Humans are social creatures. We find security and love in nurturing relationships. We begin childhood making friends with our siblings, cousins, children of close family friends, neighborhood kids, and fellow school students. Enjoying our friendly interactions, we also go through a fair share of hurt feelings. Our new “best friend” may not want to play with us at recess or the best friend in high school that suddenly drops you for a new group of cooler girls. Believe me, I have been through it all when it comes to friendships! Entering adulthood, I naively thought that was all behind me but here I am writing the post about the 7 Reasons we lose friends in Midlife!
To tell the truth, friendships continue to change, evolve, and even end. Instead of being ignored on the playground, you get ignored in real life, in person and not to mention how some people behave on social media! While this is an unpleasant experience, friendships ending or changing are completely normal!
Types of Friendships
Before we dive into WHY friendships change or end, let’s talk about the different types of friendships we engage in.
- Childhood and Teenage Friends
During childhood we make many new friends. Some we naturally click with or sometimes friendships are formed because of circumstances. Your friend might have lived next door, gone through all of grade school with you or maybe your parents were friends.
I am beyond lucky that two of my LIFELONG FRIENDS are from my childhood. Life can take us down different paths, and while I did go long periods of time without seeing these friends, our friendships, although changed, remain intact today. Something I never take for granted!
- College or Party Friends
This is the friendship that was solidified in line for the bathroom at a party when you have had many cocktails. You bond over the love of each other’s cute shoes or amazing hair. Chances are that once your party phase is over, so is the friendship.
I keep in contact with only ONE of my party friends. We text occasionally, and other than a wedding of a mutual friend’s son or daughter, we never party together anymore.
- Adult Bestie
Close friends in adulthood are a blessing. Leaning on each other in hard times. Complaining about significant others, our children, our jobs. Having “Girls Night” or taking mini vacations together. We treasure this friend and again assume this friendship will last the test of time.
Knowing friendships can end, it is likely we have shared the most with this friend. They know our childhood stories, not to mention our party stories! They know of our struggles with significant others along with the rifts of raising our children. We likely know their parents and siblings, along with sharing multiple mutual friends.
7 Reasons We Lose Friends in Midlife
It is easy to understand why we may no longer be friends with someone from our childhood or someone we went partying with in early adulthood. However, most of us have a harder time understanding why we have fallen out with, or the friendship ended with our Adult Bestie and other adult friends. Here are some common reasons friendships end.
- People Change. Imagine how boring life would be if we all always stayed the same. Embrace the natural changes in life. If the friendship doesn’t survive through a change, it probably wasn’t meant to be.
- Interests Change. Did you and your friend work at the same company, workout at the same gym, enjoy a specific hobby together? Throughout life our interests change. Friendships might not survive when we no longer want to work out or quit our job.
- Some Friendships are Toxic. Did the friendship encourage one or the other person to engage in toxic behavior? Gossiping, envying others, keeping up with the Jones’s are all toxic behaviors. It is a good thing this friendship didn’t last. You don’t need that negativity in your life!
- Substance Abuse. Let’s be real, substance abuse, illegal or otherwise, is a real problem. Friendships formed over the abuse of anything will never last.
- Distance. Sometimes absence does NOT make the heart grow fonder. Not all friendships can survive long distances. Interests change because environments change.
- Financial Problems. Financial stress is a real problem, especially in midlife when we are tied down with debt. Not everyone in midlife is financially secure, that can put real stress on a friendship.
- Health. Both of you may experience health issues, making it hard to keep in touch or see each other. Lack of understanding or empathy can cause bitterness, as a result the friendship ends.
Understand that gaining and losing friends is a natural part of life. Midlife is the time we should only be around people that make us happy, people that are good for our soul. Mourning the loss of a good friendship is a must, forgive yourself if you contributed to the ending, reach out and explain your side if you feel closure will help you move on. But do, move on! Embrace new midlife friendships, experiences and growth!