When friendships change

August 22, 2016

friendship-changes“I don’t feel the same connection I once did with her,” I said to my husband, not too long ago. I was talking about a longtime friend with whom it was getting harder and harder to remain connected.

“You’ve moved on,” he said,”and left her behind. She’s still back in the old life.”

I thought about what he said for weeks. Do true friendships change?

Part of me was uncomfortable with the the idea of “leaving behind” –did it imply that my journey was progress and hers wasn’t? Maybe that was true, but maybe not. It’s certainly true that I couldn’t live the life she was comfortable with and in fact, had left it behind. Maybe he was right: I’d left her behind, too.

I didn’t like it. But I couldn’t deny that we simply were no longer on the same page. Our connection had diminished and it made me a little sad.

And that’s the thing: friendships can change over time.

The problem I have is that I am pretty much the same throughout the term of a friendship. Or so I think, anyway. I approach friends with an open heart, open mind and a desire to connect.

It always seems to me that it’s others who change, who move in different directions.

But maybe that’s not true.

Even with what remains of my analytical brain (now that I’m 65 and retired), I couldn’t really fit this idea into a place where it made sense. Finally, I decided it didn’t have to make sense. I just needed to accept that friendships change, this one did and really  move on.

And that reminded me of a song.

This touching John Denver song is about romantic love, but it is also true of deep friendships.  And I’d love to know if you have had a similar experience and what it was like for you.

54 comments on “When friendships change
  1. Grammy says:

    I can relate to this as it has happened to me. It makes you wonder why, especially if it was a really good friendship. After a while though, you just have to get on with your life.

  2. quin B. says:

    The hubby and I were talking about this very thing the other day. You’re right, it is a little sad when you finally realize that the friendship you once had is over, but I tend to believe that it happens to make way for someone wonderful to come into my life.

  3. Silly Mummy says:

    I think this happens a lot. Sometimes your life changes, sometimes theirs does, sometimes it is both, and friendships drift apart. I kind of think that friendships that are important to your life & theirs it won’t happen with – you will be connected by something innate to you that doesn’t change even if your life does – and therefore it doesn’t really make sense to try to cling to the ones it does happen with.

  4. Carol taylor says:

    We moved away when we retired and people I thought would keep in touch haven’t and vice versa…..also I feel I make all the phone calls it’s almost as if well you moved away so you contact us scenario….Just saying 🙂

    • I know that feeling.

      • Amy Colgan-Niemeyer says:

        Oh, do I know that feeling! Happens with friends and family since we moved. Frustrating. We eventually backed away. It needs to be a two-way street for me. I don’t want to be the one to always contact or visit people. That’s not a true friendship or relationship.

  5. Momina Arif says:

    I feel like this has been a part of all n=my friendships. I love how there’s so much wisdom I can take from this post.

  6. Leanne says:

    I’m finding it to be a real “thing” in midlife Carol – reassessing long term friendships and finding that some have flourished and others have burned themselves out. Letting go can be hard, but that’s life really isn’t it?

  7. Jennifer says:

    I think you never really leave friendships behind. I’ve had a couple of friends since high school and we sometimes go years without ever really connecting because we in different places/phases of our lives. But then a few years later we hook back up when were both in a new “place” and it’s fresh and fun and different, but all along we knew we were still friends. And then there was the friend from high school who just recently popped back into my life 30 years later. Both different now but also better equipped to be friends.

  8. Haralee says:

    I know Carol I feel the same and question what happened?I know things change in our lives, priorities, what we are doing, what we want to do,what we can and can’t do etc. but sometimes it seems hard to find a common ground to share a heart to heart not just a catch up or an edit.

  9. I think people come in to your life at various times for various reasons, and I guess not every friendship is supposed to last forever. It is still sad when that happens, though.

  10. Barbara says:

    I understand completely. We’ve moved so much in our lives that keeping friendships alive becomes a struggle. If you’re the one who leaves it’s up to you, apparently, to do all the work to keep the friendship going. That said, it seems you can pick up right where you left off after months or years apart. Problem is, once you go back to your separate places it fizzles out again. Harder still is making new friends in your 60’s.

  11. michelle says:

    it does happen. It’s not always easy, but are all evolving..sometimes that means shedding relationships that we once valued.

  12. Absolutely true BUT I’ve also found that some friendships that seemed tepid years ago are flourishing now- we may not have been on the same page then but things have changed. I think a life is full of the people you need when you least expect it.

  13. Ellen Dolgen says:

    I have a really sweet mentor who taught me that life if like a train ride………as you move forward people come on and people come off your train of life. It’s hard but it is a common process of relationships.

  14. People change, that is natural. We just have to learn how we can deal with that.

  15. Amy Colgan-Niemeyer says:

    Me again…I’m reading Friendfluence by Carlin Flora. It’s very good! I’m learning a lot. One thing I read recently is that friendships don’t necessarily last. We have childhood friendships, school friendships, work friendships, but as we grow and change jobs and so on, those relationships change. It doesn’t negate the friendship. We shouldn’t feel like it was a waste of time. And we shouldn’t try to hang on to those friendships that are not fulfilling or don’t seem right anymore. We should charish the time we had with the friend, have good memories of it and move on. Social media was mentioned as possibly messing with what was a natural “moving on”, a natural process of leaving the past in the past and remembering it fondly. We get back in touch with old friends on Facebook and the like who we lost touch with…old friends from daycare, high school, college, old jobs, old neighborhoods, etc., and we find that these people have changed, we don’t have anything in common with them anymore and it’s all a big disappointment that mars the original friendship we cherished. I found that interesting.

  16. Ruth says:

    If you are meant to be together, they will catch up. Or so I have been told!

  17. tara pittman says:

    I have had friendships like this.Sometimes it is better to move on.

  18. Camille says:

    Thank you for this post. I’ve been struggling with this issue recently. Four of us were good friends when we all worked together in the same office. As we moved on to different departments within the same organization, we managed to stay in touch. But now that we’ve all retired, we get together once or twice a year. I find I have less and less in common with these ladies, and struggle to find commonality when we meet. I think our employment was our primary bond, and with that gone… I don’t know how to disengage with them without hurt feelings. And I wonder if I would miss them if I did.

  19. I feel SO SAD when this happens. But it does happen, and with female friendships there is no ending ritual like in dating. I still think of old friends so fondly and have a pang that they are no longer in my life, but I do see that’s it’s part of life. Sometimes people are proximity friends masquerading as long-term friends. That’s always hard when it becomes clear they are not long-term, as close as I felt to a neighbor or a work mate. So I truly value the friends I still have.

  20. Skipah says:

    Unfortunately I can completely relate to this. Most of it the fall out from my nasty/ugly divorce and the “ultimate” line in the sand that monster I was married to drew for everyone to choose sides.

  21. It’s hard to stay connected when values, beliefs, priorities or attitudes change. And time is so precious that I only want to spend it with people who enrich my life, not deplete it. Sometimes letting go is the best option.

  22. Helene Cohen Bludman says:

    I do think that some friendships are meant to have a shorter shelf life than others.Sometimes it is sad when they end, but in retrospect it often makes sense.

  23. I’m like everyone else who has commented. Some friendships change over time. Then I have some long time friends that I don’t see for a few years and we get together and pick up where we left off.

  24. Unfortunately, not all friendships are meant to last forever. I find that with a good support network of family and loved ones, it’s not so hard to deal with.

  25. Liv says:

    Sometimes they have to evolve – but yes, sometimes you just outgrow each other.

  26. Nicole Escat says:

    Friendship is important to me, I also consider it as part of my family and I believe friendship has forever. But yes sometime friendships change and it’s really hard to deal with it.

  27. Amy Jones says:

    This sadly happens a little too often. While it’s great to move on and find other people to be friends with it’s also great to get in touch with older friends and talk to them!

  28. My philosophy is that we are here to grow into who and what we are supposed to or can be. Not everyone of our friends will “grow” at the same pace as us, or we them. Does that mean the friendship wasn’t true? No, it was very true for its time. But we change and move on. 🙂

  29. Elizabeth O. says:

    This made me wonder if the saying, “friends come and go” is also an indication that they’ve moved and and you’re being left behind. It makes perfect sense though, what your husband said. There will be times wherein we no longer feel connected with our friends simply because our paths have changed.

  30. Janie Emaus says:

    Friendships do change. But I think the ones we make when we are young, last forever.

  31. Tatyana says:

    It is truly heartbreaking when a friendship that was once so strong, becomes a hassle to keep up with, especially when the two of you are in such different places. I have gone through this before, and the only thing that got me through it was knowing that even though we may not be the friends we were before, I still had the memories of all the good times we had shared together.

  32. Karlyn Cruz says:

    I think friendship really changes over time but you can still keep the relationship close by driving in to the changes.

  33. Kandi says:

    It is amazing the people that come and go in our lives. I have one friend that I have known since 2nd grade and while we are friends on social media we don’t really talk any more. I disagreed with some of her lifestyle choices and distanced myself. While on the other hand I have a friend I have known since 7th grade. We kind of parted ways after high school- but were reconnected a while back and picked up like nothing had changed. I now talk to her more than I do my own sisters.

  34. It has happened to me a lot over the last few years, friendships I had thought were strong but realized that we had lost our connection. It is sad.

  35. Vyjay says:

    Life is like a train journey and friends are like passengers. Some get off earlier and some stay for longer.

  36. Over the last 48 years of my life I have had friendships come and go. We all change and need different friends with different seasons of our life. It is sad from time to time but I know there is always something golden on the other side.

  37. It is amazing how friendships evolve over the years!! I know I have grown close to those taht were more distance friendships before.

  38. Wendy says:

    This happened to me with a good friend from college. Over time I realized I just couldn’t relate to her. I also have old friends that we can pick up where we left off even if we haven’t seen each other for five years. I guess it just depends.

  39. This has happened to me time and time again. Sometimes I feel bad while other times I know it’s best to move on.

  40. Liz Mays says:

    I think it’s natural to form new friendships and lose old ones but it can make you feel guilty sometimes. Some friendships are worth fighting for though!

  41. Echo says:

    I can definitely relate to this. I have a few really good friends that are still in that old life and although we are still friends, and always will be, we aren’t as close as we once were.

  42. I have known quite a few people in my day who didn’t change with the times. I am no longer friends with most of them. The fact is that, as we grow older, our needs and our priorities change. Those who never change their priorities are stuck in the past, and they will get left behind. I am sorry, but a 30-year-old mother of two, for example, doesn’t need to be out partying. That was fine in her early twenties, but now with kids and a family, the partying stops and the task of raising that family begins. If there is an old friend who is still out there partying at that age, then they become less of a priority to the mother of two. It’s just the way life goes. I don’t think you have anything to be upset about.

  43. Rosey says:

    Friendships really do change. It’s sad when they do, but they most surely do (sometimes). Hurrah for those memories that are good though. 🙂

  44. Courtneylynne says:

    Ughhhh this seems to happen often these days. I just grow out of certain friendships. It’s sad, but some people just hold you back so you have to
    Let go

  45. Ashley says:

    I think friendships can change overtime. People I use to be really close to I am only casual friends with now.

  46. I know that feeling! Happens with friends and family since I’ve moved. I guess we all change…so do our friends….

  47. Mardene Carr says:

    Sometimes you have to move on where friendships are concerned. We assume that we have to have the same friends for life but some friends come into your life for only a season

  48. Kathy Kenny Ngo says:

    Friendship sometimes don’t last, they say. But for me, true friendship last forever.

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