People and Untold Stories

Evolution: Thoughts on Outgrowing Friends and Why It’s Okay

This post contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase through these links, I will receive a small commission. This is at no cost to you but helps me to provide awesome content regularly. Thanks for your support!

I used to seek for approval before I proceeded with anything. I had the need to be liked because who doesn’t want to be seen as cool? I always craved for validation from my parents, family, peers, colleagues, friends and men. It’s a culture thing. Trust me, it wasn’t just tiring. I got burnt out. 

During an uncontrollably hormonal day, I found myself posting my desperate cry for enlightenment on a Facebook Group called She Hit Refresh. She Hit Refresh is a tribe of women in their 30’s who quit their jobs, said goodbye to the lives they didn’t feel happy about and started anew somewhere far from their homes and everyone they know. Instinct told me that for sure, this is the right tribe to throw my questions to as they can for sure relate more. They have more experience in what I’m lamenting about but couldn’t find enough courage to ask anyone. I was scared to be misunderstood. Because the truth is, nothing has prepared me for running away with only my hopes and dreams of being able to find whatever it is that I was looking for along the way. I never had enough words to explain it.

Danica: I hit Refresh. Twice. Now I feel like I have outgrown my friends and I feel like I couldn’t relate to them anymore. Has anyone experienced this? I moved twice and now I became introvert. Maybe because I feel uncomfortable when new acquaintance keep on asking me what I do and I am a bit tired of repeating stories again and again.

Sandra: It is quite normal to outgrow your friends especially if you are hitting refresh and they are not. And even sometimes if we don’t hit refresh we outgrow the people around us. It is an evolution. However, the second part is on you to decide if you want to be a hermit or you want to make friends. It is normal when you meet new people to try to find commonalities which includes what you do, how you came to be in a place, etc. It is just part of meeting new people and connecting with them. People are going to ask questions.

Cepee Tabibian: Great advice Sandra! Danica, I’ve felt like that too. When I moved to Madrid it took about 2.5 years to find my tribe again. I found I really had to work at making friends and finding the people who “get me.” I realized the effort was my responsibility to create my community. I spent a lot of time with acquaintances who weren’t the right fit and had to repeat my story over and over to new people. But that is just all part of meeting new people when you’ve moved somewhere new. People are curious of who you are and your story that led you to where you are. Best of luck! It does feel repetitive but if you keep at it the right people will come along. Where are you located right now?

Judy Lancaster Hey Danica, yes I think it’s normal for anyone. I moved to a new country with a new language and it was very strange and new and a bit scary. I’m a quiet person also so a bit shy and not always feeling up to reaching out to people. I’ve met so many great people though along the way, and a few now that are more special than the rest that I’ve become good friends with. I’ve grown so much from doing this.
But you have to make the effort to get out and if you are not good at just showing up alone at an event or restaurant or bar to meet people then I suggest you seek out hobbies you like to do and join clubs or courses. For example I went to yoga classes and met a great bunch of women there… All single and wonderful. I joined a women’s dinner get together with another lady that invited me and met even more like minded women. I did volunteer work every week teaching children English and met other wonderful volunteers.
And of course they are all curious about as I am about them. Try a short watered down version of your story so it’s not bothersome to you to repeat. You can always fill them in later as you become friends.
But I urge you to join groups or activities that you love and you will find friends that have similar interests. Good luck!

KC: I didn’t realize up until now that it’s normal !!.Wow such a relief. I assumed that I was the problem. Thanks for posting this.

Liane: Same here. If you evolve, I guess it means your people of interest evolves, whether or not that means they need to be different people, new people, people you knew you were not so close to… I super feel ya with the questioning, sometimes it’s an effort I don’t feel like going through and those days I just avoid to be with new potential friends

Lara: Only recently I realized (with help of my life coach) that you don’t have to be friends forever. Friends for a time is a thing, and is actually the norm. People come and go in your life, fulfill some purpose, and USUALLY leave.

Audrey: Just give them the short easy answer to their questions then ask questions about them. Most people love to talk about themselves and would appreciate a good listener. Of course, if you are now an introvert, you may just want to be alone for a spell.

Patrice: I learned in therapy training as we get older things change a lot with friends. We need less friends but higher quality friends so you are likely finding you are at that stage where past friendships don’t meet current needs

Jana: Yes. I can relate, and too have evolved more introvert. I find it’s not the asking of what I do, but the response people have because they work a traditional 9-5, and can’t see how someone could make money doing anything other than. And the judgment that comes with it. The experience is like you have to defend your choices, even though you not asking for any assistance from these people. It’s exhausting.

I’m sure you know you this, just seek to be in the company of people who are living similar to you and mix it up a bit periodically.

Macey: I never stay in one place long enough to make friends. I travel for work 1-30 days at a time then I’m off to the next place. I’m only home 1-2 days a month.

If it weren’t for Facebook I’d never have anyone to talk to?

Wow! Thank you for sharing SHR ladies. This makes me feel normal and not alone in this journey. As it had been said by many above. People can come into our life for a season and letting go of old friends does not make us bad friends

Robine: It’s not easy. Of course you will leave some people behind but hopefully not all. At first I found I was spending time with some with whom all I had in common was the English language and it does take time to find like-minded friends. Interestingly, I found people who aren’t interested in ‘my story’ and we share a new life and move forward rather than looking backwards. Not knowing what people did in past lives is great because we can’t categorize or judge. People’s lives just emerge over time and the parts that do are the really interesting bits! Keep going. It’s worth it.

Sherri Schultz Hmm. It does get tiring to say the same thing over & over. I’m hitting a domestic refresh (sold home, moved to different state, living in building of micro-studios with 43 college students). After a week or two here I began a doc called “How Many Reasons” that answers the #1 question I got from everyone when I arrived, “Why are you doing this?” (I’m up to about 20 reasons now.) I also wrote up a one-page summary of the last 30 years of my life that I can send people who are interested, because there’s never enough time. … Also, if you have a website or a blog or a Facebook business page, and a business card with the URL, you can use the About to tell more of your story and point people to it.

Lauren: Friendships take effort regardless of whether you’re an introvert or extrovert, hitting refresh or not. It’s never easy regardless. Nor should it be considered bothersome to have to repeat your story. Part of friendship regardless of the circumstances behind it is compromise. And work. Yes, it might be annoying, sure you might be afraid. But human beings, especially women are intrinsically social. We ask questions because we genuinely want to know. Yes, it might be awkward to go to a bar by myself in order to meet a new group of intriguing people. Yes, I may have to do that quintessential American thing called schmoozing and it may be awkward as hell for a few minutes. Or the alternative sitting alone in my flat, with a new city to explore, not pushing myself to get out there and take that chance. The hardest part of this equation my friends is hitting refresh. The rest of it is easy comparatively speaking. I have met some of my closest friends in that “bar”, laughing at myself and my awkwardness. In Lisbon once, no concept of Portuguese, jet lagged, trying to order a tea because of remnants of food poisoning from Asia. Could it have been more awkward trying to order peppermint tea? In my mind no. But, through the random kindness of strangers, meeting people by chance who were able to get me into a doctor that day, essentially saving my life? I digress…however, keep doing the things you love and that come easy to you. For me because I love to read, I always find the English bookstore and the movie theater that plays either dubbed American movies, or subtitles. You’d be surprised at how many times I’ve watched James Bond movies in Turkish. My point is it doesn’t have to be bothersome or stressful making friends. But, it is a necessary evil in the sense that you do have to put yourself out there at some point. Just do it on your terms.

Pam: I am increasingly less outgoing as I age. I miss the friendships that have become less forefront because of the changes in my life. I miss those friends. That connection.
I never had more than a couple of friends at any given time. And I know I’ll never have new friends that fill the void of the old.

But … I expect to have new friends who mesh with my new interests and involvements.

One thought about telling the same story over and over: Is it necessary? There’s nothing that says everyone needs the whole backstory from Page One. Give yourself permission to not tell all right away.

Beatrice: Yes! All my friends in London want to talk about is building a loft extension or moving from their 3 bedroom suburban home into a 4 bedroom home. I still love them and feel horrible saying this, but I totally relate

I got the answers that I was looking for and felt bad about not being able to revert with even just a little gratitude for the wisdom they gave me. I am slowly learning to open myself up and be more social again. Perhaps I haven’t found my tribe yet but it’s not that important anymore.

A man is rich not by what he owns but what he can do without.” — Immanuel Kant

What matters is that I have taken the first painful step in acknowledging that I have issues to face on my own and not everyone will understand especially the ones who saw how cheerful, playful, easy-going and obnoxious I was. There was a big black, hallow void I needed to fill and only me was able to resolve it. I might have lost friends but I’ve come into terms with myself and it’s actually better. Sure I still have friends but we are continents apart and time difference is quite hard to beat.

I realized it’s normal to learn, to grow and to improve and not everyone will be doing it with me. I shouldn’t put my life on hold. I shouldn’t feel guilty for wanting to grow. It took a while to fully accept this but it’s worth it. In time for sure, the stars will align to bring me the friends I’m supposed to really have and keep for life. For now, I will continue to live in alignment with my truth.

(Disclaimer: The following are thoughts on Outgrowing Friends and why it’s okay. I have changed names to protect their privacy.)

Please share

Is it normal to outgrow friends?

Read Next

10 Things That Changed Since I Lived Abroad 

In Malaysia, It’s Never Too Late To Dream A New Dream

Suggested Readings

Special thanks to She Hit Refresh​ and to everyone who contributed for my enlightenment.

This post contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase through these links, I will receive a small commission. This is at no cost to you but helps me to provide awesome content regularly. Thanks for your support!

22 thoughts on “Evolution: Thoughts on Outgrowing Friends and Why It’s Okay

  1. It makes sense that people grow apart, especially as life takes you to different physical locations and on mental journeys. Our family has even experienced growing apart and then meeting up years later to find that you can be friends again, now that you have each been on your own path. Sometimes it’s easier to be friends once you have these experiences to share. Thanks for sharing wisdom on an important topic.

  2. I had to cut ties with friends from childhood recently & while it was so hard to do, I think we have all benefited from it & are living happier lives apart. I love you & wish you the best- just from over here lol. One was from 1st grade, the other from middle school (I graduated in 2010).
    Just like we outgrow clothes, hobbies, music, etc… We outgrow people & relationships. Doesn’t mean anyone’s a bad person or it happened from some fall out. Just means we are all growing. Life changes everything!
    Great read, thank you!

  3. I am positive that time will mend things for you, Dani. You’ll also find the right tribe soon. After all, it makes zero sense to spend time with people who either don’t understand you or deplete your energy. Great read.

  4. Wow! This article is right on time. I used to seek validation from everyone too and I quit my job three years ago. Thanks for this inspiring post!

  5. This post actually hits close to home for me. I guess you could say that I also outgrew a couple of my very close friends. Well, to be completely honest, they outgrew me, as I got married and had a child, so suddenly I was the third wheel.

    Great content and I love the style in which you put your post. Very original.

    1. Thank you so much. I don’t believe that they have outgrown you. You being the mother, aka a super human being, can’t be outgrown. You are helping adorable being to grow and giving yourself up for it. Cheers! =)

  6. I’ve been feeling all of this a lot lately! Moved countries, decided a friendship back home wasn’t really serving me well, and I haven’t quite been sure how to handle it. Thanks for this post.

  7. I have always thought outgrowing friends is normal. I have a gift of telling people how I really feel about something. It may be a breath of fresh air for some, but there will always be people you can’t please. Let them go. Their mission with you is probably done. Learn the lesson and move on.

  8. I love the interview format of this and I can definitely relate. I don’t talk to most of my friends from college anymore for this reason — we just have no common ground. I think also that friendships are formed from common experiences, and once you are no longer sharing those experiences together, the friendships naturally dissipate unless you have a ton in common and really make an effort to keep the friendship going. I used to be sad about this, but now I realize that’s just life and you have to move forward.

  9. I replied to your link on FB, but wanted to comment here too. This is a beautiful post about the naturalness but sometimes lonely and difficult transition away from outgrown friendships. Like the comment above, I love the inclusion of the other women’s comments. A really touching piece, thank you ?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *