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Outgrowing friendships


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Hi all, I just wanted to post because I'm feeling a bit off.


I've been having issues with my current friendship group lately. I have had a really busy year this year. I'm 27 at the moment I have a degree and worked in the field for a while, but I've found another career I actually want to pursue so I've been pretty much studying full time and working 4 days a week on top of this for the whole year.


Because of this I haven't really spent much time with my friends or almost anyone to be honest. I'm now on holidays from studies for 2 months so my friends have been inviting me out more and I've been able to see them. The only problem is all they want to do is go partying and drink. Like constantly. Last weekend I went out and saw them after finishing my last assessment, I was pretty exhausted and didn't feel like drinking and didn't want to stay out late. So I was just kind of sitting there talking with everyone but every 5 minutes someone asks me "where's your drink?" "why aren't you drinking?" etc and it makes me feel as if I'm being a party pooper by not drinking even though I'm still there and trying to talk to everyone.


I don't know I just feel like I'm getting really over all of this stuff. I've had health issues in the past because of having so much alcohol and junk food in my early 20s and I just want to take care of my health now and sleep and have a routine. I just want to do things during the day and not have conversations where everyone is being loud and off their face all the time. I'm really interested in what I'm studying at the moment but if I try to talk to anyone about it in this group it's like "why are we talking about work related things?"


I don't know, I still like these friends but I feel lately like I always have to act like someone I'm not when I'm with them and it doesn't feel good anymore. I don't have many other friends though at the moment. Most of my other friends have been in long term relationships/married/getting married and I'm still single so I often feel like a 3rd or 5th wheel with them.


I guess all this stuff is pretty normal, but has anyone experienced this before? Did you ditch your friends or limit your time with them? Am I just being boring and I should get over it? I don't want to lose my friends by I really don't want to go back to that kind of lifestyle so just wondering what to do :/

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It sounds like you are growing up and maturing and your friends are lagging behind you as they are still in the parting your face off stage. This is normal and yes it happened to me and probably everyone else I know. Your life has shifted to education and working towards your future so you arent interested in getting hammered anymore. Nothing wrong with that, you have just moved on in your life.


You can limit your time with this group of friends, you can try getting together with them as one on one or two, whatever you feel like handling. You can work on making new friends too.

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Well I think there is nothing wrong with not wanting to get drunk and party. It's not boring! You do you and live the life you want. However I think that unfortunately your friends won't change. Or at least won't change at the pace you want them to. It seems like your life has changed and you have outgrown them. I think your best bet is to try to make new like-minded friends. Or at least acquaintances that you can hang out with. Are there any nice people at your work or study? What hobbies do you have? Maybe you could try some classes or Meetup groups? Even making friends online like through the Patook or Bumble BFF apps.

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Totally normal, an experience that is unavoidable in life.


To offer a slightly different take than the others: There is a very good chance that, even when you're out drinking, that other people are having very similar thoughts—that the person who is saying "Hey, where's your drink?" is also wondering "Why are we always drinking?" Life is just kind of funny that way, especially at the age you're in. For all you know some of the people you're feeling alienated from will be people who, in a year or two or three, you're sitting around bonding over how partying at bars got very old. That person egging you on to take a shot of Fireball will one day surprise you by getting you into tea. Or not. All good either way.


This is just me, and my own experience of 40 years of life, but I think friendships come and and go, change shape, fade in, fade out, circle back around, and so on. That's a lot of the beauty to friendships: the latitude, along with the camaraderie. I look at people I've known for a long time—since I was your age, much younger even—and there are some I wasn't close to for many years but am close to again. It's like we surprised each other by being on a pretty similar paths all that time, but just hitting different notes in the symphony at different junctures, in ways that was sometimes more in tune than others. Of course, there are also people I'm no longer in touch with at all who I was super close with at 24 or 32. Perhaps we "outgrew" each other, or perhaps time just does that. Perhaps we will one day be close again, or not.


Guess I'm saying that it might benefit you not to need to define this so aggressively, or define who you are so stridently in comparison to who they are, right now, in your perception. Do you, focus on what makes you happy. If you want to see these friends in a quieter, non-drinking environment—well, you can make that happen, quite easily. You open that door and see if they enter, accepting that it's okay either way. You can also keep some distance, and cultivate new friendships as you cultivate new sides of yourself. It will all even out, as it always does.


Tonight, for what it's worth, I'm going to the house of someone I've known a decade: he was 25 then, me about to turn 30. We'll drink wine and talk life and play some board games, something he's into. Joining us will be some other people I've known about the same time, and probably some people I've never met: new friends, potentially, or not. This will take place in Los Angeles, but these are people I got to know in New York City, during some more rambunctious years of spiritual searching and behavior. My friend hosting lived in San Francisco until recently, and not all that long ago I was living in New Orleans for a few years, so this is a "group" that has formed and reformed in different ways over time.


Some are now married, a few have children. Some have broken off engagements, some are single. Some who fall into the most conventionally "adult" camps would be the ones I'd have described in much the way you described your friends above: the ones asking where's my drink when I wanted to go home and read, or work hard, while tonight I may be the one reaching for the bottle of wine when they say it's time to go home to relieve the babysitter. So it goes. We are all different, from some angles, the same from others. There has been room to roam away for a while, and room to roam back.


Not sure if any of that helps. Sounds like you're in an awesome moment in life, if one of those transitions where the ground beneath the feet feels to be shifing and former pillars—as friends are pillars, vital ones—are today more wobbly than they'd been in the past. It's okay. I'd really say don't judge it too harshly, and if you're looking for a different dynamic—in life, with any one of these people—you can explore if that's possible. There are always more sides to people than we know, and often more room to get to know people we think we know, much the way there are always new people out there to discover.

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I've experienced the same. Granted, my story is not exactly the same as yours. However, there are definite parallels.


I experienced different phases and stages in my life. When I was young and single, I was invited to a lot of backyard BBQs, picnics at the beach or park, cheered the company baseball team, went out for pizza with my friends on Saturday afternoons, joined groups of friends to meet them for dinner after work hours and weekends were a constant social whirl. I enjoyed it at the time but like all things, it doesn't last forever.


People move away, get married, have kids, change jobs and we no longer see one another frequently anymore.


Then I met my husband and we were invited to an endless flurry of weddings for a decade.


When we married, our lifestyle suddenly changed. We gravitated towards other married couples because naturally we had more in common. Our lifestyle became more conservative, we're teetotalers, we grew more health-minded, don't stay out late, we had to get up at the crack of dawn to get ready for work and then we had 2 sons. Once we had a family, we could relate to those with families and children closer to our sons' age.


Due to our lifestyle, like you, our lifestyle and friendships ebbed and flowed throughout our lifetime. Some friends were real keepers throughout the decades whereas other friends faded away. Another key factor was geography. Either we moved or they moved. We no longer had the convenience to see each other daily or every week anymore. Or, our kids grew up and we no longer had anything in common with parents whom we met at various extracurricular activities. Our interest waned. We drifted apart. Our friends faded away as did we. Nowadays, our friendships have since whittled down to a select few, we have acquaintances in our lives and we focus on local relatives and in-laws as of late. Also, I'm at the stage where I enjoy being with my husband and being spontaneous. If we want to go somewhere, we go. If we want to buy, we buy. I don't want to constantly pin ourselves to someone else's social schedules anymore. Been there, done that. Or, we want our own downtime and do whatever we desire such as watch a movie, read a book, relax, eat a delicious home cooked meal and not bother with donning our social faces.


You'll get over it. New friends will enter your life. We met a lot of friends through church, community volunteerism or serving, charities, sports, hobbies, introduced by friends, knew parents from our kids' friends, colleagues and their associations, etc. As others had suggested, try MeetUps in your community. Or, through your schooling, clubs, groups, special interests and the like.


It's very normal to transition out of various friendships or outgrow them. Most people have friends waft in and out of their lifetime. I ditched my friends as we mutually did a gradual and slow fade out. We drifted apart and never parted ways acrimoniously. No hard feelings. If anyone ever confronted me, I simply told the truth. I didn't beat around the bush. I was very straightforward and honest. I told them we were at different stages in life, didn't have much in common anymore and wished them well as we went our separate ways. Realistically, we couldn't relate anymore to no one's fault. I didn't deliberately hurt anyone. I exercised tact. There is a way to bid farewell diplomatically, graciously and respectfully.


You can't have everything in life and there are sacrifices. You can't keep the same friends while changing your lifestyle ~ IF they continue making you feel uncomfortable by their relentless questions of: "Why aren't you drinking?" Where's your drink?" They're being nosy and not allowing you to have your personal preferences. You shouldn't have to make excuses nor explain to everyone either. If friends don't exercise discretion, then it's time to have new friends who know how to treat you with respect.


You're not one of them anymore. You're no longer a party girl. They're still acting like kids. You should be proud of yourself because you grew up, matured and now focused on a healthier lifestyle. I commend you for it. If your friends do not have boundaries and respect how you are, what you do or what you discuss such as work related topics, then it's time for new friends whom you'll have more in common with and can relate to better.


Be evenly yoked. Birds of a feather flock together. Be with alike minds.


You're going through a perfectly normal transition in your life. Everyone's needs change, transform and evolve. I went through the same thing. You're not alone.

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Thanks a lot for the responses! It's good to know I'm not alone in this although I did figure this is a pretty normal thing to go through.


I guess I just have to remain true to myself in all this. Although I still really like my friends, it's not really worth the detriment to my health and what I want to achieve in life at this stage.I definitely don't want to cut them off, but I think if all they do is invite me out drinking I'll start limiting my time with them. I think in a few years they might start feeling the same way and be over all of it, but who knows maybe not.


@bluecastle that's a very interesting insight you have so thanks for sharing. I think you're right, even though I may be feeling a bit out of place with them now, it doesn't mean it will stay that way forever. And if it does, I guess that's just how it is sometimes lol. But I think I definitely want to start pursuing my own values and not revolve my life around my friends and what they want to do anymore. When I was younger it seemed like my friendships were the most important things in my life and I'd always go out of my way for people and not want to miss out on anything. I'm happy I don't feel that way anymore and I don't want to feel bad or boring for being interested in my work or being sober and taking care of myself and my future.


I'm sure this is just the beginning of a lot of changes to come anyway so I guess I just have to accept it and move forward.


Thanks a lot again guys really appreciate it.

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I guess all this stuff is pretty normal, but has anyone experienced this before?




I guess all this stuff is pretty normal, but has anyone experienced this before? Did you ditch your friends or limit your time with them? Am I just being boring and I should get over it? I don't want to lose my friends by I really don't want to go back to that kind of lifestyle so just wondering what to do :/


A little bit of both, actually. My preferred response was to distance myself, but there was this one girl I couldn't shake off.... she had to go.


Am I just being boring and I should get over it? I don't want to lose my friends by I really don't want to go back to that kind of lifestyle so just wondering what to do :/


Don't force yourself to do things that you don't enjoy. Friendships change when we get older because we naturally become more independent. Most likely, you won't lose friends over this. Just politely decline offers to go out, and pop in occasionally when you know they're not going to be drinking all night. Or join them for dinner before the bar, or just pop into the bar for a half hour early on.


Lots of ways to navigate this.

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I don't believe in the "Just say NO" mantra either. If you're uncomfortable with drinking, staying out late and enjoy talking about your work, then be with people who are the same. (Birds of a feather flock together!) You'll be able to relate better to those who don't drink, stay out late and talk shop.


No matter how nice some people are, if your lifestyles don't mesh, they repeatedly question why there isn't a drink in your hand and don't want you to be a party pooper should you decide to sleep at a decent hour, that's their problem, not yours.


I like a lot of people. However, it doesn't mean I have to adapt to their lifestyle if I don't like it for myself and my habits. Naturally, I tend to gravitate towards those who are similar to me. Most people on this Earth do the same.


If you wish to retain your friends as opposed to dropping them like hot potatoes, find neutral ground such as meeting them for lunch, take a walk with them or agree to a social lifestyle which doesn't include alcohol, late nights and partying. Strike a happy medium and compromise and if not, then you've definitely outgrown them as I have with some of my former friends. Don't feel bad. It's perfectly natural and universal.


No harm no foul.


It's part of growing up and your life will constantly transition throughout your lifetime. I'm even the same with some relatives and in-laws. As we mature, our values change, there are character differences and you'll become pickier and choosier regarding whom you wish to associate with and whom you wish to avoid for your mental well being and physical health. Set your priorities straight and lookout for yourself. Do what is right for you. You don't have to be a people pleaser. I was once you. Naivete is no more.


It won't come as a shock. You'll grow accustomed to it just like the rest of us. It's life. You'll be ok! :D

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Order a soda that looks like a drink. Done. If you're too exhausted simply take a rain check. Overall you may be outgrowing some friends who just want to party all the time. That's ok, simply tone things down with them and get more involved in your current lifestyle, educational and career goals. Make new friends that share more of that trajectory. For example join some clubs and groups that reflect those interests.

I was just kind of sitting there talking with everyone but every 5 minutes someone asks me "where's your drink?" "why aren't you drinking?"
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Here's what I did -I always thought I wanted a "friendship group" and looking back -I am 53 -I am glad I didn't -I had friends from multiple facets of my life and not a posse I consistently got together with for the most part - there were times I did - often if I had a boyfriend, his friendship group became mine - but I preferred one on one time or maybe a total of three people. I went to many parties, singles events, business events, school and religious events -constantly -but those weren't "friendship" times -those were socializing/mingling/volunteering/networking times. Friendship time to me was where we'd have substantial discussions or do an activity together, have a meal and conversation. I partied plenty -danced at almost every major club in the major city I spent my first 43 years -but I never got drunk - a few times I got slightly tipsy by accident -I'm a lightweight -but I didn't drink with people or do any drugs ever - I danced, socialized, listened to the music, chatted.


It's not about age. There are always people who make rude comments about someone "not drinking" (I would order a seltzer with some cranberry juice and a twist of lime - or sometimes wine -my limit was about half a glass). Here's a story. When I was 42 I had a 3 month old and a new marriage. My women's networking group was meeting at a fancy steakhouse for dinner (we typically met at someone's home, this was a separate event which matters to me - this wasn't a "friendship group"). My husband stayed home so I could go. I wasn't breastfeeding so I "could" drink but I didn't choose to drink that night -because I wanted to have an appetizer and leave early -and not chip in for everyone else's giant alcohol bill at a fancy restaurant. The woman sitting next to me was in her mid to late 30s. We knew each other well. She asked me why I wasn't drinking -I told her I just wasn't in the mood. She shared some story about getting drunk and I shared that I'd never been drunk. She stared at me and said "Oh I feel SO sorry for you." I was offended. I said nothing.


Six months ago -this is 10 years later -she posted on Facebook about her struggles with alcoholism over the years and how she is quitting her job at an investment bank to spend more time with her husband and two young kids. Asked us for support. So don't think it's an age thing, no not all of those people who make rude comments are alcoholics but it's about them -their insecurity in drinking alone, wanting ridiculous validation for partying by getting drunk. On my moms group I see young moms regularly focusing on when they can have that glass of wine to unwind at night and joking about drinking to excess. Not my thing. I don't comment at all -not my business either.


I would stop seeking out a "friendship" group and cherry pick people you connect with from various facets of life -for me right now those groups are parents, sometimes people I volunteer with, good friends from my childhood, college and grad school friends, former work friends, current work friend, friends from my former city. Separately I still socialize in groups and do activities with groups.


Good luck and I know it's hard when friendships fade.

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I didn't ditch anyone. We just grew apart and spoke less and people move too over time for different opportunities. I think you're taking your sense of obligation as a friend a little too hard there, OP. Relax and start thinking more about yourself and what you want out of life.


The problem with hanging around the same group of people is your thoughts and ideas become homogeneous with the same crowd. You need space to breathe. Find different people to exchange ideas with now and then, be more involved with your work and career, meet other peers, mingle more with different groups of people if you find yourself frustrated easily.

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I transitioned from my party days with an occasional pop of the whoo-hoos! by passing on some of the outings, showing up the way you did for in-and-outs but ordering seltzer with lemon, and, most importantly, building private bonds with individuals from the group on my own terms.


I made a point of NEVER discussing any of the other friends while with one of them. If one friend spoke of another, I'd listen to good news but I'd curb any complaints with a quick, "How about if we talk about anything in the world except for people who are not here. Then we won't need to keep track of any secrets--I'm really lousy at that..."


Over time, certain friends established themselves as solo keepers while others faded to the background. I skipped worrying about who might say what about me when I wasn't present--that stuff just didn't interest me anymore. I allowed 'real' friendships to thrive while the not-so-close became irrelevant, and I didn't hold myself to any loyalty myths.


Whoever wanted to grow with me was welcome to do that, and whoever was only interested in drinking buddies could find plenty of those to replace me.


Head high, and don't sweat the small stuff. (Most of it is very small.)

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