The final few episodes of Girls didn鈥檛 indulge us like a typical friendship sitcom would, with the gang of friends making it through their relationship trials and vowing they鈥檇 be besties forever. Sure, criticize the reality of the girls鈥 apartments all you like, but the evolution and dissolution of friendships in the series hit pretty close to home. Although lots of TV shows imply that your college besties will always be there for you, realizing that isn鈥檛 always the case is a tough lesson in adulting. We talked to psychotherapist Katherine Schafler, who gave us some real talk about changing friendships, whether to put in the work to avoid losing a close friend, and how to deal if you do.


If you鈥檝e lost a best friend and you鈥檙e still dealing with the fallout, repeat after us: It鈥檚 normal, and it鈥檚 going to be okay. Think about the music you listened to in high school (or don鈥檛 if it鈥檚 too embarrassing) versus now. They鈥檙e probably pretty different. 鈥淛ust like music and clothing tastes naturally grow and change as we do, our social circle expands and contracts in similar ways,鈥 Schafler says. An evolving social circle is also likely a sign that you鈥檙e growing as a person, discovering new interests, making different choices about your life priorities, or are just influenced by the zeitgeist of the day. 鈥淎s you grow, move cities, change jobs, have kids, and connect with new people, it鈥檚 of course only natural that who you feel you can best relate to also changes,鈥 she explains, noting that for your well-being and likely your friendship, 鈥淚t鈥檚 also very important to allow a friendship to change.鈥 Just because things are different doesn鈥檛 mean they still aren鈥檛 fun or loving.


There鈥檚 not a cookie-cutter answer to when and if you should let a friendship fade. Whatever age you are, you probably already know life isn鈥檛 simple. People are different, relationships are complex, and you鈥檙e going to have a different history with each of your friends. So if something changes in your friendship, which is common as you shift away from free-time-filled college days and become an adult, Schafler states, 鈥淵ou have to get really intentional and deliberate about who you want in your circle.鈥 If you want to keep your funny and supportive ride-or-die in your life, there are times you鈥檙e going to have to put in the extra effort to make it work. Schafler says, 鈥淓ven if you see that person only once a year, you could make it a special night, and reconnect to all the things you love and appreciate about one another.鈥 As your relationship evolves over time, so might your willingness to go the extra mile.

鈥淚n terms of accepting the changing tides of friendships, you have to go with your gut. Take your emotional temperature when you hang out with people. Are they giving you energy or taking it away?鈥 Schafler asks. Tap into your instincts, and 鈥測ou鈥檒l know exactly who you want to focus on keeping in your life, even if it鈥檚 in a whole new way.鈥


You can鈥檛 鈥 and shouldn鈥檛 鈥 try to prevent your friendship from evolving, and Schafler says that 鈥渂eing aware of the challenges to a friendship is a good thing, because you can work around them.鈥 If it becomes nearly impossible to schedule a happy hour with your recently married friend, who you used to see every day, you might think she鈥檚 super rude. 鈥淏ut the truth is, as your schedule changes, so will who you want to invest time in,鈥 Schafler says. 鈥淎ccept that there will be some friends in your life who, for whatever reason, you won鈥檛 feel compelled to make this effort for, and the friendship will sort of just fade away. No need to force those moments to be anything other than what they are.鈥

That level of acceptance is definitely something to reach for, but we know it can make you angry to feel like your friend wasn鈥檛 willing to put in the effort to stay close or just plain hurt your heart. As some time passes, though, it鈥檒l get easier to reminisce about an experience or joke you shared together and appreciate that moment, even if you鈥檙e not going to recreate it anytime soon (or ever). If you鈥檙e struggling to get over a BFF breakup or trying to decide whether a friend is worth keeping, Schafler notes that therapy is a great way to 鈥済ain clarity on what鈥檚 happening in your life, why it鈥檚 happening, how much control you can take over what, and how to accept the things you don鈥檛 have control over.鈥

How do you stay in touch with long-distance besties? Give us tips @BritandCo!

(Photos via Getty and Brit + Co)