39

I have a group of friends with whom I've spent pretty much all of my time during high school and my childhood. We played on the same sports team, spent every free minute playing video games etc. I was never the type of person with a lot of friends, I always preferred few good ones, so basically this group (four guys including me) was my whole social circle for a long time.

Now after high school, all of us started studying. The other 3 guys went to the same town, moved in together into a shared flat and are now studying sports together. I, however, knew for a long time that I wanted to go to a particular university in a different town (about 1.5 hours of public transport time away from theirs) to study computer science.

They don't have much interest in my field of study but that never was a problem at all in our group, I've just been the "kind-of-nerdy" person in the group and never bothered them with these topics. When we played video games together it was mostly soccer, which I would've never played if it were only to me, but I enjoyed it because of them. We've all been studying for three years now and as time passes it seems that they think less and less about me. When at the first year they invited me over to theirs at the weekends, last week was the birthday of one of them and they didn't invite me to the party.

I'm fairly certain that this is not due to them not liking me anymore, I think it's just that they forget about me. Another guess would be that they think I'm not interested in meeting them because my studies tend to be more time-consuming than theirs (especially the first year was) and due to that I couldn't participate in a lot of activities during that period. When I'm in our hometown on the weekends I mostly ask them if they're around too but for most of the time, they tend to stay where they study.

I have no idea how to confront them with my fears of losing my best (and pretty much only close) friends without sounding really weird and "clingy" . I guess the best approach would be something where I don't have to word it but rather show them otherwise, but I can't think of how to do more than asking anytime I'm around and have time. I also would rather know if it was actually more than just them forgetting about me and if they actually have a problem and rather not invite me willingly.

Edit: I'm located in central Europe.

  • 2
    "When at the first year they invited me over to theirs at the weekends, last week was the birthday of one of them and they didn't invite me to the party." Did you try to organize something? How do they respond to your invitations? – JAD Sep 15 '17 at 8:05
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    FWIW - "clingy" is probably the word to use in place of "clampy" – Guy G Sep 15 '17 at 12:58
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    @Hamlet edited location in, thanks for the advice – ClaDos Sep 16 '17 at 7:42
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    IMO I think this is actually a fairly common part of "growing up" - or at least used to be. In the "social media age" maybe it's less so. I graduated high school in the early 90s and I don't think it was at all unusual for everyone to go their separate ways afterwards, whether it was college, marriage/family, career, travel, etc. I have wondered about this aspect of current social trends for some time, positing that due to everyone being so used to the option of constant digital contact, it's no longer seen as "normal" to lose touch with people from youth. To me at least, this is expected. – Jonathan van Clute Sep 16 '17 at 21:12
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    For what it's worth I went through something similar to this, right down to studying technology (though I went for videogames rather than compsci). I lost contact with a large number of my old friends when I went to college to study video game development. I don't regret it though, because although I lost my old friends, I made new friends in the process. Truth be told I'm such a different person now that I don't know if I'd still get on with those old friends in the same way that I used to. – Pharap Sep 17 '17 at 17:06
76

I don't think you'll actually lose these friends; but you may not be able to avoid "downgrading" your relationship with them.

They were your friends to begin with because you guys were able to meet each other's needs for companionship, entertainment, and so on. Now they are too far away for regular get-togethers. It may be time to move on.

Nothing stays the same, and if you can't bring back the good old days, then "you have to make the new days good".

Find yourself some new friends; some that share your interests. Spend time with them. But also keep in touch with your old friends, and invite them over for a visit once in a great while.

Good luck.

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    This x100! Don't isolate yourself at your new place - meet new people who have similar interests and live in the same city as you. People you can regularly hang out with without travelling a lot. – AllTheKingsHorses Sep 15 '17 at 9:07
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    I think your point with the "downgrading" does make a lot of sense and is pretty much summing up what was happening the past few years. But is it enough to invite them once in a while to show them that the downgrading is not something I did because I wanted to, but more like you said: "because I couldn't avoid it"? – ClaDos Sep 15 '17 at 9:26
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    @ClaDos Well, if they forget to invite you to their events, I don't think they'd be much hurt if you forgot to invite them to some of yours. So basically just invite them or try to see them when you can expect it to be convenient to all of you - such as when it can be expected they can easily come, or when you are near them anyway. I have a very good friend for more than 20 years who moved to another town, we meet maybe once 2 years but we are still in touch and very good friends. – Gnudiff Sep 15 '17 at 15:14
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    +1 for this but also recommend staying in touch via instant messaging. I see my high school friends every time I visit home, but we stay in touch via Facebook Messenger a couple times a week with random memes or stories. – Eric Sep 16 '17 at 3:26
  • Thanks to everyone for their overwhelming answers and support! I will accept this answer because it seems to sum up the consent of most other answers which I could agree on pretty well and shortly. – ClaDos Sep 19 '17 at 11:39
17

I can offer the experience of being almost half a century out of high school, and a person that has always had a fairly small circle of friends. Deal with the loss.

Friendships (and romances) are based on mutual interest and shared in-person experiences; it is the thousand shared spontaneous jokes and observations, along with a handful of shared losses or intimate moments (non-sexualized for friends). They stop working remotely; sharing something after the fact is just not the same as being there together. What is funny or hilarious while playing a video game is flat and not very funny when typed out in a facebook post or tweet. There is real truth in the phrase, "You had to be there."

Such relationships fade, they have to be sustained by physical proximity and "keeping up", because people's situations (romantic, work, and play) and their ambitions change, and along with those changes, their personalities change. You and your friends are still maturing and will continue to do so for another ten years or more; and you will be different people by then.

You can love what you had, but start something new. Join some organizations that match your actual interests in your new school, volunteer for something there or in your community that you are willing to do, and meet people. Some of them are looking for friends, too.

At my university (I am a professor) students have a whole gaming group going on, to find fellow players or arrange student-only contests.

You are becoming a different person than you were with your high school friends, and they are becoming different people than they were with you. You don't have to make any kind of explicit break with them, but it is time to move on with a new phase of your life. It won't be the last new phase, you will graduate again, and likely change jobs, and maybe even change cities.

You may find a few friends for life along the way, but for me those were adults in their "final form," professionals over 30 and married, with established lives when we met. We became friends due to shared interests and life views that are still shared decades later, so we still have something to talk about. That is far harder to do with people in high school or college or even in their first jobs after finishing school; too much is still changing in their lives (and yours) to survive the separations to come.

I know this isn't the answer you wanted; but the answer is: Don't tell them. It is like asking them to stop changing from who they were in high school. And stop being afraid, you have a chance to be yourself and make friends that like you for what you like and who you really are, you don't have to pretend to like things in order to fit in, not anymore. Join in activities you actually like and can be enthusiastic about, and you will find common ground with others joining for exactly the same reason.

  • youtube.com/watch?v=A8MO7fkZc5o though it's possible to have a deeper connection with people and then they remain your friends no matter what but it's rare. – Oleg Sep 16 '17 at 0:32
  • I can painfully agree on the "You had to be there" part. Anytime I meet them it seems that they have 100 new inside jokes which I'm not part of, where earlier I would have been. Most of the answers did go in a direction I did not expect (maybe didn't want to expect) but after reading all of them I guess I can see the reasoning. Especially that I'd be really rude to try to force them not to change. – ClaDos Sep 16 '17 at 8:00
  • @ClaDos That feeling of "knowing all the inside jokes" is one of inclusion, and in a way, a group that draws such a circle around themselves also excludes those outside the circle. The pangs you feel are because their circle has already drifted away to the point you aren't really in it, anymore. There are a dozen more such pinpricks to come. Try to be happy for your friends enjoying their circle while they have it. More importantly, know that inclusion experience can be repeated, if you try. You may risk psycho-discomfort and failing, but try joining groups anyway. It is worth the pain. – Amadeus Sep 16 '17 at 18:43
11

The bond are actually tougher than you thought, especially close friends from childhood time.

If you cherish this relationship, you should take initiative. Always take some time to catch up with them, Such as creating a group via messenger to keep in touch. You do not need to have long words, a simple concern on their recent will be good enough. Exchanging info's between helps to remind them that you do concern about them.

I would recommend you to give them a surprise visit. But that depends on your willingness, and is the trip affordable or not.

I understand your fear of losing them. The relationship build since childhood are usually the most pure and sincere. I wish all the best to you.

  • I think they are using apps like snapchat a lot, the problem with that is that I have personal problems with using such services. We have such a group chat, but it was mostly dead for the past 2 years except for some small occasions (I assume they have some other group chat for their flat etc. where they mainly communicate). +1 on the surprise visit, thats something I thought about doing myself, but could not decide if it's something reasonable to do in this kind of situation. Thank you for the kind words. – ClaDos Sep 15 '17 at 8:49
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    I'd suggest NOT doing surprise visits. Personally, if someone "dropped by" to see me, I'd feel awkward and would dislike it. Not to mention that if I was busy or otherwise engaged then I'd either have to cancel my plans or ditch the friend who came to see me. On the other hand, if you are planning to be in their town for a few days and leave it open ended "hey if you have time in the next few days, let me know as I'm in town", then it would be less imposing. – BunnyKnitter Sep 15 '17 at 15:59
6

I grew up in many different cities in the Middle East and attended at least 8 different schools because my dad would accept any and every transfer with promotion, unlike his colleagues who had businesses in their current city and wouldn't be willing to move.

I had to lose all my childhood friends, then form new ones, then lose them, form new ones, then lose them, and continue this way.

I have understood that once I'm away from my old friends, I will have no choice but to let go, and form new ones in the new city I'm in. And that they will gladly accept some other people in their circles as if I never existed. This is true on both sides, i.e., I will end up not even thinking about them when I'm settled in a new city.

But that doesn't mean we're no longer friends. Recently, with the rise of social media, I found some of them and them me. We caught up a little bit on things that happened after I left. But even that faded out after a while because we're all adults now, and we've our jobs, and life to take care of now. So, contacts will die down naturally.

But that still doesn't mean we're no longer friends. We meet up when in case we're in the other city for some purpose, or we meet up back in India and so on. It's nice to have some childhood friends whichever city I go.

What you can do in the short term since you're in a different city, is to keep in touch on social media or calls. Not for long exchanges, but for quick catching up on things. You have to keep in mind that sooner or later this itself will fade away. Either you will move on, or they will.

What you can do for your long term benefit is to find new people in your new city, get to know them, and let new circles form naturally. Don't get too attached to good old friends and the moments you shared. Make new. Good luck! :)

One thing I'd like to add is that it's not nice to be clingy, that is, if they have moved on, that is "out of sight, out of mind", you forcing them to keep you in the loop isn't nice.

5

last week was the birthday of one of them and they didn't invite me to the party.

From what you wrote it sounds like you guys are good friends, so why not start by asking your friend why he couldn't invite you for his birthday party, jokingly

Or you could be a bit diplomatic and ask "Hey! how was your birthday party?"

I'm fairly certain that this is not due to them not liking me anymore, I think it's just that they forget about me. Another guess would be that they think I'm not interested in meeting them because my studies tend to be more time-consuming than theirs (especially the first year was) and due to that I couldn't participate in a lot of activities during that period.

If they forgot to invite you, they'll probably apologize or provide some genuine reason why such a thing happened. Then, you could ask him to make it up to you by meeting you at the weekend (or any other suitable day/place/time, like old times)

You could utilize this meeting to tell them how much they mean to you and that you would like to be the same best friends as you guys used to be sometime back. If they understand, you could get your friends back.

If they don't, don't lose heart. People sometimes grow apart from each other and there is not much you can do to convince someone if they have already made up their mind (to not be friends/best friends/part of your life any more).

The idea is that if they mean so much to you, take the onus of reuniting with them, and set up a meeting with them as soon as possible.

You'll either succeed or fail, either way you'll know for sure what place you are in with your friends.

  • I really like your approach with asking how the party was. If he doesn't apologize it's kind of a confirmation that it was not only a slip, right ? – ClaDos Sep 15 '17 at 9:16
  • See you'll most probably know by his body language and his voice. Still, just to clear any doubts, you may ask him the question straight "Did you intend to invite me to the party?" or "Was it a slip-up?" or "Do you miss the times we spent together?" – Sachin Sep 15 '17 at 9:44
4

On how to "confront" them - when you meet them next time, just show them how glad and happy you are to meet them. Do not think in terms of confrontation, but more confiding.

"It's great to be here again, I really missed you guys."

"I'm studying so much, I didn't even find new friends like us four in my new place." (but in a neutral tone, not whiney)

"I'm still not used to living alone, after all we four have been through."

Something like that. Let them feel your joy about being there, and if you really feel the need to let them know that you are lonely, then just let them know (without making it a big downer). Avoid, at all costs, to make them feel guilty in any form or fashion - they are not, and this would most certainly drive a wedge between you and them.

fears of losing

This is really what you should be working on, by accepting and shifting your mindset.

The cold and hard fact is that what you are going through is normal. It happens to almost everyone after school and university. Their 3-group will probably break up as well when they are done with their sports studies, as they will likely work for different employers, get families and so on. People in your live will always come and go. It makes no sense to fear something that you know 100% will happen - it makes more sense to accept it (which sounds easy, but certainly is a substantial process for most people).

Now, "accepting" does not mean that you should forget about your friends. But you need to accept the fact that it won't be as it was in the past. You will be less on their mind, and it would really be unjustified to force them to think about you all the time. So, let them live their lifes, as you do yours. If you wish to meet them more often, initiate meetings however you can, but do not feel bad or excluded because they don't seem to contact you often. You see, their "need" for companionship is pretty much served in their group. It is not about them being "evil", it is just the way it is.

Obviously, the best thing would be if you'd find a new group where you are now.

3

As someone who's been through a somewhat similar experience, (ie was in a friend group without many other friends outside this group, then re-established contact and regular relations) I wanted to share my thoughts/experience.

First thing, realize for this period of your life you placed your interests, career and education over hanging out and shared experience with your friends. There's nothing wrong with this, but for the moment you won't be as close as before. Naturally divergent experiences and divergent locations will prevent you from being as close as you used to be until you can get physically close and create more shared experiences together. Again there's nothing wrong here, don't sweat it or judge yourself about it.

Second, I highly recommend you take a close look at your friends as individuals instead of collectively. Chances are they aren't identical and you'll have more common ground with one than another. Alternatively, one of them might simply be friendlier and more extroverted. Also its typically easier just arranging a meeting for one person instead of trying to wrangle the whole group together.

Third, and the main thing here, is try your best to still be present in their lives even if you can't be as close as you used to be. I found social media invaluable for keeping in touch. Simple things like liking posts, occasional messages, posting your own things and appearing in there feeds will keep you at least partially present in each others lives. Definitely be proactive, learn what excites each one of them, and, even if you aren't super excited about it, try partaking. My own experience I learned to like 80s action movies and baseball to stay in touch with a friend. I didn't necessarily enjoy them for itself, but going to movie halls for late night showings with him are still some of great memories and caused me to genuinely become interesting in it. Alternatively, if you share a sports interest, people often take kindly to a messages like, "man player xxx is an amazing rookie, did you see that homer he hit last night?" those little conversations go a long way to towards staying present in a persons life.

Two cautions, Don't betray yourself in this quest! For example, I had a friend who was really into clubbing and dancing and staying out late. This was antithetical to my own goals in life, so I didn't indulge those. Second thing for the first 6 months maybe more probably its only you who does the logistics, pushes for the meeting, travels out of the way etc. For the time being likely your need of friendship is higher than the other persons so its to be expected. More of a pain point for you, means you'll be willing to do more to solve it. Once you get reintegrated to the group, this should diminish considerably though. Also some friends you may never see a reciprocation, and if it feels like a burden and you don't get joy out of the relationship after you did do diligence to re-establish contact, don't keep pressing and move on.

Just my thoughts and experiences, hope that helps!

  • Thank you for your advice! I can actually really relate to your situation. Especially the last part seems to describe the situation pretty well. They are still a group of 3 and have definitely not the same need for the friendship to me, as I have vice-versa. – ClaDos Sep 16 '17 at 7:51
3

This is life. While becoming adults, we change our attitude, our daily actions, our thoughts, we like new things and dislike some things that we liked.

Try to find someone who can fit your needs, you don't have to pry your old friends for attention, as you can see they are changing too and you too are becoming different.

I'm sure you will find new friends, I can understand from your words that you can do everything for your friends, like someone just said, good luck!

1

I had a similar problem until a few months ago... then I decided to move on, and make new friends. I even asked a related question on this very site: How to be accepted back into a friend group?

The thing is, most people don't consider you their own after they've spent a lot of time away from you. They change and grow differently from the way you do, due to which they become a little bit different. Also, while you're away, you have no way of knowing what they truly think about you, as you have highlighted that your friends often don't follow up with your invitations.

As you say that these friends are the only close friends you have, one thing you could do would be to treat them how they treat you, not meant negatively, but in a way that, as you mentioned, doesn't seem too "clingy". Keep in touch, every once a while, meet up and do stuff that you used to do before, but don't limit yourself to only these people. As far as I know, most people who you don't meet with in a long time tend to forget you over time, regardless of how much emotional attachment they and you shared before.

As I've had this experience, where my old friends had completely changed, and didn't even accept me back, I'll tell you this much: There is no such thing as a friend... There are only people who you spend more time with, and less time with; people with whom you like to be, and people with whom you don't like to be. In the name of friendship, don't consider that they are the only people who truly care about your interests. Yes, it is good to spend time with people who share an interest, but not doing so doesn't mean you're interests are worthless, or whatever...

Long answer short, keep in touch as much as they'd like to keep in touch. Don't over-do it :)

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