Advice Friendship

All the Ways Your Friendship Dynamics Will Change After College

For starters, the setting of your friendship will change from the dining hall to…anywhere else.

In college, you hang out with your besties 24/7, either pounding vodka crans or recovering in the dining hall, with classes rudely interrupting in between. Your friends are your whole world. But it’s only natural that friendship dynamics will shift and change once you graduate from the campus bubble.

Feeling the shift in dynamics with your friends? You’re not alone. It’s practically impossible for your friendships to look the same post-grad with the added pressures and responsibilities of adulthood. And honestly, that shouldn’t even be the goal.

Why Friendship Dynamics Change

Friendship dynamics change after college for several reasons. In college, you and your BFFs know all the same people and are involved in the same activities. With your friendship flung into the real world, you’re now contending with vastly different schedules, priorities, and relationships.

Not to mention, you might be living in totally different places. Whether you’re transitioning into a long distance friendship or a medium distance one (like if they live in Brooklyn and you live in Hoboken), the frequency of hangouts is bound to drop drastically.

Furthermore, you might even realize your personalities aren’t as compatible as you thought without classes and drinking as your full-time job. Breakups happen and it sucks, but we promise you’ll survive. Just think of all the martini-induced hangovers you’ve endured!
Friendship Dynamics - friends graduating college


5 Ways Friendship Dynamics Change After College

1. Dorm hangouts are traded for dinner and drinks out.

Dorms, libraries, dining halls, and college bars are a blast, but all no longer an option for meeting up post-college. And since everyone might live in different neighborhoods or not have enough space for hosting in their studio apartment, meetups will happen at restaurants and bars.

While we’ll always look back fondly upon the days of piling into each other’s twin beds, we’d be lying if we said this wasn’t a much appreciated upgrade. Appreciated, but expensive, so might we recommend making a budget?
Friendship Dynamics - friends at dinner cheers


2. Instead of seeing each other constantly, you see each other only occasionally.

After four years of constant companionship, this one can be a real shock to the system.

We’re not being sarcastic when we say that it’s really hard to figure out how to do things alone. In college, a task as simple as printing something out at the library warranted a buddy. Now you’re expected to do it all solo?!

Building some independence from your friends will pay off in the long run. But it’s normal if you’re feeling lost without your friend-group-safety-blanket at first.
Friendship Dynamics - friends playing charades


3. Your friend group may dwindle in size.

In college, you and your friends were likely part of a large social network. There was no shortage of dining hall buddies or people to invite to your Kegs and Eggs pregame. After college, you can expect the friend group to decrease in numbers as members follow careers, relationships, and their families all over the world.

Plus, this can also change your dynamics with the friends you do still live near. In other words, you’ll either get closer to one another, or realize you have nothing to talk about without Brittany’s drunk antics for brunch table entertainment.
Friendship Dynamics - group of women hugging


4. You and your friend are constantly playing phone tag.

If we’ve learned anything, it’s that part of adulting is saying “we should hangout soon!” about fifteen times before you actually set a date.

It’s usually nothing personal, but life gets busy. Now that every member of your squad all have full-time jobs, partners and dependents, and maybe don’t live super close, getting together becomes a much bigger ask. Be prepared for an uptick in canceled plans and alone time.

Friendship Dynamics - woman checking her phone


5. Your friends are no longer the center of your universe.

Perhaps one of the biggest differences between college friendships and post-grad friendships is the way your pals fade to the periphery of your life, instead of being the shining sun everything else revolves around.

While friendships should always have a place in your life, it’s only natural that the pie now needs to also be shared with your career, hobbies, family, and romantic partners.

Psst…if you do have a friend that’s demanding an ungodly amount of time from you, you might be in a codependent friendship.Friendship Dynamics - two women hugging

By Jess Lohr

Jess is the co-founder of Adultescence, a podcast, blog and social media brand for twenty-somethings making the transition from life in college to adulthood. She writes about dating, friendship, money, and career. She also specializes in consumer insights, and is passionate about helping brands infuse the voice of their customers into their marketing, product, and CX strategies.

In her free time, you can find Jess spinning at The Handle Bar, obsessively consuming personal finance content, and playing with her adorable (but chaotic) puppy, Luca. You can follow her on Instagram @jesslohr or on LinkedIn.

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