middle school mean girls

Girls are known for being nurturing, social creatures, so why do middle school girls, in particular, have such a notorious reputation for drama, betrayal, and backstabbing? Friend groups change so much during middle school, as teens mature at different rates and start exploring their interests, and yet when these friendships start to shift, girls are also more likely to cling onto toxic relationships based on their familiarity. While social struggles in middle school are not uncommon, they create a foundation for low self-esteem and toxic relationships throughout adolescence. We’ve accepted that mean girls and peer pressure are unavoidable in middle school because young girls are socialized to believe that the worst thing they could ever feel is loneliness, but at what cost? 

How Girls are Expected to be in Relationships:

  • Not to express anger directly
  • To be considerate of other people’s wishes, often at the expense of their own
  • To talk more openly about their feelings, often dramatizing their experiences
  • To care about what other people think
  • To be nice even to people who aren’t nice to you

Qualities of Toxic Relationships:

  • Needing to seek approval for decisions
  • A constant fear of rejection or embarrassment
  • Feeling silenced
  • Over-apologizing or forgiving too often
  • Frequent hurtful criticism 
  • Jealousy
  • Feeling invalidated when you accomplish something or when you’re struggling with something
  • Taking advantage of your kindness and generosity
  • Gossiping about other people
  • Being a victim of bullying or witnessing them bullying others

Qualities of Healthy Relationships:

  • Trusting that you can talk to someone without them judging you or sharing your stories
  • Being willing to compromise when you have different perspectives or plans
  • Not basing your self-esteem off someone else’s opinions of you
  • Being supportive of decisions, individual strengths, and problems they may have
  • Sharing similar interests, values, or goals
  • Being able to maintain individual identities and independence

Asheville Academy for Girls Can Help

Asheville Academy for Girls is a therapeutic boarding school for girls ages 10-14. Our students commonly struggle with anxiety, depression, ADHD, learning differences, and attachment issues. Many of our students have been bullied in school and struggle with social skills in social groups. We are a relationship-based program that focuses on building meaningful face-to-face connections through teamwork, group therapy, experiential activities, and small classrooms that helps girls heal from the effects of peer pressure.  

For more information about friendship patterns in middle school girls, contact us at 800-264-8709. We can help your family today!

Cat brings more than thirty years of experience making an impact in the lives of adolescents. Cat has developed multiple programs helping children, teens, and young adults in a variety of settings and with a diverse range of diagnoses. She has dedicated her career to behavioral health and is honored to be part of the passionate team at Asheville Academy for Girls. She recognizes how delicate this age is and is proud of the role she and her team play in helping girls grow and prosper.