“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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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 as 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.
- Complain when you really have to. But don’t make it a habit to talk about negativity – or people will tire.
- 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, a few of the friendships were maybe a bit one-sided, but not particularly bad. I just didn’t have the energy.
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!