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What to do when friendships drift apart

Moving from primary school to secondary school can bring up loads of different feelings. Excitement, fear, sadness, happiness: the first few weeks, or even months, of secondary school can make everyone feel a bit wobbly. After all, you’re in a new place, among mostly new people, doing new kinds of tasks and classes. But you’re not alone.

If you move to secondary school with some friends, this can feel really comforting. You have someone (or loads of people) to lean back on, meet at lunchtime and walk home with. However if you move on your own, it can be scary. Either way, sometimes the process of moving to a new school can change your friendships.

This could be that you drift apart from a friend because they’ve made new friends in their form or at a club. Or it could be that one of your friends wants to stay in touch and you don’t. Or the other way round: you want to stay friends and your friend from primary school doesn’t. It can be tricky to get through it but we’re here for you, and here’s how to deal…

Try talking to your friend if you’re feeling hurt and confused

When someone isn’t talking to us as much as they usually do, it can feel confusing. Before thinking that your friend doesn’t want to be your friend anymore, talk to them. This doesn’t have to be scary or confrontational.

You could say: “I feel sad because we don’t spend as much time together anymore.” Then suggest something you could both do together, like catch up at lunchtime or on a weekend instead. If they don’t want to, it’ll be tough. But at least you’ll know where you stand rather than assuming what’s going on. Be brave and start a conversation.

It can really hurt when friendships end or drift apart

The first thing we recommend is being okay with how you feel. Moving schools, meeting new people and friendships drifting apart is bound to feel a bit weird and even sad. This is a totally normal thing to feel. It’d actually be surprising if you didn’t feel sad! The best thing you can do is remember it’s okay, however you feel.

Sometimes it can make you angry

When we go through a difficult time, we all tend to act differently. Some people feel sad, some people get on with things as if nothing has changed, some people get angry. Just like it’s normal to feel sad, it’s normal to feel angry too.

Chances are you felt quite comfortable at primary school, you knew everyone and how everything works. Now that you’re at secondary school and everything is changing it’s normal to feel angry – especially at friends you feel aren’t there for you like they used to be.

There’s always a silver lining to a friendship ending or drifting apart

But there’s good news here, promise! Once you’ve let yourself feel your feelings, you need to remember that you can get through this. There’s always a good side to everything, like your gran says “every cloud has a silver lining.”

And you need to look out for the good bits of a friend drifting away. Sometimes friends that drift away actually come back as better friends later on – this happened to me loads in secondary school!

It can be a great opportunity to meet new people in your form or at clubs

One of the good things about a friend drifting away is the spare time you have. This is a really good chance for you to meet new people, whether that’s joining a new club or talking to people you wouldn’t normally talk to.

… And it can be a good opportunity to make new friends in different groups

Who knows, some of these new people you talk to might become really, really good friends with you. I remember when I moved from primary to secondary school I wasn’t in the same class as two of my close friends.

I felt really sad for weeks, but soon I began to make different friends and I realised that I actually had more in common with my new friends – we all really liked drama and performing arts. I still said “hi” to my old friends from primary school, but felt really glad to have been strong and started talking to new people.


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Image: Hailey Hamilton

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