6 Telltale Signs Your Friendship Is Coming To An End

Friendship bracelets and "BFF" labels may have felt sacred in childhood, but as we get older, most of us come to realize that not all friendships are really built to last. In fact, a survey in the U.K., as reported by Daily Mail, found that the average person will make 396 friendships in their lifetime, but only 33 of those friendships will hold up.

Even if most of our relationships will fall apart, it doesn't make dealing with a friendship breakup any easier. "Friendships can play a role in your overall mental and emotional health," psychologist Dr. Akua Boateng told Women's Health. "When they end, it's a big shift. Many people wonder how they'll be able to cope without the support of that friendship."

Many friendships don't crumble out of nowhere — they fade away over time or go through changes that signal trouble ahead. Get to know the six signs that a friendship is on the rocks so you aren't blindsided — and so you can attempt to salvage the bond before it's too late.

Your friend hardly keeps in touch

Going weeks or even months without talking isn't always a red flag in friendships. Many besties can touch base after an extended period of silence and pick up right where they left off. However, if your friend is becoming more and more distant, it might be a sign your friendship is coming to an end. "If you're the one constantly reaching out and trying to maintain the friendship, while the other person seems passive or uninterested, it may be a sign that the other person doesn't want to be your friend and doesn't value your relationship," Dr. Avigail Lev, the Founder and Director of the Bay Area CBT Center, explained to Verywell Mind. "You might also notice that they are often unavailable or unresponsive. They don't get back to your texts or messages, or they take a really long time to reply. It can feel like you're the one always reaching out, and they don't make an effort to keep in touch," Dr. Lev added.

If your friend used to text back quickly and initiate conversations, consider clearing the air and asking them directly (though gently) about the shift. They may have an explanation, such as a busy work schedule that makes it hard to keep in touch. However, if they deny that anything's changed or they continue to be unresponsive, take it as a sign that you're in a one-sided friendship headed nowhere.

You don't have much in common

If you do a mental check of your closest friends, you can probably list multiple similarities you share that keep you connected. You might have one friend who enjoys the same hobbies as you, another who grew up in your hometown and relates to how you were raised, and another who shares your core values. "Friendships have this extraordinary quality of being what's known as homophily, which means your friends tend to resemble you in the way you see the world and the way they think," Robin Dunbar, an anthropologist and Oxford University professor, told Stylist. "Whatever happens, friendships with people that are very similar to us seem to last much longer and to be more intense."

When you realize that you and a friend have little in common, your bond can start to feel like an obligation friendship. You might continue hanging out just because you think you should, even if you can't seem to understand one another — and that might be your way of delaying the inevitable.

As psychotherapist Dr. Darren Haber writes in a GoodTherapy blog post, people change, and you might remain in an obligation friendship with someone you no longer relate to just to stave off the grief that comes with ending things. If your BFF feels more like a stranger than a pal, it could be time to let the relationship run its course, no matter how painful it may be.

You've entered different life stages

The most valuable friendships often withstand the test of time. They survive as you and your bestie grow and navigate different life stages, such as moving away for college or getting married and starting a family. You're there for each other every step of the way.

However, some friendships fail to hold up through the demands and developments that occur as life unfolds. One 2015 study published in the "Journal of Social and Personal Relationships" found that many people struggle to maintain social connections after getting married. Another study by the British charity Action for Children discovered that 68% of parents felt isolated and "cut off" from friends after having children (via The Atlantic).

Life changes don't have to drive a wedge between you and your BFF. "Sometimes these perceived disconnects [between different life stages] are exactly that: perception," Amber Trueblood, a family therapist, shared with Well+Good. "That sometimes causes a greater disconnect, because we assume and don't talk about these things, but there's a lot more in common than we realize." Try finding new ways to connect that are compatible with your evolving lifestyles. If you struggle to find a middle ground, it may be time to step away from the friendship and forge new connections that better fit your current life stage.

They ignore problems in the friendship

No two people have the same opinions, needs, and backgrounds. Therefore, it's normal for conflict to erupt at some point in your friendships. This in itself isn't a sign that your friendship is headed south, but how your friend responds to disagreements can be. "Most of us try to talk with our friends about the things they do that irritate us — always being late, texting or calling us at inconvenient times, bringing up sensitive topics in front of other people," Glenda Shaw, author of "Better You, Better Friends," told HuffPost. "These are the kinds of issues everyone has to negotiate in life. What becomes a red flag is when a person continually ignores your request to address a situation that irritates you."

Put simply, if your friend makes no attempt to repair issues — or, even worse, they minimize or gaslight your concerns — they probably aren't friend material. While their conflict avoidance may not be personal, your friendship is unlikely to survive if problems can't be discussed and solved together. Make sure you're approaching your friend about conflict in a kind, loving way. As licensed counselor Dr. Suzanne Degges-White writes on Psychology Today, that means choosing a neutral time and place, using "I" statements to express your feelings and needs, and being a good listener. If your efforts continue to go unnoticed or your friend refuses to work towards a resolution, accept that the friendship may be on its last legs.

You've stopped spending time together

Whether quality time is your love language or not, it's a crucial component of successful friendships — and a lack of it can be the reason for their downfall. "One of the biggest causes of relationships not lasting is when people don't initiate time together," friendship expert Shasta Nelson explained to HuffPost. "There are a lot of people who like each other but their friendship never lasts simply because they didn't figure out a way to initiate new time together after a big life change (i.e making time together when they now no longer work together) or when one person feels resentful for being the one who always reaches out."

When you stop spending time together, it's easy to grow apart, prioritizing other relationships and responsibilities until your friendship becomes a distant memory. You may run into this issue with a friend who regularly cancels or is always too busy to hang out. Or you may have a bestie who only agrees to quick meet-ups and refuses to give your friendship the time it deserves.

Your friend might not be trying to ditch you for good when they devote less time to you, but they could be attempting to redefine the kind of relationship they have with you. In either case, life and wellbeing coach Francesca Gamble told Stylist, "It's important in this situation that you define what a friendship looks like for you as it's different for everyone."

Your friend isn't there when you need them

Hear the phrase "commitment issues," and an ex-partner or aloof love interest probably springs to mind, but platonic relationships can be plagued by commitment phobia too. According to WebMD, people who want to sidestep commitment tend to avoid showing affection and typically make self-centered decisions. While this can play out many different ways in a friendship, one warning sign is that your friend doesn't show up when you need them most.

Maybe you're going through a tough time at work and need to blow off some steam, or perhaps you've just achieved a major personal win and look to your friends to help you celebrate. If one bestie is always conveniently MIA during your highest highs and lowest lows, they may be communicating that they're no longer willing to play a key role in your life.

Before ruling them out of your social circle, make sure you've clearly communicated how you want them to show up. "For example, telling a friend, 'Hey, I've had a really rough week. It would mean a lot to me if we could get together for coffee over the weekend. I could use someone to talk to,'" Dr. Nashira Funn Kayode, an expert mental health media consultant, suggested to Essence. If they continue to turn away, know that they might no longer be committed to the friendship the same way you are.