It’s a strange and scary thought, but a close friend today may one day seem more like an acquaintance, a stranger – or even a distant memory. It’s natural for this to happen – for a friendship to run its course. But how do you know when to let go for good?
It can be difficult to tell whether you are outgrowing a friendship and even more challenging to let one go. Friendships are essential, and unless one constantly leads to fights, we often don’t want to let it go without putting up one.
However, there are sometimes clear signs that indicate that a friendship is no longer working for us. So if you feel like your relationship just isn’t what it used to be, read on for five of these signs and what you can do to make it work or leave well enough alone.
Sign #1: You share few interests and values
Different relationships come with each stage in our lives, but have you ever thought about why this happens?
Often, friendships grow apart because we outgrow ourselves. It’s not just the big things in life that alter our environments – like moving, or one friend starting a career and another, a family. It’s also the small moments and everyday things that take us down paths we never saw coming. Our interests and values change constantly, but sometimes our friendships don’t reflect these changes.
If you’re finding that the common ground you walk on is becoming narrower, don’t fret. Sometimes evolving as individuals closes the space for two people to thrive together if they are growing in different ways.
If you feel like there’s nothing left to talk about with a friend, it might be time to start seeking out new friendships with people who share your current interests and values. You don’t have to end the friendship entirely – you can still keep in touch and catch up occasionally. Then again, if you feel like there’s nothing left holding you together, it might be time to let go.
Sign #2: You avoid their calls or invites
Have you been making excuses not to see or talk to your friend? It’s one thing if you’re busy – we all are! But if you find that your social calendar is full of things that don’t involve them, it might be a sign you’re outgrowing the friendship.
It’s not that you don’t care about them, but your priorities have changed. And that’s okay! When we outgrow our friendships, it can indicate that it no longer serves us to spend as much time with them as we used to.
If you’re avoiding their calls or invites, think about what you’re truly avoiding. Is it the company, activity, or both? If it’s just the activity, there may be a compromise worth making. If you no longer enjoy your friend’s company, it might be time to reassess this friendship and relieve your stress.
Sign #3: You feel stuck in a role
In every friendship, two people usually take on different roles. And while it isn’t always a bad thing to be the shoulder to cry on or the life of the party, sometimes these roles can become stifling. Sometimes we can get stuck in a role we don’t want to be in, making us feel like we’re not being true to ourselves or getting what we need.
If you feel like you’re always giving advice or being supportive, and it’s starting to take a toll on you, then it might be time to talk with your friend and set some boundaries.
However, if the problem is that you’re no longer getting anything of substance out of the friendship, it might be time to move on.
Sign # 4: You stop telling them things
A big part of being friends is sharing our lives. We confide in our friends about the good and the bad, but what happens when we start holding back?
You might be outgrowing the friendship if you no longer share the same intimacy level with a friend. It’s not always that you don’t trust them or don’t care about them, but over time, we all grow in different directions. And sometimes, those changes take us away from the people we used to be close to.
Consider talking to them openly about it if you find you’re not telling them things because you don’t think they’ll understand. But it might be time to move on if you’re not telling them things because you don’t think they care or will judge or betray you.
Sign # 5: You complain about them to other people
Do you find yourself venting about your friend to other people? If so, it might signify that you’re outgrowing the friendship.
It’s not that there’s anything wrong with seeking advice from others or venting about our problems, but if we’re only ever complaining about our friends to others, it might be time to reassess things.
If you’re not happy with the friendship, it might be time to talk with your friend and see if there’s anything that can be done to improve things. But it might be time to let go if you’ve tried everything and you’re still not happy.
To grow together or apart, that is the question.
It’s not always easy to let go of a friendship, but sometimes it’s necessary. If you’re willing to give it a shot before letting go, try breathing new life into the friendship by doing things together that interest you both. Reconnecting with shared experiences and values can help revive a fading friendship. And if all else fails, remember that plenty of other people in the world would love to be your friend.