Tips on How To Be There For A Friend

Alex Proimos - Chilling by the Beach
Chilling by the Beach – by Alex Proimos


It’s hard to generalize friendships, as each one is so unique. Friends often happen organically, sometimes unexpectedly, and others just seem destined from the start. Considering you are taking the time to read this, a few things can be inferred: Perhaps your close friend is recently going through a hard time, or you’re simply wondering how to provide your best support to someone in need. While friendships vary for everyone, there are still some universal ways to be there for your friend.


Sometimes, the best thing to do is listen. If someone is brave enough to reach out for your support, it’s important to recognize that. Listening means paying attention to what they’re saying, letting them vent, and treating their feelings with respect. Although it may be tempting to give advice, this may be invalidating. Listening and asking open ended questions such as, “how are you feeling”, “can you tell me more” and “what’s that like for you” are great ones to start with, until they start feeling more natural.

Checking in

Along with listening, showing a friend you’re there for them can be as simple as checking in. It feels so simple, but sometimes little actions can have huge impacts. If they mentioned they were that they were feeling down or told you something that worried you, just a “hey, how are you doing today” could mean a lot. As long as you come off respectfully, don’t be afraid to ask questions. Given you are friends, it’s likely they will let you know if they feel like talking or not. Either way, casually checking in can strike up normal conversations or more meaningful ones.

Respecting Their Style

While you may want to do absolutely everything to make sure they’re okay, that might not always be what they need. Little things can go a long way. People may ask to be alone, or let you know that they don’t want to talk about serious things. Just letting someone know “I’m here for you if you want to talk” or “is there any way I can help” can take some pressure off of them and open up new ways to be there for them. Similarly, recognizing that your friend may cope, grieve, or stress out differently than you is important. As a friend, suggesting or encouraging healthy coping mechanisms can also be a good idea: a walk, a bath, coloring or journaling, even playing a sport or listening to music. However, coping isn’t limited to these ways, and that’s okay, too.

If you are worried about how your friend is handling their emotions, it’s essential to…

Know When to Get An Adult Involved

If your friend is having an extremely difficult time, it may be out of your control to help. Example signs of needing an adult may be if you are worried about the safety of your friend; if they are planning to hurt themselves, or someone else, or someone else is planning to hurt them. You may feel hesitant to get an adult involved considering your friend might be confiding in you about something personal, but please don’t be afraid to reach out for help. As much as your help is doing, and as meaningful as your emotional support may be, extra steps might have to be taken in some cases to make sure your friend is safe. Reaching out requires a ton of bravery on your part. However, adults such as parents, teachers, counselors, or youth group leaders may be able to supply your friend with a wider range of resources.

By being there for someone else, you are doing something important. Thank you for being there for your friend, and remember to take care of yourself, too.

If you’d like to talk to a teen listener about more support and resources, please call or have your friend call TEEN LINE.

We operate from 6-10pm PST, and the number is:
(310) 855-4673 (California) or (800) 852-8336 (US and Canada).

– Isabella S, 17 years old


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