What to do when you and your bestie are drifting apart

Where would you be without your best friend? You tell them everything, you laugh together, you cry together. They’re your soulmate. Friendship is one of the best things we get to do as people, and close friendships shape our lives the way few other relationships can. So how do we handle it when we start to drift from someone who was once the person we told everything to?

Figure out what happened.

Sometimes you know why when you start to see someone less. Maybe you’re at different colleges, and, after the initial months of homesickness wear off, you venture out, make new friends, and FaceTime check-ins become less frequent. Or, you were single pals and now they’re dating someone. You have less time to sit around on Saturday nights together, watching highlights from The Nanny on YouTube. Whatever it may be, sometimes you know why a friendship ends, while other times you’re left out in the cold. You and your bestie drifted apart, and you’re not sure how to get back to where you once were — but figuring out what happened can be a good place to start.

Plan a friend date.

Plan a fun day with your friend, doing your favorite things. Did you originally bond over your love of the X-Files? Sign in to Netflix and set up a marathon, complete with black jello squares and some glow in the dark stars on your wall. Maybe you were big into musical theater together and spent hours putting on your own productions of Wicked — now is the perfect time to sit down and listen to the Hamilton soundtrack and see if you can master all of the different parts. Whatever you do, do something together. It’s easy to take friends for granted when life gets busy, but sometimes the best thing you can do is show that the friendship is still a priority for you.

Just go ahead and ask what’s going on.

One of the difficult things about a friendship fading is figuring out how to to talk it through. How do you say “What’s going on with us?” without showing that you feel like you’re being left behind?

Unfortunately, there isn’t really an easy way to do it, but that’s just a risk you have to take. Maybe your friend didn’t know you were feeling neglected, or maybe you didn’t realize what they needed from you. Relationships are all about communication, being afraid to lose someone has to trump being afraid of looking silly or being vulnerable. It’s not easy, for sure — but sometimes it’s just the thing you need to get back on track with your bestie.

Acknowledge your feelings, and realize it’s okay to be sad or confused.

This is the hard part. Sometimes friendships change and sometimes they end. You’ve tried the friend-date, you’ve asked the tough questions and, still, you and your pal are out of sync. It’s okay to be sad. It’s okay to wallow and miss all of the good times and wonder what happened. It’s also okay to be angry and jealous. You trusted your best friend with all of your secrets and it’s scary to think that someone is walking around with a vault of your secrets and you’re not sure how they feel about you anymore.

There’s no perfect way to handle losing anyone. You just have to get through it and try your best. There’s always going to be missteps, even Leslie Knope lost her cool with a former best friend at one point.

Remember the good things about your friend.

Your friend may have followed a different crowd, moved away,or gotten married. But they’re still the person you danced around with to the soundtrack from Wicked, cried to when you felt overwhelmed, laughed with until you couldn’t breathe and whose couch you fell asleep on during hour five of a Friends marathon.

It can feel good (fine, really, really good) to vent about a friend you’ve been hurt by. But, truth is, it doesn’t really do anything for you in the long run, and it doesn’t really make you feel better. What would make you feel better is to have your friend back. All the gossiping and venting in the world isn’t going to do it.

Try and remember the good things about your pal, and speak to those qualities when he or she is mentioned. It will help you move on and keep you open to meeting new people who will likely be impressed at how you gracefully you handled the situation.

Even if you and your friend break up, try to take the high road.

No matter what side you’re on, if you and your friend find your way back to one another later the biggest hurdle will be how you handled the break-up. Were you honest about your feelings? Did you keep all of their secrets in your vault? It’s pretty great when people drift apart and come back together later in life. You’re still the same people, but with new experiences and stories to share. Finding a way to have a grown-up relationship with a friend who knows the younger you can be a fun adventure.

Or maybe your friendship will stay where it was; in your past. But it will be an important part of your past, and as you move further away from it you’ll be able to remember all of the great moments you shared together without being hurt by them. You still have the friendship, even if at some point you lost the friend.

Katy Hartnett is a writer and producer. She left Comedy Central after five years to focus on her own pieces and wear pajamas while working. She’s a fan of puns and calling people ‘dreamboats.’ Follow her on Instagram and Twitter.

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