Should I Expand My Circle of Friends?

The problems with cliques

There’s nothing wrong with having a tight-knit group of friends. Having a close circle of friends gives you a sense of belonging and a place where you are accepted for who you are—flaws and all.
“It feels good to be liked by others and to be part of a group. When you’re young, you just want to fit in.”—Karen, 19.

Did you know? Jesus’ 12 apostles were among his many friends, but three of those apostles—Peter, James, and John—were his closest companions.—Mark 9:2; Luke 8:51.

However, associating with only an exclusive group of friends—and shutting out others—can create problems. For example:


  • It can close the door to other potentially great friendships.
    “Having only friends who are similar to you closes you off to new experiences—and to fantastic people.”—Evan, 21.
  • It can make you appear snobbish.
    “When you have an exclusive group of friends, you can give off the vibe that you don’t want to talk to anyone else.”—Sara, 17.
  • It can lead you to take part in bullying.
    “An individual might not bully someone, but if your circle of friends does it, suddenly it seems OK—even funny.”—James, 17.
  • It can get you into trouble—especially if you want to belong to that group at any price.
    “All it takes is one bad person in a tight-knit group for the whole group to be swayed into wrongdoing.”—Martina, 17.

 What you can do

  • Examine your values.
    Ask yourself: ‘What values do I strive to live by? Do my friends make it easier or harder for me to live by those values? Would I hold on to those friends at any price?’
    Bible principle: “Bad associations corrupt good morals.”—1 Corinthians 15:33, footnote.
    “When your group is made up of people who don’t share your values, you could find yourself doing things you never would have done otherwise.”—Ellen, 14.
  • Examine your priorities.
    Ask yourself: ‘Is my circle of friends so tight that I would compromise my standards to preserve it? What would I do if a friend did something wrong?’
    Bible principle: “All those for whom I have affection, I reprove.”—Revelation 3:19.
    “If someone in your group gets into trouble and your loyalties are misplaced, it could seem like a betrayal to speak up about it.”—Melanie, 22.
  • Expand your friendships.
    Ask yourself: ‘Could I benefit by widening my circle of friends to include some I do not know as well?’
    Bible principle: “Look out not only for your own interests, but also for the interests of others.”—Philippians 2:4.
    “Kids who are considered unpopular might just have a tough life at home. Once you get to know them, you usually find out that they are awesome in their own way.”—Brian, 19.

The bottom line: There’s nothing wrong with having a close-knit group of friends. At the same time, you may benefit from expanding your circle of friends to include others. The Bible says: “Whoever refreshes others will himself be refreshed.”—Proverbs 11:25.

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“I was attracted to a particular group in school, but I later realized that some of the girls bullied others, so I left that group. True, I barely had friends for a while, but it felt good to take a stand for my values.”
—Maryam.

“In school, I would try to be in a certain group just to boost my social ranking. But then I came to realize that the wrong kind of friends can give you a negative view of people and even make you act like someone you’re not.”
—Alex.

“I spent most of my middle school years trying to be part of a group that didn’t want me in it. When I realized how futile my efforts were, I learned to appreciate the friends that I already had.”
—Bethany.