When someone is our best friend, we usually assume that they always will be. I mean, how could things ever change? Our best friend is our shoulder to cry on after a rough day, the first person we call when we land a coveted job, someone we share our best and worst life experiences with. Sure, everyone in the world knows that "people change," but we usually figure that our best friendship won't — that our friendship can survive anything because our bond is impossible to break. And, of course, plenty of friendships do survive massive changes that inevitably turn up throughout our lives— like one friend choosing to settle down and start a family while the other pursues a different path. Friendships can survive distance, life changes, and tough arguments. Stuff like that is no problem if, for example, we still love to do the same things, have the same sense of humor and value time spent together.
But, sometimes, we come to the painful realization that we've grown apart from a best friend. Neither of you have come to dislike the other, or done anything "wrong" — you just don't click the way you used to. One or both of you have changed, and you've evolved in ways that have left the two of you incompatible as best friends. It's certainly not an easy realization, but we owe it to ourselves and each other to respectfully acknowledge when a friendship has run its course. It doesn't mean we no longer love or care about each other, but it's an indication that we shouldn't force a close relationship that's just not working the way that it used to — because doing so will ultimately frustrate us and tarnish our happy memories together.
Wondering if this is happening in your own life? Here are seven way to know when you and your best friend have grown apart:
1. You Have Constant Misunderstandings
Remember when you and your BFF used to basically have your own language, filled with countless inside jokes? Your conversations often made zero sense to anyone else, because you two were on a wavelength of your very own.
Now, not only has that aspect of your friendship faded away, but you constantly find yourself having misunderstandings with your best friend that range from minor to major. Although occasional conflict is unavoidable in any friendship, you find yourself frustrated by unnecessary arguments that stem from the fact that you just don't really "get" each other the way you used to. There may be hurt feelings on both sides of the friendship because you keep misconstruing each other's actions and words — simply because you're not in tune with each other any longer.
2. You Go Weeks Without Talking — And It Doesn't Bother You
When we're young or in school, lots of best friends see each other all the time and basically assume that they'll hang out every weekend. As life develops, and best friends move or have to shoulder more life responsibilities, they often can't hang out as often as they used to — but they still make staying in touch a priority, religiously scheduling FaceTime dates, calling each other often, and always knowing what's going on in each other's lives.
However, if there's a significant change in the frequency of your contact with your BFF and you don't notice it immediately, it's a sign that you and your friend are growing apart — especially if you don't really feel upset when you realize you haven't spoken for weeks.
3. Neither Of You Seems To Prioritize The Friendship
Your friend isn't making an effort to reach out and make plans, but you can't really blame them — because you're not reaching out to them, either. You feel like you should reach out, but then you make excuses not to. And, deep down, you know it's because your time together isn't enjoyable like it used to be and you'd prefer to do other things with your time. This doesn't make you a bad person — but it may well mean that you and your best friend are growing apart.
4. You Have Nothing In Common Anymore
Plenty of friends have different interests and priorities — but I'm talking about when you have literally nothing in common to discuss and there seem to be no activities that you can enjoy together anymore. Your paths, priorities, and interests have diverged so wildly that you can't find any common ground. It feels impossible to plan a fun day or weekend because you don't have any overlapping hobbies, and you can't even have a lively debate about current events because you don't care about the same things.
When you're in such different places in your lives that neither of you really understands what the other is going through, and you consistently find yourself at a loss over what to say to your friend, it's a very strong sign that you're growing apart.
5. When Something Major Happens, You Don't Think To Call Them
Your best friend used to be the first person you called after a miserable day or when something positive happened — a job promotion, a promising first date, or a cool new apartment. But now, it doesn't really occur to you to reach out right away when you have any sort of news — good or bad. Other friends or family members have become your "go to" people.
6. You Don't Feel Comfortable With Them Anymore
You used to have no filter around your best friend and there was no such thing as an awkward silence, because you were so comfortable with one another, you never felt like every moment had to be filled with conversation. You may or may not be able to put your finger on exactly when or why it happened, but now, you just don't feel comfortable with your best friend the way you used to.
When you do hang out, you find yourself nervous about what to say and worry about being judged, as though you're hanging out with a stranger, rather than someone who was once your closest confidante. You find yourself making pointless small talk because the silence is awkward and you can't seem to find anything meaningful to discuss. You may start to feel anxious before you see them, because it has become so uncomfortable and awkward. If this is happening, it's a very strong sign that you should take a step back and think about how your friendship is functioning.
7. When You Do Make An Effort, It's Just Because You Feel Nostalgic
There's no sugarcoating it — acknowledging that you and your best friend have grown apart can be really painful and upsetting. Sometimes, we delay dealing with the inevitable, just because we have so many memories of the wonderful experiences we shared and the times our besties were our lifeline during a rough patch. Even if we've realized that we're no longer compatible as BFFs, sometimes we'll hold onto the friendship because we feel nostalgic. Unfortunately, I've learned the hard way that nostalgia and fond memories aren't enough to hold a friendship together. (I know this sounds super obvious — but it's hard to accept when it's happening to you.)
When you reach out to your friend, be honest with yourself about why you're doing it. Are you genuinely excited to see them and catch up, or are you just desperately hoping that things will suddenly go back to the way they were before? If it's the latter, you're doing a disservice to both yourself and your friend — and continuing to hang out may even end up tarnishing your fond memories of your friendship in better days.
Unless one of you has done something unforgivable, there's no need to burn a bridge and dramatically announce that the friendship is over. When friends grow apart, you usually both feel it and it's OK to acknowledge that. But they'll always hold a special place in your heart, and you don't need to cut ties completely. Stay cordial and respectful, and try to focus on the positive — that you had a great friendship for many years that brought you mutual joy and support. Not every friendship is meant to last forever and you'll always care about the person — even if they're not destined to be your lifelong BFF.