• Keeping Friends

Five signs a friendship’s headed south…

Published: May 26, 2011 | Last Updated: May 14, 2020 By | 8 Replies Continue Reading

Hmmm…..it just doesn’t feel right


Friendships change over time. Just like a well-worn bra that has slowly lost its shape and support, once-close friendships also fray without one or both friends fully realizing what is happening. In my survey of more than 1500 women for my book, Best Friends Forever: Surviving a Breakup with Your Best Friend, respondents repeatedly mentioned the same subtle (or not too subtle) signs that suggest a friendship may be in trouble. These include: 


1) Misunderstandings become more frequent. Your conversations used to flow seamlessly. But now, you just aren’t connecting the way you used to. It’s almost like something’s misfiring. You say something innocuous and she takes it the wrong way-or she complains about something you said months ago and you can’t understand why she would bring it up now. It’s gotten to the point where you seem to be grating on each other’s nerves. 


2) It’s hard to make plans. It used to be so easy to work out your schedules. Now, whenever you try to get together, life seems to get in the way. Last time you were supposed to meet for a girls’ night out, she begged off at the last minute saying she couldn’t find a babysitter. It was the second time this happened. She’s promised to reschedule but you almost hope it doesn’t happen. You feel a sense of dread when you see her phone number come up on your caller ID. 


3) There’s been a breech of trust. You’re not sure why but you’re reluctant to share your successes with her. She’s been subtly undermining you at work and you suspect she may be jealous. You realize you have to be more careful about what you share with her. 


4) Silences are getting longer. When you talk on the phone or get together, it’s hard to find common ground. There’s simply less and less to be said. You begin feeling that she’s on some other wavelength. When did your lives diverge in two such different directions? Even her jokes aren’t funny; they leave you speechless rather than laughing. Was she always this boring? 


5) You feel nervous and edgy when you’re together. You used to feel so relaxed-whether sharing intimacies over the phone, talking over coffee, or just being together saying nothing. Now your stomach is in knots each time you meet. You feel tense because you can’t be yourself and have to watch your words. 


Some misunderstandings can be corrected. Other times, boundaries need to be set or more effort needs to be put into the relationship. But many times, two friends have changed-in different directions-and they’re simply drifting apart. Sometimes even the best of friendships reach their expiration dates. If you’re feeling uncomfortable, it may be time to take stock of what’s going on and how you can make the right fix. 


Prior posts on The Friendship Blog about friendships drifting apart

Legacy Friends: Keeping old friendship alive

When close friends become faraway friends

Maybe friendships aren’t meant to last


Have you checked out the new Friendship Forums? Chat with others who are figuring out friendships.

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Comments (8)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    This really helps. I have had a best friend since third grade. It’s high school now. Everything is falling apart. We have different classes, and she ditches me so much now. She also hangs out with people she has class with more often than she hangs out with me. It hurts! I need help. What do I do?! I want my friend back! 🙁

  2. Anonymous says:

    I was best friends with this girl for as long as i can remember we were childhood buddies she had two twin sisters both one year older than us.But she was the one I conected with more.We were friends for about 11 years,intill this other girl joined are little group and we all got along really nice but when summer break started i had my phone turned off and me and her lost conation but we still talked over the home phone but not offten so she started hanging out with that other girl and when I called her she was never there. She was always at her house. So I asked her sister naya could come over so we started hanging out more and more and me and my best friend started to grow apart a I didn’t even realise it intil it was to late an i miss her so much and all the fun times we had.Whenever I try to hang with her it is so akward. I want to be friends again but I dont want to be the 3rd wheel.Idont know want to do helpppppppppppppp

  3. Anonymous says:

    I’m so sorry for your hurt! A friend of 30 years is no small thing. I have gone through this too, so I know how it hurts. I stare at the little friendship knickknacks she sent and I feel sad. But I also learned that sending knickknacks with “friends forever” on them is the easy part. Being a friend and listening with love and sympathy, even when your problems are not interesting or easy to solve, is the hard part. She didn’t want to do that. She said she needed to be free from all things “negative,” and hearing about someone’s hospitalization, husband being laid off, heart attacks, etc., apparently was too “negative” and interfered with her yoga classes and all such things she was doing to be “positive.” Blech. But she only told me all this after downgrading me and when I told her I felt rejected and dumped. She would take me back as a friend if we did things her way: If I were to ooh and aahh over her yoga class chat and all of her events. But I’m not willing to have such an extremely one-sided friendship. So we have separated for irreconciliable differences. I don’t feel anger too much. But profound disappointment. The sadness has pretty much ebbed over time. I hope it does foryou, too. She wasn’t what you thought she was. You didn’t know she would turno out like this.

  4. Anonymous says:

    How true this is- a friend of 30 years- has completely changed since getting married and having babies. The fact is, I never changed. I still valued her as a treasured old friend.

    I say : look after your friends, as you never know. One day your husband may die or walk out on you and your children die or fly the coup or your siblings and parents are gone, and you’re left there wondering where your buddies are, especially the one who really loved you.

    It devastated me. It felt like a death, only worse as it’s harder to grieve and you have reminders or memories or desires to ring her up, or drop in, or share a funny email or text.

    All I can say is that she lost her way and im one if her casualties as she recklessly dumps me, an old friend, who’s fault was that I expressed hurt from her behavior and words that made me feel rejected and betrayed.

    How to get over such a friendship that we both knew for sure would last a life-time? Perhaps time, or new friends. But the memory will always be there and that makes you wiser and deeper.

  5. Anonymous says:

    I am glad you were wise enough to accept the change in friendship. I, by contrast, felt so hurt and disappointed in my friend’s distancing that I confronted her and, ultimately, she ended our friendship. I have some more clarity now about why she was distancing but I regret that we’re no longer friends on any level. In some ways, I wish we had stayed friends, if even on a simpler level. Good for you. Perhaps, in time, your friendship will increase in closeness again. Perhaps not. There’s always the possibility, though, and that’s hopeful.

  6. lizz says:

    This is so true – the awkwardness of the relationship that used to bring such joy. I have both downgraded and been downgraded by friends – just never really understood why. It is hard either way!
    Once in a while I can salvage a friendship, but sometimes not.

  7. Taz @ Climb the Rainbow says:

    I ended an unequal friendship because of some of these reasons. I was gradually finding it more and more difficult to connect with her because it seemed as though my concerns, dreams, and life weren’t as worthy of discussion as hers. A thoughtless comment sealed my decision to opt-out. It was the best thing that could have happened, since I then had more energy to focus on my positive and equal friendships.

  8. Anonymous says:

    I’ve been reading this site for about a year now, trying to figure out where I stand with a friend of mine. Each of these statements have become true for me.

    This is definitely validating my thoughts about my friendship. However, we have found a way to have a relationship through more simple activities (seeing a movie here and there). This has been working for us. I do think, though, that our friendship has changed for the near future. We lost the depth, but our history and mutual interests is allowing us to have a simpler friendship.

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