It’s a sad fact of life that most friendships don’t last forever.
Even if you have lots of great memories together, one or both of you will probably move on at some point.
Understanding why friends often drift apart can help you come to terms with the end of your friendship.
Here are the six most common reasons why you may drift apart:
1. Your friendship was built around a shared situation rather than underlying compatibility:
When you and your friend work at the same place or go to the same college, your friendship usually works because you see each other often and your shared situation gives you endless things to talk about.
However, when you graduate or change jobs, this type of friendship usually suffers.
You no longer have the same day-to-day routine to bring you together, so you have to rely on other shared interests and underlying compatibility.
It usually becomes clear within weeks whether this type of friendship can survive in another form.
2. One or both of you have outgrown the friendship:
Sometimes, the friends we make in our teens or twenties are no longer right for us a few years later.
For instance, you might want deeper, more meaningful friendships as you get older but your high school buddies might still prefer to dedicate their free time to partying or chatting about the latest reality TV show.
In some cases, you might be in different stages of life.
It might feel as though one of you has pulled ahead in a certain area, and this means you have less in common.
For instance, if one of you has just landed a big promotion in a high-stress career whilst the other is pregnant with their first child, you may no longer be able to relate to one another in the same way.
3. One or both of you are too busy to maintain regular contact:
The pace of modern life seems to increase all the time.
It can be hard to make time for meaningful conversations with friends.
Before you know it, weeks or months have slipped by and you feel like you aren’t a part of your friend’s life any more.
At the same time, it’s important to remember that people make space in their lives for what they value most.
You and your friend might be very busy, but no one has such a packed schedule that they can’t spend three minutes checking in with someone on WhatsApp.
The harsh truth is that if someone isn’t willing to carve out a little time for you occasionally, they no longer see your friendship as a priority.
4. One or both of you has started an intense romantic relationship:
Men and women alike have a tendency to spend less time with their friends when they enter a serious relationship.
This is natural – when you fall in love, you want to see them all the time.
If you neglect your friends, they may become annoyed that you are putting a new relationship before them.
5. Something has happened to damage the trust between you:
If you have caught your friend out in a lie or discovered that they have betrayed you in some way, your friendship will never be the same again.
Trust takes a long time to build but can be torn down in seconds.
Even if the two of you decide to make up and start afresh, there will probably be an emotional barrier between you that may never come down.
6. One of you has become resentful, bitter, or jealous:
It’s not an easy thing for most people to admit, but friends can and do feel jealous of one another.
The source of their jealousy might be a relatively petty thing, like the size of their friend’s house or salary.
However, people can also become jealous when their friends have babies, start their dream career, get married, or take an extended sabbatical.
This can put a strain on the friendship because it’s difficult to hide strong feelings of envy.
Should you try to salvage a friendship that seems to be slipping away?
It depends on the situation.
If your friendship has bought you a lot of joy over the years and you really miss them, there’s nothing to be lost in making a special effort to reach out and ask to catch up.
At the same time, you need to accept that they are under no obligation to remain your friend, and that they have the choice to move on.
However you handle the situation, remember that you will always be able to cherish the memories of your friendship.