When Friends Drift Apart

Drifting Away From a Friend

Not every friendship ends with drama and arguments. Some friends simply move farther and farther apart emotionally, until their relationship doesn’t resemble the early days of their friendship at all.

Just like in romantic partnerships, friends can find themselves drifting apart suddenly, without explanation or recourse. In some cases, two friends can come back together in time but in others, the drift pulls friends so far apart that their friendship is over.

Why Friends Drift

Not every friendship is meant to stay in our lives forever. In fact, most friendships end at some point, for a variety of reasons.  Friends may drift apart because their lives suddenly change (as in the case of a new job, marriage, or baby), or when they no longer share the same things in common.

Another reason friends drift is a lack of trust. When one friend behaves poorly, shows a lack of respect (talking over the other one, not listening, or being snarky), or gossips about the friend, trust diminishes to the point where the other friend feels guarded around them.

You can’t have a true friendship when one person is too afraid to express themselves or talk about their lives for fear that the information will be misused or worse. Trust eventually breaks down and one friend will pull away from the other.

In other cases, however, two friends will simply just grow apart. This is typical of friends who are close during pivotal times in life, like during school years or when you start a new job.

Then, as their lives change, so does their friendship.

When You Don’t Want the Friendship to Change

You might be the one wondering what happened in your friendship when you see a friend drifting away. You can try to see if you did anything wrong, but if a friend is already pulling away chances are they’ve either decided they aren’t going to make up with you or that they forgive you but still believe the friendship is over.

More than likely, you will have to accept that things are changing if your friend is in a different emotional place now. There’s no need to formally end a friendship that has drifted apart. In fact, it’s better to let it drift away because if you care about the person and want to be friends again, there is a chance that the friendship can drift back together again years down the road. It all depends on the people and life circumstances involved.

If you decide to formally end the friendship by telling a friend you don’t want to see them again, your friend probably won’t argue or try to end things on a kinder note. You’ll just be done with the friendship and it probably won’t come back together again.

Accepting a Friendship Drift

It’s hard to let go of any friendship, especially one that just sort of fizzles out at the end. But every friendship adds something to your life, so appreciate your friend for however long they were in your life and for whatever they taught you. Every friend teaches us a little bit about ourselves.

To accept that your friendship that has drifted apart, know that you can get closure all by yourself. You don’t need to “hash it out” with a friend in order to mentally say goodbye.

Allow yourself time to grieve, because there will be sad feelings that you’ll need to feel and work through, but don’t beat yourself up about the fact that the friendship is over. Be glad that it happened.