9 sad signs your childhood friendship has run its course (and it’s time to move on)

As someone who only had one childhood friend, realizing our relationship had run its course was somewhat devastating. 

I knew we grew apart over time, but accepting that we literally had nothing in common anymore wasn’t easy.

We both kept trying to keep the bond and then later, only I did. 

Eventually, I had to accept that it was better to stop texting or calling. I only set myself up for hurt, anyway.

Now, a few years later, I can look back and appreciate the role our friendship played in my life, even though it had to end. 

It’s never easy to let go of something you kept so close to your heart for so long, but not all friendships are meant to carry you into old age. 

Wondering if your childhood friendship has reached a dead end?

It probably has if…

1) You only look backward 

If your interactions are primarily based on reminiscing about the past and you have little to share about your current lives, it may be a sign that your friendship isn’t growing with you. 

This usually happens because the bond you share is heavily anchored in previous experiences and no new memories or shared interests. 

It’s natural and comforting to look back on special memories, especially those that shaped your formative years. 

But when looking back becomes the main thing you do when together, your friendship is stagnant. 

Constantly focusing on the past can also be a sign that both of you have grown in different directions but haven’t found the courage to let go of your past selves.

Growth is good. And with that, sometimes we need to accept that the past versions of ourselves don’t exist anymore. 

However hard that is. 

Another big reason you might stick to talking about the past is simply because…

2) You have little in common now

Interests and personalities evolve over time. 

If you and your friend no longer share common interests or values, connecting on a meaningful level might be harder.

You see, childhood friendships start from a common place.

Mostly, people are bound together by circumstance rather than a conscious choice, especially when you’re pretty young.

As children, these differences are minimal, or we easily overlook them.

But once you become an adult, the activities, topics, and values that were once the glue of your friendship no longer align. 

This isn’t anyone’s fault, though. It’s part of growing up. The worst part? 

This can make…

3) Your conversations feel forced or awkward

Struggling to find things to talk about typically suggests that the bond you had isn’t as strong as it used to be.

Think about when your friendship started out… 

Your conversations probably flowed effortlessly.

You shared a bunch of interests. 

You were curious about the same things and excited about finding this out!

This is what fuels friendships. So, if your conversations feel forced – even awkward – you might have grown apart

If you find it difficult to connect on a conversational level, your relationship will start to feel more like an obligation than anything else. 

You’ll start planning what to talk about beforehand…

Feel out of sync…

It isn’t uncommon for friends to go through phases where they feel a little distant. But if this persists, there might be a deeper disconnect. 

It’s sad, really. 

And even if you manage to have a laugh or two or talk about something interesting for a minute, if you’ve genuinely outgrown each other, there’s a pretty good chance…

4) You feel drained after interactions

Your social life isn’t supposed to exhaust you.

Sure, if you’re a little introverted, you might feel like you’re in serious need of alone time after hanging out with friends, but it won’t affect your well-being. 

So, if you consistently feel drained after being with your childhood friend, the friendship may not be serving you in a positive way anymore. 

You see, friendship should be a source of joy, support, and mutual growth. 

It’s supposed to energize you, offer comfort, and provide a space to be your true self without judgment. 

When the dynamic shifts to a point where each encounter leaves you feeling emotionally depleted, it may be time to move on. 

This can happen for many reasons. 

It might be that conversations are one-sided or that you constantly have to tiptoe around sensitive topics. 

Staying connected could also feel like too much of an effort. 

Now, this doesn’t mean that either one of you is doing anything wrong. 

It’s just a sign that your friendship has run its course. 

Sentimental ties can make this hard to recognize and accept. But you have to prioritize your well-being and move on if it’s better for you. 

5) You’re at different life stages

people who are trustworthy on the surface but manipulative underneath often display these subtle behaviors 9 sad signs your childhood friendship has run its course (and it's time to move on)

Sometimes, friends drift apart because they’re at different points in their lives. 

This can create a disconnect in understanding and empathy towards each other’s current experiences.

Let’s say you’re newly married and pregnant while your bestie is still living that club life. 

Or maybe you’re focusing on your career while your friend decides to travel the world. 

These differing priorities can make it harder to understand the challenges each is facing. Your time available can also become less, and you might not share the same interests anymore. 

Shared experiences and common ground make friendships thrive. When that’s gone, relating to each other’s realities becomes harder. 

And this can create a situation where…

6) You can’t or don’t want to turn to each other for support anymore

One of the special things about friendship is the support you get and have the privilege to give. 

Now, this might not be the same for everyone. 

But knowing that I have someone who’s got my back and that I’m that person for someone else makes me feel less alone. 

If you’re in a relationship, you should definitely experience this within it, too.

Still, friendship brings a different type of support. Especially when it started in childhood. 

When you don’t want to call your friend for advice anymore or feel like you can’t, it might be time to accept that the bond you once had isn’t that strong anymore. 

Deep, meaningful friendships bring comfort into your life because of the security they offer when you’re going through ups and downs. 

If this element is missing, the relationship might not be as fulfilling. 

The same is true when you reach a point where…

7) You don’t share exciting news with each other first

Childhood friends usually know everything about your life. They’re among the first to find out when you get a new job, plan to move to a new city, or find the love of your life. 

Letting each other know about major life events is a reflection of the special place you hold in each other’s lives. 

When this changes, you’ll start sharing exciting news with other people first – or maybe even stop sharing it with your childhood friends altogether. 

This doesn’t necessarily happen overnight. 

You might start drifting apart gradually as your life evolves around new social circles or romantic partners. 

But when you do, you’ll stop sharing as much with each other. And this subtle sign is a clear indicator that your friendship is reaching an end

8) You feel relieved when plans get canceled 

Feeling relieved when plans with a childhood friend get canceled is a huge sign that your friendship has run its course

This usually happens when the effort of maintaining the friendship outweighs the enjoyment or satisfaction you get from it. 

You see, in the prime of your friendship, plans to meet up or catch up would typically be met with anticipation and excitement. This is because you find value in and enjoy each other’s company. 

When the idea of spending time together makes you feel anything but this, how you see the friendship has probably changed. 

This could also be the reason…

9) You prefer other people’s company 

When you find more compatibility with other friends, you’ve probably grown beyond what your childhood friendship can offer. 

This often happens when you’re not on the same level of understanding that you once were. 

As you experience new things and form new relationships, having more in common with people who reflect your current self is natural. 

This is healthy and necessary. 

You genuinely shouldn’t feel guilty about this shift. 

Last words

Losing the connection you once had with your childhood friend doesn’t make the bond you shared less important. They were still part of your journey and helped shape who you are today. 

It can be sad to see a once-close friendship take the back seat. But it also opens doors for more fulfilling connections that relate to who you’ve become. 

Accept when it’s time to move on. 

Cherish the memories, but embrace the present. 

Natasha Combrink

Natasha Combrink

Nats is a writer who loves creating content for purposeful brands. She enjoys spending time outdoors, crafting, and diving down rabbit holes. After rediscovering life, she wants to help others live to their full potential. You can connect with her on LinkedIn.

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