Do you feel bored and tense in the company of your friends? Do you no longer enjoy the things you used to do together? Do all conversations seem pointless and superficial? If all this sounds familiar, then you could be outgrowing your friends.
While it typically happens at a young age, adults can outgrow friendships too. It doesn’t always have to do with getting older but mainly with becoming more emotionally mature.
This is when you suddenly realize that you no longer have a lot in common with your friends or enjoy their company as much.
10 telltale signs you are outgrowing your friends
1. You no longer seem to have much to talk about
The most telling sign you’ve outgrown a friendship is that you don’t enjoy your conversations with someone.
You used to talk about everything with your friend – not just joke around but also discuss personal problems and intimate thoughts. Now, all conversations revolve around day-to-day happenings and pointless topics you are no longer interested in.
This is why you often catch yourself feeling like you have nothing in common with your friend anymore.
2. Your interests change, and you can no longer share them with your friends
Sometimes we outgrow friendships also because we outgrow interests and hobbies.
For example, not so long ago, you were pretty happy spending your free time partying and playing video games. But you no longer enjoy these pastimes.
You have different interests now – maybe you picked up a meaningful hobby or switched to a healthier lifestyle.
Whatever the case, you feel like you can’t share your current interests and passions with your friends. Maybe you believe they won’t understand you or will make fun of your pursuits.
3. You have different priorities in life
This is probably the most common reason why people outgrow friends. As we get older, we make better sense of what we want in life. Someone may seek to level up their career, someone else devotes themselves to their family.
When we realize what we want, our priorities in life change, and sometimes this is what distances us from our friends.
For example, you finally met someone special, so you feel ready to get married and start a family. But your friends may be in a totally different stage of life, moving from one casual relationship to another.
This is when you may start to drift apart simply because your friends have different priorities in life.
4. You don’t seek opportunities to meet up or stay in touch
You never reach out first or suggest doing something together. Moreover, you avoid meeting up with your friends even though you may not do it intentionally. You turn down invitations and make up excuses to not go to a gathering. Or you say you would come but end up canceling plans.
You may feel too tired to go to a get-together after work or hang out with random people you know your friend will bring over.
In reality, this happens because you start to realize that you no longer enjoy your friend’s company, so you’d better spend your time doing something else.
5. You feel like your friends are holding you back
You feel like you are finally moving forward in life. Maybe your business is doing well or you are seeing the first positive results in your career. Or you may be evolving emotionally and intellectually, getting wiser and more mature.
But it seems like your friends are staying where they are. They don’t make plans or set goals, and they still live the same messy lifestyle they did in college.
This is when you catch yourself thinking that your friends are holding you back. Maybe they are a bad influence too, and you find yourself indulging in unhealthy habits when you meet up with them. All this makes you feel guilty and angry with yourself.
When it happens, it could mean that you are outgrowing a friendship.
6. You no longer have fun with them
You used to have so much fun together when you were younger. Or when you went to college or school together. In other words, when you shared more in common than you do now.
But now your friends’ jokes sound silly, conversations feel superficial, and your time spent together seems wasted.
Maybe they are busy gossiping about the girls they picked up at the bar last night or discussing the last football game. Whatever it is, you don’t find it fun or interesting anymore. This is when you know you are outgrowing your friends.
7. Your friends seem too immature
For the reasons above, you often catch yourself feeling like your friendship has turned into a parent-child relationship.
All you do now is support your friends and give them advice while they don’t pay it back. They don’t do it on purpose though – they just have nothing to offer you in return because they lack maturity and stability. They always seem to be in trouble, short of money, and confused about their personal lives, so they need your help all the time.
It feels like you are a parent dealing with your teenage daughter’s or son’s problems. This is when you realize that your friends are immature and you’ve outgrown them.
8. They remind you of an outdated version of yourself
When I was in my early 20s, I began to reconsider a lot of things in my life, including the people I hung out with. I started to wonder, “Are they the right company for me? Am I outgrowing my friends?”
In reality, I should have asked myself, “Do I like the version of myself when I’m in their company?”
We all put on certain personas when we are surrounded by different people. And sometimes we outgrow these personas.
Maybe you feel awkward behaving the same way you used to or doing things just to make your friends happy. You could even be ashamed of your past and feel uncomfortable hanging out with the people who knew your old self.
When you outgrow your friends, you see how the outdated version of yourself pops up to the surface again, and it brings confusion.
9. You catch yourself pretending or hiding parts of yourself
It’s a huge red flag when you feel the need to pretend or hide something from your friends. For example, you believe that it’s better to not let them know about your new hobby or aspiration. You think they will find it silly and will laugh at you or just won’t support you.
Maybe you also catch yourself pretending to be the old version of yourself. You say things and make jokes just because you are expected to. It could be that you are used to playing a certain role in the circle of your friends, but you no longer identify with it.
When you’ve outgrown a version of yourself, you could be afraid that your friends wouldn’t like the new one. This is why you choose to pretend. It’s quite normal, especially at the initial stages of outgrowing a friendship.
10. You meet up with them out of habit
Your time with your friends feels more draining and boring than fun. So you are not really looking forward to seeing them.
But because you feel guilty for not enjoying their company, you still agree to meet up with them. They are your friends, right? You owe them that.
But the problem is that you hang out with them not because you want to. It’s turned into a mere habit. You can recognize this by the vague feeling that you are wasting your time when you meet up with your friends.
What to do when you outgrow your friends?
1. Don’t blame yourself
It’s easy to feel guilty for outgrowing your friends. You may feel like you are betraying your friendship and invalidating all the good things you shared in the past.
But the very fact that you no longer feel connected to a specific friend doesn’t mean that you are betraying them. And it absolutely doesn’t cancel the great moments you once had.
Outgrowing friends is pretty normal. It’s a part of growing older and evolving emotionally. We all walk different roads in life and take different times to reach a certain level of emotional maturity.
Sometimes even close friends are in totally different life phases, and it can make them eventually drift apart. It’s sad, but it’s how it often happens.
So don’t blame yourself for feeling this way about your friend. Remember that it’s normal, and many other people out there are going through exactly the same thing right now.
2. Make peace with your feelings
Make a decision to be honest with yourself. Don’t force yourself to pretend like you have fun and want to see someone if it’s not true.
If you feel that you’ve outgrown a friendship, maybe it’s better to just let the other person go instead of trying to please them. At least, it’s more honest.
So the next time your college buddy invites you to a party, don’t go just because you feel obliged to. You have two options to handle it. You can either make up some kind of excuse again or be frank with your friend and tell them that you no longer enjoy such pastimes.
The choice is yours. You might find it hard to be sincere because you believe that your friend won’t get you anyway. It’s understandable, but the most decent way to handle this situation is to tell your friend the truth.
3. Remember the good moments you had together
Take a moment to appreciate the great time you had with your friends. They may no longer be the right company for you, but they once were. Ending a friendship because you’ve outgrown it doesn’t wipe out all the fun you had together.
So instead of feeling bitter with yourself, be grateful for these awesome people in your life and all the happy moments they gave you. You can recall a few funny situations or look through your old photos. You may even write them a thank you letter.
This way, you will end this friendship on a positive note instead of dwelling on your guilty feelings.
4. It’s not goodbye
Outgrowing a friendship is not giving it the death penalty. You never know what kind of person your friend might grow into. It’s likely that you will start to hang out again at some point in the future.
It has happened to me. I’d stopped talking to a university friend because I’d outgrown my old self and didn’t want anything or anyone to remind me of it.
But a few years ago she reached out. And guess what? She turned out to be the same great person she had been before. I actually regretted not talking to her all this time.
So when you outgrow a friendship, keep in mind that it might not be the end. Maybe in a few years or even a decade, you will be in contact with your friend again.
To sum up, if you ever find yourself outgrowing your friends, remember that it’s a normal part of getting mature.
It’s fine if you no longer feel connected to someone you were once close to. Life moves forward, our circumstances change, and so do we. So make peace with your feelings and don’t lose hope that one day you might become friends again.