A healthy acceptance of the idea that relationships are fluid – people come into and out of our lives for different periods of time, in an ever-changing way, and that’s natural and beautiful and fine – usually comes with at least one exclusion: your best friend. Like, yeah, sure, everyone will come and go but this bitch is here for life. And you believe that, with every hopeful ounce of your being, you know that you two will always be as close in a way that can’t be broken or understood, and probably shouldn’t even be witnessed by outsiders because you guys are weird and kind of disgusting because that’s what true friend love is about. You believe you will always be that way together. Until one day, you’re not.
It used to be that you almost didn’t know how to function without your person and the security they provided. No matter what you were doing, or what situation you found yourselves in, as long as you were together, you had a convenient, worn-in source of identity. In any room, theirs was the face that loved and got you when no one else ever could quite as completely, and a lot who didn’t get you at all. What you realize, as you get older, and settle into yourself more, is that you no longer have to rely on someone else to feel sure about who you are. And as you become more self-possessed, you and your person possibly become a little less similar, and a little more independent.
That’s how the distance between two best friends happens in theory. Here are 6 ways you see it happening in your everyday life:
1. Every time you hang out is a “catch-up session”
Most of your conversations used to be a distinct mix of inside jokes, minute details that you hadn’t yet shared about your day (“Oh, so I know I told you I had pizza for lunch, but did I tell you that it had this life-changing pesto on it?”), and mostly just doing fun shit and experiencing life together, as it was being lived in the moment. These days, it’s more like quickly trying to spill everything that’s been happening in both of your lives in the space of a 90-minute lunch because you haven’t seen each other since your last 90-minute lunch/catch-up session.
2. You don’t bother resolving conflicts
You had a minor disagreement a few weeks ago over something stupid. Someone said something that the other person misunderstood, feelings got hurt, etc. Historically, the two of you are prompt about directly addressing bullshit like this – you refuse to let a petty misunderstanding leave a lasting crack in the iron-solid foundation of your friendship. You usually talk it through until you both fully understand each other’s feelings and intentions, and can both walk away with a better sense of each other, yourselves, your friendship, and the universe. Like, you don’t let shit lie. You work it out, and try to gain something from your very rare squabbles. But not anymore. Now, if you have a fight, you address it lazily, if at all. You let it lie, don’t talk for a few days/weeks, and generally take a “meh, it’ll blow over” attitude. And it does blow over…but not without leaving those tiny cracks that you once worked so hard to prevent.
3. You don’t “do nothing” together anymore
You can’t remember the last time the two of you just sat on your couch, eating the entire contents of your refrigerator, and watching reruns of bad TV. That basically used to be your entire life. Other activities were merely annoying obligations that you begrudgingly did in between marathon co-lounging sessions, but her butt imprint on your couch is already starting to fade.
4. You hear about their major life events from someone else
You run into Random McBarelyAFriend and she’s all, “Oh my botox, you must be so bummed that Jen is moving to San Francisco! It’s awesome about her new job, though!” I’m sorry, who’s going to a where for a what now? It’s always a shocking reality check about the new distance between you, and that shock very often comes at the hands of a c-list friend who clobbers you with knowledge of a big moment in your BFF’s life that you had no idea about.
5. You see pictures on their news feed of nights out that you weren’t a part of
It used to be that you didn’t even have to invite each other to do things. It was just assumed, unless otherwise stated, that you were going to hang out either every day, or at least every weekend. Your conversations didn’t go, “Hey, do you want to do something on Saturday?” It was a text at 8:30pm that read: “So what are we doing tonight?” Because you didn’t have to give more advance notice, because hanging out was implied. It was always implied. So who the hell are these people with your person, and why did you not even know this night happened?
6. You didn’t realize some of these were true until you read this list
And that’s the biggest sign of all; When your lives have become full enough of other things, the most powerful indication that you’re truly drifting apart is that it takes you a moment to even notice their absence.