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Is it okay to gradually phase friends out of your life rather than have some kind of official 'break up'?

There are 3 friends in particular (from when I was a teenager) who I've seen a lot less of over the last 7/8 years or so, we have very little in common anymore.

I also moved to a new city around 5 years ago, which is around a 90minute drive away. I see them around once a year these days, if that. They often want to hang out with me but I mostly just make out like Im too busy with other things.

I feel like they will never grow up. We are now in our mid thirties, and their main interests are just going out binge drinking or drinking at one of their houses in front of the TV.

They would often get quite jealous & bitter at the way I started going off and doing new things, finding new hobbies, meeting new people, and focusing on my career and fitness — generally just finding ways to better myself.

I sometimes feel like they were holding me back in life, they can often be quite narrow-minded, judgemental and immature. One of them in particular would often be quite toxic and nasty when we were in our 20s, and Ive never quite gotten over it.

They do have a nice side to them too, and they would happily drop everything in order to hang out with me... which is why I feel a little guilty

I feel it would be overkill to arrange some kind of 'serious talk' and officially end the friendship, I also dont think they would take it seriously, and would end up gossiping about me to other people about it.

I know of two other people who have distanced themselves from them... most likely for the exact same reasons I imagine.

Edited by jjmufc88
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If you want to move forward in your life and you feel they are holding you back, then you may need to let them go. If the seem to have no future plans for themselves or anything they deem to be important that they can devote themselves to, than it is in your best interest to move forward and be your best self, you should not feel guilty you want to better yourself, and they wish to hold you back from your full potential, honestly they should feel a little bad, they are doing nothing to help you or themselves.

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22 minutes ago, Jibralta said:

Yes, it's fine to distance yourself. It would definitely be overkill to sit them down for a serious talk. You're not their parent. Just take the space you need. They may actually understand and appreciate it. 

I agree with this.  Don't create drama breaking up with friends.  Just keep your distance and let it grow. 

I've let go of a lot of toxic friends as I've grown and changed interests.  The truth is, they don't want to change. And it's not my place to judge them or tell them they need to grow up.  But it is my place to decide how I spend my time. 

The only other thing is, don't lie if you don't want to do what they're doing.  That gives them a chance to offer to do something you would like. keep it light and easy going...  If they're going binge drinking.  Say something non judgy.... thanks for including me, I'm staying off the sauce right now. 

If they're mean to you about it, then you could always cut them off. I always let the other person to go low. Silence is a message  too

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Decline any invitations and mute any feeds or info you’re reading about their lives, eventually remove them from your social media. I’m not sure how you put up with any of their crap in the past either since you mentioned you had misgivings about one of them.

Recognize that if you’ve been around that negativity in the past you may seek it out again because you’re conditioned to cater to it and worry over it or twist yourself in a pretzel. Don’t transfer this to other relationships.

Enjoy your life however you see fit and make new friends you wish to stay loyal to and whom you can respect and vice versa. 

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Yes, its OK. In time you overgrow some people and life throws you in other directions. I lost a few when I got to college, after college some more, and even few years ago I had to "weed out" one group of people when I realized our ways no longer match. I still talk to all those people(as in that we are on speaking terms) but we just dont hang out. 

Anyway, would recommend the same. Dont do big talks, just distancing, as in not hanging out with them would be enough. They would probably take a hint.

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It might help to know what you are going through is very normal.  I read somewhere that people can expect to alter the friendship circles every 5 to 7 years.

Life keeps moving forward and we are always evolving.  It's should be no surprise that we will likely end up going different directions.

Just let it ride out.  No reason do act on it in anyway. It tends to take care of itself.

I have friends of 30 years who I really don't have much in common with anymore.  I still keep in contact with them and see them occasionally, but they've slowly moved to the outside of my circle and I have with theirs.  

Edited by reinventmyself
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48 minutes ago, reinventmyself said:

I read somewhere that people can expect to alter the friendship circles every 5 to 7 years.

That makes a lot of sense. If I look back, I can see something like that happening in my own friendship patterns. I was troubled by it in my mid-20s. But the shifting happened before that, and it's happened since that. It's not a bad thing at all. It's life.

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Yes, it's definitely okay to gradually phase friends out of your life rather than have the official 'break up' discussion.  I've done it all my life!

It's true about outgrowing friendships.  Not every friend was meant to become permanent for life. 

While I've retained friendships after marriage and family, I've gradually phased out some former friends and distant cousins, too.  We drifted apart.  Our personalities and characters changed, our values changed and some former people in my life were negative influences.  We couldn't relate anymore, interests changed and honestly, my world is different now with my current people in it (friends, family, in-laws, extended family, community, etc.)

I have my own life with career, marriage, family, hobbies, interests, fitness, health and my focus has since shifted. 

However, I still have friends.  I've become very and picky choosy.  I prefer high quality friends as opposed to quantity of mediocre or subpar friends.  I still get together with friends.  (My husband has friends and we have couple friends as well.) 

Also, not every friend is a social media friend.  Not every friend is a text, email, message, voice mail, phone chat friend either. 

You have every right to eliminate people who don't feel rewarding and joyous to you.  It's perfectly natural to do so.  Don't harbor any guilt. 

There isn't any explanation necessary.  Simply make yourself unavailable.  Politely decline invitations or suggestions to socially gather.  If you choose to sever ties completely by removing contacts from your life, you can be honest by writing "I'm sorry, we don't have much in common anymore.  It's time to go our separate ways.  I wish you all the best.  Sincerely, Your Name."  Keep it brief and respectful while remaining firm, unwavering and steadfast.  There is a way to be diplomatic. 

However,  most people can take a hint if you simply decline repetitively.  They'll eventually get the message that you've lost interest in them, moved on and they will do likewise. 

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I have a best friend from childhood.  Fortunately, both of us didn't move faraway and only a 30 minute drive from each other.  I have another very close friend who is only a 15 minute drive from my house.  I get together with my friends every month to catch up, sometimes we meet for a meal, walk at a park, shop for hours and hang out.  I've known these friends for decades and sometimes the four of us go out together spouses included.

I'm not interested in friends if our personalities and characters don't mesh.  I've phased out people I can't relate to.  It's universal. 

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10 hours ago, jjmufc88 said:

Is it okay to gradually phase friends out of your life rather than have some kind of official 'break up'?

A resounding YES, abso-freakn-lutely it is! If I had to tell you my stories, oh boy...

DO NOT FEEL GUILTY!
If anything, they want to keep you around b/c you are "Good people", no one wants to lose good ppl

And this:

10 hours ago, jjmufc88 said:

and would end up gossiping about me to other people about it.

They're already gossiping and making comments (behind your back). It's called jealousy, and immaturity.

Surround yourself w/those who serve you most. That's not selfish. And, don't feel bad if this happens more than once in your life (as the others have stated here).
Welcome to adulthood - sometimes it's tough 🙂

Congratulations on successfully achieving self-awareness. Not everyone is capable of mastering that skill 😉
 

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I've done both - broke up with friends and tried to phase them out. I can say in my experience, phasing them out doesn't work. You consistently get sucked back into the relationship or they will not leave you alone because they can sense something is off. Breaking up with friends is hard (just like breaking up with a lover), but it ensures that they know you are not interested in being friends anymore and they don't hold on to hope that things are going to change. So, if you are no longer interested in being friends, I personally suggest ending the friendship quickly than trying to phase it out. 

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I too think it’s fine. You became mostly activity friends and their activities bore you. They’d bore me too. I’d feel differently if you’d mutually supported each other through life stuff and phases and then cutting someone off you have s deep bond with likely wouldn’t work. But  yes here it’s totally fine. 

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Yes I’ve had to phase people out of my life too. One of them ended up being a fraud criminal later on in life. So I’m very happy I have no connection to him. Another one was getting to the point where every time I hung out with or talked to him, it was like walking on eggshells. If I did or said the wrong thing he would go off on me with a profanity laced outburst.
 

Then one of my friends phased me out for unknown reasons. We had worked together and started hanging out outside of it. He had me over to his house for his birthday. Then another time I met up with him and his wife for dinner which was the last time I saw him last year. I knew they were going to have a baby around now. However it doesn’t take long to respond to a text. I had texted him a couple of months ago to remind him that I wanted to take them out for dinner. Each time I reached out to him I never heard anything back.
 

So I guess it goes both ways. I had always been told that people come in and out of your life at the right time. From what I’ve experienced, I truly believe that.

 

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silently move out, i have had that with one of my mates, even cousins, initially i felt bad that things came to a point where i never felt positive about myself when am around them. Slowly when you fade the contacts become less and it just becomes your past. Just be cordial when you bump into each other someday or some place.

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Posted (edited)

Thank you everyone for the reassuring comments, at least now I know I'm not doing anything wrong, I sorta wish I'd have done this a lot sooner.

On 4/6/2022 at 2:46 PM, Rose Mosse said:

I’m not sure how you put up with any of their crap in the past either since you mentioned you had misgivings about one of them.

Yes I'm quite annoyed at myself for having been so lenient in the past, I should have ditched that friend in particular years ago.

 

On 4/8/2022 at 9:24 AM, Spawn said:

silently move out, i have had that with one of my mates, even cousins, initially i felt bad that things came to a point where i never felt positive about myself when am around them. Slowly when you fade the contacts become less and it just becomes your past. Just be cordial when you bump into each other someday or some place.

That's interesting that you phased out cousins too, I've kinda been doing that with some of mine too. They're good people but they're lives are just so different to mine that I find it hard to connect with some of them these days

Edited by jjmufc88
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On 4/7/2022 at 12:15 AM, Batya33 said:

I too think it’s fine. You became mostly activity friends and their activities bore you. They’d bore me too. I’d feel differently if you’d mutually supported each other through life stuff and phases and then cutting someone off you have s deep bond with likely wouldn’t work. But  yes here it’s totally fine. 

Thanks, yes thats exactly it really.

They used to get frustrated when I stopped going out drinking with them regularly, which just shows their immaturity for not being able to accept my life choices.

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25 minutes ago, jjmufc88 said:

Thanks, yes thats exactly it really.

They used to get frustrated when I stopped going out drinking with them regularly, which just shows their immaturity for not being able to accept my life choices.

I don’t think there’s a reason for you to assume they’re all immature. It’s cool if you all grew apart. Perhaps they see your reactions when you say no as judgmental or immature.  They don’t need to accept your “life choices “ and if they feel frustrated when you won’t do what you used to do oh well. Just let it be and stay in your lane. 

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Just back away from these people, you dont need to make some sort of formal announcement that the friendship is over.  People come and go from our lives all the time. I've backed away from people who I no longer hd any interest in being friends with.

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I'm a different person than I was many years ago.  Back then, I was far more social.  I would get together in person with many people frequently and put forth the effort to take the time and energy to constantly be with others. 

As years passed by, my values, interests and needs changed.  Nowadays,  I prefer a calmer, quieter life and whenever I'm not working, I prefer to stay at my home sweet home.  I don't enjoy being on-the-go as much as years ago.  I have so much to do at the home front and I preciously guard what little spare time I have to relax, take a nap, partake in my hobbies, exercise, enjoy cooking and doing more homey type activities. 

My husband's previous friends have evolved into acquaintances and almost strangers because their lifestyles are different.  They enjoy drinking, partying, some of them never married, they bounce from job to job, never settled down nor raised families.  It's fine for them.  However, we relate better to those who share our similar lifestyle in the suburbs. 

We've attended several reunions to keep in touch on rare occasions and while it was nice, we don't have much in common anymore because we've drifted apart due to our lifestyle.

My husband and I are teetotalers and our lives consist of routines with work, sports, running our household, hectic weekly schedules and remaining organized.  We only socialize with several friends, local relatives and in-laws.  After that, we don't have time, energy nor brain space for others.  We're established with our stable routines.  This is our choice.

It's perfectly understandable how people go their separate ways which is universal.  Phasing out friends is the natural order of life.  We're not the same people as we were long ago.  Most friends are with you dependent on which stage in life you're at and due to local convenience within your geography.  Some people move faraway and when you don't see them regularly anymore, you'll become strangers.  Not everyone wants to only keep in touch through social media.  Some friends become "out of sight, out of mind" from too much absence. 

Some younger people enjoy drinking and socializing as if they're still 19 or 21 years old.  Some people grow up in their own way with meeting someone, marrying, holding down jobs and mortgages, raising children, settling down in the suburbs, getting involved in their son's organized sports, extracurricular activities, in the dizzying, repetitive school grind and repeat.  It becomes a more conservative lifestyle.  There are time constraints and less in common with the previous drinking and partying days.  Parents evolve and transform. 

Many times, "a talk" is unnecessary.  Simply make yourself unavailable or decline repetitively.  Sooner or later, they'll get the message that you're no longer interested in cultivating, nurturing nor maintaining the friendship or relationship.  It's a gradual fade and then permanent drift apart.  I've done it many times and with practice, it becomes second nature.  There is a mutual understanding that both parties moved on without each other.  No harm,  no foul. 

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I’m a married mom and I have a few friends where our friendship was life stage dependent - sometimes because the other person assumed it should be.  Vast majority are not. For me close friends depended on our bond that superseded our particular life stage or life cycle. Partly this is because I married much later and became  a mom much later so I made it my business not to let my friends marriage and family get in the way of our friendship.  I accommodated their lifestyle and loved being around their  kids. I also had many single friends and we ended up married and pregnant around the same time in our late 30s and early 40s. 
When I was single I was my dear friend’s first babysitter. Her daughter was two weeks old. I wasn’t married or a mom and this didn’t matter to her at all as far as our different life stages - I went out to the suburbs with my then boyfriend and we babysat for 8 hours. obviously she didn’t look at me as some crazy single chick.  She could have asked a “mom friend”  

No I won’t go out and party at night.  I did for years - to go and dance and socialize - but no drugs and I never got drunk or had casual sex etc so it wasn’t a typical partying lifestyle.  I do have friends who still do - and we keep in touch in other ways. Most of my friends who partied hard outgrew it  

But I’m still close with most of my close friends. I have a number of close friends from junior high high school college and grad school and I finished all schooling in 1994.  And college in the 80s. So is my husband.  

I have let friendships fade out for sure - but I don’t abide by the notion that life stages have to affect close friends. Activity partners and causal friends for sure. Just how it worked for me. 

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Thanks again.

I'm probably one of the few people phasing friends out who is actually single, with no family commitments. But I feel like I kinda have to do this in order to eventually meet someone and settle down – I dont think that would ever happen if I carried on with the party lifestyle that I used to lead.

I'm quite happy being single and focussing on my career, hobbies and getting some savings together. I find myself meeting new people & acquaintances through hobbies and my job, but strangely I quite enjoy solitude and don't feel much of a desire to have close friends these days.

Also I've been trying to 'react' to peoples' posts but the forum still won't let me react to any more of them 🙃

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1 hour ago, jjmufc88 said:

Thanks again.

I'm probably one of the few people phasing friends out who is actually single, with no family commitments. But I feel like I kinda have to do this in order to eventually meet someone and settle down – I dont think that would ever happen if I carried on with the party lifestyle that I used to lead.

I'm quite happy being single and focussing on my career, hobbies and getting some savings together. I find myself meeting new people & acquaintances through hobbies and my job, but strangely I quite enjoy solitude and don't feel much of a desire to have close friends these days.

Also I've been trying to 'react' to peoples' posts but the forum still won't let me react to any more of them 🙃

That’s good you have those insights ! I would go with that for sure over any “shoulds”as far as social life keeping in mind that good friends who know you can introduce you to suitable single women for example - not advocating using friends for that purpose but it’s a good fringe benefit.  I’ve been setting up my friends and acquaintances with guys and gals since I was a teenager so about 40 years now.
You’re  fortunate not to have family responsibilities- I know of many single people who do with aging parents or a sibling who needs care etc. My husband was one of those people before his parents passed away. Very hard. It’s such a misconception that single people are “carefree” and have “no responsibilities “ or that people without kids are the same. 
Try signing out and in again if this site to see if that permits you to react to posts. Good luck with all. 

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14 hours ago, Batya33 said:

I don’t abide by the notion that life stages have to affect close friends.

This! Just because some of my friends are parents and I'm not, will I ditch said friendship. Or they may love the backpacking lifestyle. That's cool, we just won't travel together. I feel that a persons character is far more important—the way they treat you, whether they respect you and are there for you.

Having said that, I do get it. You want to associate with people that are a positive influence in your life. Binge drinkers aren't it.

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