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The Dark Side of “BFF”

Chanita Cassell, MSW

Seminary is a time for building lifelong friendships, but when girls are away from home, lonely and vulnerable, they can also fall into unhealthy friendships. Here are some red flag signs of a toxic relationship, plus pointers on how to prevent girls from slipping into them.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

“I crave it.” “I can’t stop thinking about it.” “It’s consuming me.” Reading these statements — all made by adolescent girls — you might think they’re describing an addiction, a dependency on a substance perhaps. After all, what else could be causing these young women so much distress and suffering? What else could be bringing them into therapy, distraught and embarrassed? Could these girls be referring to and struggling with something as seemingly innocuous as… a friendship?   A Primitive Need Many girls enter seminary hoping to create lifelong friendships and they spend much of their year trying to actualize that eventuality. According toDr.RaminiDurvasula, a psychologist who studies friendships and relationships, these girls are simply trying to fill a “primitive need” — that is, to be in a “best friend” relationship. “Everyone always speaks about the memories they have of seminary, and about the incredible friendships they made,” shares Rikki,* a girl who attended seminary inHarNof last year. “So we come into the year expecting the same to happen to us.” Since seminary students are always together — eating, sleeping, hanging out, and in class — it allows for deep bonds to be built. And yet, precisely because of the constant interactions and the inherent pressure to find one’s best friend, a friendship can take a nasty turn, bringing with it intense emotional stress and drama, and making girls question themselves. 

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