Why Your Friendships Usually Don’t Last Forever

You are completely inseparable; you spend practically every waking moment together.  You know each other’s Starbucks orders by heart and can’t be alone in a room without spontaneously bursting into laughter. You insist on smell checking each other. They’ve seen you eat an entire pizza by yourself and still ask for a brownie. They’ve seen you ugly cry over Damon Salvatore.  They have even seen you pop grotesque zits.

Boys come and go, but friends are forever. At least we hope so.

In many ways, we are more vulnerable with our friends than we will ever be with our significant others. There’s no pressure to contour and highlight, or to reply to a text within a particular window of time. You can always trust them to tell you the truth, even if it is a truth you don’t want to hear. You are unapologetically yourself. As Candace Bushnell once said, “Maybe our girlfriends are our soulmates and guys are just people to have fun with.” Perhaps this is one of the reasons why it is hard to accept that a friendship is truly over.

Poor Communication: In most cases it’s not a big row that leaves the neighbors knocking at the door, rather it’s a build up of small misunderstandings that go from tropical storm levels to an unmanageable hurricane. Small misunderstandings at the moment feel like an overkill to sit down and discuss, over time they turn into grudges, and then bitterness and eventually resentment. It’s hard because you feel like you didn’t get any closure.  

The third wheel: Maybe it starts with seeing less of each of other because they’re dating someone new and you don’t want to be a third wheel. Perhaps 1:00 am is a little too late to ask their opinion on a purple peplum dress. You start to rethink whether that witty little Tumblr meme with a beluga is actually something they would find amusing. This party is probably not their scene. You still talk sometimes and gush over all the new things that have been going on with you. You forget to call one week. They forget the next. Eventually, memories slip through the crack until you can’t remember anything truly exceptional happening to you over the last two months.  A few years down the road you still like their profile picture and write happy birthday on their wall like all their other college acquaintances.

The long distance: In first-year psychology, we learned about the proximity principle: the idea that we are attracted to those who are nearer to us in space and time. People tend to marry those who went to the same school as them, were in the same residence, or perhaps worked in the same firm.  This idea applies to friendships as well; we are more attached to those we see on a fairly regular basis.  Easy in theory. Harder in the application. We swear that we will stay in touch, attend all the important events such as birthdays and weddings. Like relationships, distance is a likely downfall for friendships. Time doesn’t slow down or stop, we grow close to new people and old ties weaken.  In the end, you may just end up being “somebody that they used to know”.

You learn just as much from your past friendships as you do from your current ones. Like first love, your first BFF will most likely not be your last.  Cherish old memories, create new bonds, one breakup with a friend makes room for another great one.

Feature Image via Brandon Woelfel.

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