two female friends looking bored and unhappy

14 Signs You’re Outgrowing a Friendship

And healthy ways to deal with it

Friends and relationshipsMental health and wellbeing
By VoiceBox ·

Tracy Gorman

I'm Tracy Gorman, a 20-year-old Marketing student. I am a versatile writer, bookworm, artist, enthusiast in music and films, and a full-time cat mom.

Signs That Indicate You’re Outgrowing a Friendship and Healthy Ways to Deal With It

In our childhood, as we navigate our lives, we stumble upon people, some we adore, some we don't. And in our lives we have likely found people we labelled as our BFFs, our best friends without expiration dates, companions for thick and thin, our confidantes no matter what, our sisters and brothers till the end of time. 

While being best friends forever with someone who brings out the best in you and with whom you connect profoundly is an amazing experience, the reality is that there will likely come a time in your life when that bond between you will fade.

Outgrowing friends is a natural occurrence of life, and we have to embrace it openly. It is not cruel; it does not mean there's something wrong with you or the other person, and it does not mean you are less of a genuine person if you're faced with it. It's just that we're constantly changing, and so are others. Our interests and circumstances all alter over time, ultimately influencing who we want to spend our time with, who we share our wins and losses with, and the amount of effort we're willing to pour onto someone.

Well, if you're in this messy, heartbreaking, yet hopeful circumstance, I have some advice to help you navigate it. Below are the signs that you're outgrowing your friendship with someone and ways you can healthily cope with it. 

Signs You're Outgrowing a Friendship

1. You've been feeling unseen, unheard, and misunderstood for who you are now

One of the typical signs of an outgrown friendship is when you feel like your friend doesn’t understand you anymore. It is when you have done a lot of growing and changing in recent years, yet your friend still perceives the old version of you that you no longer regard. They might often remind you of what you used to be like, your interests, or what you used to do but haven't done in years. More so, they might make assumptions about you that are untrue. 

2. In that friendship, it feels as if you're walking on eggshells. 

You are very careful about what you say or do to protect their feelings or avoid moments of insecurity or jealousy. You feel as though you cannot share some of what is going on in your life. There may be instances when you accidentally offend them or make them feel bad about themselves or their lives when you shared things with them in the past. For this reason, you may feel like all your conversations are superficial or about them, which creates an unhealthy imbalance in the friendship. 

3. You have nothing in common anymore

You may outgrow a bond where the two of you have nothing in common anymore. This is likely to happen if you were once best friends, yet pursued different education or career paths, or entered other interests, and found it challenging to maintain an easy flow of conversation. Here you may feel discussions that seem stilted, jumping from one topic to another or arriving on a few limited zones of shared interest. It leads to confusion and distressing moments of hanging out; you realize that there isn't much of a thread that saves the connection anymore. 

4. Time spent together is depleting instead of uplifting and invigorating

Some friendships become depleting as time goes by. Depleting friendships cause a sinking feeling in your stomach when you make plans to meet up. Also, when the two of you are together, the conversation is maybe all about them or subjects you couldn't care less about discussing. You may be expected to handle a lot of their emotional baggage. You may feel like you are always required to be a supportive friend as they constantly complain about their spouse or job. This is not to say that you shouldn’t be supportive of a friend who is going through a rough time in their life, but it can become exhausting when being negative becomes a constant for them. After hanging out with your friend, you may feel fatigued and wrung out. You may occasionally feel frustrated or angry, yet you avoid potential conflicts. Lastly, you may vent about the companionship to others, as they take far more from you than what they give you. 

5. You or the other person/s cease to put effort into the friendship

In some cases, bonds outgrow when one stops exerting effort to maintain the relationship. In these friendships, you may be faced with making all the plans and following up to ensure the plans happen. You may also feel like you’re always the one having to make accommodations like traveling closer to them or going only to their favorite restaurants. You may check in after significant life events, yet they don’t reciprocate that care. In this type of friendship, the other person will not, or cannot, comply when you've asked for more consideration. 

Other significant signs you’re outgrowing a friendship: 

  • Conversations with friends are surface level 
  • Unresolved issues keep occurring
  • You do not enjoy or feel happy when you see them 
  • You cannot be your authentic self when you're around them 
  • Your friend's life involves constant drama and crisis 
  • You find yourself complaining more about them 
  • You do not feel their support
  • You don't care to connect
  • You crave new friendships

Healthy Ways to Deal With Outgrowing a Friendship

   

If the above signs remind you of one of your friendships, it is still possible to rekindle the bond you've outgrown. It is possible to make the friendship last and be better than ever if both people are willing to put in the necessary time and effort. However, if this is not the case, you're left to close the chapter for good. These are the healthy ways you can deal with it: 

1. Let the friendship fade out instead of ending it all of a sudden 

There is a huge difference between ending a friendship and simply allowing it to fade. You may want to cease a friendship if you're dealing with an act of betrayal, but if it is a relationship that has simply run its course, then let it die a natural death. Do not just stop calling and emailing cold turkey. Slowly let the contact diminish over time. For instance, if you two talk three times every two weeks, bring it down to only once bi-weekly.

2. Tell your friend how you feel

If you are stable in your decision to break up with your friend, you are free to let them know officially. Do not be selfish, and genuinely speak about what made you arrive at your decision. It will serve you both peace of mind and closure to move forward. Once you have made the break, behave accordingly, do not gossip about your ex-soul-sister; do not destroy or disrespect the genuine bond you've shared. 

3. Validate your pain 

Outgrowing friendships involves grief, and it is completely normal. The pain from a break-up of a deep friendship is real, like any other type of relationship. You and your outgrown friend/s have a lot of genuinely shared memories, and you have helped each other grow, and now it's gone. Do not tell yourself that what you're going through is nothing. Check in with your emotional health. Work proactively towards betterment in processing your grief, loss, and sadness. Seek help if you think what you're going through is too much for you to handle. It is never a cowardly thing to ask for help. 

4. Take care of yourself

Though soaking in on your feelings all day in bed is valid, make sure you still go out and take steps toward self-care. Do not abandon your hygiene, rituals, and regular activities, even if they are the last thing you want to do. Going through your regular routine will help you heal from the pain of an outgrown bond. It makes you feel better and more hopeful for brighter days. 

5. Do not ruminate 

Do not spend time going over old thoughts to the point where they damage your present happiness. Do not scroll through old texts, pictures, and videos all day that you know will bring you sadness. Delete them if you catch yourself doing that; it will help you move forward. However, erasing the bond you had shared with your friend in your memory is not what you should strive for. Process all your emotions, and do not pretend that the relationship never happened. 

6. Talk to someone

Reach out for support about your situation if you are having a tough time; it will make you realize you have other good friends. It does not matter the distance of the person you are talking to; speaking about your situation might make you feel better. Some people are willing to listen, lean on them. 

7. Read about others going through what you're going through

Sometimes we all need another perspective on things we're faced with. There are plenty of other people who have outgrown friendships in their lives. Here is one example

8. Invest in your other friendships, and make an effort to build new ones

Outgrowing friends does not mean you're incapable of building friendships or are more stagnant in maintaining your other relationships. We all must appreciate what friendships are worth preserving and fighting for. Making friends from scratch may seem intimidating, but we all can use a friend. Make efforts, prepare for it, be willing, be serious about it. Remembering those things will help you create another wonderful bond with someone.

-

“It will all get better” - a statement so true and hopeful, a five-word phrase that sometimes is all we need to hear in moments like this. Outgrowing friendships does not mean losing yourself in the process. Pour all the love, care, time, and attention you are capable of giving onto yourself and to all things that bring growth to you.

Like what you've read? Consider sharing my words with others as well. You never know who else they could help.

 

Suggested Articles

  • rainbow flags
    "The Closet" is Going Out of Style

    "The Closet" is Going Out of Style

    A member of the LGBTQ+ community shares why she feels coming out doesn't always have to be a huge deal

  • A person holding a phone with an online dating profile appearing on the screen
    Swiping Left and Right on Dating Apps

    Swiping Left and Right on Dating Apps

    Some Tips From a Young Person to Help You Navigate the Online Dating World

  • A young man playing a game on his pc
    How Valorant Rekindled Old Friendships

    How Valorant Rekindled Old Friendships

    How a video game brought a group of high school friends back together