Since coming to university, I’ve simultaneously made and lost a lot of friends. My former best friend and I became really close fast—things were great! We did everything together and told each other things we’ve never told anyone else before. However, without a big fight or anything, we just drifted apart. After some time away, I realized how unequal I felt our friendship was. Everything was on her time, and she’d make me feel like a bad friend for wanting to stay in on the weekends. Despite this, I still mourn the loss of our friendship. I think about it all the time, both the good and the bad. Obviously, things would need to change, but I guess my question is: is it worth trying to be friends again? Is it possible we just grew apart and I should leave it at that?
Dear Invisible Friend,
I spend a lot of time reflecting on friendship, mostly because I’ve found myself in similar situations to you many times before. Thinking about how you’ve drifted apart is bittersweet—on one end, there’s relief in knowing you can grow and exist beyond another person and become a better version of yourself that isn’t dependent on them. On the other end, you miss the comfort of the person you confided in.
About a year ago, after a few months of frustrations with a friend, I approached her and shared how I felt. In the moment, she was extremely apologetic. She didn’t know I was feeling this way and wanted us to work through it together. But somehow, after this conversation during which we held hands and cried, looking forward to becoming closer, she never spoke to me again. I’ll never know if it was because I asked for too much, or because in her eyes I’d victimized myself. Despite this, I told her my truth, and prioritized honesty and open communication. Although she didn’t reciprocate, it was still a win for me.
If it’ll lift a burden to have a conversation with your friend, then I totally recommend it. Don’t go into it with any expectations and see how you feel after they’ve shared their side. Be open to the possibility that maybe, as you said, you’ve just outgrown each other.
What you’ve said about things being one-sided, running on her time, and the lack of boundaries were my exact concerns in my situation. I’ve realized this kind of behaviour is something people grow into, and it’s hard to change someone who’s learned that their way of living is right. In the end, it’s selfish—not the way a friendship should be.
It’s reasonable to believe you’ve grown apart. This happens in all kinds of relationships—platonic, romantic, even when it comes to workplace relationships. I think being able to leave someone or something behind and open yourself up to more fulfilling connections is an exciting and important part of growing up and maturing. Don’t let anyone hold you back, and don’t beat yourself up over it either. This shouldn’t reinforce any bad attitudes you have about yourself, and it isn’t a stain on your character. It’s more so a reflection of your ability to adapt and overcome, even if that means walking away.
I’m not worried about you, and you aren’t invisible.
The difficulty of losing a friend for me has always been opening myself up to someone new. Just like after a breakup, it’s easy to close yourself off from being vulnerable again, since no one wants to get hurt repeatedly. But look at you! Making new friends! It might take some time for you to reach the same level of trust with the new people in your life, but now you know exactly the kind of friend you’re looking for, and you also know what to tolerate and what simply isn’t your responsibility to endure.
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