Designed to drift: Why it’s okay to grow apart from people

One of our writers explores the meaning behind the breakdown of friendships

Mia Dale
4th May 2023
Image Credit: Unsplash
Whilst we are still growing up and navigating our way through university, it is inevitable that our personalities and interests will change, subsequently impacting our relationships with others. But this is natural, and we should put less pressure on maintaining relationships that just aren’t meant to be. 

Although we have all had different school experiences, we can probably all agree that jealousy, mood swings, and desire for popularity ultimately break down relationships … or at least change them. In my experience, the two friends I grew apart from the most during school was due to their desperate need for popularity and chasing after boys (typical). This initially left me a bit lost, but I now realise that we are just different people, and that’s okay. With hormones and stress running high, teenagers are bound to argue and drift. From the bitchiness of teenage girls to the testosterone of the boys, school is a pretty toxic environment, so it is no surprise that people grow apart. 

Moving to university is probably the most obvious reason why people drift, with everyone moving to different cities around the country (or the world!), meeting new people and experiencing new things. I was lucky to have chosen the same uni as a couple of my friends from school, but so many people make this big step alone. I think I have noticed the biggest change in my friendships since being at university, despite starting to drift during sixth form. Being in different cities makes it evident who really cares about you, and whilst its upsetting to accept the fact that some people have moved on, it’s most probably for the best. We are suddenly all living different lives with different people, and being influenced by these experiences, so it is inevitable that people will change and grow apart. 

These relationships will keep changing following uni, too. With people getting into serious relationships, travelling, starting full time jobs, or buying new apartments, people are guaranteed to drift. Moving on doesn’t mean that you no longer care about one another – everyone is just trying to figure out what they want to do and who they want to be.  

Moving on doesn’t mean that you no longer care about one another – everyone is just trying to figure out what they want to do and who they want to be.  

Drifting from your friends can be difficult to come to terms with, and whilst it feels like you’ve been betrayed, trust has been broken, and years of your life wasted, you’ve got to focus on yourself. You will miss them, but people change. Focus on building new relationships and building your own life. If they have moved on, so can you…

Focus on building new relationships and building your own life.

So, if you feel like you are the only person that has drifted from your friends recently, trust me, you’re not. It is a natural process. But don’t tell yourself that those years are wasted … once you’ve both figured out who you are and where you want to be, you may have space to rebuild that friendship. It’s okay to drift and change; we can’t stay the same forever. 

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