Ask Natalie: Making and breaking friendships

“Dear Natalie,

Do course-mates never ever miss each other when we're not high-school friends to begin with? I've had a wonderful time completing a project and interacting with my classmates during the previous term, but it seems that we hardly communicate anymore even if it's just saying a "hello" over Facebook. It's really tough to extend our "shallow" friendship beyond school relations. Is there a way around this problem?"

I understand your problem —it’s really hard to move people from the “people you know from class” section to the “yeah, we’re friends” section in your life. I mean, I have talked to the same people in a lot of my classes, but barely talk to them outside class if at all! Now maybe I’m one of the people you consider to have lots of “shallow” relationships, but really sometimes it’s just the way it plays out.

High school is just a breeding group for friendships. It seems when you put students together for seven hours a day, five days a week, friendships will grow without issue. College, on the other hand, has the distinct feeling of “there are literally thousands of other people in my year, faculty and/or major. How am I going to see any of these people for more than one class?”

The main difference between “in-class” friends and “real life” friends, in my opinion, is the effort put into the friendship. I mean sure, you can see someone three times a week for an hour or more and chat about your weekends, homework, significant others and everything, but if you never take the effort to ask them to move your friendship outside the classroom, that’s all it will be.

So ask them to do something outside class. Message them with an event in mind and ask if they want to come. Do this one-on-one because it’s a lot harder to get real guarantees that they’ll come if you’re talking in a group setting. I know it may seem weird for your “shallow friendships” at first, but remember that all friendships had to start somewhere.

One other thing, someone can be a lot different outside of class. It seems like you know these people fairly well, but you never really know what someone is like from the way they act in the classroom! Don’t judge a book by its cover — or a student by how they behave in lecture halls. If it’s not working out, don’t take it personally. Sometimes people are just jerks and you wouldn’t have wanted to be friends with them anyway.


“Dear Natalie,

My friend did this really horrible thing to me and even though we’ve talked it through and I’ve “forgiven them” in theory, I thought about it and I really don’t think I can get over it. I don’t want to say what it is they did, but it’s bad. I mean, the only reason I’m considering just pretending to move on is because we’ve been friends for so long and it seems dumb to give up all that history, but I can’t figure out if it’s okay to NOT pretend and actually stop being friends with this person. Do you think it is okay to stop being friends with someone you’ve known a long time over one thing that happened?”

Of course it’s okay. Think about this like a romantic relationship. You’ve been with someone for a long time, years even, but then they do something you consider a deal-breaker — something “big.” You would be okay with leaving that person. Or at least, you’ll know it will hurt, but it’s something that needs to be done.

You can always drop out of friendships if they become toxic or turn sour. You should never let yourself be trapped into something because you “have history” or you’ve “known them a long time.” No, you have the ability to decide how your life will be.

I would recommend at least giving this person the heads up that you will be spending less time together (or at all!) since you have known each other for a long time. I don’t know what they did, but I do know it hurts to lose a friendship, even if it’s an already dead one. It can be as simple as a text, but it at least deserves some type of burial, so to speak.

Or you can just phase them out of your life. I don’t know how little you care about their feelings. But yes, you can back out a friendship, regardless of said friendship’s length.

Need advice? Contact Natalie anonymously at and have your questions answered in an upcoming issue.