Outgrowing Friendships

I never thought we could outgrow friendships until I outgrew one not that long ago. It’s funny, isn’t it? We make friends and sometimes we think friendships will last a lifetime. You meet someone and you think this is my person that will go through life with me. Sometimes you make friends in the most random ways and don’t imagine you would become so close but then slowly, one challenge in your friendship turns into another and then suddenly, the friendship starts deteriorating. I had a friendship like this of eleven years. We were inseparable and we grew together a lot. But things started to change the moment a man entered her life. For me, I feel that friendships shouldn’t change just because one person gets into a relationship. I feel that when the rose-tinted glasses are on, some people don’t value their friends as much anymore. However, at some point when you get complacent in your relationship and the rose-tinted glasses come off, you start missing your friends and by this point, it could be too late. 

I made a friend in my first year of university. I had moved away from home so friends were of a lot of significance whilst living away. In the first week, I was the only one in my accommodation. I’d been away to a different city to meet with some friends and whilst I was away, a girl moved in next door. I introduced myself and that was the end of the conversation. In the first semester, because we lived together, we ended up spending some time together and after bonding over some music we both liked, we realised we had a lot more in common than we initially thought. During our first-year at university, our friendship slowly grew from strength to strength, and we just worked. We shared a lot of things about our lives and started hanging out with each other all the time. Eventually, our circle of friends became the same and we did everything together. We were always there for each other, but the thing I liked most about our friendship was that we could be our authentic selves, yet it never affected our friendship. Even after we left university, we stayed the best of friends. We would go to family events our families had and we would go to each other’s houses regularly. We would sleep over and travel together. We went on quite a few holidays and we would have the best time. There was just this unspoken level of understanding that we had. We were from similar cultures, so this strengthened our friendship when we discussed issues relating to our culture. Our friendship was this solid for eight years. Meeting at the age of eighteen, you can only imagine how much we went through together, with all the changes a young adult goes through around that age. We grew as people and there was this unbreakable bond, until it slowly started breaking.

In 2017, our friendship started to change when she met a man who didn’t like me. This was her first serious relationship and despite always saying that no man would ever be able to get in-between our friendship, one did. We were on holiday at the time in Dubai (not knowing it would be our final holiday) and had an argument about something which I guess marked the beginning of the end. Things were not okay for the rest of the holiday, but we made it through and got home. After that, there was this distance between us, but I valued our friendship so dearly that it didn’t make sense that we had fallen out and felt things were unfixable. I always like to fix things because I am one of those people that doesn’t feel content if things aren’t right, especially with someone who has been a significant part of my life for a long time. We eventually made up after me turning up to her house and wanting to talk through things. Her boyfriend at the time still didn’t like me but that was okay as long as I had my best friend. However, from then on, it was never the same. 

See, the thing is, sometimes, when a friend gets a partner, their priorities change which is completely natural and I can understand that. However, no matter happened, her boyfriend decided that he just didn’t like me even though I tried to make an effort with him. They eventually got married in 2018 but we both were busy with our lives, so it wasn’t the way it used to be and we were both in different places. I don’t think that is a good enough reason for such a solid friendship to change so drastically, but I appreciate that if your partner doesn’t like one of your friends, your natural instinct is to be a little distant because you don’t want to upset them. This is not me agreeing whether that is right or wrong but just outlining that I can understand why this happens. As we continued with our lives, again we grew distant, and months would go by where we would no longer make the same effort with each other. In late 2018, I lost a college best friend and wanted some support from whom I thought would be able to provide that for me. I had never seen death so closely and it had impacted me in more ways than one. However, my ‘best friend’ just didn’t know how to be there for me so another nine months went by and when we spoke this time, I asked to meet up so I could tell her that I had a job offer and was moving abroad. I didn’t want to move abroad with our friendship being so frosty. Despite everything that had happened, I still had faith that our friendship could still make it through any difficulty we went through. This was in mid 2019 and we again, talked about our differences and what was going wrong in our friendship. We talked about how this could be fixed which was great! We were back to being semi-normal and were making more of a conscious effort with each other. At the start of 2020, we had a disagreement over something but this time, my best friend was quite rude and honestly, it just wasn’t what I needed. I think I was just fed up by this point of things always seeming to go wrong and me always being the one to initiate repairing the damage. A few months later, she tried to contact me to tell me about her sister having a baby and I just felt like I didn’t care anymore, especially because the real issue had been brushed under the carpet. It was a brief conversation, and we didn’t speak after that for months until I got a birthday message. I replied to her message but when her birthday came a couple of months later, I knew that not contacting her would mark the end of this friendship completely. And that is exactly what happened because I made that decision of ending a friendship I didn’t think would ever end. Since October 2020, we have not spoken and honestly, I am content with that.

There are many reasons I feel content with my decision, but I felt like it got to a point in our friendship where I started wondering why every time something went wrong, it was always me that was making the first move to fix things. I think I am at that point in my life where I have realised that sometimes, you can’t always be the one to fix things, regardless of whatever trauma someone has been through in their lives. I realise that at times, you have to let things just fizzle out because sometimes, things have an expiry date. It can never be justified that one person in any kind of relationship is always the one doing the emotional work just because the other person has a certain type of mentality. One thing I learned towards the end of our friendship was that maybe my best friend had a slight ego problem which is why she could never be the one to initiate fixing things when they went wrong, no matter how she felt deep down. Maybe it is also one of the reasons that things used to get brushed under the carpet unless I was the one wanting to communicate about them.

I personally think that the decision to not make contact with her on her birthday was because I had made peace with how the friendship turned out. I felt that regardless of how much we tried to make things right, they would never be the same. It wasn’t always an easy journey for me. Since 2017, I was deeply affected by how our friendship had turned out because I talked about it a lot with those closest to me. The way the friendship turned out bothered me. I mean, of course it bothered me because if it didn’t, I wouldn’t have talked about it so much. I also think that in the process of talking about it so much, I had already mourned the loss of the friendship which is why I was very content with the friendship fading away. It is completely normal to mourn a friendship because when a friend has been a huge part of your life, you feel the loss when things are no longer the same. I feel everything so deeply so the fact that this friendship had turned out the way I had never imagined, really did break my heart.

Reflecting on the friendship we had, I now believe that sometimes, people only come into your lives for a short period of time to teach you things or because that is exactly what you need at that point in your life. I am not sad anymore because I have made peace with the fact that maybe throughout our twenties, we needed each other for whatever we went through. We were destined to grow as much as we did together before we both progressed onto separate chapters in our lives. I always remind myself that not everyone that comes into my life is supposed to stay and I feel that is how I have made peace with the fact that even when we don’t ever want someone to leave our lives, sometimes people do and we have no choice but to accept this bitter truth. It does however, get easier as time goes on.

Now, my ex-best friend is married, and she has welcomed a child into the world which is wonderful. There are no hard feelings from my side. I feel we have both moved on with our lives and I am personally very content with where I currently am. I don’t think I would ever want to fix this friendship anymore or try to attempt to go back to how it used to be because that is impossible. Plus, I feel too much has happened in the interim period for it to go back to how it was once upon a time. Instead, I cherish the memories we made, and I will always wish her the best. It’s just, I choose not to be a part of her life anymore because too much has happened for me to make that effort. And that is how I know I have outgrown the friendship.

Until next time, 

Yours, 

The Unveiled Reflector x 

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