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Experts Say That Your Friendships Will Change Post-Grad, But They Don’t Have To End

As a senior about to graduate college, taking the first step into the “real” world is sounding pretty terrifying lately. I’m finding myself stressing over my future plans and worrying about what comes next, but to make matters worse I’m also trying to cope with the fact I’m leaving my best friends. Like, do friendships change after college? And, if they do, what does that mean for my existing relationships?

I’ve lived with my best friend every year of college and I’m realizing that soon, not only will we not live together anymore, but we won’t even live in the same state. Figuring out how to handle changing friendships during a big life transition is undoubtedly difficult for someone to figure out at the ripe age of 21 or 22 (I’m just a girl, please). 

I wanted to ease my own anxiety and hopefully shed some light on the subject for others in my position, so I spoke with licensed psychologist, Dr. Shmaya Krinsky, and LCPC, Marcus Smith, to get advice on dealing with these changing relationships.

How does post-grad life affect friendships?

My ideal post-grad life would essentially just include everything I’m doing now, just with a big girl job. Unfortunately, the reality is this era of life is going to cause more changes than that. 

Post-college life brings about significant changes that can impact friendships, including shifts in shared interests, values, and geography,” Dr. Krinksy tells Her Campus, “As individuals navigate different life stages, pursue diverse career paths, and evolve personally, relationships can undergo transformations.”  

Friendships could grow closer, or grow apart, after graduation when everyone starts splitting up. It’s stressful to think about potentially talking to your bestie less and less as life progresses, but there are lots of ways to work with the circumstances and make the bond even stronger. 

How can I maintain Long-Distance College Friendships?

The good news is that entering a new phase in your life doesn’t have to mean your relationships are done— it can just mean that the way you maintain them will change. 

“In today’s digital world, maintaining long-distance friendships is more manageable,” Dr. Smith says. “Regular communication via text, calls, and video chats is vital, and engaging in shared activities remotely, such as watching a movie together online or playing a video game, can help sustain the emotional connection by simulating shared experiences.” 

This may be a change in how you interact with your college friends on a day-to-day basis, but finding new (and fun) activities to do is a great way to keep friendships strong. Krinksy adds, “Sharing updates, reminiscing about shared experiences, and exploring new activities together virtually can help sustain the connection and foster a sense of closeness despite the distance.” 

So, what if you grow apart from your friends instead?

As Krinksy mentioned earlier, shifts in friendships usually occur based on interests, values, and geography. “Relationships thrive on these three pillars, and when one or more shifts, the dynamic can change,” he continues. “It’s essential to acknowledge that it’s natural for relationships to evolve over time and that it doesn’t negate the meaningful experiences you’ve shared.”

Smith adds, “Many find themselves drifting apart from close friends after college… acknowledging these changes and embracing them positively can mitigate feelings of loss.” 

Both Krinksy and Smith touch on how guilt is often associated with growing apart from a former close friend. “It’s normal to feel guilty about not keeping in touch with friends as regularly as before,” Smith says. “Open communication about your current life constraints can help clear up misunderstandings and reinforce mutual respect in the relationship, ensuring that friendships endure despite changes in communication patterns.”

“Feeling guilty for not staying in touch with friends as much as you’d like is natural, especially when life gets hectic,” Krinksy adds. “Instead of dwelling on guilt, focus on making the most of the time you spend together, whether it’s through meaningful conversations, virtual hangouts, or occasional visits”

But… what about making new friends?

Being in a new place (or chapter of life) gives you the opportunity to meet new people and make new friendships. While that may sound like just another stressful post-grad task for many, making new friends can be a really fun way to explore new places and get involved in fun activities. 

Smith suggests “Casual social settings, like neighborhood events or visits to local coffee shops, can also serve as excellent venues for meeting new people.” Another great way to get connected to people your age with similar interests is getting onto Bumble BFF. 

It’s important to embrace the changes that are happening in your life and know that your friendships will grow with you.

Hi, my name is Emily and I'm an Editing, Writing, and Media major at FSU. When I'm not in class, you can find me at a coffee shop on my 3rd cup of coffee. I also love reading, dancing, and anything related to music!