While some friendships really do last forever, a lot of them wax and wane and some even end completely. If one of yours is starting to unravel, you’ll likely notice a bunch of changes that hint at your
friend wanting more space. And it really can feel like the end of an era.
"Friends 'break up' for many reasons," certified counselor and relationship expert
Jonathan Bennett tells Bustle. It could be that one or both of you has outgrown the relationship, he says, or that you’re moving into different phases of life. When friends distance themselves from you, it can feel overt or very subtle. If you finish college, start a relationship, or change jobs, it makes sense that you might not relate as much anymore. It also could be that their priorities or values have changed.
Stress, health concerns, and family troubles can also put a damper on a friendship. Before assuming your
friendship is over, psychotherapist Kiara Luna, LMHC, suggests reaching out to see if your friend is doing OK. If they say everything’s fine, that’s when it might become clearer that their distance has more to do with your connection than anything else.
At that point, Bennett says, “the best course of action is to accept reality and attempt to meet people who [are a better fit for your life] and who will hopefully be more loyal." It really does
hurt to lose a friend but trusting that there are other people out there who will love and support you can make it easier.
Here, a few signs someone doesn't want to be your friend anymore, according to experts.
1 They Don't Seem As Interested In Your Life Anymore
It’s rare for people to come out and directly end a friendship. “Instead, you might notice a gradual slowing of attention,” Bennett says. They’ll stop asking about your life, they won’t call to catch up, and you’ll feel less and less connected as a result.
2 They Don’t Share What’s On Their Mind
A friend who’s drifting away won’t bother to ask about your life, and they won’t share much about theirs, either. Bennett says this might be a sign your bestie has found someone else to confide in. Or that they’re purposefully exiting your friendship by creating distance. The relationship will start to feel really neutral, like you no longer know each other very well.
3 They Text Less
Bennett says another red flag is a noticeable lack of texts, something that’ll be particularly obvious if your friend was once super chatty. They’ll send fewer messages, they’ll take forever to reply back, and they’ll put little to no effort into maintaining a conversation.
4 They're No Longer Opening Up To You
“While some breakups happen drastically, others happen slowly over time,”
Nicole Sbordone, LCSW, a licensed clinical social worker, tells Bustle. One clear sign of a slow fizzle? When a friend stops coming to you for advice. You’ll start to realize that they’re turning to someone else, leaning on someone else, and no longer seeking out your opinion. If you’re no longer the person they turn to for help, something might be up. 5 They Aren't Inviting You Out jeffbergen/E+/Getty Images
Don't panic if your friend occasionally heads out on the town and
doesn't invite you along. It might mean they assumed you wouldn't want to go or that they needed a night to themselves. If it keeps happening, though, consider it a sign they might be backing away. 6 They Post Photos With Their Other Friends
This in and of itself isn’t a
sign that your friendship is over, necessarily. “But if you notice that your friend (through social media or word of mouth) has started hanging out with new people and you’re never invited, it could mean they are moving on," Bennett says. Not everyone is great at combining their friend groups, but it really could point to the end of an era if your friend keeps leaving you out. 7 Their Excuses Sound Made-Up
An even bigger tell is your friend makes up weird excuses to get out of plans, because at that points it shows they’re no longer taking your feelings into consideration.
If you aren’t sure what’s going on, Towers suggests having that heart-to-heart. “You might want to tell the friend about your suspicions and ask if their feelings about the relationship are changing," she says. That way, you can get to the bottom of the issue and spare yourself needless drama.
8 They Express Doubts About Your Friendship
“Another sign is if your friend starts expressing doubts as to whether you guys should hang out or be friends,”
Alex Ly, AMFT, a registered associate marriage and family therapist, tells Bustle. It’ll be different for everyone, but keep an eye out for signs (words, gestures, etc.) that show they’re uncomfortable.
It’s possible their doubt stems from an unresolved conflict or unmet need, Ly says, so take the time to think back on your recent interactions. Did you guys argue? Did you let them down?
While you won’t want to blame yourself for their sour mood, it may help to consider what caused them to doubt your friendship. Once you address it, it may be possible to work together to undo the damage.
9 They Keep Canceling On You Westend61/Westend61/Getty Images
While everyone has those days where it’s tough to muster the strength to hang out, you’ll definitely want to raise an eyebrow if your friend
always bails on your plans. As psychologist Dr. Tiffany Towers, PsyD says, when a friend wants to drift away they often start by canceling plans and making less of an effort to hang out. They might answer texts or engage on social media, but you’ll notice that they’re no longer willing to put in the effort to meet up in person. 10 They Constantly Pick Fights
Think about what it feels like when you actually do hang out. “If everything feels negatively charged, they’re complaining, or they pick fights with you, then they might be trying to get you to feel fed up enough to break up the relationship first,” Towers says.
This happens in romantic relationships, too. When someone is too nervous or immature to do a true breakup, they often become really difficult to be around as a way to
get their partner to leave first. 11 They Seem Miserable Around You
It’s totally normal if your normally talkative friend is in a quiet mood, but consider it a red flag if they’ve taken to staring down at their phone every time you meet up.
"When your friend seems miserable being with you, when they’re not making eye contact or being tense and using
closed off in body posture — but you see this same friend smiling and looking relaxed when interacting with others — then there is something brewing." Towers says. "A true friendship should not feel like a hostage situation, so if one or both of you resents spending time together, then a break up is likely." 12 They Don’t Give An Explanation FreshSplash/E+/Getty Images
If your friend needs space because they’re going through a tough time, “they will likely use healthy communication and explain the ‘why’ behind the changes you are seeing,”
Paige Harnish, LISW, CMHIMP, a therapist, tells Bustle. Even if they fall off the face of the earth, they’ll be happy to explain why once you reach out.
On the other hand, “a friend who is trying to break up with you will likely display defense mechanisms in place of healthier forms of communication, such as defending or rationalizing their behavior or projecting things onto you that, in reality, are not your fault,” Harnish says. The stark contrast can tell you a lot.
13 The Relationship Is One-Sided
You get them a gift but they totally forget your birthday. You’re down to listen to their problems for two hours but they never return the favor. As licensed clinical psychologist
Dr. Holly Schiff, PsyD, tells Bustle, “A healthy friendship is a two-way street.” If things feel unbalanced and unfair a dramatic way, it may be because your friend is no longer invested in your connection. 14 They Block You On Social Media
This one’s pretty extreme, but some folks might go so far as to throw up a block on social media. If they do, take that as a clear that they no longer want to be connected to you, Schiff says. And that they’re no longer interested in seeing your posts or following your life, either.
15 They Straight-Up Avoid You
Of course the clearest sign of them all is if your friend straight up ignores you. Again, “It may be that they want to 'break up' with you but don’t know how to say it and don’t want to have an awkward conversation or fight with you,” Towers says. “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."
If any of the above sounds familiar, try to remember that many
friendships come to an end. If you and your friend no longer see eye-to-eye, have entered different phases of life, or no longer enjoy hanging out, it's more than OK to wish each other well and move on. Losing a friend is incredibly tough, but once you surround yourself with people who appreciate your friendship, you’ll realize it was for the best. Sources: Jonathan Bennett, certified counselor and relationship expert Kiara Luna, LMHC, psychotherapist Nicole Sbordone, LCSW, licensed clinical social worker Dr. Tiffany Towers, clinical psychologist Alex Ly, AMFT, registered associate marriage and family therapist Paige Harnish, LISW, CMHIMP, therapist Dr. Holly Schiff, licensed clinical psychologist