Tips For Dealing With A Friendship That Is Drifting Apart

While you move through different life stages, you'll recognize one constant through it all — change. This applies to the things we feel certain will last forever, even our closest friendships. However, change within our friendships doesn't have to be a negative thing. The timeline of a long friendship will likely include periods of distance, changing interests, and varying levels of depth.

Researchers have determined that friendships could be described as "flexible" rather than "fragile." This means that they can endure conflicts and dynamic shifts without breaking their bond — things that are very common in long-term friendships. Just because you feel a friendship drifting apart does not mean it's the end. There are things you can do to tend to it and keep it alive. That said, not all friendships can withstand the test of time. There are clear indications you can look for if it is meant to come to a close.

Anchoring your friendship and reaching out

Just as hard as it is to make new friends as an adult, it's hard to keep the old ones. We suddenly must navigate differing life stages, locations, and priorities. These adjustments might lead you and your friends to drift apart, but if you want them in your life and they are meant to be there — this doesn't have to be the case.

An essential factor of friendship is your shared interests. Even if your priorities and passions have changed, you can work to find what connected you and your friend in the first place, or what new interests you share. Identify where the two of you bond in the present. Maybe it's a love for "Emily in Paris" or discovering vegan restaurants. Whatever it is, it can bud a conversation and remind you to shoot a text, give a call, or plan a coffee date.

Marisa G. Franco, a psychologist and friendship expert, explains to NPR that holding yourself accountable and reaching out to your friend is crucial if you want to build or maintain intimacy with each other. It doesn't have to be super frequent, but as long as you are consistent, this is a small way you can be a better friend. Franco tells NPR that it creates a reciprocal bond, "[by] creating the space to make our friends feel valued . . . we help create the space for them to want to invest more with us," says Franco."

Working through conflict and knowing when to let go

If you notice a friendship starting to deteriorate, you can start to repair it by looking at where it's going wrong. Friendship expert Shasta Nelson explained in her book "Frientimacy" that a healthy friendship should be made up of equal parts positivity, consistency, and vulnerability. If one of these is off, you can take a moment to check in with your friend and reflect on how you can return the balance. Alex Williamson, Chief Brand Officer for Bumble, told The Zoe Report that to successfully address conflict in a friendship, you must share what is bothering you as well as "take ownership of your responsibility in the friendship fading, and actively listen to what the other person says."

However, sometimes a heartfelt conversation can't fix the issues at hand. It can be a hard truth to swallow, but it's important you address it. If you aren't getting what you need out of a friendship — support, trust, no judgment, etc. — it is better for your well-being to let it go than to try and keep it dragging on.