18 ways friendships change as you get older

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When you're a kid, friends are everything. Your world revolves around socializing with them in and after school, whether that's at soccer practice, at a party or chilling on their couch. Sooner or later, though, life gets in the way of these once-sacred bonds and old friendships take a backseat to romantic partners, family and children. Over the years, what you expect from a friendship will remain the same - someone to count on and share experiences with - but these 18 aspects of friendship could change as you get older.

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You won't get to see your friends as much

When we're young, we make friends through shared experiences like going to school together or playing on the same sports team. As we age, it can be hard to fit friends into our schedule, jobs, growing families and other responsibilities coming between us.

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Your expectations become more flexible

Your friends are likely just as busy as you are. So when someone cancels on you or can't commit to seeing you very often, there are no hard feelings. It would be worrisome if you hadn't heard from your significant other in months, but you can safely assume your friendships are intact regardless of how much time has passed since your last connection.

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You make new friends

Even if some of friendships fall off, you'll make new friends through new mutual responsibilities. Does your kid play soccer? Then maybe you're friends with your kid's friend's mom. Do you have friendly coworkers? You might become friends with some of them. Just because you're not hanging out at each other's houses doesn't mean you're not friends in some capacity. On the other hand, you could always invite them over for dinner!

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You become friends with a wide range of people

In your younger years, your friends are usually of the same age and socioeconomic status as you are (give or take). As time passes, you'll form ties with people of many different demographics, which can help expand your perspectives outside the borders of your bubble.

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Your friends will get serious with romantic interests

If you currently hang out with your best friend every waking moment, that will drastically change if and when they get serious with a romantic partner. It's normal to shift your focus from friends to whomever you're dating (without completely neglecting your buddies, of course). In general, people will prioritize love and familial needs over other friendships.

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You might couple up

When you meet someone you're enamoured with, you'll find yourself spending more and more time with that special person, too. It works both ways! Even if you're excited by someone who could very well be "that person" for you, it's important to maintain healthy relationships with your close friends by making time for them as well.

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You stop relying on friends as much

One of the most important aspects of a friendship is always being there for one another (or trying your best to be, at least). But like you, your pals might be swamped with work and household chaos, so you stop relying on them to fulfill your needs because they've got other stuff going on. Your friendship will remain, just with relaxed expectations that don't revolve around constant socialization.

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There could be tension due to change in status

A shift in financial or social status could affect a friendship in more than one way. Some people might feel jealous or insecure if you make more money than them, are further along in your career, get married before them or have children. If you notice any old friends starting to resent you for any of these reasons, just remember: Good friends build us up, not tear us down.

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Your interests will change

Your mutual obsession for James Van Der Beek has remained through the years, but maybe you don't enjoy some activities as much as you used to. For example, maybe you enjoy a nice night in with pizza and a movie, but your friend wants to hit the club. Getting out and about once in a while could be refreshing, but hitting the bar every weekend might not be your cup of G&T - and that's OK.

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Your friendships will get more complex

When you're young, you might hang around people because they're cool and fun, or perhaps they belong to a group you want to fit into. As you grow and get to know yourself, you phase out some relationships and keep ones that add value and contribute meaning to your life.

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You end toxic relationships

Staying in a toxic relationship is damaging to one's emotional and mental well-being; as you become more mature, you'll become less forgiving of others' harmful habits. Protect yourself by knowing these 25 telltale signs of toxic people.

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You stop trying to force relationships

At a certain point, you stop trying to force relationships that don't add purpose to your life. For this reason, you'll have a smaller number of friends, but you only need a small circle of great friends to live a happy life. Make room to love and support those who love and support you.

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Your oldest friends may move away

From kindergarten through senior year of high school, we build solid relationships with classmates because we're with them every day for 13 highly impressionable years. Then one day, we pack up and go to college, where the cycle repeats itself. We grow with a new crowd for anywhere from two to seven years or more, and then lose touch when it's time to graduate and move in pursuit of a job. This is a natural progression, though it's hard to say goodbye.

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You learn the importance of maintaining long-distance relationships

If you want to stay close with friends who move away, you have to put some effort into it. Long-distance relationships with a buddy can be trying, but it's totally possible to sustain that strong connection with an effort from both parties, even if it's only through the occasional text message.

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You rely on social media to keep in contact

One of the best innovations of modern technology is that you don't have to use snail mail or even pick up the phone to get in contact with your friends. Whether you live near or far, you can easily send an email or text, throw them a like on Instagram, comment on their photo via Facebook or send a meme over Twitter. You can even use a video chat platform - like Skype or FaceTime - to see one another face to face.

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You feel connected to friends through social media, even if you don't speak

It can seem like you know an old friend (or acquaintance) well if you follow each other on social media because you don't have to catch up in person to find out what's going with them. It's not the same as keeping in touch face to face and it might feel shallow or stalkerish at times, but it could be the final tether holding your relationship together.

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You spend more time talking about plans than following through with them

We've all been there: You run into someone in public and have the age-old conversation that goes a little something like, "It was so nice to see you! We should totally hang out!" to which the other person responds, "Yeah, totally!" and then you part ways knowing neither one of you will ever have the time or energy to follow through. With close friends, scheduling time is crucial and even those promises can fall through.

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When you retire, you reconnect with old friends

After you've retired and become an empty nester, you'll have a bunch of free time on your hands. This is a great opportunity to reconnect with old friends you might have lost touch with. Though they come and go, true friends will be there for you until the very end. To make sure you're holding up your end of the deal, take these 25 steps toward becoming a better friend.

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