Ask Sahaj: My best friend and I are growing apart. What do I do?


Hi Sahaj! My friend and I became super-close in 2018. She was there for me in ways I’d never known before. If I had a bad day, she would drive 45 minutes to simply drop something off at my apartment. We always wanted to talk and spend time with each other. We have a four-year age gap, but it never really hindered anything.

She became close with my extended family, and she and my cousin started hanging out a lot without me (not intentionally, I just lived farther away). It didn’t sit well with me at first, but in the end, I loved our trio hangouts.

Now my friend and I keep getting into petty arguments over time being made for other friends. We rarely get to see each other and keeping in touch via text gets hard. While I completely understand conflicting schedules, whenever we try to hang out, it seems forced now.

My bff and I are no longer as close as we once were. How do I move forward?

Missing My Friend: It can be painful when friendships change. Sometimes relationships grow apart because of something overt, like disrespect, imbalance of care, or negativity. Other times, they naturally dissolve and it’s no one’s fault.

If you want to repair or maintain the friendship, address what you feel head-on. Be direct about how things are changing for you. This may sound like, “I’ve noticed that it’s been difficult for us to connect. Do you feel the same way?” Or “I know I live farther now, but you’re still important to me. Can we set a standing monthly date that makes sense for both of us?”

You mention that hanging out feels forced, and this is important. Your feelings can indicate what needs to change in the relationship. Feeling resentment or like the relationship is an obligation may show there aren’t clear boundaries in place. You’re giving too much or not getting enough in return. Essentially, expectations aren’t being realistically managed or communicated.

The friendship is changing, but that doesn’t mean it’s a bad relationship. Friendships ebb and flow through different phases. What would a meaningful relationship look like with this friend moving forward? What does it look like for the best friendship to be emotionally demoted to friendship? Is this something you can accept?

Take stock of your other relationships and friendships, too. By considering other relationships in your life, you can get clarity on which relationships you should be investing more energy in and who does show up for you. It’s okay for you to miss this friend and grieve how the relationship has changed, but changing friendships are not always a negative experience.

I learned an activity from a professor that is helpful here: Consider that your life is a production, and you are the main character. Now fill the auditorium with people in your life and seat them depending on their closeness to you. For example, people who get backstage passes are the people who get access to all of you — the messy, vulnerable, and in-a-crisis version of you. People who sit in the front row may be very good friends; they can see the sweat on your face and the trip-ups, but not quite everything behind the scenes. And then you have others who may be sitting elsewhere, like acquaintances in the nosebleed section. Or you might realize there are people who are consistently showing up for you but you haven’t quite let in.

Think about your community. It’s okay to reevaluate where people sit and move them around. It’s hard to accept that some people may not be worthy of the privilege of backstage access to your life anymore, but this may make room for you to focus on other relationships that are deserving.

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