5 Signs You’re Outgrowing a Friendship (and Why It’s Okay)

“We should always have three friends in our lives — one who walks ahead who we look up to and follow; one who walks beside us, who is with us every step of our journey; and then, one who we reach back for and bring along after we’ve cleared the way.”​
– Michelle Obama

The idea of outgrowing friends can be a difficult one to face. Whether the friendship is one that you’ve had since grade school or one that just bloomed in college, the hard truth is that every relationship simply isn’t meant to last.

A friend will be one of your biggest fans, cheering you on through your accomplishments. They’ll tell you like it is even when you don’t want to hear it, but they’ll also be there to build you back up again.

A friend will be the one to take your phone when you’re 16 weeks deep on your ex’s Instagram and be the one to tell you that “just one more shot” before the Uber pulls up really isn’t a good idea (it never is, even though you both end up doing it anyway).

“They say people in our life our seasons, and everything that happen is for a reason.”

Shoutout to Kanye. (I know we canceled him, but he still gave us some good jams.)

People are introduced at different points in our lives and they stay for different periods of time. Good friends truly are hard to find so while we should cherish those relationships for any length of time we’re fortunate enough have them, everyone isn’t meant to stay around forever.

Here are 5 signs that you may be outgrowing a friendship and why it actually may not be such a bad thing after all.

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5 Signs You're Outgrowing a Friendship (and Why It's Okay)

1. You don’t have anything in common.

I’ll be the first one to say that you do not have to talk to your friends every day. We’re busy. We have jobs, significant others, kids, and a ton of other things that are constantly demanding our attention.

Yes, you can still send a quick text here and there to check up if you haven’t talked in a while, but nobody really has time to be on the phone for hours every day, nor does anyone expect that. I have friends that I sometimes go for weeks without talking to, but when we see each other or get on the phone we’re right back to it like normal. But what about when you pick up the phone and nobody really has anything to talk about?

You give the regular life updates, but beyond that, you really don’t have much to say. You’re both making conversation but it’s more like small talk that you can’t really relate to. Finding that you’re constantly disconnecting when it comes to your interests could be a red flag.

2. The friendship is one-sided.

Relationships are a two-way street and the phone works both ways. There’s no reason you should be the only one initiating conversations. The same rule in dating applies here: if they want to call you, they will.

Again, we’re all busy but even the busiest person isn’t working all 24 hours of the day. You have to put mutual effort into the relationship. It’s like a plant — if you don’t water it, it won’t grow. A quick text or phone call here and there won’t kill you. If you don’t even want to do that, then maybe you do need to reevaluate the friendship.

3. The vibe is off.

This one is a little harder to put your finger on, but it’s something you just…know. Part of what makes up a good friendship is how much you vibe. It’s how well you connect with each other. It’s when you can give them side eye look from across the room that says, “girlll, do you see this sh*t?” and they know exactly what you’re saying.

You know when something isn’t right. It just feels “off.” Is there something you’ve been wanting to speak up about? Are you still upset about an unresolved issue? There could be a lot of reasons behind this one, so it may be a good idea to consider anything else going on in your relationship before it gets worse.

4. They’re not supportive.

A good friend is someone who’s consistently around for the good and the not so good. They’ll be there to celebrate you getting into your top choice school or landing that dream job. They’ll also be there to listen to you ugly cry while you drown your sorrows away in Moscato after a breakup.

It’s easy to find people who want to be around you when you’re up. But when you’re down, take a look around at who’s still there.

A friend is someone you can count on to be there for you through the good, the bad, and the messy. If your friend is always around to celebrate your wins, but not there to build you back up from your losses, you may want to take a second look at your relationship.

5. They’re not making any moves.

They say you’re the average of the five people you spend the most time with; that’s not a decision to be taken lightly. At this point in our lives, we need to be mindful of who we are, who we want to be, and who we spend our time with.

If it’s become clear that your friend isn’t experiencing any growth and isn’t showing any desire to, you may not want them to be one of those five people.

If three years later they’re still at the same dead-end job, still with the same deadbeat boyfriend, and still clinging to their immature ways with no desire to change their situation, maybe that isn’t someone you want to spend a significant amount of your time with. You don’t have to bash them for your lifestyle, but accept that you’re just at different places in your life right now.

Why It’s Okay

You should never stop growing, learning, and trying to improve yourself. But as you grow throughout your life journey, not everyone is going to grow with you. As you move forward, some people are inevitably going to be left behind. Is that anything to feel guilty about? No. You’re not growing if you don’t have to leave some people behind.

It took me a while to accept this idea and really, I’m still working on it with some of my relationships. It’s a tough pill to swallow, but once you figure out where you’re headed in this journey called life, you’ll realize that everyone isn’t supposed to come with you.

5 Signs You're Outgrowing a Friendship (and Why It's Okay)

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