As an adult, it feels that friendships ebb and flow more often than they did when we were kids. There are more obstacles to adult friendships; we’re working, we have families, and sometimes we end up moving and not living in the same place anymore. It can be hard to work through those situations when the friendship just isn’t gelling the way it used to. Even though it’s hard to acknowledge, this can even happen with the best of friends.
But there are times when that shift in your friendship is actually you and your friend are growing apart, which can bring about a bag of mixed feelings. Sometimes that growing apart is necessary to grow as a person or to open the door for friendships that better suit who you’ve become. It’s not always something we’re conscious of, but then when it happens, we can either choose to fix it, or continue to let it go.
My best friend and I have always had different personalities. We love each other, but our different (and very strong) personalities have made our relationship difficult over the years. It has been especially evident to me in the last year and a half. The differences in our lives have only been compounded by the fact that we no longer live in the same city.
At first, we still talked every day just like we’d been doing for forever. It was nice to maintain that normalcy as the rest of my life was in total upheaval while we adjusted to our new surroundings. I had a few friends in my new city already, but you know how it is with adults; it takes us forever to get our schedules to sync up. During that solitary time, I leaned on my bestie for things like gossip and her generally awesome conversations. It helped distract me from the shitty parts of my life.
In the past few months, though, I’ve begun to notice seismic shifts in our friendship. Our conversations have gotten shorter and we can go a week without talking and I don’t even notice. And when we do talk, it seems that much of the conversation revolves her and what’s going on in her life. She’ll text me just to bitch about something that’s going wrong in her life and then as soon as I listen and try to boost her up, the conversation falls flat.
Occasionally, she’ll ask how I am or what I’ve been up to, but never really probes to really know what’s happening in my world. I try to be a positive person in her life, I’ll interact with her social media posts, or encourage her, and a lot of the time I feel that it’s not reciprocated. Since it’s social media, I try not to put much stock in it because it’s kind of ridiculous, but I would be lying if I said that I wasn’t even a little bothered by it. Yet if I said anything, it would make me look like such a brat.
Even though we’re growing apart, I still love my friend. We’ve been through a lot together, from boyfriends to marriage to babies. She knows many of my deepest secrets. We have cheered each other on so many times. No matter what happens, I know we will always be friends.
That’s why I think I’m okay with this growth. Right now we need different things in our lives when it comes to friendship. Acknowledging that I may be outgrowing our relationship as it was, and being unsure of how to bring it into this new phase of my life, is normal. Neither of us is a bad friend, we just aren’t the kind of friend that each other needs right now. As time passes, our relationship will likely shift again, and maybe it will bring us closer.
Sometimes it feels that when it comes to friendships, especially with someone who is your best friend, that it’s an all-or-nothing kind of situation. As in, if someone is your best friend, unless they do something absolutely unforgivable, you’re supposed to be super close for the rest of your lives. There is very little nuance to the fact that life is constantly evolving, and with that, we aren’t usually staying the same as people.
As you grow into adulthood, people will come in and out of your life. Some of them aren’t meant to stay forever, but to teach you an important lesson either about the world or yourself. And those who do stick around for a long time aren’t always going to be the ones right by your side. Because as you evolve, your needs change.
Sometimes you need a friend who is at the same place you are in life, either romantically or professionally or geographically. Sometimes the person you’ve always relied on to be your “person” isn’t the person you once thought they were. And realizing that they aren’t what you need in this moment is startling.
But it’s also the opportunity to take stock in what’s important to you in the moment. Growing up and growing apart from your best friend isn’t selfish or mean spirited. Chances are, it’s not even intentional. We need to cut ourselves some slack sometimes.
Growth is a good thing. And the friends who are truly forever will understand that and be there to grow with you, together or apart.