Sometimes We Outgrow Even Best Friends and That's Okay

It doesn't have to be a tragic breakup

Over the course of my twenties, I found myself “outgrowing” all manner of things in my life. Some of them were requirements of my adult life, and others were more the result of growing up and discovering newfound likes, dislikes, and lifestyle changes. Some were easy to give up or pass by - like sugary cocktails or leggings as pants (OK, maybe not *always* leggings as pants) - while others were anxiety-inducing and awkward, like ending friendships that weren’t healthy.

Recognizing that the person I was at 19 or 20 is hardly the person I am today in my thirties, was key to streamlining many areas of my life, from my closet to my contacts list. It sounds and even feels cold, but the truth is simply this: my life has changed, and some relationships no longer fit.

Looking back, I had friends who were friends based entirely on proximity, or friends who were always down to party. The fun was usually there, but the connection, often, was not. It’s easy to be friendly when you don’t have to truly build a relationship, but as we know, building and maintaining relationships is not a half-assed job.

As people do, many of my old friends have moved onto different things - though, admittedly, some haven’t - and we went on our own ways building lives for ourselves. And, as time likes to do, months turned into years and there are many I might not even recognize if I passed them on the street, and when I do run into someone from my 'party years,' I generally find it awkward now. The truth is we have little in common besides a few past memories.

But what happens when they don’t feel the same way?

From time to time, a few faces from my past spring up at events, on the street, in the mall, or, more often, on social media. “Let’s get together! It’ll be like old times!” gets thrown around and I’ll awkwardly say yes with very little commitment in my voice (or my heart). How do you tell someone you don’t want to hang out with them?

As a people pleaser, the thought of telling someone I don’t want to have coffee with them causes heart palpitations but the truth is that some people no longer fit into my life. It feels a bit cold and callous to say it though it’s as plain as day to see.

Figuring I wasn’t alone in this situation, I reached out to some friends and colleagues to ask their opinion. Here were there best tips for handling friendships you’ve outgrown:

  • Agree to coffee or a cocktail and give it a second chance. This way, you’ll know for sure.
  • Ignore. (LOL)
  • Thank them for the suggestion and explain that things are feeling a little busy right now, then continue to blame your family or work for not having time.
  • Ask if the old friend is attending any local or industry-specific events you’re going to. Two birds, one stone. Plus it’s a communal thing, so if it’s awkward you can easily bail.
  • Thank them for reaching out but gently explain that, while you appreciate their invitation, you’re not sure you’ll have much to talk about since so much time has passed.

At the end of the day, outgrowing relationships is a very normal and natural part of our unique evolution. Whether it’s a friend you’ve not seen in a while or someone who regularly runs in your circle, it’s okay to recognize that, perhaps your friendship is no longer strong enough to be viable or that you’re too different to really connect.

Not all friendships (or any relationship) end because someone did something wrong.



Ashley—an East coast-dwelling single mum of Finn the preschooler and Duncan, The Wonder Cat—has the propensity to be a little feisty, but tones it down for her day job as a public relations peep. Shoes are her best friend. - See more at: