Any relationship is hard, but friendship is its own unique beast. Relationships with friends take time and effort, and as we get older and our lives get busier, they can get even harder to maintain. No one enters a friendship thinking, “I can’t wait until this is over” — but it is normal for people to come in and out of your life. How do you know if you’re outgrowing your friends and it may be time to compassionately move on?
Here are 10 signs to consider:
You have nothing (or very little) in common: As we get older, it’s natural for interests to change or shift or deepen: what brought you together as friends before may no longer exist. You grew as people, just not together —and that’s ok.
They don’t support you: No two friends or group of friends are going to agree on everything all of the time. Sometimes a friend may need to call you out on foolishness, especially if you’re being hurtful (personally, my BFF checks my ego in ways I desperately need). Just don’t confuse that with someone who doesn’t consistently have your back.
They don’t take you seriously: We all have hopes, goals, dreams, and ambitions — something to contribute to the world. Friends value and encourage, not dismiss, these.
They try to undermine you: A little competitiveness in friendships is normal and can give you the push you need to take a scary next step- but if a friend tries to sabotage your success or happiness, are they really a friend? (Spoiler alert: no)
They make you feel badly about yourself: Hopefully, your friends aren’t intentionally making you feel like crap. That being said, life is just too short to deal with such nonsense.
It feels like a chore to keep in touch: Like any relationship, friendships require effort. But if keeping in touch has become an insincere K.I.T. you wrote in high school yearbooks, you might want to consider if the friendship is work worth doing.
You don’t enjoy spending time together (or you dread it): Seriously, if you don’t like talking to or spending time with a friend may I ask, with all the love in my heart, what are you doing? Having a meaningful connection with another person is the whole point of friendship.
You always put more into the relationship than they do: Friendships are not always going to have both people putting in equal efforts because life happens. The effort should balance out though and the friendship should never just be about one person.
They encourage you to make destructive life choices: As a person who grew up terrified of breaking rules, I appreciate friends who push me outside my comfort zone. But is should be a hard pass on someone who doesn’t have your best interests at heart and pushes you into a danger zone.
You feel uncomfortable being vulnerable around them: Not every friend has to be a bestie to whom you reveal the depths of your soul, but friendships do require trust. You should be able to be your beautifully flawed self around friends.
Jennifer Koza is a social worker who believes support and empowerment are key to life — and has the data to back it up. By day, she is a research and evaluation analyst, committed to preventing violence against women and studying the value of work and workplaces. By night, she is a painter — or at least she tries to be when she's not catching up on TV/movies (or re-watching The West Wing, Gilmore Girls or The Office).
Fairygodboss is committed to improving the workplace and lives of women.
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