Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

Outgrowing friendships

Navigating the process of outgrowing a long-lasting friendship
Photo by Parker Peters, Daily Collegian archives.

No one really talks about the pain of ending a friendship, especially when no one did anything “wrong.” Outgrowing friendships is a normal part of life, but that doesn’t make it any less hurtful and frustrating. It typically happens not due to lack of care for the person, rather, your priorities have shifted. Our friendships may outgrow us, which means that we should no longer spend as much time with the person as we once did with them. Since you have spent a significant amount of each other’s lives together, parting ways may feel like betrayal.  

The phenomenon always starts off slowly. You begin to dislike the conversations you have with each other, noticing toxic traits or “red flags” in the other person. After spending time with that person, you begin to feel exhausted. Because you may have known the person for a long period of time, you go through denial. You become enraged with them and even yourself, leading to the realization that you are still seeing them out of guilt. You long for the way they used to be. You tell yourself, “I’ll wait to see if they text first,” and not soon after you’re suddenly “busy.”  

It may come to a point where you get uncomfortable and want to stop sharing your life with them. You phase them out. Eventually, you realize you have fully outgrown each other. Is there a better way to navigate this process? Is there really anything you can do?  

People grow, people change; there doesn’t have to be any bad blood. It helps to remember that genuine friendships evolve gradually over time and that it’s normal to let go of people. It’s acceptable to go beyond one another, but not forget the moments you spent together. Once upon a time, they may have been your closest friend. Even though that realization makes the process harder, understand that your time with them has passed but the time you shared together cannot be replaced. 

Your company defines who you are. The saying goes, “Energies are contagious. Choose carefully. Your environment will become you.” If you don’t feel comfortable with your current company, you most likely cannot feel comfortable with yourself when you’re with them. Again, it’s harder to let people go if no singular incident caused the friendship to dissolve. Going back and forth debating whether or not you’re doing the right thing is normal. It may feel like a masked betrayal, but really it is all a part of change and growing as an individual. Intuition and trusting your gut matters here. Additionally, it is important to keep in mind that nobody is to blame for this. What is happening is inevitable and the most common way to go about it is to let the friendship naturally fade.  

Some people might find it easier to navigate their emotions with the help of a therapist. A therapist can assist in guiding you through your period of grief and looking at the characteristics you value in friendships so you can begin forming new, meaningful connections.  

From my personal experience, it came to a point where we both knew our time together wasn’t the same anymore. We both acknowledged that we lead different lives and cited our respect for who the other person has become, even though it means we cannot be best friends anymore. As aforementioned, there doesn’t have to be any bad blood. We still only have love for each other and always will. We indulge in friendly gestures like wishing each other on our birthdays and other festive occasions. We acknowledge the friendship for what it was, even though it is over.

As we get older, it’s becoming more normal to outgrow friendships because our circumstances, priorities and individuality evolve. If anything, outgrowing friendships translates to personal growth. It happens because it is meant to and that’s okay.  

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    Sebastian ZachariahNov 14, 2023 at 6:32 pm

    If you do not outgrow some people who were relevant in your past, you will most likely hurt your future! I think we did not even have to say anything as things happened organically and we were “busy”. Some of us however, regrouped and having changed with circumstances- drew closer to build an even stronger bond. Keep the door Ajar!