How to Handle Growing Apart from Friends

By Giovanna Brasolin

As humans, we crave long-lasting connections and thrive in healthy relationships. However, maintaining those relationships is a struggle because they go two ways, requiring both parties to make sacrifices. It also means that there’s no such thing as loving more or less. In a true friendship, both people give and take similar amounts of love, support, and respect. What makes it hard is that relationships, in general, need to be worked on every day.

Distance, priority changes and dreams can either hinder or strengthen friendships. However, that’s not always the case. Throughout our lives, we find and lose ourselves many times and when we aren’t feeling good about ourselves, we attract what we think we deserve or what we’re familiar with, even if it’s subconsciously. I’ve had several bad experiences with friendships that I thought were fine at first, but ended up being very toxic. From codependency, gaslighting, possessiveness, jealousy to interest-based relationships, you name it, I’ve had them all. 

What I didn’t understand back then was that being too nice to people and giving too much in friendships wasn’t healthy. Since I was emotionally needy and had high expectations, every disappointment made me close myself up more. In the end, I realized that I had a lot of one-sided friendships, if that’s even a thing. The problem is that we usually don’t see how toxic a relationship is until it’s too late and the harm has been done.

What if the friendship is healthy and there’s still something off? Well, it’s normal. With the number of changes we undergo, growing out of friendships is only natural. Sometimes being friends with some people doesn’t make sense anymore. I’ve learned the hard way that forcing friendships for the sake of the memories you share with them doesn’t do you any good. It could even lead to awkward silences in which neither party knows what to say. 

Even though cutting ties might be as hurtful as a breakup, it’s nothing to feel guilty about. We all lose contact with some friends from middle school, high school and even college. So if it doesn’t make sense anymore, let it go and make room for new bonds to come in. We shouldn’t allow anyone to hold us back or make us doubt ourselves. We deserve all the love, support, respect, and companionship out there. Instead of only doing things for others, we should put ourselves first, and if ending a friendship will help with that, then so be it. Sometimes that’s an act of self-care despite the hurt. 

Most of my “friend breakups” weren’t clean at all. As I’m never in a single place for more than a few months, some people just stopped talking to me and the friendship ended there. Others would say that they missed me and we should hang out but never made concrete plans. The worst kind, though, is the “yelling and crying” end to things because it doesn’t do any of the people involved any good. It’s just more hurtful. 

So what’s a good way to end a friendship? First, you should remind yourself that this person was important to you once, so being kind and honest when saying why you don’t want to be friends anymore is a start. Second, tell your friend how grateful you are for the memories you share. Third, let yourself feel all of the emotions and cry if you want to. From experience, I can say that letting things out is healthier than bottling things up. Lastly, hugging it out and wishing them the best could serve as a great farewell. As long as both people have spoken their minds and are on the same page, that’s what matters. 

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