Why it’s okay to outgrow your friendships

When I was young, my mum told me that the most important people in one’s life are their family. This made sense to me – growing up shy and anxious, I never made a lot of friends. Once I reached my mid twenties, and started to find my confidence, I realised that I could (and should) be more selective of who I shared my life with. For too long, I’d stayed with people who were familiar. I never thought that I could feel more safe, understood and loved by my friends; that I could have a real attachment to them and want to care for them. Until one day, I did. For the first time, I didn’t just love my family. With this new reality, I had to accept that it was time to let go of some of my old friendships. And let me tell you – it’s okay to outgrow your friendships.

Familiar friends

I had a few good friends in primary and high school that I eventually grew apart from. Throughout my late teens and early twenties, I made a lot more, but hardly any of them (I’m realising now) were real, meaningful relationships. They were based on proximity and were entirely conditional. At this age, I looked to fit in and feel somewhat apart of something. I didn’t feel like I could be myself, be honest or open, or talk about what really mattered. Sometimes you lose these friends when you leave a job, school, or Uni. Or, sometimes, they stay with you a little longer. Maybe because you’ve known them for half a lifetime, or maybe because it’s just easier that way.

Being true to ourselves

It wasn’t until I moved to London that I found myself developing important friendships. I reached the point where I grew tired of caring what other people thought of me and stopped pretending to be someone I wasn’t. I let them see a side of me that few people had seen before – the real me. The crazy, loud, wildly weird me. The one that didn’t hide the fact that she’s always late, talks about boys too much, and slings insults left and right. It took me 25 years to realise that people not only tolerate those things, but are the reason that they like me. Because it’s genuine and real. I feel the most connected I ever have with these people, and it’s because I’m being completely myself.

Shared values

As you get older, you also start to realise what qualities you should be looking for in a friendship (or any relationship). Kindness, respect, open and honest communication – these are just a few. Your friends should have their own boundaries and be accepting of yours. You should feel valued and supported, rather than judged. And while all of these make a necessary starting point, there is something else that I’ve found to be just as important. Something that makes a friendship really special. The feeling of being seen and understood.

The good thing about making friends in a big city, or while travelling, is that almost everyone is doing the same thing as you – experiencing life outside of the place you grew up in. You bond with people who share similar emotions, qualities, and values – a strong sense of independence, homesickness, freedom, open-mindedness, finding joy in the new place you’re in. It’s a mutual understanding. When someone else can recognise and understand you, it becomes much easier to open up. I find myself being more vulnerable and willing to let that person into my heart. And once that happens, they never really leave that place.


As you grow and start to create more of yourself – your personality (with all of its quirks), interests, values – you realise that some people that take up a space in your life by default are becoming increasingly hard to relate to. You feel yourself losing the desire to care for them; you no longer feel close to them. Despite this, a lot of us still choose to spend time with friends like this (sometimes without even knowing that it’s no longer serving us). Why? Because it’s much easier for our circumstances to stay the same than to actively choose to make a change. We may be averse to quitting or being honest because it might hurt.

What’s important to note is that we can live the entirety of our lives feeling lukewarm in our relationships, with the guilt and shame of moving on in the back of our minds. Some of us do. But why wouldn’t you want to live in a world where you purposefully choose people who are kind, supportive, and not only make you feel at home, but also push you to be the best version of yourself? When you let go of anyone who doesn’t meet this standard, it leaves room for those who do and who will. They’re real, trust me. And regardless of who you are, you deserve that. That’s why it’s not only okay, but recommended and encouraged, to outgrow your friendships.


Kait x

Cover photo by Ron Lach