I’ve always been pretty good at letting relationships naturally fade out. I’ve always been able to recognise when either I’m no longer interested in maintaining the friendship or recognising when they no longer are. Sometimes there’s hurt feelings but most of the time there is a feeling of loss but no hard feelings.
It is hard to do when you’ve never done it before. I remember the first time I realised I was no longer a priority for someone. She was my best friend from grade 2 until grade 6. We spent nearly every afternoon together. I was usually home alone with my sister for a couple of hours after school every day so instead I’d ride my bike to my best friends house, stay there for a few hours and then make my way home. We hung out most weekends. And then we finished school. I moved but we kept in touch. She went to a school where 90% of my primary school went. I went to a school where I knew exactly 0 people. I was desperate to hang on to my old friendships but them, not so much. I spent many lonely weekends in the first couple of months. My parents worked weekends so it was hard to see my old friends as public transport wasn’t great. My best friend was good at first. Then she got a boyfriend and we were all forgotten. More of my phone calls went unanswered and not returned. We were mailing letters to each other a lot over the summer break but they started taking longer and longer to get to me. It took me the entire year to come to the realisation that I was no longer a priority. I wish I’d seen it sooner but as a 13 year old kid, I didn’t quite have the awareness I have now. It hurt. It really did, but by that stage I had made new friends. A core group of girls that I still see on occasion and one girl who is now my best friend and has been for the last 18 years.
The point is, that experience helped me see that people have other shit going on. And that I’m not always going to be a priority. That people grow apart. What it showed me is that there isn’t always a conversation about it. Whilst an explanation would be nice, I know myself that sometimes it’s hard to express that someone has done nothing wrong but you just don’t want to be friends anymore. It seems mean and unnecessary.
I also realised upon moving to a new school in year 9 that its ok to have relationships to serve you for the time being. In my first year at the new school, my group of friends were basically the other new kids. We stuck together because we were in all the same situation and that was one where everyone else had known each other for years and were already in their cliques. Year 9 is also a notorious year for girls so it’s hard to break into a new friendship group. Whilst I had fun with these girls, they couldn’t offer what I craved – common interests and close companionship. We all knew why we were friends and we each knew we were biding our time for acceptance by others. By year 11 I had found two groups of girls that I swapped between. Whilst everyone got along, they didn’t mix out of school but each group gave me something that I needed and once school ended, I stopped contact with the ones who I only spent time with simply because they were there.
I have let a lot fade out simply because they don’t serve a purpose in my life. That sounds harsh but as I’ve gotten older I’ve realised I don’t have any interest in maintaining relationships for the sake of it. I’m very introverted in terms of energy levels and so I prefer to keep a close number of friends compared to hundreds of friends and if someone new comes into my life that may mean that someone else may be put on the back burner.
I think I’ve been lucky though. I’ve always been very much my own person who doesn’t rely on others entirely for support. I’ve always had that in myself and have had to use it in difficult times. I’ve also always had an awareness of others and how I factor into their lives. I’ve rarely thought that I’m more important to someone than I really was. In fact, I always assume that people don’t think of/remember me and whilst I know that comes across like I don’t think much of myself when I actually do, it also means that when someone does invariably decide they no longer want to keep as in touch with me as they used to, I don’t really notice too much or if I do notice, I’m glad for it.
Like with so much in my life, I don’t want things in it simply for the sake of it. I want all my relationships to add value to my life. So if that means letting go of friendships that no longer serve me then I will. And I refuse to feel bad about it.