When we are kids, we think that our friends are going to be with us forever. While many people may still have friendships with their childhood friends as adults, many friendships simply do not last forever.
But how can you tell when you’ve outgrown a relationship versus when you’ve simply lost contact with an old friend? Today we’re going to explore a few signs that you’ve outgrown a friendship, as well as ways to cope with that change in your life.
How to Tell that You’re Outgrowing a Friendship
Sometimes life just gets busy, and you forget to call an old friend. That’s normal, and it doesn’t necessarily mean you’ve outgrown a friendship. But, there are times when a friendship may no longer serve you — even if it felt like the core of your being earlier in life.
Here are some ways to tell that you’ve outgrown a friendship (rather than just been a bit too busy with work projects to grab that monthly coffee with your college roommate).
You Feel Exhausted Rather than Excited
Meeting up or talking with your friends should make you happy and excited. If you dread meeting your friend or you feel tired just thinking about talking with one of your friends, that’s a pretty concrete sign that something isn’t working out.
You Don’t Have Things in Common Anymore
Maybe you and your best friend from high school were inseparable in your teenage years, but now you feel like you have nothing to discuss. As we age, our interests and preferences change. Maybe your roommate from college is still the party-lover they were when you lived with them, but you aren’t anymore. Perhaps you no longer have anything in common with a good friend from your hometown due to very different political views.
Any friendship that ever had a deep connection can be incredibly painful to end. But if you feel that you simply find conversing with them to be too stiff or that your talks constantly lead to confrontation, it is time to let go and move on.
You Feel Like You’re Putting on a Face with Them
The best friendships grow with you. Sometimes though, a friendship can get stuck in the past. It is not uncommon for older friendships to call back on inside jokes, but if you feel like you cannot be yourself as you are now, then the friendship can feel suffocating. The last thing you want during a night out with friends is to feel like you have to pretend to be someone else.
You Feel the Relationship Is Not Equal
This may indicate that you are doing the majority of the emotional work of the friendship, or your friend is constantly coming to you with their problems but not helping out with any of yours.
Just like any relationship, friendships are all about give and take. If you feel like the relationship is all “give” on your end and all “take” on their end, that’s not a healthy divide. There are several ways that this can appear in a friendship. The bottom line is that you should feel like your friendship is equal; no one person should be doing all of the work.
You No Longer Feel Safe
Whether you no longer feel physically safe or like you can trust your friend, there comes a time when ending a friendship is the right move. Maybe your friend spread gossip about you that involved a personal and confidential piece of information you shared with them. Maybe they have become increasingly controlling of your other relationships.
If you no longer feel safe in a friendship, it is unhealthy, and it is time to move on with your life.
You Don’t Feel Like The Relationship Is a Priority
Okay, it sounds a little bad when we phrase it like this, but the simple truth is that as we grow and gain new relationships and experiences, our priorities change (and our available time changes as well).
If we feel like we are constantly prioritizing other things (including other relationships), that may be a good sign that we aren’t getting enough from a relationship. Over time, we have more things vying for our attention and time, and we need to assess where we want to invest our time. Sometimes an old relationship just doesn’t make that list.
Tips for Letting Go Gracefully
Let’s be honest here, letting go of any type of relationship is difficult. If your friendship has come to an unfortunate and sudden end due to a specific event or catalyst, you may harbor unpleasant feelings or anger. If you and your friend have simply drifted apart and no longer share interests and excitement in the relationship, you may grieve for the loss of a long-lasting and joyous friendship filled with meaningful memories.
No matter how your friendship has come to an end, here are some tips that can help you let go of the past friendship and move forward in your life gracefully.
Focus on Yourself
What can we say? Spending time on self-care is crucial for overcoming any type of uncomfortable or frightening situation — like realizing that you no longer find fulfillment in a friendship that has lasted for most of your life. So, take the time you need to grieve or process the loss in the best way for you.
Maybe this means doing some journaling or meditation. Maybe it means getting back into that weightlifting or running routine that you seem to always pick up when you need more time to process your feelings. Perhaps it means spending some time getting a massage to let go of the unaddressed emotions or stifling energies that are in your system because of the friendship.
Spend Time with Other Friends or Loved Ones
Just because you’ve outgrown one relationship does not mean that you no longer have anyone to turn to. You still have other valued friendships and relationships with loved ones that you can turn to for support. Spending time nurturing these friendships can help to lessen feelings of loneliness or isolation while you move forward from the friendship that you have outgrown.
Re-Assess What You Are Looking for in A Friend
A lot of times, we outgrow friendships that no longer meet our needs and bring us fulfillment. So, take some time to think about what a good friendship looks like to you at this time. Maybe you don’t need someone that you can talk to every day, but someone who enjoys a bi-monthly date to a local coffee shop where you can both catch up on what’s been going on in your lives.
What we value and want from friendships can change over time, and when relationships do not change with those evolving desires, that is when we outgrow them. Taking the time to figure out what types of friendships you are looking for can be a great way to help ensure that you are seeking those friendships moving forward.
Talk About It
Sometimes talking about your feelings is the only way to move on. You can talk with a trusted friend or loved one or consult a therapist to bring closure to a friendship. Relationships are a huge part of our lives, and many of us define various parts of our lives by the relationships we have. Because of this, losing a relationship can be a devastating experience, and talking out your feelings and re-assessing where you are placing value in your life can be crucial.
So, if you are struggling with the end of a friendship and you’d like someone to talk to, please do not hesitate to reach out to us at Love Heal Grow today.