High School Friends: To Keep or Not to Keep?

High school graduation probably culminated in a series of teary group hugs and promises to hang out over breaks and stay in touch. For some, college means finally making a clean start; it’s a chance to say goodbye to all the drama of high school and start over with a totally new group of peers. Others really mean it when they exchange photo collages and fill yearbooks with heartfelt signatures about being “best friends forever.”

But no matter how determined you are to remain close with your high school friends, you have to face the inevitable at some point or another: you will grow apart. It may be purposeful—you meet better friends in college and consciously stop texting your high school friends—or unintentional—you find less and less time to shoot your bestie a Facebook message, and your promises to Skype once a week fall through—but the bottom line is that it’s impossible to remain as close as you were when you saw each other for eight hours five days a week.

The first step to working through this confusing stage of college life is to decide how close you want to remain. Think carefully about your high school friends, and evaluate which of them has been the most sincere. It’s not worth staying in touch with people you don’t consider true friends—you have way many other commitments in college to follow through on your promises to stay in touch, especially when it’s with people you don’t truly care about. Figure out which of your high school friends you’re honestly and sincerely connected with, and make a specific effort to stay in touch with those few. There’s nothing wrong with visiting and messaging your other high school friends when it’s convenient, but it’s not worth stressing over.

If you’re not sure which of your high school friends you want to keep in touch with, wait. Let a couple of days or weeks or a whole semester go by, then to consider which of your friends you truly miss. Think about which friends you’re most likely to call when you need a virtual shoulder to cry on and who you would most quickly drive to visit if she really needed you. Don’t feel guilty about letting some of your less serious friendships fall to the wayside; it sounds harsh, but weeding out who means the most to you is something you’re going to do time and again as you enter new phases of your life—college is just the first of many.

Remember, staying in touch doesn’t have to be hard. Staying friends doesn’t require visiting over every holiday break, although that’s certainly worth the effort; all it really takes is the occasional text message, remembering birthdays, even a comment on a Facebook status. When you do get a chance to visit in person, make the most of it; be nostalgic, eat at your favorite restaurants, and don’t feel guilty about not being aware of a guy your friend dated for a few weeks last semester or forgetting the anniversary of your friendship. If your relationship is going to stand the test of college and beyond, talking to each other everyday won’t be necessary; it’s about being there for each other when you really need it.

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