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The Friends You Made In School Don't Want To Be Friends With You

Let my experience be a warning to you.

By Ellen "Jelly" McRaePublished about a year ago 6 min read
Image created on Canva

You know all those friends you made at school? At university? In college?

All those friends you're still friends with years later despite having long graduated from any schooling institution?

Those friends who you still hang out with as if you were sitting in the park, sneaking beers together, and skiving off from classes?

Yeah, those friends.

They don't actually want to be friends with you.

I will admit I'm a little biased when it comes to this topic. I'm no longer friends with anyone I went to school with or went to university with either.

I have all but one remaining on my Facebook. And even then I'm not a hundred percent sure why I haven't hit delete yet.

In short, when the going got tough in my life, my school friends were the first to jump ship.

They didn't want anything to do with me when I struggled with my health issues, which spiraled into my ability to be the once happy and social person they knew. I needed their support, I needed them to be the friends I thought they were.

I learned the hard way that school friends don't actually want to be your friends as you get older.

And if they're staying with you, it's for all the wrong reasons. Here are those reasons.

They only stay friends because of time

People seem to have this weird pride about how long they've kept a relationship. We've been friends for ten years, give us a medal.

We know friendships aren't a competition and you don't get a medal for attrition, right? Just checking.

It seems like people who keep their friendships from their school days forget this. Because for many, it's the only reason they keep them around.

They can't get rid of these friends because it has been so long. It's a waste to throw away all that effort.

I had someone make this point to me when I was talking with a mutual friend about breaking up with school friends, in particular my ex-best friend.

This mutual friend said, 

"It's such a shame because you've been friends for so many years."

I didn't need reminding of this, by the way. I knew how long it had been.

This friend said it in the way parents say to their kids when they talk about giving up the sport they played for the last ten years. Don't throw away all the time and effort.

This friend wouldn't have said this to me had I been trying to leave an abusive marriage, for example. Or a young friendship that was deep and meaningful but was only short in time.

What worried me the most is that if other people were saying this, someone I had known for the same amount of time, I couldn't imagine what my school friends were saying. 

Time is not a good enough reason to stay friends with someone. There has to be more.

They only stay friends because of other friends

I realised quickly as my friendships were imploding that I had this large quantity of friendships but zero quality. The people I was calling friends were exacting acting the way friends shouldn't.

As I removed myself from the female friendship I made in school, it started with my ex-best friend. We got into it and she said I was too hard to be friends with.

I still don't know what kind of person says that to another person. Can you imagine having someone say this to you?

Once I broke it off with my ex-best friend, all the other girls went with her. No one spoke to me, messaged me, or even called to see how I was doing.

They didn't have to agree with our fight, but their side was clear. They all went where the pack was going. And as I rocked the boat by challenging our friendship, they went to where it was safe.

If they were my real friends, if they cared about me, they wouldn't have ditched me without a second thought. Or without a conversation.

But it showed very clearly to me they only stayed friends with me all these years because of the group pack mentality. They had no interest in me, only in my participation in the group.

They remember how hard it is to make adult friends

To add insult to injury, when my ex-best friend broke up with me, she concluded her thoughts with, 

"Good luck finding new friends."

It was an interesting comment considering all the things we had hashed out between us. Those five words revealed a lot about what she thought of the friendships she had.

Though she might have just tried to be mean to me, if she was being truthful, she had a point. It doesn't get any easier to make friends when you get older.

Adult commitments take up most of your socialising time. You focus more on work and making money. It would be easier to keep the friends you have because finding new ones is way too challenging.

I fear school friends subconsciously take this approach with the friends they made way back when.

We do it in romantic relationships. We stay in bad ones because we fear what it's like to be single again. 

The same can be true for friendships, too.

They only care when you're the same

We all know people grow up and change. It's part of life. You grow out of things you liked doing. You change your opinions on the big things in life. You change your values and what means most to you.

School friends don't like when you do this.

They don't like it when you aren't the same immature yet predictable person they fell in love with.

They struggle with how their relationship with you changes and when it becomes unrecognisable from what they once knew.

I felt this when I finally met a man I liked enough to commit fully to. He was someone I wanted my friends to love and for us to be a group together.

There I was trying to insert my man into the group and they hated it.

I wasn't being forceful; it's like any person who wants their loved ones to come together. But they rejected the change in the status quo.

The girls didn't like how I wanted their strict only-girls policy to change. That's how we grew up, after all.

Not from choice by the way. It's how it was when you go to an all-girl private school with conservative parents. Boys had to be introduced slowly and with control.

I was breaking the mold, growing up. I wished they grew up with me. But their pushback taught me they don't want things to change. At all.

You will find out the hard way

I don't want what happened to me to happen to you. And yes, not all friendships that started in school will end like mine. But some will and you won't know why.

It sucked. I learned firsthand that no matter what you've been through, your school friends don't want to be friends with you.

Because when the going gets tough, they don't act like friends. They don't want to be there through the hard times. They're only staying friends with you for superficial reasons.

Sure, my side wasn't perfect. But it's moments like this you realise how superficial these friendships are. You realise that the commonality you once had doesn't keep you together anymore.

As you don't go through life the same way, you grow apart quicker than ever.

You might look at this and say the friendship could have fallen apart no matter how we met. I agree with you.

But this is not a warning about falling apart friendships. This is more about relying on and keeping friendships from your youth because you feel you have to. Or because you think they were built on a foundation of cement.

I'm here to say that's not the case. I so wish it was though.


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About the Creator

Ellen "Jelly" McRae

I’m here to use my wins and losses in #relationships as your cautionary tale | Writes 1LD; Cautionary tale #romance fiction |

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