Being friends through thick and thin is no small feat. Make your friendships deeper and stronger with this list of friendship tips for teens -- or "friendship rules" -- from Teen Advice.
1. Be Yourself
It may seem like a no-brainer, but a lot of teens struggle not to lose their identity once they become part of a group of friends. Though who you are is always changing, especially during your teenage years, some aspects of your personality will stay pretty much the same. Figure out what those things are and think hard about who you want to be, then present yourself honestly and genuinely to the people you hang around with.
Sometimes you're going to disagree or not be the most popular member of the group. However, you will always feel you've been true to yourself -- and that you haven't become somebody else's clone.
2. Avoid Gossip
Friends don't spread rumors about other friends -- even within their own group. If you've heard something shocking about someone you're friends with, find a considerate way of asking them about it personally.
If you're not sure how to talk to them about it, seek the advice of one other trusted friend, but don't let the discussion turn into a free-for-all about everything you don't like about the person. You certainly wouldn't be happy if someone did that to you, so set a good example for others -- and for yourself.
3. Defend Your Friends
At some point, somebody you're not tight with is going to question the integrity of one of your friends. It's important to find out both sides of the story in a situation like this, but it's also a good chance to show your friend that you have faith in them by standing up for their reputation. Whenever you can, be respectful of the other person's question or criticism but emphasize that your friend is a good person who deserves the respect of others, even when they make mistakes.
4. Protect Your Friends
When a friend of yours is making not-so-great decisions -- whether it's about drugs, alcohol, studying or dating -- do your best to look out for them. This doesn't mean telling them what to do constantly, but you can offer gentle advice and guidance from time to time.
If you give advice in a caring way that shows you value your friend and respect their feelings and wishes, they're much more likely to pay attention. Chances are, what you think means a lot to them, and you can be a good influence.
5. Be Careful About Boyfriends and Girlfriends
It's a good rule of thumb to stray away from dating the exes of your friends. It's an even better rule of thumb to avoid dating the people your friends have crushes on -- or people who have turned down your friends for dates. Even if your friend gives you the go-ahead, wait a while to get involved with someone who broke their heart or betrayed their confidence.
6. Return the Favor
There are times when a friend will lend you a jacket, a textbook or a shoulder to cry on. A good friend will pick you up when you're stuck in a rainstorm and listen patiently when you share a problem with them. Be sure that you're equally as generous with your time, your emotions and your possessions. People will take notice, and it's something to feel good about.