Not all friendships are meant to last forever.
For many, friendships can drag on, especially when one person feels guilty to cut it off for good.
Lauren Millman of Lauren Millman Counselling and Psychological Services in Thornhill, Ont., told Global News we often don’t see signs of friendships ending because we don’t want to.
“Subconsciously, we try to reason with ourselves about why things seem different or seem to have tapered off, or why the friendship seems as though it’s become one-sided, with one of you doing more of the work, or putting in more effort than the other,” she said.
But the signs quickly become more apparent: fewer texts, phone calls or hangouts. “Sometimes people endure life situations and step back from being social, so check in, and make sure there are no underlying issues because it may be nothing, or not about you.”
When you outgrow a friend
“When we outgrow someone, our values, morals or ethics become incongruent to what they once were with that other person,” she said. “Nothing is static. People grow, change, and develop new interests.”
And with the notion that friendships come and go, this is also true when people start to outgrow each other.
“It can happen when a life-changing event occurs, with a remarriage, a move, with age, or because of different interests,” Millman explained.
“If you’re moving forward without this friend or that, make sure you remain respectful and courteous however you decide to cultivate your exit, or how you lessen your interactions with them. You never want to burn a bridge or make someone feel untoward.”
Sometimes friendships turn into something much more toxic. If you find yourself putting more into the friendship than the other person or you’re obsessed with your friendship from the past — while ignoring how problematic it is in the present — it’s time to let it go.
A sign of personal growth
One of the hardest things about cutting out a friendship is the guilt that comes along with it. Often these are friends you grew up with, family members and friends who have been with you through the worst. But Millman said outgrowing each other is often a sign of personal growth and self-knowledge.
“To outgrow someone outright, however, is a bigger issue, especially if your decision is to take them out of your life completely,” she continued.
“On the flip side, it’s important to have a well-rounded social life of different people, and different groups of people, as everyone has something unique and wonderful to offer. However you outgrow someone, make sure your decision fits you and your values, morals, and ethics. Your happiness is key, and it’s up to you to create the life and social camaraderie that suits you best.”
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And sometimes it helps if you don’t think about it as “cutting someone out.”
“If you’re thinking of ‘cutting someone out of your life,’ think of it more as you moving on and moving forward,” she said. “Sometimes people aren’t at the same place in life as you are, and you need to feel comfortable enough with yourself to know who you are and what you need, and move forward in your life without lingering hold-backs or with that which makes you feel stifled, uncomfortable, and without drama.”