It can happen: you wake up one day and realize that you emotionally outgrew your friends. Realizing this can be hard and scary. First off, who else are you supposed to hang out with? You may realize there are really only a handful of humans who you feel are on your emotional level, but you don’t have all of that history and shorthand with them that you do with those less-mature friends. You don’t have the memories and the stories. You don’t have that bond that only time can create. Second off, you feel guilty because you don’t want to abandon your friends. You feel like you see yourself as better than them if you distance yourself from them, and you don’t like to think of yourself that way. Looking down on people doesn’t feel good.
Look, your friends were good for you for a long time. You were friends for as many years as you were because, for a while, you were running on the same track as them, and moving at the same speed. You did learn some lessons side-by-side. You did do some growing together. But then maybe they…hit a wall. And you kept on going. Something curtailed their growth, but you just skyrocketed. You don’t want to leave your friends behind but you also don’t want to sabotage your own development by staying friends with them, all to be polite. And, perhaps the more you look at them, you realize that, if they had the choice, they wouldn’t pay you the same consideration. They are not polite people. The final issue with realizing you’ve outgrown your friends is that it’s a sign of aging, and nobody likes to see those signs. It shows you’re moving onto a new phase of life, and closing that chapter of youthful debauchery. None of it is easy to admit, but here are signs you’ve emotionally outgrown your friends.
You see their problems as their fault
They used to vent about being fired, getting dumped, or having their roommate mad at them. You always saw things from their perspective and just their perspective. They were perfect, and everybody else sucked. Now, you can see how these friends bring these problems onto themselves through their behaviors.
So you don’t want to advise them
Since you’re noticing that your friends cause their own drama and welcome their issues through destructive patterns, you no longer want to give them advice. You don’t want to pick up their call and hear them complain about something that they caused, and that is within their control to fix. It feels like a waste of time.
Their flakiness isn’t funny anymore
You used to think it was hilarious when you’d show up at the scheduled 11:30 am brunch, your friend wouldn’t show up…ever…and then two days later say, “Oh my gosh I’m so sorry I got really drunk the night before and slept the entire next day and just forgot to text you.” You used to think that was funny—that that was so her thing. Now you’re annoyed. You planned around that brunch.
Nor is their cattiness
Your friends talk a lot of sh*t. They’re always making fun of other people. You used to get your laughs by sitting around and either scrolling through social media, to tease other humans, or looking around at your immediate surroundings and railing on people. You don’t think it’s funny anymore—you think it’s rather mean.
You are afraid of the law
Your friends go too far with their safety, and yours. They drive drunk. They pee in public. They try to steal bottles of alcohol from bars. They do things that could get them arrested or fined. You realize that, they don’t mind because, they haven’t built a life or reputation that they want to protect. But you have…and to you, none of that behavior is worth it.
They aren’t prioritizing their careers
They still hate their jobs, aren’t doing anything about that, love to complain about how much they hate their jobs, and seem to think that that’s life—hating work, living for the weekend, and paying bills until you die. But you have dreams and aspirations. You want to do something meaningful with your life. And you feel bad saying to these friends that you like your work.
In fact, they work buzzed
They actually dislike their work so much, and treat their lives so frivolously, that they get drunk or do drugs before going to work. They totally phone it in on the job. They’re quite proud of themselves for getting away with bringing a flask to work and doing as little work as possible. You find yourself pitying their boss.
You actually like your partner
You all used to sit around talking about how stupid or annoying your boyfriends were. Complaining about your relationships was how you bonded. But now, you actually like your partner. You learned that, complaining a lot about a relationship meant you were in the wrong one, so you went out and found a right one—you don’t take any joy in staying in crappy relationships and complaining about them anymore.
They still seek revenge
Your friends are still vengeful. If someone screws them over, they try to get back at them. They even do this when it was all kind of their fault. Like, when they get fired for having sex in the bathroom at work and then go create fake Yelp accounts to write terrible reviews of their old boss’ business online.
They call you crazy for caring
When your friends totally mess up—like when they flake on you or wrong you in some way—and you call them out for it, they tell you you’re being crazy. They say you have no chill. Somehow, when they mess up and you get upset about it, it’s your fault and never theirs.
They’re still social climbing
Maybe in the past, if your friends bailed on your plans because they met a B-list celebrity who invited them to go on his yacht right in the middle of your birthday party, you forgave it. You totally understood their need to go yachting with that celebrity to miss your birthday party. Today you value close friendships over social climbing, and see that behavior as messed up.
You understand your parents now
You actually like your parents now, but your friends don’t like theirs. You used to bond over complaining about how awful your parents are—how crazy and messed up they are. But now you’ve learned to really respect your parents and even befriend them. You feel gross listening to your friend talk badly about the parents who sacrificed so much for her.
You don’t think cheating is okay
You used to cackle when your friends would cheat on their boyfriend. So they got too drunk and had sex with a stranger at a bar, even though they’re in a relationship—you all used to find this hilarious. Now you think it’s messed up. You’ve become more empathetic, and feel bad for their boyfriends.
Or being a side piece
You also think it’s total BS when your friend is someone’s sidepiece. You, first off, no longer thing the guy will leave his girlfriend for your friend—you know that never happens—and furthermore, you feel bad for that guy’s girlfriend. You’ve generally started to look outside your inner circle and care about the feelings of others.
They yawn when you talk career
You get excited when you talk about your career. You light up. It’s part of who you are—it’s your passion. Your friends yawn. They joke, “Enough with the work talk.” They can’t seem to understand that someone may actually like what she does for a living, and they certainly don’t take an interest in your career.