Friendships, just like any other kind of relationship, can sometimes grow cold; people you once loved to hang out with can start to walk away from your life.
It can be extremely painful to see the friends you care about start distancing themselves from you; it may even feel like the rift keeps growing as the days pass.
These feelings can spoil your mood for the entire day and the distance can be frustrating.
So what can you do when friends distance themselves from you and how do you respond in a way that can mend the friendship?
Here are 11 ways you can do when a close friend is growing cold and distant from you.
1) Re-Connect and Express Your Thoughts by Breaking the Ice
Communication is an important step in rebuilding bridges in any relationship.
If you are getting the vibe that they are distancing themselves from you, you should break the ice as soon as possible.
By opening the doors for conversation, you can ask them why they wish to distance themselves from you.
Breaking the ice can be as simple as dropping them a text asking them “How are you?” or “What is going on in your life?”
You may be terrified of upsetting them or widening the gap between the two of you and hence may refrain from saying anything that could rock the boat.
But that’s why you should try to bring it up with them and convey your feelings about it.
Consider how this might help you relax in a circumstance where the other person is waiting for you to kick up a conversation.
Unless you talk to them first, you’ll never know what they’re going through.
2) Be Honest When Voicing Your Feelings
While it’s important to have a conversation about the friendship, it is important that you are not being confrontational when voicing your feelings.
Bear in mind that there’s a vast difference between being honest and being cruel.
By being open and honest with a friend or loved one, you’ll provide them the opportunity to understand more about your situation and develop compassion for you.
Also, make sure that your feelings are being heard by the other side.
If you are hurting because of the distance in the friendship, then let them know that you are upset and hurt.
Consider that the person you’re speaking with may be the person you trust the most in the world, so opening up might be a great release of any tension that may be inhibiting the process of healing.
3) Take the Time to Hear Their Side of the Story
When people are having a difficult time dealing with something, they often prefer not to communicate their sentiments openly, preferring instead to keep them hidden deep inside where they are easier to cope with.
As such, it is recommended that you take the time to listen to their side of the story.
It’s possible that they may be going through a lot of stress and may feel like there isn’t anyone they can rely upon to listen.
By lending them an ear to empathize with their situation, you may be able to understand why they are not opening up to you.
Finally, remember that you shouldn’t make any assumptions about how they may be actually feeling.
Give them the time and space to recover before approaching them about the topic.
This will make them feel valued and encouraged to rekindle the friendship.
4) Take Your Mind of Them by Focussing on Things You Love to Do
Thoughts about the friend that may be trying to avoid you can leave you feeling upset and hurt.
The best thing you can do for yourself is to focus on things that you love to do.
This may be pursuing a hobby, watching a movie, or reading a book.
By focusing on yourself, you can take your mind off the situation and prevent yourself from being consumed by negative thoughts.
5) Show That You Can Still Be Alright Without Them
While not being invited to spend time with them at their parties can be disheartening, it may also be possible that their actions may not be intentional.
Moreover, if they continue to give you the cold shoulder despite you voicing your feelings, there is not much you can do to change their mind.
Show them that you’re fine without them by engaging in activities they enjoy with other people.
Remember that you do not need their approval, but want their friendship.
So, spend time with other friends and family without them but do not give them the cold shoulder either.
Give them the space they want and see if things fall in place organically.,
6) Accept the Fact That They May Be Completely Fine Without Spending Time With You
Unfortunately, this might be a difficult reality to embrace, but life is what it is.
Recognize that there are people in your life who have a higher priority than you.
You may care for the friendship a great deal, but you may not be the center of their universe.
If you are devoting a great deal of your time and effort into making the friendship blossom but they don’t seem interested in spending time with you, then it may be time to accept that they are moving on with their lives and may not feel as close to you as you might consider them.
7) Don’t Beg or Plead With Them to Be Your Friend
It is natural for you to want to do anything within your power to retain the friendship of people that you care deeply about.
However, it’s not advisable to go begging or pleading with them to be your friend.
This sets up a toxic balance of power in the friendship and you will only end up losing your self-worth.
No amount of effort is going to change the mind of a person that has already been made up about your value in their life.
So if they refuse to talk to you any longer, or if they respond with one-word answers or even nasty remarks, it’s pointless to plead with them to make them reverse their distance.
8) Don’t Take Their Cold Shoulders Personally
It’s not always a personal attack against you if they choose to distance themselves from you.
While it may be a hint that they no longer wish to be friends with you, it might also be the case that they need the time to focus on their own issues and mental health.
Every person is different and if they are actively distancing themselves from you, then it might be time to check the expiry date of the friendship.
Choosing to avoid you is up to them and does not mean that there is something fundamentally wrong with you.
So don’t take it personally if despite you reaching out they wish to stay away from you, and focus on people who do consider you to be a priority.
9) Apologize if Your Actions Triggered the Rift
When you actually want to be friends with this person again, sometimes all you have to do is try to un-distance yourself from them instead.
You might simply have to swallow your pride and offer a heartfelt apology to do this.
Talk to the other person and let them know that you had a difficult time as well and that you are delighted they are back.
You’ve probably recognized that instead of blaming them entirely, you can take the time to reflect on your own actions and see if there is anything you can improve upon.
10) Prioritize Your Own Happiness and Mental Health
No relationship or friendship is worth sacrificing your own mental health or happiness over.
Self-love is vital because it helps you to look for yourself so that you may focus on the things that matter most to you in life.
This will make you a happier person, which will help you establish more fruitful friendships.
Keep in mind that you are a valued person and that this individual is only one in a long line of people in your life.
They will undoubtedly remain around and stay with you if they actually love you.
It’s crucial to remember that the only connection over which we have control is our own.
We can’t stop people from going about their lives, but we can choose how much their acts influence us.
The point is that you are the most important person in your life, therefore treat yourself with respect and love.
Keep in mind that you are the most important person in your life and must constantly look after yourself.
11) Respect Their Decision and Space
This is perhaps the most difficult thing to do when your friends distance themselves from you.
Grant the other person the time and space they need to process their feelings and decide whether or not they want to be around you.
Naturally, some people will avoid interacting with those who they believe are excessively gloomy in their outlook on life.
You should never despise someone simply because they refuse to spend time with you.
You can’t make them change their minds, even if you think they’re incorrect.
Even if they do change their minds, the process will be far more uncomfortable and arduous than they anticipated.
By refraining from constantly barging into their life and respecting their decision, they will feel that you respect and value their feelings.
That sense of mutual respect can be the seeds that could cause the friendship to blossom again in the future.
Putting yourself first
What’s your number one goal at the moment?
Is it to buy that car you’ve been saving up for?
To finally start that side-hustle that’ll hopefully help you quit your 9-5 one day?
Or to take the leap and finally ask your partner to move in?
Whatever your goals are, there’s a hidden trap in how you set them.
The trap is this:
You’ll only experience genuine life satisfaction when your goals are aligned with your values.
Because when values and goals are aligned, you enjoy the journey much more. And this makes achieving your goals much more likely.
If you find it hard to articulate your deeper life values, I suggest downloading the free values exercise by career coach Jeanette Brown.
It takes only a couple of minutes and will reveal a number of powerful insights about your underlying values.
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