There's an exact age your friendships will go through a 'splinter era'. Here's how to survive it.

I'm about to turn 28 years old and I am terrified. For the first time, I'm not scared about getting older, I'm scared about my friends getting older.

Women go through two friendship shifts in their lives. The first is a mini shift that takes place after high school.

You're in a new world connecting with people solely based on who you are as a person instead of who's in your science class or homeroom or sports team.

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It's a person's first real try at forming friendships that aren't situational. Some of your friends are going to university, some of them are taking a gap year and some of them are in the workforce full-time.

It's a mini hurdle of seeing which high school friendships survive that gets you prepared for an even bigger hurdle (and second shift) awaiting you in 10 years — the friendship 'splinter era'.

The friendship splinter era takes place usually somewhere in your 20s (depending on your friendship group politics) and can last anywhere until your 40s.


It's when your friends are moving through life at a different pace or have differing priorities/goals which could potentially damage their relationship with you.

Now, some of your friends are getting married, some are buying their first house, some are moving away for their careers, some are having children and some have no idea what the hell they're doing and feel like their friends are leaving them behind (*cough cough*).

Splinters in friendships take place during these big pivotal life moments. You might notice some pattern changes between you and your friends. Maybe instead of calling your bestie the minute you get a promotion at work, you call your boyfriend instead. Maybe drinks with the girls now feel like a chore instead of an after-work treat. Maybe you have to skip this year's girls' trip because you're saving up for your wedding. These might seem like one-off moments in life but the shift in the micro-behaviours towards your friendships is where the splintering starts to happen.

As someone who has gone through many friendship splinters, I've now worked out how to glue that splinter back together before it becomes a split.

Here are my five steps to survive the friendship splinter era:

1. Have an honest conversation.

I know that sometimes confrontation is hard and having conversations with your friend about how you're truly feeling can be awkward but you're both friends for a reason. If a conversation doesn't happen the friendship is most likely to fade over time and it could lead to regret if it's a friendship that you both need in your lives.


I suggest asking your friend if you could set time aside to talk about the future of your friendship and where you both sit with each other. Be honest with your feelings and encourage them to do the same.

2. Be flexible.

The main reason for splintering is due to changes in patterns over your and your friend's routines. Maybe a text message at 4pm on a Wednesday saying "Anyone free for a wine and a vent?" might've worked at one point but with changing schedules you're probably realising that you have to switch tactics. That is absolutely okay. Change up the activities you're doing. You're friends because you like each other not because you like the drinks or the park or the same workplace. The friendship will thrive in whatever environment it's in as long as you're both dedicating time and full attention to each other.

3. Accept the change. 

Acceptance is one of the hardest parts of trying to get out of the friendship splintering era. It's hard to think that things will never go back to how they used to be, but how boring is that? It's amazing to watch the people you love grow into the lives that they want and deserve. Remember to celebrate their wins and tell them how happy you are for them. They will want you on their side to share these big moments with.

4. Remember it's a partnership. 

I know that so far these steps have sounded like a lot of work for you... Which is exactly why step four isn't for you — it's for your friend. Similar to romantic relationships, friendships are also a partnership where there should be equal amounts of work put in by both parties. Yes at times, you will need to compromise to accommodate the other person but be aware if it becomes obvious that one person is putting in more effort to keep the friendship alive than the other. You also deserve to be celebrated and for your friends to accommodate your needs. Make sure your openness to talking, flexibility and acceptance of change isn't taken for granted.


5. Sometimes you need to allow the split to happen. 

If step four made you realise that only one person is putting in all the effort, then it might just be the type of friendship that needs to be split. You have to right to mourn and feel sad. Some friendships are situational and you can definitely still be friends in some capacity, you might just not be as close as you once were. In good news, there's no age limit to making friends, there are so many people who want to make friends with other adults who are more closely aligned with their lifestyle. Join a local Facebook group, or a work committee or just start by introducing yourself to your neighbours. You deserve a friendship that will put in equal amounts of effort as you will.

Have you experienced the 'splinter era' in your friendships? How did you survive it? Tell us in the comments section below.

If you want more culture opinions by Emily Vernem, you can follow her on Instagram @emilyvernem.

Feature image: Canva.