Q: "My friend and I have been close since college and we've always been inseparable. Lately I feel like we're beginning to grow apart but neither of us will acknowledge it. It's like we hang out with each other because we feel we have to, not because we actually want to do it. I don't want to bring it up and hurt her feelings but I don't think we're the same friends anymore. What should I do or say?" — Sandra
A: Believe it or not, your friend probably feels the same way you feel. People grow apart — friendships are no different. It is likely that the things that you had in common when you were in college you may not still have in common now. There is nothing wrong with having different interests in life. Often people stay in relationships and stay “stuck” because they feel obligated. Your relationship with your friend is similar to a marriage or any other committed relationship that has drifted apart. Usually, there is a sense of loyalty and guilt that prevents people from moving on with their lives. This guilt is definitely unfounded when nothing dramatic has occurred for people to grow apart. As you get older, your interests and your views on life change. Maybe you should move on with your life but find time to touch base with your friend when you want to.
It is important to realize that it must be when you “want to” as opposed to feeling as if you “have to.” Actually, having a conversation with her about how you both have grown in different ways may be a relief to her. It does not have to be an ugly conversation wherein either one of you walk away feeling hurt or bruised. It just needs to be an honest conversation regarding how you feel. You may always remain friends but in a different manner than you were in college. Long-term friendships are sometimes difficult to maintain if you do not have a common bond to keep them together. Even then, people change. So don’t be fearful of losing her as a friend, and definitely do not feel guilty about growing. Just be honest and live your life. — Dr. Sherry
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If you're coming to the ESSENCE Music Festival this summer, you'll be able to ask her in person. Dr. Sherry will be on hand to help out with your burning dating and relationship dilemmas during the festival so if you're coming to New Orleans, be sure to stop by the ESSENCE.COM live stage to say hello.