Dear Teens: I Know it’s Hard, But Not All Friendships are Meant to Last

Heads up... it's not always because they're a "bad friend" that a friendship fizzles out

by Nancy Reynolds

This post: Dear Teens: I Know it’s Hard, But Not All Friendships are Meant to Last

When you’re a teenager, your friends mean everything to you. In fact, in a lot of cases, teens view their friends not merely as friends, but as family.

That’s why when a friendship starts to unravel, it can hit our teens hard. And, perhaps the worst part of losing a friend is not knowing why. 

How it is that a friend they’ve had since the second grade can drift away and not even look back? How can a friend they’ve laughed with and spent nearly every waking hour with throughout middle school suddenly find new friends and walk away from all those memories and history they had together?

Well… it happens. In fact, it happens a lot.

If your teen is struggling with the confusion, upset, and heartache of losing a friend or being “phased out” of a friendship, here are some of the more common reasons teenage friendships end and why your teen should (at least) try to take these “shifts” in their friendships in stride. 

Dear Teenagers:

I Know it’s Hard, But Not All Friendships are Meant to Last


1. Lack of Common Interests

Sure, there might be times when a big blow-out or tension in the relationship triggers a friend break-up, but more often than not with teen friendships, it has more to do with the fact that life is simply shifting and friends begin to have different interests.

During the teen years, most kids are trying to figure out who they are, who they want to be, what interests them, who interests them, and who they want to hang out with. They’re trying out new sports, joining new clubs, and expanding their social network.

Dear Teens: I know it can feel awful when a friend stops calling or including you in their lives, but it’s not that your friend is necessarily a “bad friend.” It’s simply that some friendships can fade as new friendships are forged with kids who share new common interests or goals. 

2. Heading in Different Directions

There are so many paths teenagers can take throughout middle school, high school, and even college. Some teens might be on a sports team that leaves little time for anything else except school, practices, and games. Other kids might dive into the robotics team, student council, volunteering, or some other club that piques their interest. (And, too, some teens can take a dark path gravitating to heavy partying, drugs, alcohol, or promiscuity.)

Dear Teens: Of course, being on the same path in life certainly isn’t a prerequisite of friendship, but it sure doesn’t hurt to share that common ground. If you happen to be friends with someone who is heading in a completely different direction than you are, there’s a chance the friendship will erode over time.

3. Friendship Expectations are Different

Not everyone views friendship through the same lens. Some teens might want to study, hang out on weekends, and share every nitty-gritty detail of their lives with their besties. Other teens might be perfectly content catching up with their friend(s) occasionally or meeting up at a football game for a few hours.

When expectations in the friendship don’t align, it’s easy for one or both of the friends to become hurt, irritated, or disappointed enough to end the friendship altogether. “She’s just not trying… she must not care.

Dear Teens: Remember, not all friendships are created equal. Some friends might be “Let’s talk every single day” friends, while others might be “Hey, wanna grab lunch next month” kind of friends. It’s important to be flexible and understanding of the other person’s expectations and needs. 

4. Lack of Time

We all know how busy most teenagers are. Between school, sports, clubs, other after-school activities, volunteering, a job, and prepping for college (should they decide to go to college), there’s so often very little time in their lives for anything else. Sometimes, the lack of time and, subsequently, lack of effort, can cause a friendship to fizzle.

Dear Teens: It’s important you don’t take the “ebb and flow” of your friendships too personally. There might be weeks friends can hang out three times and other weeks when they might be so swamped they don’t have time to grab a burger and hang out for an hour. It’s okay. Try not to take it to heart. Being a good friend means being understanding about what’s happening in the other person’s life. 

5. The Friendship Feels One-Sided

Does your teen feel like they’re constantly the one calling a particular friend? Does it sometimes feel as though if they didn’t put forth the effort, the friendship wouldn’t last? 

Dear Teens: Some friendships can feel one-sided and when they do, they typically only last so long before the “giver” in the relationship gets tired and decides to move on and find friends who are more appreciative and excited about the friendship. Sure, it might be hard to let friendships like this go, but it’s better to have friends who truly care about nurturing the friendship. 

6. Dishonesty, Jealousy, or Betrayal in the Friendship

Sometimes, there’s a deeper reason for the breakup. Maybe a friend started talking behind your teen’s back. Maybe they purposely started to exclude them. Maybe envy or jealousy got the best of your teen’s friend or they connected with “cooler” kids leaving your teen in the dust. Or, maybe they became so “hot and cold” that your teen lost sight of where they stood in the relationship and they started to feel manipulated. 

(This isn’t just with teen girl relationships. Plenty of teen boys have these same friend issues.)

Dear Teens: Toxic relationships like these are better left in the past. As difficult as it is to walk away, it’s the BEST thing for you. Growing up is hard enough – you need friends who care, friends who are fun, consistent, and kind, friends you can trust, AND friends who don’t have a hidden agenda. If you’re dealing with a mean friend, this post will give you some insight into the “why” and how to handle it.  Stepping Out of the Shadow of a Mean Girl

I Know it’s Hard… But Not All Friendships Are Meant to Last

There’s a misconception that simply because a friendship ends, there must be a profound reason. The truth is, quite often it’s just because life changes and sometimes, those changes take us away from people we used to be close to. Sure, some friendships might last a lifetime, while other friendships can feel like a revolving door. (And, yes… you can “outgrow” a friend.)

You’re growing, changing, learning, and finding out who you are. You can’t expect every “bestie” you had in elementary or middle school to hang on during your journey. And, your friends are changing, too. It’s not a rejection if friends move on. You’re not being rude or uncaring if you move on. Open your heart to new friendships as you evolve – it’s all about surrounding yourself with the right people at the right time in your life. 

Likeminded people find each other. Kind people attract kind friends. Fun people attract fun friends. Mean people attract mean friends. We are drawn to those like us. That means the starting point for friendship isn’t an exhaustive search to find perfect friends – but rather, an internal initiative to grow the heart that attracts those high-caliber friends.” ~ Kari Kampakis

If you enjoyed reading, “Dear Teens: I Know it’s Hard, But Not All Friendships are Meant to Last,” here are a few other posts you might like to read!

25 Tips to Help Your Teen Make Friends: It Doesn’t Have to Be Hard

12 Things I Want My Teen Daughter to Know About Friendship

How to Help Your Teen Set Boundaries with Friends (Especially if They’re Too Nice)


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