It can certainly be challenging (and even painful) when friendships fall apart. (Especially close friendships.) And it’s not necessarily anyone’s ‘fault,’ and it’s not necessarily the result of someone being a ‘bad friend.’ Sometimes, people genuinely lose touch, which is part of life’s trajectory. Life paths can diverge, schedules can misalign, and a natural shift takes place. Of course, you can still talk or see this particular friend, but there’s probably a mutual understanding that things are no longer how they used to be.
And sometimes, there is more of distinct clash and differences in compatibility are highlighted. This brand of falling-out isn’t as natural or organic where life simply pulls at our threads. This is more deliberate, more overt. It’s the realization that the friendship served a special purpose at one point, but it’s now only adding additional stress to your life. It’s the hard realization that it’s too difficult to continue the friendship.
I’m hanging on to the last bit of my twenties, but looking back, I can say that the 20s are such a dynamic decade when it comes to friendships and the changes such friendships endure. (Of course, people can grow apart at any age, too.) I’ve been a part of a few meaningful friendship groups that have quietly disbanded as time progressed; there have been circumstances, though, where I’ve personally felt the shift, even if it was just on my end. And then there’s been instances where I’ve had to make the hard decision to walk away from a couple of friendships that were trying and stressful, which was tough, but it also was the right thing to do.
In Washington Post’s 2016 article, “Friendships Grow Apart All the Time But We Rarely Talk About It,” writer, Dani Fleischer, initially comments on how refreshing it is when young children talk so openly and honestly about where they stand with friendships, but how adulthood can certainly be more nuanced and complex.
“Over the past few years, there’s been a subtle shift that’s been hard for me to admit, still harder to explain,” Fleischer said. “We still love each other. We still want only good things for each other. But separated by thousands of miles and very different lifestyles, there’s a distance between us that feels insurmountable. And I’m left wondering: What do you do when a friendship is fading?”
After her feelings reached a pivotal turning point and she confronted her friend, she realized that, sometimes, friendships do fade for one reason or another and that’s okay.
“What I couldn’t accept the day I sent that angry text is that sometimes, there’s no way to fix a relationship except let it turn into whatever it’s supposed to be,” Fleischer said. “And that waiting — that vague, amorphous state of not knowing — can feel unbearable. What I was really angry about was that there was no one to blame for whatever was happening to our friendship. No one was at fault.”
Ultimately, she came to terms with the poignant yet bittersweet truth — that they clearly grew apart. “It means looking out at that horizon and recognizing the loss of a friendship without denying everything that was once beautiful about it,” she noted.
Fortesa Latifi’s Thought Catalog post, “8 Uncomfortable Signs You’re Growing Apart From Your Best Friend,” is most likely a relatable post for many (and was probably written with her fellow twenty-somethings in mind). She cites various reasons that coincide with the change, and the two reasons that personally stood out are: not enjoying your time together and not making an effort to truly be there for one another.
It’s not easy when people grow apart and friendships evolve; whether it’s intentional or gradual as life moves forward. However, understanding why it happens and why it encourages growth can help with processing and accepting the current state of the friendship.