OyChicago blog

When Is It Time To Let a Friendship Go?

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01/24/2011

Most of the time, I write about making new friends. How to meet them, nurture them, keep them. It’s important stuff.

Equally important though? How to let friends go.

Yesterday a new pal told me that she and an old BFF have been growing apart. They live next door to each other, so they have every opportunity to hang out like they once did, and yet they’re continually drifting.

“Instead of trying harder and reaching out more, I've been pursuing other interests,” she told me.

This is an option that almost never occurs to me.

I’ve made no secret of how hard it is for me when people are upset with me. I’m sure this is some deep-seeded issue with which some therapist could have a field day. (This is not an invitation…) In that same vein, it’s hard for me to just let a friendship go. I forget that sometimes a relationship can grow apart naturally, and that that’s ok.

The friend in question is younger than me, and most definitely at a place in her life where people grow apart. Instead of holding on to the past, she made a healthy decision. She decided to pursue the new activities and people in her life that make her happy.

So my question is, how do you know when it’s time to let a friendship go?

It’s one thing if one person moves and the distance makes it harder to connect. But if you live next door? Is there an amicable way to separate and move on?

I’m not sure that it's possible to grow apart but still maintain a friendly relationship. When friends drift (aside from the moving far away scenario stated above) there’s usually one party feeling left behind. Whether the catalyst for the separation (yes, I’m using dating language again. That’s all there is) is kids, a new job, a new beau, or just old-fashioned outgrowing each other, someone’s going to feel the sting.

Although, now that I think about it, that might be girl-specific. Guys don't seem to mind it. Whenever I hear about two men having a falling out, I try to grill my husband Matt for specifics. Who dumped who? Was he sad? Hurt? Is he trying to woo his BFF back?

And then my husband looks at me like I have three heads. “No he didn’t try to win him back,” he’d say. “They’re guys.”

Oh, yeah.

Many things to cover: 1) When is it time to let a friendship go? 2) Can a friendship ever separate amicably? 3) Do girls have a harder time with fading friendships than guys do?

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