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Published on August 24, 2022

Childhood Friends: When to Stay and When to Move On

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Childhood Friends: When to Stay and When to Move On

Making friends when you were a child seemed to be much easier than as an adult.

Do you remember your first interaction with your first friend? Walking up to someone, saying hi, and from there, you form the foundation with that person who can now be called a childhood friend.

Having childhood friendships is an important part of discovering who we are. We get to interact with varying identities and learn how to have positive relationships with friends. Aside from that, we also discover our own desires and preferences.

We learn how to understand ourselves and others by learning how to share and consider their feelings. We learn to trust and how to build it by giving countless efforts. In return, we realize who we can and cannot trust.

It’s a time of exploration.

Whether to Stay or Move on From Childhood Friends

Sometimes we make decisions that can change the dynamic of a friendship that started in childhood. As we get older, we meet people more in line with who we are. People who are more in tune with our personalities.

There is nothing wrong with outgrowing people at any stage of life. We are fluid as human beings, and change is inevitable. As we grow and come to know ourselves and who we want to be, we may seek others on a similar path we want to take. And as a result, old friendships may slip away.

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Here are 8 questions to ask yourself when deciding to stay or move on from a childhood friendship.

1. Has the Dynamic of the Friendship Changed?

Life changes, and we live hours apart versus living with our houses in the same town. There was never a decision that changed the fluidity of our friendship, but sometimes the logistics of life itself can change things.

Past friendships only consisted of “coming out to play” or, as we coined, “hanging out” as we got older. Life was much simpler and straightforward as a child. By asking yourself questions, you can decide whether to continue your childhood friendship or allow it to end.

2. Do Childhood Friendships Last Forever?

A friendship forged in childhood does have the potential to last forever, just like any other relationship. As with any strong relationship, we can grow and change within the context of this childhood friendship.

The experiences and memories from your childhood can act as the glue to your relationship well into the future. However, if you were shy as a child and did not make many meaningful friendships, you are more likely to allow those friendships you did make to end.

Life circumstances can test the strength of a friendship. If you’ve been through a traumatic event, such as a divorce or the loss of a loved one, and you’ve changed due to a new healing path you’ve taken, your friendship may change or end.

Or if you find your friends are not there for you during your difficult time, continuing a healthy friendship may seem so hard. No matter how good the friendship had once been, sometimes you need to make a decision to end it.[1]

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3. Does Your Childhood Friendship Inspire You to Grow and Learn?

Having a friend who has your back is the epitome of a good, solid friendship. Friendships should push each other to become better versions of themselves. A bubble that encourages growth and trust.

When a friend continually shows you that he or she has no concern for your wellbeing, is just not there for you in times of need, or is not there to celebrate your successes, you may want to reconsider whether you should continue spending time with this person.

Gauging the health of your friendship can help you make decisions that are for your highest good.[2]

4. Do I End a Friendship Due to a Misunderstanding?

Sometimes things that happen in our friendships can lead to misunderstandings. This can sever even the longest friendships between buddies.

If this happens frequently, it may be time to consider what is going on. Try to understand why things are happening and how they can be avoided.

Our friendships, like all our relationships, can be a mirror to our souls and be our greatest source of healing. It may also be more beneficial for you to ask the question, “what is going on within me at this time?”

When we focus on doing our inner healing work, the dynamic of the relationship changes. Either communication with this friend will improve, or you will notice the friendship slowly dissolves naturally.

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5. Is Your Past the Only Thing You Have in Common?

It’s true that childhood memories hold a lot of power and having your childhood friend be a major part of that can be hard to pass up.

But if the only thing you have in common with your childhood friend is the memories you made, then you may find it difficult to keep the friendship going. Wants, needs, preferences, and overall path of your life can drastically change at any time.

If you can find new common ground, the relationship can continue to grow and thrive. It’s up to you whether you value the effort it would take to continue to find things you have in common.

6. Have Your Values in Life Changed?

As a child, we attract friendships that mirror what we are feeling inside. If we value having fun, then a friend who likes to have fun will be who we gravitate toward.

If our values change as we grow into adulthood, but our friends’ values stay the same, it’s more difficult to continue with the friendship.

Your friend may continue to want to have fun while you are now focused on your future and working hard. It doesn’t mean there has to be a definite end to the friendship, but the time you invest in this friendship may naturally decrease.

7. Has the Friendship Become Toxic?

When a relationship of any nature becomes toxic, it’s usually best to avoid or end it. This doesn’t mean you have to have a break-up talk.

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Minimizing communication is one way that can gradually fade the friendship. Sometimes, the toxic part of your friendship can fade out if you set firm boundaries within yourself. This is another way to continue and honor your lifelong friendship without having to cut the person out of your life.

8. How Do You Feel When Spending Time With Your Friend?

A good rule of thumb is to be aware of how you feel while being around your friend and then after.[3]

  • Are you excited to see them?
  • Or do you feel obligated to meet up with them?
  • Do you sense a heaviness and frustration when you are around this person?
  • What about when you leave?
  • Do you feel lighter?
  • Are you more fun when you’re not around them?
  • Is there a lingering pain whenever you see them?

Pay attention to any energy shifts you may feel. You will notice if you continually feel off when you are around your friend or feel pressured to see them, it may be time to at least decrease the amount of time you spend with them.

If you decide to end the friendship based on your answers to any or all the above questions, there are three ways to go about it.

  1. You can meet up and have a conversation about how you are feeling. Using “I” sentences to tell them how you feel will lessen the chances of offending the person.
  2. You can gradually decrease the amount of time you communicate with your friend in hopes the friendship will fade away.
  3. Or you can decide to change the context of the friendship and create stronger boundaries for yourself. Ultimately, do what feels right for you.
Childhood Friends: When to Stay and When to Move On

Childhood Friends: When to Stay and When to Move On

5 Questions to Ask
5 Actions
Childhood Friends: When to Stay and When to Move On
Has the Dynamic of the Friendship Changed? Life circumstances can change a friendship, especially when living in two different places, starting a family, or venturing into a business.
Childhood Friends: When to Stay and When to Move On
Do I End a Friendship Due to a Misunderstanding? Misunderstandings are inevitable. Ask yourself if your friendship is worth saving or if you should let go.
Childhood Friends: When to Stay and When to Move On
Is Your Past the Only Thing You Have in Common? Having a lot of past connections can be very powerful. But that can’t be the only thing you have.
Childhood Friends: When to Stay and When to Move On
Have Your Values in Life Changed? As we grow older, our life values may change, and our friends may not or may have new but different values from us.
Childhood Friends: When to Stay and When to Move On
How Do You Feel When Spending Time With Your Friend? Ask yourself how you feel when you’re with your friend. Eventually, you’ll find the answer to whether you should or not continue your friendship, especially when examining toxic behaviors.

To Sum Up

There are benefits to continuing a life-long friendship. There is something to be said about continuing a friendship that started when you were young. You may have amazing memories and have forged a path in your life based on the shared intimacy with someone who knows the real you.

As children, we are usually more open and freer. We don’t yet have to guard our hearts. This childhood friend may know our most precious dreams for our life. In adulthood, they can remind us of the carefree days and encourage us to live like that again. The decision whether to continue or not a friendship from your childhood is up to you.

Learning to trust your inner guidance will see you through all of life, including navigating relationships and making these kinds of decisions.[4]

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Featured photo credit: Duy Pham via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] New York Times: How Should You Handle the End of a Friendship?
[2] Psychology Today: Is Your Friendship Healthy?
[3] Reachout: What makes a good friend?
[4] National Society of Leadership and Success: 7 Ways to Develop Your Inner Guidance System

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Lisa Bruchac

Lisa believes in the power of deep inner healing work to transform your life after divorce.

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