Why do people become distant

By M.Farouk Radwan, MSc.

When friends move apart

Why do people become distant?
Why might two close friends move apart and stop talking to each other?

I am not talking here about the type of distance that happens after a fight or a serious problem for the reason in this case doesn't need an explanation. The type of distance i am talking about in here is the one that seems to happen for no apparent reason.

This could include the case of close friends who suddenly stop being close or members of the same group who simply stop getting in touch with others. In this article i will talk about the possible psychological reasons that could make someone become distant all of a sudden.

Why do people become distant

  • 1) Lack of physical proximity: According to friendship psychology physical proximity is a very important factor in determining the people we are going to be friends with. When you see a person often they tend to be more likable and as a result they are more likely to become your friends. In my book How to make someone fall in love with you i said that physical proximity even determines the people we fall in love with. The more we see a person the more our brains get used to their looks and the more attractive they appear to be. When a friend moves far away from us we tend to become less connected to them and as a result the relationship might become weaker.
  • 2) Change of shared interests: when i talked about Interpersonal Attraction i said that shared interests is a major factor that determines who we will be friends with. If the shared interests changed for any reason then a friend might become distant. This is why many people become friends during high-school or college then later become very distant when their common interests change. A change in common interests is also very likely to happen when a person moves or decides to live somewhere else. See also Why do many people feel lonely after finishing high school or college
  • 3) Negative emotion buildup: This is one of the very common reasons that motivate a person to become distant. If one of your friends starting having different emotions towards you because of any negative reason ,such as jealousy, then this person might distance themselves from you. The negative emotion buildup usually happens subtly as the person would hardly show that they are becoming resentful towards you. People who feel that way usually distance themselves slowly and gradually until they stop contacting you. See What causes jealousy
  • 4) Change in personal needs: Some people become distant as soon as their needs are changed. If for example a person went into a relationship and so satisfied their need for intimacy they might start contacting their friends less often. In such a case those people no longer feel in need to contact their old friends.
  • 5) Serious life changes: When people go through serious life changes , such as marriage or a new job, they might become distant as they become very occupied with their new life. Those kinds of problems might result in temporary distance that ends when the lives of those people become stable again

You can predict that in many case

In many cases you might be able to notice that a friend is starting to feel different towards you and that they are getting emotionally charged.

If that friend confronted you directly with their concerns then the relationship is very likely to continue but if that didn't happen then there is a big possibility that this friend will become distant.

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