An ear to listen as you pour your heart out. A shoulder to cry on during a bad break up. An extra pair of legs to take with you on wild adventures. A person to do life with.
Friends are invaluable, especially when you come across those extra special ones that make life a little brighter. So when we start to drift apart from them, be it because of geographical distance, changing life schedules, or unresolved disputes, it can lead to feelings of anxiety, distress, and sadness. However, a feeling that your drifting apart from a friend need not be the end of the world, it could just mean that your friendship is in need of a little maintenance to get it up and running again. There are a lot of practical ways in which friendships (and indeed all relationships) can be successfully maintained.
Communication is key. Do you have any unresolved issues that still weighing on you? Talk about it. Have you been keeping something from a friend that you’re scared to talk about? Air it out. Withholding information and harboring resentment is completely toxic and is the quickest way to kill a friendship. Relationships are not defined by the issues they encounter, but rather how they work through them to come out of the other side better and stronger than before. If you are drifting apart because things are going unsaid or you don’t share information about your life with your friend(s), then communicating is an excellent first step.
Quality time is vital. Drifting apart in a friendship is a certainty if there is a lack of quality time spent with each other. Note, the key here is ‘quality’ time. Not time together filled with awkward silences and little arguments every 10min followed by forced conversation and fake laughter. Quality time is time spent together when each person feels completely at ease and connected. It could be a long honest conversation over the phone, a road trip away or a chilled evening playing pool at a bar, the important thing is authenticity.
Without the foundation of trust and reliance, a friendship will crumble instantly. The strongest kind of friendships are the ones where regardless of the amount of time that has passed, a certain level of loyalty is always sustained. Drifting apart – particularly after a bad incident – can be a call for some trust re-building. Why not try activities that call for teamwork and collaboration ( for instance, sports/ creative projects) to build trust and lift spirits.
With a proactive attitude, it can be easy to turn things around and stop a friendship from drifting apart. However, it can be the case for some friendships that drifting apart is not such a bad thing and could benefit you in the long run. As we grow and develop as people through different experiences our perspectives and priorities change and more often than not we tend to outgrow friendships with people who are unable or unwilling to improve themselves. For instance, you may have bonded with a group of people over how unorganized and directionless you all are, and it may have been funny at some point to laugh at people who put effort into things. But as time goes on and your eyes open to all the opportunities in life that are yours for the taking, you may find yourself naturally drifting apart from people who are constantly pessimistic and unsupportive. A similar situation can be found in toxic friendships. When you find yourself drifting away from a friendship dynamic that subtracts more than it adds to your life, count it as a blessing in disguise and an opportunity to fill a vacancy with new friends that will Enrich you and help you grow into a better version of yourself.