Suffering from the Peter Pan syndrome of not wanting to grow up and keeping all your good friends close is normal. However, there’s a reason why Peter’s in Neverland and we’re here on planet Earth. Reality beckons, and as painful as it is, we will lose friends along the way—even those whom we thought would never leave our sides.
From your high school buddy, to college roommate, to desk mate at your first job, to your next door neighbor whom you’ve known your whole life, we all have that special friend who has been through it all with us. They have held our hand through everything: deaths in the family, graduations, breakups, first house party, and every major milestone that comes along.
Then one of you moves away for work. One of you gets married. One of you has kids. One of you goes on a soul-searching retreat to India and comes back transformed. The calls get fewer and farther between. You stop updating one another. You sense a wedge between you.
Calling it quits?
Of course, you should never turn a blind eye. The first thing you should do is to work on the friendship. This is one relationship worth fighting for, so be sure to give it everything you’ve got before calling it. If all else fails, you need to step out of the denial zone and accept when it is time to break up with your BFF.
It may seem impossible at first, but you will get over it more quickly than you might think. To help, here are 14 signs that your best friend isn’t your best friend anymore.
#1 You don’t meet up as often. Like looking after a house plant, friendships take effort, care, and love if you want to keep them alive. A sign that you’re drifting apart is not meeting up as often as you should. Sure, reality gets in the way and you’re both busy, but if you can’t make time for each other, then that’s your first warning sign.
Live in different cities? In different countries? On different planets? There’s always Skype. If you can’t make time for that, either—Houston, we have a problem. [Read: The real reason why friends drift away and why you can’t do anything about it]
#2 You don’t chat anymore. You don’t have to physically be together to stay best friends. Chatting doesn’t necessarily have to happen over Sunday brunch. There are a myriad of ways to keep in touch. From text messaging, to phone calls, to emails, to Skype, you are spoiled for choice when it comes to forms of communication.
If you don’t chat anymore, it’s not because you can’t, but rather, because you don’t want to.
#3 The ‘just to say hi’ calls have stopped. All it takes is a simple phone call to catch up with your best friend. Whether it’s a quick hello during your lunch break, or a super long 3 AM session, keeping the lines of communication open is very important. If that’s not in place, how can you call each other best friends?
#4 Facebook knows more about his/her life than you. Didn’t know she was taking that work trip to Mexico? Had no idea he was dating someone new? Once Facebook, or other people for that matter, start informing you of your best friend’s life events, you know you have a major problem.
#5 They share your secrets with others. Best friends are supposed to be amazing secret-keepers, but once your special someone blabs your problems to others, you can scratch them off the “best friend” list. The same goes for you. If you find yourself participating in petty gossip with others, and sharing private conversations between you and your BFF, you’re certainly in the wrong.
#6 You start feeling jealous. Friends are supposed to be happy for one another. Whether your BFF moved away, made new friends, bought a new car, found a hot lover, or got promoted way above you, once you start feeling jealous and resentful, you can take it as a sign that the friendship is on the rocks.
Sure, feeling jealous is normal, and there’s nothing wrong with wanting more than what you have, but if you resent your BFF for succeeding in areas where you don’t, they are your nemesis and no longer your best buddy. [Read: Think your friend’s jealous of you? – 8 ways to fix it right now]
#7 You sense competition between you. There’s nothing wrong with a little friendly competition between you two, as it’ll push you to be better. However, you should be able to tell when it gets out of hand. When you’re always trying to one up each other or prove that you’re better, that’s where the problem lies.
#8 You secretly want them to fail. Once you take pleasure in watching your friend fail, you can chalk it up as a red flag in your friendship. BFFs are supposed to be each other’s cheerleaders, regardless of the situation. It doesn’t count if you put on a front and wish them all the best for their interview, but secretly feel pleased when they don’t get the job.
#9 They head out without you. It’s fine if you don’t live in the same area, but it is a problem if you do and your best friend plans a night out without you. I’ve experienced this before. My friend tried to cover it up by saying it wasn’t really my thing, so she didn’t bother inviting me out. Once you start yearning to have fun without each other, you know that you have a problem.
#10 Conflicts are left unresolved. Just like any relationship, conflicts shouldn’t be left to fester. It is important to resolve conflict and drama as soon as possible to avoid major scarring. However, if you leave things unsaid and don’t work on fixing things, the wound will fester, get infected, and eventually ruin every aspect of your friendship.
#11 You both have new friends. There’s nothing wrong with having friends outside of your usual social circle. In fact, having different groups of friends is encouraged. You have your hiking buddies, your drinking buddies, your college buddies, and so on. However, best friends are supposed to transcend boundaries between these groups of friends, and always take priority. Once both of you start spending more time with others and less time together, you know that you’re drifting apart. [Confession: Why you shouldn’t make your friend your priority when you’re only an option to them]
#12 Alone time is awkward. You’re fine in group settings, but once you’re alone, you find that you have nothing much to share. It is a problem once you realize that you have fewer things to say to each other, and more time to think about how awkward the silences are.
#13 You procrastinate keeping in touch. Every time I receive news, whether good or bad, my best friend is one of the first people I share the news with. A sign that your best friend is no longer your BFF is when you procrastinate telling them what’s going on in your life. You’d rather share the news with others and only tell your BFF when you remember to *days later* or feel like it. [Read: How to recognize selfish friends and stop them form hurting you]
#14 You don’t bother with special occasions. No one’s asking you to celebrate the day you guys decided to become BFFs. I’m talking about major events like birthdays and holidays. As someone’s BFF, you should be the forerunner in planning a surprise birthday party, or at the very least be one of the first few to wish them happy birthday. If you forget once, no one’s going to blame you—but then again, if you make a habit out of it, you need to reevaluate your friendship.
If you feel that your BFF is no longer your best friend, it is time to take matters into your own hands and confront the issue. If the situations above apply to you, you and your BFF are probably on your way out; the good news, though, is that even a BFF can become a good friend or trusted acquaintance.