Growing apart from friends is an undeniable part of getting older. Why does it happen and how can you recognize if this is what’s going on in your friendship?
It can be disappointing to see how your college friend is getting distant. You barely maintain any contact anymore. It’s a shame since you used to have so much fun together.
Or maybe it’s you who is drifting apart from an old friend without even realizing it. In either case, check the signs below to know for sure.
7 Signs You Are Growing Apart from Your Old Friend
1. You don’t keep regular contact
When friends drift apart, the first stage is cutting off frequent contact. If you are doing it unknowingly, you may just forget to call or message your friend. You don’t think or worry about them.
At some point, you may realize that your friend is the only person who cares to know how you are doing. They may still text you and give you phone calls, but as long as you don’t show much interest, you hear from them less and less often.
2. You don’t feel the need to reach out
You know you are growing apart from a friend when you don’t miss them.
Maybe you have different priorities in life right now or hang out with other people. Whatever it is, you don’t feel the need to keep in touch or suggest meeting up.
Your friend is the only one who still reaches out now and then. They will occasionally invite you to a gathering or suggest an activity to do together.
When it happens, you usually say yes out of habit, without being overly enthusiastic though. Or maybe you find an excuse to not go at all.
3. When you meet up, it’s not really fun
Probably the most disappointing part of growing apart from friends is when you realize you no longer have fun with them.
Your get-togethers feel more like an obligation to you. You feel that you owe your friends, so you need to show up, even though you don’t really want to.
When you meet up with your old friend, you get bored. Maybe you even feel awkward in their company. It seems like there is not much you can talk about, and your friend has turned into a stranger you no longer know and understand.
You might be catching yourself recalling the moments of fun you had in the past and wondering where it all went wrong.
4. You are not interested to learn their news
When there is no interest, there is no friendship. It goes both ways. So, if you are not really interested to stay updated on your friend’s life, your friendship is dying.
At some point, you just realize you are behind on what’s going on in their life. It turns out that your school friend got married, went for a career change, or moved to a different neighborhood. And you had no idea.
So, when you two meet up, it feels like you are talking to some distant relative or acquaintance, not the person you were once close to.
5. You no longer ‘vibe’
This is another painful realization that comes from growing apart from friends. You no longer resonate with each other. There is nothing to talk about, there is no deep connection. You feel like your friend doesn’t get you anymore.
It could be that you don’t find the same things funny or interesting. They don’t understand your motives. They don’t share your views.
Once again, you feel like you are in the company of a total stranger, not a good old friend who gave you so many memories and happy moments.
6. You have a different circle of friends with whom you have more in common
Over years, your social circle has changed. You now hang out with other people who get you much better than your childhood friend. You are at the same level in life and have much more in common with them.
When you hang out with your old friend, you catch yourself comparing them to your new circle. You realize that your new friends are much more mature, interesting, and fun to be with.
This is when you know for sure you’ve outgrown your school friend.
7. You no longer share personal stuff with them or care to keep them a part of your life
This is another telling sign that you are drifting apart from a friend. Since you don’t feel a bond with them anymore, you avoid getting too personal. You are not even sure if your friend will understand you.
So you don’t share personal problems with them like you used to. Your conversations have become more superficial and impersonal.
You also don’t bother to keep them informed about your life. Maybe you even forget to tell them about important things that happen to you. Or to invite them to your birthday party. You are afraid that your childhood friend won’t fit in with your new circle.
Why Do Friends Drift Apart?
If you identify with the above, you might want to know why friends drift apart over years. Why do you feel this way about someone who used to be your intimate friend in school or college?
There can be a few reasons:
1. Temporary friendships
Many of those we hang out with are temporary friends. What does it mean?
Most of the people we meet remain our friends as long as we are at the same life stage. Or when we share the same study/work environment. As soon as you graduate from college or quit a job, they disappear from your life too.
Why does it happen? Because you were not compatible in the first place. Your friendship was superficial and revolved around day-to-day happenings, such as college papers, office gossip, or work tasks.
You may have had fun back then, but you never shared a deep connection.
2. Friendships are not their top priority in life
Most of us like gatherings and get-togethers when we are young. From our teenage years to our 20s, our friendships are among the most important things we have in life.
But as we grow older, our priorities change. Some of us devote ourselves to our families, others are busy building a career.
Most people become more socially selective as they age. So you and your old friend may not find social activities worth your time anymore. Or you prefer to hang out with your family and work friends.
This is how most friends drift apart – usually, it happens unintentionally. They just don’t stay in touch as regularly as before. And this is how the end of a friendship starts.
3. Life circumstances
Life moves forward, and our circumstances change. Someone moves to another city, someone else gets married and is buried in family responsibilities. There can be many obstacles to a friendship.
If you are concerned about your friends drifting apart, think about it. Maybe your friend’s wife doesn’t like him to hang out with his old circle. Or he is so overloaded with work that he barely has any time for himself.
Yes, you may say that it’s a matter of priorities, and you will be right. But sometimes circumstances are more powerful than our will.
4. Different levels of emotional maturity
We outgrow our friends because we are no longer at the same level of emotional maturity. You vibed well in college, but your friend seems to have stayed there while you have advanced.
That’s the reason you don’t feel connected to your friend anymore. You have different interests and priorities in life, so you begin to grow apart from them without even realizing it. You are more drawn to people who are as mature as you are.
5. Misunderstanding or conflict
That’s probably the most common reason why people grow apart from each other. If something happened between you, it’s difficult to restore the trust and connection you used to have.
Maybe your friend betrayed you or misunderstood your choices. Or maybe you were the one who broke their trust.
If the conflict situation was severe enough, it makes sense why you drifted apart from each other. Some things can’t be fixed, and trust is certainly one of those.
Growing Apart from Friends Is a Part of Life
How to cope if you are drifting apart from someone who used to be your best friend in school or college? Realize that it’s a normal part of getting older. Not all people we hang out with as children and teens are meant to stick with us for a lifetime.
So, make peace with this experience and remember that true friends will always stay by your side. If you no longer feel connected to someone, then most likely, this friendship was not meant to last.
Instead of getting blue, be grateful for all the fun and happiness you had with your old friend. Now, it’s time to let them go.