school had a lot of people. There were two different lunchtimes because everyone couldn’t fit into the cafeteria at once. One year my few good friends had their lunchtime during the other lunch shift so I wasn’t able to sit with them at lunch. Eventually I started to go to the library to read during lunchtime so I wouldn’t have to chose between sitting by myself in the lunch room or sitting with people I didn’t want to be around because of the way they acted and the things they talked about. The only person sitting alone at lunch was the retarded kid… I thought about sitting with him just to be nice but I didn’t. I hated feeling isolated, but sometimes you have no choice but to be in a situation like that.

You definitely can have casual friends who don’t share your standards. It’s really the only way to be a good missionary to them. Remember that most people are good people even though they may do bad things, and there are reasons why they do the things they do. The only problem is that when it gets down to becoming really good friends with them it usually doesn’t work because you won’t want to do the same things; like on a weekend maybe you both want to “party” but then you find out that your ideas of partying are very different, lol!

You should still be nice to everyone and hope that you can influence them for the better. Don’t make others feel like you look down on them for the things they do because they’ll just think you’re stuck up. Instead, be Christ-like and be nice in letting them know what you believe. People are most influenced by those who make them feel liked and accepted. That’s important to remember!

Don’t get yourself stuck by branding yourself to fit with one particular style or group of people. It actually ends up limiting your friend options because people of other styles or groups won’t expect you to have anything in common with them. Here’s what I mean: let’s say a girl starts dressing kinda gothic because she likes certain bands and thinks the style looks cool. At first it will help her make friends with other people who dress gothic too. But then maybe she realizes that she doesn’t want to be friends with those people any more or she wants to branch out and make other friends. Even if she decides that she wants to change her style and starts dressing differently, people have already labeled her in their minds as gothic and they don’t expect to have much in common with her if they’re not into that style. Now let’s say there’s a cute guy from church who goes to her school and she starts to like him. He’s into sports and usually dates cheerleader-type girls. Even though they might end up having a lot in common, he might not ask her out because it’s hard for him to see her as the kind of girl he would like. He might also think he’s not the type of guy she would like.

Try to become friends with smarter people and those who you would normally consider to be nerdy. You might find that you like them better because they usually aren’t into as much bad stuff but they still know how to have fun. An easy way to make smarter friends is to take honors classes whenever you can. Honors classes usually aren’t much harder. In fact, I like them a lot better. The teachers give you more freedom and privileges because they trust you more. I didn’t start taking honors classes until I got into college and then I wished I had taken all the honors classes in high school. I didn’t take them in high school because I expected them to be too hard and I thought “why do more than I have to to graduate?” If I had taken honors classes in high school I probably would have liked school more, had more fun and met better friends.

Here’s something I never thought to do when I was in school: pray for good friends! Having good friends is very important so it should definitely be on our list of things to pray about.

All of my good friends now are people who have pretty much the same standards as I do. Some of them I’ve known for a long time, like girls I met at church when I was a teen. Some of them are new friends. Most of my school friends are long gone because they didn’t share my standards.

Since I might not be the best person to ask about making friends, let’s ask everyone else what they think. What’s your advice on making friends? Leave a comment!

{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

Lisa July 12, 2005 at 6:11 pm

I had an experience somewhat similar to this 2 years ago. I prayed about it a lot and over a 6-month period after I had really prayed about it, I ended up meeting several people who I now consider my best friends. Because of this, I gained a lot more self-confidence, and now, even though none of these people go to my school and I don’t see any of them very often, I feel comfortable around other friends and acquaintances. Through this experience I really gained a testimony of prayer, because I realized that my newfound friends were answers to my prayers of desperation. I also realized that I can be an answer to the prayers of others.

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Madeleine July 24, 2005 at 3:57 am

I have heard President Hinckley talk about friends, I like how he said something like, “friends can make you or break you”. This has made me realize how important it is to “choose [our] friends wisely”. I have learned from experience that it is better to have a few good friends that make you, than many casual friends that can break you. When it comes to friends I like to remember that quality is better than quantity.

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Anonymous August 11, 2005 at 7:01 pm

I think it is good to have casual friends at school and other places despite the fact that they may not share your standards. I find that being nice to everyone no matter what they look like/dress like is the best way to make friends. I know that many of my friends aren’t my best friends but I have made many friends over the years from just talking to people and being really nice! Most girls in the church have a natural ability to be kind to others so I think that making friends should be no problem!~Good luck!~

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Anonymous August 23, 2005 at 10:03 pm

i have a problem..

you see, i have this friend named Jamie (name changed). we’re really good friends from church. shes such nice girl and shes brilliant and gorgeous. but after high school started, she started becoming immensely popular. she got a boyfriend (oopz, broke the dating rule), she started hanging out with the popular crowd, and her skirts just kept getting a bit shorter. (she sticks to modesty at church, thankfully.) she started wearing bikinis to big school parties too. (apparently her mom encourages this…. ahem.) she gossips a lot more now on “school politics” aka status, relationships, etc… and talks a lot about how popular she is and about guys. a friend of mine (mormon) noticed… and he was disappointed in her for lowering her standards and told her about it. she talked to me one night about how people think its such a big deal and how she was annoyed. as you can see, her priorities and her attitude towards the standards changed so much ever since she became popular. and as a good friend who already listened to her rantings about how she was so annoyed, i don’t know how to approach her and tell her that i was truthfully disappointed in her too and how i was upset i couldnt see her as an example anymore. im afraid if i tell her, she might reply with answers such as, “i thought u were just a cool friend, but i guess you’re a molly mormon like all the others…” or…something. i really dont want to lose our friendship over this.

what do i do……

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nix advocate September 1, 2005 at 9:45 am

dear anonymous,

I am a male and advocate for modesty. i would be torn too, it is hard to see friends do this to themselves. I watched all my friends do this before i left on a mission. The adversary got to them so that they wouldn’t go on their missions, i guess. Needless to say, only one was able to turn around and go later. i was so sad for a long time, as i am sure you are. But, i am glad you are, it shows that you love Jamie “even though.”
Friends are hard to come by anyway without trying to save a few of them in the process. But that is the point! You can’t save them, you can’t make it all better. Someone once told me, “You can’t make someone do the right thing, you can only show them what doing the right thing looks like.” Ultimately, if you friend keeps to the slick path she is skipping down, she will start to slip and will fall. We hate to think this way, but there is nothing you can do save her from this. it has to come from her. Even voicing your disappointment, won’t change her.
I know what i am saying is kind of morbid, like watching a car accident waiting to happen. There is only one way- The Way. Read the end part of D&C; 121. It is about stewardship and how to reprove. Applying this to your situation, you can only “reprove” when moved upon by the spirit. In so doing, God knows Jamie better than you, he knows how to save her and he is the only one that can change her heart. it is his stewardship. Basically, your job is to pray for her and use your faith in God that he can and will save her. If the spirit directs you to say something, then you say it, not before.
Your love should manifest when you do this and that is why you do it “sharply.” Don’t confuse this word with “cutting” it means “exactness and clarity.”
To summorize, I believe you are torn because you don’t know what to do. The only thing to do is to be a good example of righteousness even if that means that she falls and has to look to you for strength, after she then realizes her mistakes. Some times that is the only way we understand what we are really doing. Second, you must pray for her and beg the Lord that he will do something to bring her back. He will too, it may be letting her fall so he can pick her up, or God may work through you. She may have to see how you are happy because you are doing what you are supposed to while she is unhappy because she chose wrong and has to pay the consequesnce. Just be there for her and let God direct you in what to do.
–To let you know, My friends messed up their lives and they see now what they did wrong. They understand now what their actions lead them into. They don’t like it now, but I am still their friend and they look to me for strength, they see the difference between instant- gratification and righteousness. I hated watching it but I love them for where they are going now, 5 years later…
Nixidwel

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Anonymous September 6, 2005 at 1:48 pm

my friend is one thing one minute and something else the next
she keeps going behind my back sayin ‘ why does she keep following me’ but other times she wants to be around me. i jst don’t get her

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Anonymous September 20, 2005 at 5:19 pm

i have the same problem, my clique has totaly changed. one of them is sso totaly boy crazy and the others are beong immature. i now am hanging out more with other girls who are not as wild, but still fun. it is very easy to have my standards around them like they dont swear and they dont date,smoke or anything. They did almost what i did. They let people know that they are not interested on doing bad things. I did the same thing and have not yet been faced with temptation.

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Anonymous April 13, 2006 at 4:32 pm

I have a problem. you see, i just can’t be myself around people I don’t trust. Like someone i don’t really know and who dosn’t really know me. I guess im just afraid of doing something that will turn them off or something. I just can’t open up. Any advice?

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Anonymous July 10, 2006 at 5:36 pm

I have seen many females with a nurturing nature get involved with people that they should have stayed away or gotten away from. They feel as if they have a duty to be with them and help them when they should get out of the situation immediately. In life you don’t want to be selfish, God or no God, but there are times when you simply have to think about yourself.

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Anonymous July 17, 2006 at 9:54 pm

I’ve noticed in my ward and in others that the youth are sometimes divided into three or four different groups. This frustrates me sometimes because we already have to fit in at school. What do you do when their are different cliques at church?

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Anonymous September 16, 2006 at 5:09 pm

I grew up in the 70’s and it was very hard for me to make friends. Most of the people I grew up with only wanted to drink and do drugs. What I did was join a few clubs with people who wanted to do the same things I did. That is how I met my wife. There is the biblical phrase that roughly says “A man who has a good wife, his days shall be doubled.” I know EXACTLY what that means.

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Anonymous February 4, 2007 at 10:50 pm

It’s true about not judging people based on appearance. Unfortunately many LDS young adults are guilty of just that. I stopped going to singles wards because the women there are very judgmental – they’ll glance at me, see that I’m not exactly like them, and dismiss me that quickly. I can’t help it that I’m not tall and skinny and blond. God made me a short, curvy redhead. I can’t afford to buy designer clothes, I usually shop at Savers. So I don’t dress like they do, either – although I still look pretty and modest. But I don’t look like your typical Mormon young woman, and I don’t have any friends. I wish people would realize that it’s okay if not everyone looks exactly like them.

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