Your 101 to Handling Drifting Friendships After High School
Worry that the separation after high school might affect your friendship? Here’s some advice that can help keep your friendship alive.
Updated 12 May 2021
High school is over and you’re now preparing to embark on the next chapter of your life — college. While this is an exciting time for you, it also means going on separate ways with your friends as they enroll to different colleges, some maybe out of state.
What’s going to happen to your friendship now that you’re far apart and not bonding over a similar lifestyle? As lives get busier, it’s easy for your friendships to fall to the side.
It may not be easy, but putting in some effort can go a long way. Here are some tips on how you can foster your friendships and what can you do if it does fall apart.
#1. Create a group chat
Having a group chat is more than just constantly having your phone buzzing in the middle of getting things done — it’s how you keep your friendship alive without doing too much work.
You can use it to update your friends on your personal life, college experiences and even to vent about personal things. Being transparent is an important aspect of intimacy in a friendship. While a group chat is nowhere close to a face-to-face interaction, it’s a good alternative when you can’t all be together. Plus, with extra features such as GIFs, stickers and funny videos to mirror your real life conversation, you can bet that your friendship will grow stronger in time.
#2. Arrange phone call dates
Having a group phone chat or a Zoom hangout session is also important for the friendship, but it may not be enough to maintain it. When you need a little one-on-one with your best friend, don’t hesitate to arrange a phone call or video call with them.
This is the perfect time to have a private conversation as it gives each other the chance to be more open and honest. But it also doesn’t have to be only for personal matters. Sometimes putting aside time to check on them and catch up on things shows that you’re thinking about them and that you want to spend some time together. It could be as simple as driving past the public library that you both spent time together studying and sharing that memory with them.
As busy as you are, scheduling a time to catch up and reminding each other of the little things goes a long way.
#3. Reminisce on old memories
Your friends may have moved out of state for college and since you can’t see them as often, it’s easy to drift apart when there’s nothing to bond over. Don’t let the friendship go to waste when you can reminisce on the good times to feel more connected.
In this case, use social media to your advantage. Platforms like Facebook and Instagram are perfect to see what your friends are up to and stay connected to them. You don’t have to constantly text them to stay in touch. Instead, show your support by liking and commenting on their photos. You can also scroll through your Instagram feed or make use of Facebook memories to pick out old photos to laugh about!
Showing your presence is important to keep your friendship alive without the constant texting.
#4. Prioritise your friendships when you can
As you and your friends embark on the next chapter of your lives, it’s easy to get distracted by the things happening around your new life. You’ll start spending less time together with excuses that you’re too busy. But this is how friendships fall apart.
It’s crucial that you prioritise your friends whenever you can. You don’t necessarily have to go all out and organise a big splashing party. Sometimes, spending time with your friends to get food together or hanging at someone’s house to watch a movie is enough. If your friends live far away, plan an online movie date over video call. The key is to show up as it shows that the friendship matters to you.
#5. Plan an annual trip together
While group chats, phone calls and showing up are all great ways to maintain your friendship, finding that one thing that you all can do together is the cherry on top to securing the tightest bond.
Seeing your friends every other weekend may not be practical if you live in different areas. Hence, planning an annual trip where you go on a weekend getaway is the perfect way to create new memories and stay closer. But keep in mind to take everyone’s budget into consideration and try to choose a location that’s affordable and convenient for all.
Make it a collective effort for everyone to be responsible for the trip and put in some input into the planning. That way, there’ll be less chance of people feeling like they have to do things they’re not interested in.
What happens when you do drift apart?
Some friendships fall apart no matter how much effort you put into it, but that doesn’t mean the friendship didn’t matter. Here’s what you need to know if you and your friends are no longer BFFs.
#1. Understand that it’s okay to lose touch
Losing friendships can be difficult and sad especially when you have plans to do great things together. But the truth is, it’s common for friendships to break off around big life changes. This includes graduating high school, getting jobs and even getting married.
Understand that losing touch doesn’t mean your friendship ended on a bad note. Sometimes it’s because you don’t share the same interests anymore, your college life has gotten hectic or you don’t live in the same area anymore. These big life changes can take you several different directions and that’s okay. Outgrowing relationships is the part and parcel of adulthood and the sooner you understand that, the easier it will be for you to move on.
#2. Avoid pointing fingers
Sometimes when there’s a friendship fallout, someone is quick to point fingers and blame whoever that stopped making an effort. But in reality, it’s no one’s fault that the friendship went south. Chances are your lives changed along with the tone of your friendship.
Avoid blaming each other for losing touch. While both of you could have put in more effort in terms of reaching out or staying in touch, the friendship will inevitably go cold once both parties start prioritising other things. Your friends may have gotten busier with their schedule and you have other important things to attend to.
However, if your friends are blaming you for the lack of effort you put in because of your busy schedule, then perhaps the fallout is a good thing. No one should make you feel guilty over something you can’t control. Friendships are a two-way street and you shouldn’t be doing all the work. As the popular saying goes, those who mind shouldn’t matter, and those who matter, won’t mind.
#3. Don’t feel guilty
Perhaps your friendship didn’t end and your friend is still keeping in touch with you. But you know that you could’ve done more to be closer to them and keep the friendship alive. Despite that, you couldn’t find the courage and time to do so and now you feel guilty.
Understand that friendships change. Just because your friend is able to maintain the friendship and you can’t doesn’t automatically make you a bad person. Your environment can shape your personality and you may not be the same person as who you were before. So, don’t feel guilty for not being able to fully reciprocate. However, consider letting your friends know where you stand so that you don’t leave them wondering why the friendship didn’t work out.
If you truly feel guilty and sad about the friendship, consider reaching out and see how things go. Just because a friendship drifted for a while doesn’t mean that you can’t rekindle it.
Falling out of friendships will certainly happen throughout your life — and it’s okay! While there’s only so much you can do to keep a friendship alive, don’t forget to foster the friendships that you do have and appreciate the moments you have with them.