10 signs you and your best friend are drifting apart, and how to manage it
No one likes to face the moment in life when a close friendship dissolves, but it’s definitely something that you can’t ignore. In most cases, you can easily see the signs that you and your bestie have grown apart even if you don’t want to believe that a breakup with your best friend is already in progress.
When best friends begin drifting away from one another, it’s typically a situation where one or both of you can sense the inevitable vanishing act coming before it actually happens. You just don’t *click* like you used to, and you intuitively understand that a huge-yet-necessary social shift is on the horizon. “Best friends grow apart for the following reasons. They [might] move far away, get into a relationship and spend more time with partner, have kids and doesn’t feel the other [person] relates, or start to gravitate toward [other] people who are aligned with her career goals,” clinical psychologist, Dr. Kim Chronister tells HelloGiggles. “Overall, it’s mostly about different values and priorities changing. It is very normal to have different best friends throughout your lifetime.”
Experiencing a subtle parting of the ways with your BFF is just one of uncomfortable adulting moments that many of us face with reluctance, but still manage to survive.
Here are signs that can clue us in on how much we’ve drifted apart from our BFFs.
1The time between returned phone calls/text messages has widened.
You saw the read receipts, and your BFF has been Snapchatting nonstop so you know she got your messages (thanks technology), but it’s been weeks, and she hasn’t bothered to respond to your text with so much as an emoji. While you may wish she’d be upfront, Dr. Chronister says it’s extremely challenging for people to do this. “For many people, it is difficult for them to be direct. Although a therapist might recommend honesty, it is challenging for someone to say ‘I’m sick of you complaining about your boyfriend’ or ‘I feel like you talk a lot and don’t listen to me.’”
2It feels incredibly awkward when you hang out.
There’s an unspoken weirdness between you two that no one wants to address. As much as you try to ignore it and act like everything is normal, the discomfort lingers in the air as a clear sign that the best days you and your best friend enjoyed together are officially behind you. “It’s awkward because best friends are keenly aware of how they used to behave with one another. When they begin to drift apart they are less in sync with one another in every way and it’s obvious,” says Dr. Chronister.
But how exactly can you tell the difference between temporary awkwardness and an indication that your friendship is ending? “A normal awkward example would be a friend forgetting it’s your birthday,” says Dr. Chronister. “An awkward situation in which it may be a sign you’re drifting apart would be a friend dodging you after you lost a loved one or had a bad breakup.”
3You’re *so* behind on what’s happening with one another.
You’re clueless about the wedding details, and she has no idea how your new job is going. The fact that both of you are so out of the loop with what’s going on in your respective lives feels strange because this is not how best friends do.
Dr. Chronister suggests being direct if this is something that bothers you. “Warmly communicate how you think you could be even closer. Slowly reintegrate to become in sync [with them] and be patient if they take longer to respond,” she says. Keep in mind that things might not go the way you want. And while it will be tough to go through something like that, it’s good to know that you tried your best to make the friendship work.
4You just don’t *get* one another anymore.
When you come face to face, have a brief convo, or stalk her on Facebook, all you see is an impostor pretending to be this person who is formerly known as your BFF. It’s like the individual who has known you for years is a virtual stranger. Whatever you’re into, she just can’t understand, and neither of you make the effort to enlighten one another. Unlike two peas in a pod, you couldn’t be further apart than if you never spoke again.
But sometimes people just grow apart, and while you can try to figure out the reason why, it might be best to be grateful for the friendship and move on. “People can grow in beautiful ways and if that’s the reason you grew apart, focus on the gratitude of experiencing that person,” says Dr. Chronister. “Close your eyes [and] wish them well in your mind. Receive them warmly if they reach out and be honest if you miss them without being demanding of their time.”
Which brings us to…
5You haven’t seen your bestie in a while, but you don’t feel compelled to reach out.
Once upon a time, you couldn’t bear the thought of never seeing or hearing from your BFF again. But since there seems to be a total disconnect between the two of you, that feels like a real possibility that you could be totally fine with.
“Closure is only necessary for the individual. Ask yourself what do you need to do to clean up your side of the street if it ended badly,” says Dr. Chronister. “[But] if it ended gradually, closure is a personal journey you can do alone, with a life coach or a therapist.” At the end of the day, you don’t have to feel guilty for the friendship ending, especially if it ended on good terms. Be grateful for the friendship, and only circle back if it feels right for you to do so.
6You have misunderstandings that go unresolved.
During your closest days, you didn’t allow disagreements to linger for too long before one of you called to hash things out, apologize and move on. But the fallout from that minor tiff you had seems to be going on longer than necessary, maybe because it’s less about the argument and more about the fact that you two just aren’t as close as you used to be.
But why does this happen in the first place? Well, according to Dr. Chronister, some friends might poorly communicate their needs indirectly and aggressively. “They are creating a boundary by letting the tiff go on which means they don’t have to directly break up the friendship,” she says.
7Hanging out feels more like work than fun.
Friendship takes work, but ugh, when you hang out, there’s just way too much heavy lifting involved. From uncomfortably fishing around for stuff to talk about to not agreeing on places to meet, the entire relationship feels like one extended ride on the struggle bus.
“When you’re with a friend, gauge how you feel mood-wise and how you feel about yourself when you’re with them. A good friend would receive hearing your needs, make you feel supported, and make you feel calm and/or happy most of the time,” says Dr. Chronister. If none of the above applies, then it might be time to let this friendship go. While you may try to make the most out of it, forcing the friendship simply might not work in your (or your friend’s) favor.
8You no longer acknowledge special occasions.
Yesterday was your best friend’s birthday (or was it the day before?), but you didn’t even send a text nor did you receive an angsty message from her for forgetting. You used to have a standing gossip appointment for Fridays after work, but it’s been several months since you got the workplace tea, or any juicy info about her life for that matter.
9You feel excluded from her new friend group.
Those cheesy inside jokes they share make you cringe with discomfort because for once, you’re not in on them. The stories they laugh at and the subtle references everyone else gets go completely over your head. It’s like they know her better than you, and what’s worse, your former BFF has no interest in keeping you in the loop.
If you believe this is happening to you and your best friend, it might be a good idea to kindly address your concerns. “It’s normal to feel neglected, [but] don’t be overly reactive. State your feelings face-to-face in a non-confrontational way,” says Dr. Chronister. While you don’t want to attack them for making you feel left out, you can discuss how you feel with them to figure out if something else is going on with your friendship that you might not be aware of.
10Someone else has taken your bestie’s place.
Not that there was an official ceremony announcing your BFF’s replacement, but both of you know in your hearts that “best friend” is now a title with an expiration date, which happened as soon as you began sharing your deepest, darkest secrets and everyday happenings with someone new.
And this is completely okay. Friendships will come and go as time goes on. And while you may want to hold onto everyone you meet, Dr. Chronister suggests it’s best to grieve the friendship to help you heal. “Grieve them and wish them well for your own peace. If you’re still seeing them but not [as] best friends, be kind and gracious [to them.] But if you’re too hurt by the change in the dynamic, be honest and give yourself space [to heal],” she says.