Why I don’t keep in touch with certain friends

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“Why do people stop keeping in touch after a while and what can I do about it?”

This is one of the more common questions I and David get so I wanted to address this thoroughly.

Sometimes people seem to always be busy when you want to hang out and it’s hard to know why.

Personally, I’ve been on both sides of this spectrum. I’ve been “ghosted” by lots of friends, and I’ve also stopped keeping in touch with lots of friends for a wide variety of reasons.

Sometimes we have bad habits that push people away from us. When we become aware of them, we can deal with them and fix it.

Therefore, I want to share with you the top 3 reasons for why I’ve stopped keeping in touch with someone.

Here are the top 3 reasons I’ve grown tired of someone and what they could have done to avoid it from happening

1. Agnes, who should have focused more on commonalities

I had a childhood friend I’ve known for over 15 years. Let’s call her Agnes. The last couple of years I’ve felt like she acquired lots of new values that I don’t agree with.

That’s not a problem – I have many friends who have different values than me. However, while those friends don’t have a need to bring it up on a regular basis, conversations with Agnes always ended up around her values. It’s natural because her values are important for her. But for someone who has a different world view, that soon gets old.

In contrast, I have one friend who has radically different views than I who I love to hang out with.

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On the contrary to Agnes, he’s interested in what I have to say. If we do talk about his values, he can say, “But that’s how I view things. What do you think?” That makes me feel heard and shows that he accepts my opinion, even if he has a different one. In return, that makes me respect his opinion more.

But most importantly, he doesn’t have the urge to always bring up his beliefs. He never hides them, either, and is interested in talking about them if I ask about them. It’s just that he talks about what WE BOTH are interested in when we meet instead of what HE’S interested in.

Lesson learned:

We want to pay attention to the difference between a discussion where both are heard opposed to an argumentation where both try to convince the other one. You don’t need to adopt your friend’s beliefs, but you should always acknowledge them. When your friends feel heard, they’ll enjoy your company.

Focus more on the values you do share than the ones you don’t share. People’s lives are complicated as they are. Don’t make them feel like they have to defend themselves or explain themselves when you’re around. Small disagreements over time form a growing divide between you.

It’s important to realize that most often, people won’t even take a conscious stance against you. They just have another friend that’s nicer to hang out with.

2. Martin, the self-centered one

I had one friend who talked quite a lot. That was fine because he had interesting things to say. I mostly enjoyed listening for the first few weeks we knew each other.

But it turned out that when I really did want to talk about something that was important to me, he didn’t ask any questions at all. Over time it got clear to me that he was either socially oblivious or too egocentric.

Naturally, I started prioritizing my other friends because I didn’t feel like meeting up with Martin that much.

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In a conversation, we have two worlds: What you think is interesting, and what your friend think is interesting. For a friendship to emerge, there needs to be an overlap between the two worlds.

Ask yourself: In which world do you spend the most conversation time? You want to spend the most time in the overlapping worlds. When you spend time in your world, you want to balance it up by spending some time in your friend’s world.

commonalities with friendsLesson learned:

You want to cultivate an interest in your friends. That way you can balance up the conversation and make it more enjoyable if you’ve spent too much time in your own world.

Ask yourself: What’s your friend’s opinion? What’s your friend’s’ life like? What’s your friend’s hopes, fears, and dreams?

Click here if you’re interested in how to deal with friends who aren’t interested in you.

3. Rick, who made negativity into a habit

Then we have Rick. We were friends for many years and had lots in common. However, he started getting bitter about life.

To be fair, life didn’t go exactly like he wanted: He had a hard time meeting girls interested in him and his job sucked. That’s all fair because life is tough sometimes.

However, he got stuck in the habit of bringing up negative things whenever we met up. It’s OK to talk about problems from a constructive standpoint. And sometimes, you just need some comforting from your friends when everything sucks. But when you make it into a habit to complain, people tire.

On top of that, it’s a fact that complaining about life rather than working to improve it makes you less attractive for anyone to be around. (In opposite, someone’s who’ve had a hard time but gets out of it becomes inspiring.)

Over time, his rambling monologues got longer and he seemed to lose sight about what we both enjoyed. So I stopped meeting with him so often because even if I felt for him, I have my own problems in life and I have to prioritize friends who give new energy rather than draining me of it.

Lesson learned:

  1. Complain when you really have to. But don’t make it a habit to talk about negativity – or people will tire.
  2. Spend more time thinking about how to solve your situation or make yourself feel better and less time thinking about how things are bad.

4. A final reflection

At one moment in my life, I had more friends than I could keep up with. I simply wanted to prioritized other things in life. So I didn’t keep in touch with anyone except my three closest friends.

There was nothing wrong with my other friends, but I just didn’t have the motivation to keep those one-sided relationships floating at that point in my life.

Lesson learned:

It’s not always about you. Sometimes, people are just busy.

If you have no friends or very few friends and you’re an introvert, anxious or shy, I’ve written a specific guide for that: “I have no friends” – The 6 proven steps to get the friends you want.

Also, check out this article I wrote about how to tell fake friends from real friends.

P.S. Can you relate to any of this? What are your experiences with losing touch with friends? Write in the comments below!

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Viktor is a Counselor specialized in interpersonal communication and relationships. He manages Socialpro’s scientific review board. Follow on Twitter or read more.

Go to Comments (12)

12 thoughts on “Why I don’t keep in touch with certain friends”

  1. Thank you. I got what I needed, it makes alot of sense, because I have already started to do some of the things suggest, quite a few. One day at a time. We all need our own space. Especially in rough times.👌

    Reply
  2. I used to have so many friends now not so much. I find I do little talking and they spend the entire visit talking about their lives. I dont have anything to say because my life isnt how unwanted to so I dont complain and when they ask me what a new I just shrug. Once in a while I manage to share but again I dont have anything to talk about. I feel lost and that’s why I searched for answer on the internet.

    Reply
  3. Diane

    Hi I found this site because I was looking for answers. I became friends with this girl Anna we became best friends and we have known each other for over 15 years and I’ve got to know her family really well. Iam the only friend that she has met who has kept in touch since leaving school. She is there for me if need her for anything and vice versa. She is the more dominant one out of the 2 of us, likes getting her own way and knows how to manipulate a situation and sometimes uses emotional blackmail to get her own way and I’ve just sat there and taken it. We lost touch for a while and I’ve just recently got back in touch with her over the phone, before ending the conversation she said to me “if you don’t get back in touch within 2 weeks we will fall out”. Now I’m torn with what to do because I’m the bestest and loyal friend she has ever had and Iam seen as one of the family.

    Reply
    • Hi Diane,

      An ultimatum like the one your friend gave you seems both manipulative and borderline abusive to me. Especially when you say how she emotionally blackmailed you before. I think you need to ask yourself some hard questions. What are you getting out of that relationship with her compared to what you want to get out of it? Is she looking to your needs or only her own? And what type of behavior are you willing to accept and what are you not willing to accept?

      You are the one who with the power to decide all these things.

      Please let me know if you have any other questions. I’m happy to help and I really wish you the best!

      Reply
  4. Hi. I dont really know how i found this site. Most of my life i have felt like an outsider; lonely and depressed. I’ve always had problems making friends. There has only been one time in my life, in the military, when I had two close male friends and then over time those went away because we all moved to different states. I spent years without even one friend. Today i am married, 62,unemployed,lonely and depressed and have not one true friend. My current wife seems my polar opposite. She’s the brightest thing in my life. I cannot really understand what she sees in me. I feel I let her down. I have 3 children from a previous marriage and none of them want to be bothered with me. I am not violent, abusive nor on any substance or alcohol. Never have been. For the life of me i cannot understand why i cannot connect with people. I have missed opportunities because of this which have affected my income and lifestyle. Now I remember how I came across this site. I was searching for help for depression. it’s unbearable at this point. I cannot imagine living the rest of my life like this. I hate waking up because I feel a weight drop on me as soon as I open my eyes.. I feel stuck…

    Reply
    • Bill,

      I don’t know how long ago you posted this message, but I’m sad no one has replied to you and I felt compelled to take a moment to say hello. I’m glad to hear you have a wife who loves you and brings light to your life. Everyone deserves this. I’m not an expert on friendships and I have no solid advice to give you. I struggle myself with trusting people enough to let them in and being interesting enough to get them to stay, but I just wanted you to know at least one person in this world read what you posted, was moved by your words, and cared enough to respond. I hope the sun is shining on you today and you’re looking forward to spring. Smile. 🙂

      Reply
  5. Hi Viktor. This is why I wonder why I was ever born. I have 3 close friends but they all have lots more friends and can rarely see me. I am lonely and can see the day when they will never have time for me and then I’ll have no one. You are clearly so self obsessed that you don’t consider the feelings of your friends. Please can you think before you post anything so vile again.

    Reply
    • I’m sorry you feel so hurt by this article John. That was never my intention. 🙁

      We often get questions about why people don’t keep in touch. With this article, David and I wanted to bring light to some of those reasons, to help bring light to some behaviors we all do subconsciously. Nobody can be perfect, but sometimes some counterproductive behaviors take over too much in our communication. And then we start losing friends without having any control or idea why. That SUCKS. It’s maybe one of the worst feelings anyone can feel. I want to help people in your situation to regain some of that control and break the negative spiral.

      When we become aware of our bad habits, we can start working on them so people drawn towards us instead of pushed away.

      Reply
  6. I think as people get older, friendships become less important. I’m not talking about the friendships of proximity. Those that involve people you see consistently because of things like work, school, community, etc. When you factor all the people you have to associate and communicate with because of your life situation, along with other obligations, there is almost no time for friends. At least friendships that have substance and depth. Most of the people a typical person calls a friend is really more an associate or acquaintance. Once the situation or circumstance changes (new job, move to another town, graduate, etc) the relationship usually dissolves. All communication discontinues rather quickly, in my experience. I used to get sad and upset when this would happen. Now I know this is just part of being an adult. Situations matter and situations change. For this reason, I don’t really make a concerted effort to make new friends. I’d rather continue building and maintaining the few actual friends I do have. Said friends have been in my life for over 20 years.

    Reply
    • Wise words Eric, what you’re saying really needs to be emphasized. It’s hard to have time for more than a few friends when you are getting settled in life, because of all the social obligations you already have.

      Reply
  7. Hi, David and Victor. I am guilty of these awful habits.It’s a hard habit to stop when you have been doing it for so long. I already had a feeling that was one of my problems. The reason for this is that I was delta life of dysfunction. I am physically fit good looking well groomed. Have a good life as far as material things go. But its like I have always been sad and paranoid.But I see a light ahead this training of yours is a step in the right direction.

    Regards Adrienne

    Reply
    • Hi Adrienne, I think we are all guilty of these bad habits to various degrees. But I’m happy you see a light ahead of you. You are awesome for sharing!

      Reply

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