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Older and bolder: over the summer, you'll have opps to meet all kinds of new girls, not just the ones who are in your grade. And that means you might make friends who are a little bit younger--or older. Hmmm. (GL Friends).

You've been going to the same summer camp since you were 7, and you totally dig it. This year, though, you can't help feeling you're a little more, well, mature than your bunkmates. When it comes to fashion or guys or music, you're on a whole different level. The campfire crew is still heavy into Britney, for example, while you've so moved on to Shakira. That's why you were psyched when Vanessa, who's 16, invited you to sit with her in the lunch tent last week. You two really hit it off, and you've been hanging out ever since. Vanessa's totally worldly and cool. She showed you how to put on eyeliner last night, has a boyfriend who's a senior in high school, and is so smart and confident that you take every word of her advice as total gospel. So what if she's older? True friendship has nothing to do with digits, right?

Well, that depends. Older friends can indeed come with some pretty awesome benefits, especially if they have view-points and interests you can get behind. Weirdness can arise, though, if your older bud is into stuff you're just not about--like smoking, drinking or serious dating. Digging the same music is a start, but the friendship likely won't go the distance unless you have more in common. Will your big sistah friends still want to hang out come Labor Day, or will they toss you like an empty bottle of Banana Boat? Here are some older bud upsides and downs to help you figure out the age bracket racket.

OLDER FRIENDS ROCK WHEN...

THEY HAVE A TOTALLY POSITIVE VIBE.

Hanging with buds who feel great about themselves, have a cool outlook and say "see ya" to stuff that's not good for them can be really inspirational and empowering. Say you have an older friend who is way up front about the fact that she doesn't do drugs. It's cool to follow her lead, trust the life experience she has under her belt and know that you don't ever need to do drugs either. Lauren totally admires her older BFF for making it through peer pressure and other tough stuff without dipping into any negatives: "She'll be my friend forever!"

THEY REFUSE TO BE CLONES Every single girl your age is probably hanging poolside this summer in the exact same pair of blue Nike flip-flops--as if these are the only, cool slides in the world! Your new BFF Jen is two years older than you and is so not into following the pack. She proudly flaunts her toesies in a fab-and-flinky pair of silver platform sandals. Jen isn't afraid to be herself, and you're loving her attitude because you've always been an individual, too. Such a great sense of confidence often grows stronger as you get older.

THEY INTRODUCE YOU TO THEIR COOL GUY FRIENDS. You and your crew stopped into Mickey D's for fruit-and-yogurt parfaits yesterday. At the next table, a gang of dorky boys from your grade were shoving french fries up their noses, laughing like hyenas. Yummy--not! As we all know, girls mature faster than boys do. It can be an amazing bonus when your groovy older girlfriends can introduce you to their male buddies. Just imagine how much fun you'd have spending time with a guy who's really got it all together!

While it can be super-exciting to hit it off with a cute guy who has a couple years on you, seems funny and charming, and tells you you're pretty and sweet--you do need to be careful. His head--and his hormones--might be at a majorly different place than yours are at the moment, and he could try to talk you into doing stuff you just aren't ready for.

OLDER FRIENDS ARE A BUMMER WHEN...

THEY PEER-PRESSURE YOU. Let's say your older bud drinks like a warrior, and she wants you to party hardy with her. Or you know she goes pretty far with her BF and wants to set you up on a double date with his creepy pal. If you don't approve of her social activities and feel she's leaning hard on you to join in, big trouble is brewing. You've heard it before, and it's really true: You should never cave in to peer pressure and do anything that isn't good for you. Really, it's a matter of respect--the respect your buds should have for you and the respect you have for yourself.

A true BFF wants what's best for you. She knows your boundaries, and she doesn't step over them--that's respect. Flip the situation around. Would you want your BFF to do something that would make her feel squirrely and awful? Of course not. If your pal insists you partake in whatever negativity she is up to, blows up at you or quits calling you, you haven't lost much. In fact, this person is saving you a ton of trouble, so wish her well and move on.

THEY TRY TO MAKE YOU FEEL STUPID.

Adrienne has hung with kids two and three years ahead of her forever, but they still do or say things that cause her to doubt herself at times. "Sometimes, when I hang around older peeps, I feel smaller and insecure," she admits. You can imagine why. Some might make fun if you have an earlier curfew or have never heard of that Will Smith song they dig from like four years ago.

An older bud is lame when she lords her age or experience over you! This is a total sign of immaturity! She's puffing her ego up this way because she feels small and insecure. Don't buy into such sorry hype. Let her know you want her to quit ragging on you, pronto. A sincere friend will treat you with respect 24/7.

THEY IGNORE YOU. Say your new, older BFF is super-nice when you guys are alone, hanging out in her room or whatever. But, when her same-age buds come around, she acts like you're invisible.

So what's ignoring someone really about? Looking like she's powerful. Ridiculous, right? Totally, but some silly chicks actually think they seem really important and in control when they act like another human being isn't even worth acknowledging. True-blue buds don't belittle each other this way. Your smart solution: Find a cooler BFF!

THEY INTIMIDATE YOUR YOUNGER BUDS.

Jessica says, "1 hang out with older kids, and my other friends think I'm dissing them. They say, 'Thanks for leaving us so you can go hang out with them. Oh, are they just better than us?' It starts fights. I don't like that." Even more gnarly-- your older crew badmouths, rips on or even physically threatens your younger girls. Why does intimidation happen? Your older crew, sadly, just might get cheap thrills out of scaring younger kids. And, natch, your younger buds might be freaked out if you're blowing them off.

How to deal? Make a real effort to show your younger crew you really do want to spend time with them. Have a sleepover. Set up a weekly movie date. Host a Gilmore Girls watching party. Stay connected! As for dealing with your older crew picking on your younger girls, take a stand. Tell your older friends you really like them but want them to stop busting on your other buds. If your older pals can't deal, shake 'em.

THE TEST 0' TIME

So you're having a true blast with your older pal this summer...but, eventually, the leaves will start to turn. How can you be sure your friendship will last? You'll just have to walt and see. If you're making all the effort to stay in touch, and she e-mails you only once in a blue moon or never--let it go. Appreciate the fun you had together while it lasted. But, hey, maybe things will click and you guys will stay friends for infinity.

Hanging with older friends can work if you stay true to who you are. Don't bend like a twisty straw just to have a few so-called cool chicks accept you. You're so above that! No matter what age your buds are, the key is to make sure the crew you're rollin' with makes your life better, not worse.
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Title Annotation:make new friends, keep the old, one is silver and the other gold
Author:Mulcahy, Lisa
Publication:Girls' Life
Date:Jun 1, 2002
Words:1374
Previous Article:BFF dilemma of the month: my BFF puts me in situations that could get me into trouble. How can I stay friends with her without breaking the rules?
Next Article:Blowout: hit the beach in one of summer's sassiest two-pieces. We've got you suited-no matter what your style! (GL Fashion Blast).
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