In this life, we encounter people we like and people we don’t like. Some have a way of seeing the world just as we do. While others have perspectives that clash entirely with our own. When we meet those we connect with somewhere along the personal plane, we usually find that friendships form. Many of these friendships bring long-lasting value and joy to our lives, but others change and fade with the passing of the years. Embracing this change is crucial, outrunning it futile.
Have your friendships started to fade or shift in ways that are painful or confusing? Is a friend you once loved becoming a stranger you don’t even know? While these events can be worrying, they’re a natural part of the journey too. Life is forever in a state of change. Everything around us is in a perpetual state of becoming something new and different than it was before. This includes our friendships. If they’ve started to change, embrace the process and the honest understanding it takes to find your peace.
Some friends are temporary (and that’s okay).
We place a lot of weight on our friendships, and that’s understandable. Our friendships are important and they can even substitute for corrupted or toxic family relationships. Not every friendship is meant to last forever, though, and that’s okay. Even the people who only come into our lives for a short time have lessons to teach us. Rather than trying to hold on to every friendship that we establish, we have to learn how to let go with grace and appreciate the temporary nature of these relationships.
Don’t expect every friendship that you build to last the length of your life.People grow up and they change the things they want from their futures. It’s okay to change, and it’s okay to change the types of people we want in our lives and our social circles.
Stop clinging to a friendship that’s already fading. Get clear on your own feelings and then embrace reality for what it is. You can let go with grace or you can make things even harder than they already are. Let your friends go in the ways they need to go and allow yourself to do the same. It is possible to let go with dignity and it is possible to go your separate directions without a major blow up or dramatic incidents. Some friends are temporary. Embrace that, accept it, and admit that you’re outgrowing the friend you love.
Common signs you’re outgrowing your friendship.
Have you outgrown your friendship? Are you and the person you once considered closest now looking at one another like utter strangers? We change as life tests us, and our friends change too. When we become different people, it’s time to move on. But we first have to spot the signs in order to take appropriate action.
Seeing things differently
We tend to gravitate toward people who see or experience the world in the same way that we do. Friends who share similar perspectives are able to connect on deep levels which open up their ability to be vulnerable and compassionate with one another. Sometimes these things change, though, and sometimes these changes are just too big to ignore. When you start to see the important things differently, it can cause divisions that aren’t worth repairing.
Clinging to nostalgia
Nostalgia is a powerful thing that bonds us together in shared experience. This feeling transports you back to simpler times and causes you to relate positive (or simpler) experiences to the people you journeyed through those times with. Nostalgia can be toxic, however, when it causes us to cling to people we don’t really have anything in common with anymore. When all you share are memories and you don’t even want the same things from life, it’s time to move on.
Avoiding comes standard
Have you and your friend started to avoid one another? Because it’s just so awkward whenever you hangout? Maybe this avoidance takes a more indirect approach. Rather than consciously moving away from one another, you allow things to fade out and neither one of you bothers to make time for one another. You don’t really care to connect with them, and they feel the same way. Things are just different and you don’t really connect anymore.
Little in common
It’s important that we hold things in common as friends. That isn’t to say that you both have to be parents, or you have to be the same age, or in the same relationship status. Good friendships aren’t about superficial similarities. They’re built upon people who share the same overall perspectives and outlooks in life. When these things slip away we find that we’re standing next to strangers with whom we hold nothing in common anymore.
Constantly nursing drama
Off-balance friendships are a common sign that one of you is growing up while the other is staying the same. Perhaps you’re always nursing your friend through drama that is so far removed from where you’re at in life that it makes you irritated or resentful. On the reverse side of that, you may find that you and your friend fight more with fewer resolutions. Injuries become wounds that fester forever and turn into major conflicts that drive you further and further from one another.
Inability to celebrate
Our friends should be some of the first people we run to when we manage to conquer our goals or fears. We should be able to celebrate with them and receive support, but when this runs dry it’s a major red flag. Do you find that you and your friend can’t be happy for one another or celebrate the victories the other person achieves? This resentment can be a sign that it’s time to move in different directions once and for all.
Finding greener pastures
Have you started gravitating toward a new group of people? Has someone else connected with you in ways that your old friendships just can’t satisfy? When we find ourselves wandering into “greener pastures” it’s important to take note. Our subconscious has a tendency to lead us toward where we need to be. If you’ve outgrown old friends who no longer support or love you, it will lead you to new friends who are more aligned with your needs and values.
Shifting into different seasons
In life, we all move naturally through different seasons. In some moments we are bright, shining, and out there for all the world to see. But in those quiet moments — the winters and autumns of our lives — it becomes a bit more important to turn inward and reflect. Are you and your friend shifting into different phases in your lives? Do you no longer have those connections and mutual experiences that you once had? There’s no right or wrong to it. It’s the natural flow of life, and it’s one we have to embrace with dignity.
What to do when things start to change.
Have things with your friend started to change? Have you noticed a shift in the way you see the world? Or in what you want from your respective lives?If you’re no longer on the same page, it’s time to stand strong where you are and embrace reality for what it really is. Figure out where you’re at and the rest will follow suit.
1. Be honest about where you’re at
When our friendships shift, it’s important to really feel out where we’re at emotionally and process our thoughts. You have to be honest about what’s happening and use that honesty to embrace the changes and the different movements that are happening. Confronting your reality is the only way to find peace within it. Start letting go of an outgrown friendship by first accepting it.
Take a step back from the relationship with your friend and consider the full scope of it. How has it changed from the early days until this moment? Is it still a bond which is respectful and supportive? What are the benefits it provides? Is their safety in this friendship or is now a burden which makes you feel vulnerable and insecure?
Until you look at your friendship for what it really is, you’ll never be able to accept that you are now on different paths. Life changes us, and it takes us on various journeys which pull us away and bring us back again. Just because you’ve outgrown a friendship now does not have to mean you will part ways forever. It simply means that — for now — you’re not the people that you need. Accept it, and use this truth to figure out what comes next.
2. Figure out where you want to be
As your friendship starts to move into a different phase, you’re going to have to sit down and frankly talk things out. Before you can do that, however, you need to first figure out where you want to be. Accepting the changes is only a first step. Next, you need to take some time to process your new reality and then figure out what you want to do. How do you want this friendship to fade out or relocate into a different place in your life?
If you’ve realized that your friendship is no longer worthwhile or supportive, you need to think through what you want to do with your role in it. Do you want to walk away from this person entirely? Do you want to keep them at a safe distance? There’s no right or wrong answer. You do have to weight the pros and cons, however, and make a decision that fits your happiness.
Figure out where you want to be in your friendship. Figure out if you even want to be in it at all. Really work through all the emotions that are attached to all your potential next moves. Ending a friendship isn’t easy.Telling a friend that we want a little more space is a difficult thing to do. Before you open up and express yourself, be absolutely sure on the types of outcome you desire. Growing is hard and shedding necessary. Do both with grace and certainty.
3. Don’t underestimate communication
Once you’ve had some time to think through where you see your friendship, you need to sit down with your friend and talk things through. This doesn’t have to be a hard conversation, or even an uncomfortable one. You can keep it light and keep it focused. Communication is one of the most powerful tools we possess as humans. Use it and open up to your friend about where you see things moving.
Keep the conversation direct and look for a time and place in which you can both be safe, comfortable, and alone. Concentrate on asking your friend questions first and try to makes sense of how they may be feeling. Then, open up about your own perspective and drop any blame or sense of irritation you may be feeling.
There’s no point in being angry with one another or resentful about a natural outgrowing. The entire point of life is to grow and make the most of who we are as a living, conscious human being. Good things happen, bad things happen. The way in which we see the world shifts, and the things we want from the world change with it. Embrace it and open up to your friend with honesty, compassion, and understanding.
4. Embrace the changes happening
Humans are creatures of habit, and because of that we rarely like the idea of changing our environments or the people that fill them. Once we find something (or someone) we like, we tend to stay focused on that thing until we’re distracted. When it’s suddenly taken away from us, we can feel off balance, uncomfortable, and afraid. In order to move through this growth, we have to find ways to embrace them and see the good in them.
Celebrate the changes and allow yourself to revel in the new life that is blooming before you. Losing a friendship or putting it in a distant box is painful. Make it less painful by finding the brighter side in new relationships and the new opportunities blossoming before you.
It’s okay to enjoy moving forward. It’s okay to find happiness in it, or to distract yourself (harmlessly) with fun experiences and small rewards which make the parting a little easier. Embrace the changes happening. See them as exciting new vistas rather than hopeless endings. When you do this, silver linings will reveal themselves before you and improve the way you perceive these new stirrings and growings.
5. Move forward with peace of mind
The last thing you can do to deal with a friendship which no longer fits is to move forward with peace of mind. At first, this may seem impossible. It may seem as though you’re hurt in ways which will never heal. You can, though, and you will. Find better ways to get excited about your future again and touch base with those new relationships which are providing you with the support and the compassion you need from good friends.
Let go of your guilt. Let go of that heavy nostalgia which keeps you tied to things that are no longer yours. Life moves fast. We make plans and break them, pursuing a million different opportunities through open doors we didn’t know existed. Things change, and we change as what we want changes.
Accept it. Just as you are changing, so is your friend. You both deserve to be happy, and that’s the most important thing. That happiness may not come as a result of the bonds you share in the current moment, however. Remove your emotions and silence all the memories. Is the time you spend away from this person better than the time you spend with them? That’s a major sign that different paths are manifesting. Embrace it. Enjoy it. And keep moving forward in optimism and hope.
Putting it all together…
Friendships are an important part of our lives and can provide us with support, love, and joy. As we shift and change over time, though, we can find that we outgrow these friendships and the individuals within them. It’s a natural part of life and one which we must accept in order to make peace with. To that, though, we must be honest, open, and candid with both our friends and ourselves.
Be honest about where you’re at with your friend and accept the new reality you’re both living in. Things change and that’s fine. Figure out what friendship really means to you and compare your current relationship. Sit your friend down and have an honest conversation about the changes you’re both going through. We don’t have to let our friendships fade out in the darkness. Be respectful enough to explain yourself and see where they’re at as well. Embrace the changes happening. Life moves quickly and you never know where it will take you. What you want or need today varies drastically from the things we need in the future. Accept your new state of friendship and move forward. Touch base with new friends and loved ones, and allow yourself to get excited about the things you’re manifesting on the horizon. It’s okay to let old friends go when your relationship is no longer healthy or beneficial to you both. Let go with grace and shift into a new age of growth.
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