17 Reasons Why Old Friendships Fade (And That’s Okay)

Not all friendships last forever, and as sad as that may be, it’s important to accept that it’s okay and a normal part of life. In this article, we’ll uncover 17 reasons why old friendships fade, from geographical distance to differing expectations.

Changes in Life Stages and Priorities

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Friends can unfortunately drift apart as their life paths diverge, such as one friend focusing on their career growth while the other starts a family. Different priorities and interests can lessen common ground, and the transition from school to adulthood often changes friendship dynamics. While sad, know that this is something that happens to everyone and is a part of growing up.

Geographical Distance

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One big reason why friendships fade is physical distance. If you or your friend have moved to a different location, this naturally reduces the frequency of your interactions. As much as video calls can help, long-distance friendships do tend to struggle due to a lack of physical presence. Distance can lead to the gradual loss of shared experiences.

Evolving Personalities and Interests

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People change as time passes, which can affect their compatibility, and your new hobbies or interests may not align with those of your old friends. Science of People says, “This is natural in every phase of life, but it’s especially common during young adulthood when people discover their way in the world.” Shifts in values and beliefs can create distance.

Lack of Effort and Communication

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Friendships, like any relationship, require effort. So, naturally, old friendships can fade when the effort to maintain them decreases on either side. Poor communication can lead to misunderstandings, and distance and busy lifestyles can lead to neglecting friendships. While sad, it’s a part of life, and you don’t have to feel guilty for being busy.

New Romantic Relationships

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New romantic relationships can take time away from friendships as you’re suddenly preoccupied with getting to know someone new. Partnerships might also lead to new social circles, meaning you have less time for your old friends. While this is completely natural, some friends may not be happy that you’ve met someone, and the friendship will fade. Accept it, and don’t let yourself be held back.

Family Obligations

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You may have grown up with a friend and thought you’d be close forever, but starting a family can drastically change your availability and priorities. As shared by Today’s Parent, “Having a kid, as any parent knows, instantly transforms your relationship to almost everything and everyone, including friends you once considered the most important people in your life.” It’s sad to see friendships fade, but it does unfortunately come with parental responsibilities.

Career Focus

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As you climb the career ladder or dive deep into your personal ambitions, your time and energy for old friendships often diminish. Career-driven lifestyles, especially in demanding professions, can consume the hours once reserved for leisure and socializing. This shift in focus can unintentionally sideline old friends, leading to the gradual fading of these relationships. Some friends will stick around regardless, and others will fade away—it’s all a part of life.

Trust Issues

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The foundation of any strong friendship is trust, and when that trust is broken, it can lead to irreparable damage to the relationship. Broken promises or unkept secrets can create a rift that is difficult to mend, and friends who do not respect personal boundaries also break down trust. If this happens, it’s perfectly normal and even healthy to distance ourselves from each other.

Social Media and Virtual Friendship Basis

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If you’ve had a long-time social media or virtual friendship with someone, it can be hard to keep it up forever. According to YourTango, “differing time zones, lack of communication, and lack of face-to-face time can really take a toll on your friendship.” Social media may give you a false sense of connection, reducing your efforts to meet. You might prioritize those you can actually see day to day, and that’s okay.

Different Expectations

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Friendships can fade when there’s a mismatch in expectations about what the relationship should entail. For some, friendship might mean casual socializing, while for others, it could involve deep emotional support. Without a mutual understanding or compromise, these differing expectations can gradually pull friends apart. It’s okay to let someone go if they’re not meeting your needs.

Competitiveness and Jealousy

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Your friendship may have started out great, but over time, your friend may have begun to show jealousy over your personal or professional achievements. Competitive dynamics may start to overshadow mutual support. According to Stylist, at this point, “you have two choices: talk to them about the issue, or cut them out of your life for good.”

Personality Clashes and Conflicts

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Even the strongest friendships can be tested by disagreements or misunderstandings. When conflicts aren’t resolved effectively, they can create a wedge between friends. Over time, accumulated unresolved issues can erode the trust and closeness once shared, leading to the gradual fading of the friendship. In this case, it may be the healthiest thing to accept the end of the friendship.

Health Challenges

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Chronic illnesses or health issues can change social dynamics, and friends may find it difficult to relate to or support health-related struggles. Health priorities can also lead to changes in the lifestyle and socializing of the person struggling. While sad, this is a reason for the fading of friendships. It’s best to let go of those who don’t support you in your time of need.

Financial Differences

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Psychology Today says, “A wealth gap between friends can create tension, conflict, presumptions, resentment, or shame. A decades-long friendship could be lost over a bitter misunderstanding triggered by financial disparity.” Different financial priorities and spending habits can have a big impact on a friendship.

New Social Circles

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As you and your friend grow and take different paths, it’s likely that your social networks will expand and new friends will come into play. With different friendship groups to cater to, there’s less time to share with old friends, which can cause these friendships to fade. Nobody wants to lose an old friend, but sometimes things just happen!

Self-Growth and Personal Development

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Personal growth can lead to you outgrowing old friendships, and your new self-awareness and interests may not be shared by your old friends. As said by Refinery29, “It makes sense that we should lose some friends over a lifetime. In fact, it’s necessary, and it can be ultimately positive.” Seeking relationships that align with your current personal values is best.

Natural Drift and Life Transitions

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Friendships can fade due to a natural drift, one that often occurs subtly over time. This drift usually happens when the effort to maintain the friendship is not actively pursued by either party because life has become busier with personal and professional commitments. Unfortunately, this reflects the normal ebb and flow of relationships over time.

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