It happens to the best of us. No matter how many Skype dates you have, Snapchats you trade or happy hours you share, best friends can drift apart. The period of time in your life when you spent every day together and became besties in a rapid acceleration of gossip and inside jokes will run its course. After all, you can't stay college roommates forever.
Well, you can, but eventually, the facilities department will break down your door to find both of you huddled in the corner, covered in sentimental trinkets and ramen. Then, they will evict you. You also can't continue walking the halls of high school in perpetuity. But who wants to do that, anyway?
Whether you move to different places and have the tear-fest airport goodbye, or if you simply move to opposite sides of town for your jobs, things change. At first, you're still texting constantly and telling your friend every detail about the minutiae of your daily life. From the side eye your co-worker gave you to the new flame on Tinder and the odd bowel movement you think should be checked out by a doctor, they're getting it all.
But gradually, that becomes a lot of work. As you each settle into the next phase of your life (which does not include three-hour nightly YouTube sessions as you eat straight out of the same Ben & Jerry's carton), the communication becomes less and less frequent.
At some point, you realize you are officially in a new stage of your life. You still love your best friend, but you now have new patterns, new people you see every day and new exhaustions brought on by the working world. You wonder, “Can I handle the seasons of my life?” You're not sure, but Stevie did. So, there's hope.
After a few years in the working world, and the realization you're making new memories with different people, the meeting and calling become harder. You still see each other whenever you can. That may be biweekly Friday wine nights, or a flight across the country every couple of months, but it's no picnic.
Eventually, you're not really sure what your relationship is. You've counted up the times you've spoken in the past year, and it existed on one hand. You curse yourself for failing the friendship and vow to pick up the phone as soon as you get home.
Before you do, consider this: Maybe the friendship has run its course. It may have served its purpose and helped you grow, but that phase may be over. Ask yourself if it may be time to let go.
Here are six ways to call the time of death on your best friendship:
1. The effort doesn't seem worth it anymore.
As time goes by, the number of people you keep in touch with from each phase of life shrinks. Sitting down and divulging deep insights in the time you've allotted each other is much harder than casually getting real while eating drunk pizza on a Thursday like you did in college.
After you Skype, call or catch up over dinner, do you feel like the logistical scheduling challenges were worth it? Start keeping track.
2. The idea of your friendship is better than the reality.
Maybe your rhythm is off, making conversation a little awkward now. You don't laugh at the same things, and you don't pick up on each other's sarcasm as easily. If the anticipation for a meetup or the obligatory Facebook photo post afterwards are more validating of your friendship than your actual time together, it may be time to pull the plug.
3. “Remember when” starts every sentence of your encounters.
If you're living in the past, you may not have a strong present or future. Obviously, there's nothing better than reminiscing over all your fun times with your best friend. But if that's the only thing keeping the conversation going, your friendship might be on life support. Every best friendship should continue to make more memories together, not just live in the old ones.
4. Your music choices betray your feelings.
When you're in the prime of your best friendship, you think about your best friend when songs like “I'll Be There for You,” or “Always Be My Baby” come on. Now you've noticed that as soon as you leave your brunch, you're putting on “Breathe” by Taylor Swift, or “See You Again” by Wiz Khalifa. Get it together. Nobody has time for that sob story.
5. Their place in your life has been replaced.
You used to call them in a crisis, or go to them with your biggest fears and greatest joys. Now, you don't. You have other people to share that with, and other people who you want to share those moments with you. Take note of whom you intuitively want to tell these important things to. Are they one of them?
6. The lifelong friends don't make you wonder.
Most importantly, the lifelong — the ones who make it through your different phases and bad patches — never make you wonder if it's worth it. Sure, there's the occasional few weeks where you hate them, but it's never too long before you're laughing at something stupid or planning your next adventure, no matter how far away they are. Those are the ones you keep around.
If your friend has drifted away, that doesn't mean you failed or your friend is a bad person. It's not to say you should completely cut your friend off, but maybe it's not necessary to cling on to that past so tightly. Maybe a chapter is over. You can cherish the memories and still make room for new people to create more.