How to spot and move on from outdated friendships when going to uni

Transitioning from A-Levels to university not only tests your ability to handle your own workload but your ability to maintain and manage friendships, too. We talk a lot about how to make friendships, yet fail to offer advice on how to cut ties when they’re unable to meet their natural demise, here’s how to spot and move on from outdated friendships before they become unhealthy:

It’s worth noting to be realistic. It’s unlikely that friendships formed in sixth form will stay with you throughout your life. Friends will lose stick like posters. They’ll leave a mark when they fall down, but it’s a mark that can be painted over.

A stale friendship can often be clocked when you find you’re unable to laugh about the things you used to together, without it feeling forced. It’s sad when once shared humour becomes outdated, yet people grow at different rates, as well as in opposite directions and it’s impossible to stamp an exact expiry date on something human.

When this is the case, how do you let them down gently? Chances are, if you aren’t goofing around as much, the other person will have noticed it too, so a conversation doesn’t need to be had. Gradually reducing time spent together equates to a nod in unison.

Another tell-tale sign of an outdated friendship is if you find yourself having to walk on eggshells around them for fear of being irritant. You should never have to censor yourself around a friend, and if you find yourself doing this, then you need to tell them how you feel, propose change or compromise, and if they refuse, move on.

A friend to watch out for is a performative one. If you haven’t experienced the wrath of an extroverted alter ego at A-Level, you’re bound to encounter one at university. If this is your cup of tea – brilliant! However, it’s advisable not to consider this as a solid foundation for a friendship with longevity.

An example of a performative friend is Taylor Swift. On Selena Gomez’s birthday this year, the singer baked her a cake and posted it on Instagram, while the star was away working and unable to eat the cake, basically, ever. It can be concluded that Tay Tay baked the cake as a friendship trophy to put on the mantle of social media – and it didn’t even have two tiers.

A large proportion of this advice is easier said than done and circumstantial. But it’s good to be mindful of when a friendship comes to its natural conclusion and to adhere to it before it becomes toxic.

Remember new, exciting and invigorating people walk past you every day. It’s okay if you haven’t found the Joey to your Chandler quite just yet.

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