What Are “Catch Up Friendships” — And How to Avoid Them

*Featured image contains photo by Andrea Piacquadio and Elina Fairytale

We’ve all heard the saying that the older we are, the smaller our circle gets…but this may not be for the reason we think. Social pattern expert Bianca Stelian, believes it’s not just a matter of growing apart — but the way that we “catch up” when we’re together.

Have you found yourself stuck in the friendship rut? With no way to get out? If you woke up one day only to realize most of your meaningful relationships have stumbled into “no man’s land,” don’t worry, you’re not alone and this is for you.

What Is a “Catch Up Friendship”

Often growing up means getting closer to our dreams, but it doesn’t come without sacrifice. Time is the precious thing we never have enough of. So, when it comes to seeing our old friends for our bi-annual “dinner and drinks,” why don’t we spend it wisely?

“Every time you talk, you must start the conversation with many life updates. You have to hit every category: family, work, dating, social life, health, you get it. And before you know it, you’ve essentially spent 45 minutes interviewing each other like you’re on a reality show without really breaking past the surface.”
Bianca Stelian, TikTok

In essence, a “catch up friendship” is a series of sporadic surface level connections that make old friends feel they’re slowly drifting further instead of drawing closer. Two people ramble on about all the “big picture” moments in their life: They got engaged? Must have missed that on Facebook. They are working a completely different job? Thought they hated corporate culture. Their dear mother’s fallen ill? Make sure to send flowers.

And while yes, all these big moments are so important, they are not the sum total of the person we know and love. Somehow, after a rapid fire tennis match of “life updates” over 3 rounds (of cocktails), we end up going home, disheartened — feeling like we never even scratched the surface with how they are really doing. And sadly, they never quite got to to the heart of us either. We mistakenly chalk it up to being “different people.”

If this sounds familiar, check out the viral video below to hear the vicious cycle in her own words.

Watch Bianca Stelian’s Video:

@infinitebs I am guilty of this as well but there is hope i promise #postgrad #friends #friendships #sociallife #socialanxiety #college ♬ original sound – bianca

Does Growing Up Mean Your Friendships Are Fake?

Of course not. The older you get, the more you have to plan in advance. Gone are the easy college days, where all your friends lived in a five block radius of each other. When you would waste the hours away grabbing coffee, watching a movie, or just studying near each other in silence.

One day you wake up, and you’re not a kid anymore. But that doesn’t mean life isn’t really good. Maybe you have the job you always wanted, or the partner you always dreamed of, or even just the best couch in the whole world to watch your favorite TV shows on.

But in the famous words of Ferris Bueller, “Life moves pretty fast.” And more often than not, all the extra time we used to spend with our friends is redirected to work or our family — sometimes we forget to stop and take a look around for the people who’ve been there since Day 1.

One Simple Way to Break This “Nasty” Cycle

The reality is, if we try and solve our “catch up friendship problems” by trying to schedule more frequent catch ups, we will be disappointed. Because it’s not sustainable. You can’t live a full adult life and still have the free time of a kid!

According to Bianca Stelian, the best solution is to use social media to your benefit.

“Start posting your everyday little thoughts and life updates. It’s a wildly efficient way to reach a lot of people with a little bit of effort.” 
Bianca Stelian, TikTok

If knowing all the little things about a person is what a relationship is made up of — then share yours with your friends! “The posts don’t have to be anything life changing,” Stelian shares, “the smaller the better.”

Is “Growing Apart” a Myth About Growing Up?

It’s hard to say. When life gets so hectic, our instinct is to act from self preservation. You can’t quit your job, you can’t quit your kids, and you already got a divorce. So…looks like the friend who let you cheat off them for 4 years has gotta go! You didn’t like her anyway…I mean come on, she let you cheat — that’s a bad moral compass!

It’s easy to cut off lots of connections growing up, under the excuse that “we’re in different places” or “we’re different people.” Suddenly, your high school bestie who nursed you through 8 back-to-back heartbreaks while you did a love spell on a poster of Aaron Carter, is just not the kind of person who want to be associated with!

Now, sometimes it really is true. We grow up and we clash too much with people we used to laugh until we cried with. Take Derf McDerf for example! The author of My Friend Dahmer. Understandably, he wouldn’t be too keen to schedule a friendship catchup via the Columbia Correctional Institution hotline.

But it’s not always the case. Ultimately, only you can decide what friendships to let go and which ones to nurture — neither are easy, but both are rewarding.

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