4 Tips for a Friendship that is Drifting Apart

Sometimes in life, our friendships are totally solid. You find someone who always has your back, year after year, through thick and thin. And while we all strive for the unchanging, unbreakable bonds we see on TV, we sometimes forget that these friendships are a rarity. It’s much more common for relationships to change over time. Now, here’s the bombshell. It’s okay for friendships to change. It can even be a good thing!

As you go through school, you may find yourself seeing less of the people who used to be a staple in your life. That may have to do with conflicting schedules, or with changing interests. It could be that one or both of you have made new friends. When it first starts happening, it can be scary. You might try all different tactics to keep things the same. Unfortunately, that reaction can hurt more than it helps.

When you notice a friendship is changing, sometimes it’s best to simply let it be. That doesn’t mean you turn your back on your friend completely, or shut them out of your life. It simply means that you give them a chance to explore other interests, hobbies, and relationships. And in the meantime, you should do the same. Just be sure to keep these four tips in mind:

Talk to your Friend: Things might be changing, but that doesn’t mean your friendship is doomed. It could be that your friend has been busy lately. Or maybe she (or he) is simply devoting some extra time to a sports team, club, or hobby. It’s possible she has been so bogged down with school work, that she simply hasn’t had time to hang out. If you’re worried, you can talk to your friend. Just make sure to do it in a calm, low-pressure kind of way. Try saying something like, “It’s been hard to make plans lately. Is everything okay between us?” Don’t make accusations, or use this time to lash out. Instead, give your friend a chance to talk. It is possible that you’ve been stressing over nothing.

Never Burn Your Bridges: It’s totally understandable to feel hurt when a friend is being distant. But that doesn’t mean you should start throwing shade, or talking behind her back. Understand that friendships go through phases. You may be at a point in life where you don’t have much in common. That doesn’t mean you won’t reconnect later down the road, or maintain some form of relationship over the years. For now, keep things civil. When you cross paths, be friendly. Keep in mind that if you cut someone out of your life completely, you may regret it later on, when things cool down.

Be Open to New Friends: Instead of focusing on winning back old friends, and living in denial, consider some new additions to your social circle. Maybe you’ve been finding things in common with a kid in your class, or on the bus. Maybe you’ve been connecting with your sports team or theater group. Recognize that this is a good thing. If you keep an open mind, you’ll spot countless chances to make friends who fit perfectly in your life. So join conversations! Exchange numbers and social media accounts with potential friends. Make plans. Just because your social life is shifting, doesn’t mean it’s over!

Be Inclusive: There’s no reason why your social circle has to be an exclusive one. Instead of building a tight-knit clique, give your friends room to come and go. Invite new friends to sit with you in the cafeteria. Make after-school plans with a classmate. Keep an open mind to anyone you can have fun with, and anyone who has your back. By having a relaxed, inclusive attitude toward your friend group, you’ll have a fun and fulfilling social life, despite what’s going on in an individual friend’s schedule.

While it can be hard to deal with the end of a friendship, or even to see the relationship change, it’s important to recognize that this is a part of life. Nobody stays the same forever, so it would be silly to think that a friendship can go unchanged. Instead of mourning the loss of the way things were, see this as an opportunity to make new friends, and see what else your school has to offer. Give it time, and a little effort, and you may find your social life thriving more than ever!

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Isa Marrs is the Founder and Executive Director of the Where I Can Be Me® social skills program. She is a board-certified speech-language pathologist who specializes in pragmatic language (social skills) disorders in children. Read More