We often view friendships as bonds that'll last a lifetime. But unfortunately, that doesn't always end up being the case. If the relationship has run its course, or something's come between you and your bestie, you may start to notice signs that your friend is pulling away — or possibly even trying to "break up" with you.
"Friends 'break up' for many reasons," Jonathan Bennett, certified counselor and co-founder of Double Trust Dating and Relationships, tells Bustle. "It could be that one or both of you has outgrown the relationship. In many cases, friendships end because of new romantic relationships or other life events, like having children or getting a new job." So really, the process of a friendship running its course — and eventually ending — is completely natural.
That's not to say, however, that you shouldn't make an effort to rekindle a waning friendship, and draw yourselves back together. "In general, I’d recommend doing your best to save valued friendships that might be in danger of ending," Bennett says. "You can do this by giving more time and attention to your friend and through communication. However, in many cases, your friend will have simply moved on. At that point, the best course of action is to accept reality and attempt to meet people who embrace your current values and who hopefully will be more loyal." Here are a few signs from the experts that it may be time to do just that.
1They Don't Seem As Interested In Your Life Anymore
If you and your friend used to text 24/7 and excitedly share the details of your lives, then it may not be a good sign if they're dropping the ball now, when it comes to giving you attention.
"If someone isn’t interested in being your friend anymore, [they] might not have the courage to come out and tell you directly," Bennett says. "Instead, you might notice a gradual slowing of attention. This means fewer texts, slow replies, and little effort to hang out."
Of course, they could just be busy, or you might be naturally drifting into a new stage of your friendship, like the kind where you catch up a few times a year, instead of every single day. The only way to know which one it might be is to be straight up about your concerns, and ask.
2They Aren't Inviting You Out
Don't panic if your friend occasionally heads out on the town, and doesn't invite you along — it could be they forgot to add your name to the group text, or maybe they assumed you wouldn't want to go. More often than not, it's NBD.
Do take note, however, if you seem to be excluded more often than not, as it may be a sign your friend is backing away. "If you notice that your friend is hanging out with new people (through social media or word of mouth) and you’re never invited, it’s a sign that [they are] moving on from your friendship," Bennett says.
To figure out what's up, you might want to invite their new friend group out, and see what transpires. Do they show? And if so, are you invited along the next time they all get together? If not, it may be time to move on, and find better friends.
3They're No Longer Opening Up To You
If your friend is planning on hitting the old dusty trail, it makes sense why they might be less inclined to reveal their deepest, darkest secrets — since these things are usually reserved for the tightest of pals.
That's why, "if you and your friend used to have honest, meaningful conversations about your lives and that lessens or stops, it could be a sign of trouble," Bennett says. "It probably means that your friend has found someone else to confide in or no longer values your friendship as highly."
But hey, it's also possible they've run out of secrets to tells, so don't jump to conclusions.
4They Keep Making Excuses When You Ask To Hang Out
Sure, your friend may be going through a tough time, they may be tired, or they may simply be stressed out from work, so don't hold it against them if they need to bail on a hangout, or seem a little less available for a while.
It's only when you can't seem to ever nail them down, or they seem to be tossing ridiculous excuses your way, that you might want to raise an eyebrow. "If a friend is still taking your calls and answering texts, but is always coming up with excuses for why you can't get together," they may not want to make the effort anymore, Dr. Tiffany Towers, Beverly Hills-based psychologist, tells Bustle.
Of course, this isn't the best way to handle the situation, on their part. So you might want to speak up. "If it starts to feel like the excuses are lame or not true, then you might want to tell the friend about your suspicions and ask if the friend's feelings about the relationship are changing," Dr. Towers says. That way, you can get to the bottom of the issue, and save yourself from all that wondering.
5They're Constantly Arguing & Complaining
Has your best turned herself into someone who's impossible to be around? "If your friend does agree to get together with you, but the time together feels very negatively charged, full of complaining and picking fights with you, then [they] might be trying to get you to [feel] fed up and break up the relationship first," Dr. Towers says.
Either that, "or there might be a lot of underlying anger towards you, motivating the desire to break up, and the friend doesn't feel ready to have that final 'blow out argument' that ends the friendship," she says. When that's the case, calling them out may just save the relationship. What are they mad about? What can you do to smooth things over? You won't be able to fix the issue, unless you ask.
6.They Seem Quiet Whenever You Hang Out
OK, so everyone's entitled to the occasional bad mood. But if you notice a trend where your friend won't talk when you're out for brunch, or you visit and she goes about her day like you aren't there, it may be a sign.
"When your friend seems miserable being with you, not making eye contact or being tense and closed off in body posture, but you see this same friend smiling and looking relaxed when interacting with others, then there is something brewing in the relationship," Dr. Towers says. "A true friendship should not feel like a hostage situation, so if one or both of you is resenting spending time together, then a break up is likely."
7They're Straight Up Avoiding You
On the not-so-subtle side, if it seems like your friend is straight up avoiding you, that may be the final sign you need to confirm your suspicions. "If a friend is not answering your calls or texts and seems to 'never be around,' it could be that there is a lot going on in this friend's life, or it could be that [they're] trying to create distance in the relationship," Dr. Towers says. "It may be that this friend wants to 'break up' with you, but doesn't know how to say it and doesn't want to have an awkward conversation or fight with you. As in any relationship, endings can be emotional and difficult, so some people opt to ghost the other person, sending the message in a passive way."
The thing to keep in mind, if any of the above sounds familiar, is that friendships do come to an end. We often think of them as lifelong, but that isn't always the case. If you and your friend no longer see eye-to-eye, are entering different stages of life, or the friendship has simply run its course, it's more than OK to let that happen, and move onto new people, who will appreciate having you in their lives.