As our lives change, we change, and in the process we may find ourselves falling away from people who used to be close friends. This can be hugely difficult and painful for both parties. How can we handle this situation with the least amount of hurt?
Work with your friend.
If you haven’t already, you will probably experience a situation where one of your friends gets a new S.O, or gets married, or has a baby, and suddenly they disappear from your life. That stings.
A big life change doesn’t have to mean a big friend change as well, but it is something you and your friend will have to work on together. Be supportive of their new life circumstances, but remember to ask them for support as well. Recognize that things might not be the same, but that doesn’t mean they can’t still be good.
Leave a door open.
It could be that the changing circumstances (yours or theirs) mean that spending time together is no longer as enjoyable as it once was. You share fewer interests and experiences, your tastes have diverged, and you have less to talk about. Somewhere along the line, your friendship lost its purpose.
If this has happened to you, it doesn’t have to mean ‘the end’. You may be leading very separate lives now, but the future might bring you back together. If spending lots of time together is causing tension, try moving to more casual coffee dates or the occasional drink out.
This isn’t about either of you being at fault. Trying to justify the distance in your friendship by nitpicking the other person’s character or personality won’t help, nor will agonizing about yourself and your virtues as a human being.
If thinking or discussing the change in your friendship can help you understand yourself or your friend better, that’s fine—but it’s not necessary. Sometimes two good people drift apart and it’s not anybody’s fault. It’s just life. Whatever it is, if the friendship is one you don’t want to relinquish to ‘it’s just life’ – dare to express your feelings of loss. The open communication might serve as a bridge to mutually determining how to maintain the relationship.
Know when to walk away.
Sometimes, as a friendship sours, it becomes a toxic influence in your life. When this happens, its time to call it and cut ties. It’s time to move on if your friend:
- Makes everything about them
- Undermines you or acts out in passive-aggressive ways
- Dismisses your concerns or emotional needs
- Demonstrates only insincere or shallow interest in your life
- Becomes overly attached or emotionally manipulative
A lost friendship can leave you feeling faulty or insecure in the friendships you still have. At a certain point, you might even find yourself wondering if you are capable of being a good friend.
If you are doing any of the behaviors mentioned above (you don’t listen to your friend, set out to undermine them, or you’re a chronic manipulator), the yes: you are being a bad friend and you should stop. But that doesn’t mean you can’t become a good friend.
We all deserve good friends in our life. Be the friend you deserve.