From drifting apart to difficult conversations: your friendship questions, answered

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There are few more tender flare points in life than those found in the nebulous world of friendship. While relationship breakups are awarded their fair share of pop ballads and internet memes, we rarely give the same attention to problems with friends. 

Perhaps that’s why issues around friendship more often than not are cloaked in the Great Unsaid. On the inside, we fret endlessly about whether we’ve upset someone; or if we are drifting apart without either person really knowing why. But we tend not to air these worries, instead letting them fester and wilt beneath the surface. 

That’s where our panel of seasoned friendship experts comes in. This month, Flash Pack has recruited various wise minds from the world of psychotherapy, relationships and beyond to address your concerns on all things mates and heartache. 

From supporting a friend with a toxic partner to the difficulties of navigating conflict, you our global Flash Pack community took to Instagram to share your friendship concerns. Here’s what our advisors had to say in response:

My friend is in an unhealthy relationship. How do I show concern without pushing them away?


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Psychotherapist Emily Sanders says:

“First and foremost, the vibe needs to be: ‘No matter what you pick for your life, I will love you. I will love you regardless.’ There should not be this feeling in your conversation that your friend needs to leave their relationship to make you happy. 

Sometimes when our friends are in unhealthy relationships, we can get overly-invested in the outcome of the relationship. That can start to deplete us and make us feel very resentful. So you need to keep a pulse on how you are personally feeling about the relationship; a relationship that actually isn’t even yours. 

Reaffirm your love for your friend

So then when you want to talk to your friend, you can say something gentle. Like, ‘Hey, I know that you know your partner better than I do. I just noticed something. Are you open to hearing a little bit of feedback about your relationship?’ And then you can just present your concern. I would pick one or two things to bring up. This is not a great time to just pile on all of the data, all of the evidence. 

So you’re wanting to make sure whatever you share with them is at a little dose and maybe they’re able to sit with it. And then you can reaffirm your love for your friend and say, ‘Hey, if ever you want to talk about this more, I’m here to listen.’”



My co-worker friend and I are competing for the same promotion. How can I navigate the tension between us professionally while salvaging our friendship?


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Keynote speaker Adam Smiley Poswolsky, bestselling author of Friendship in the Age of Loneliness, says:

Here’s an unconventional idea. Why don’t you and your friend write letters of recommendation for each other? You’re going to write a letter of recommendation sharing why your friend deserves the promotion. And your friend is going to write why you deserve the promotion. Maybe the person reviewing you both looks at these two letters and thinks, ‘Wow, these two people are amazing. They’re so sweet. They’re going to bat for each other. We should promote both of them.’

Friendship is about showing up for each other

At the very least, your friend gets the job and you can take joy feeling really proud of your friend. Or you get the job, and you could be really grateful for your friend, because they showed up for you. And most importantly, your friendship stays intact and it’s all about growth and showing up for each other. You get to revel in the joy of taking pride in somebody else’s success; especially in your friends. How beautiful would that be?



I often find myself avoiding difficult conversations to maintain peace. How can I develop the courage to address conflict?


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Friendship, relationship and communication expert Ayo Ogundipe says:

“It is natural to feel uneasy about having difficult conversations. However, when we avoid these conversations, we’re not maintaining peace. We’re maintaining the tension and this can begin to show in your behaviour. Take charge of what you can control, such as your language or your attentive listening; while understanding that other people’s responses might be unpredictable. 

Take charge of what you can control

Craft your conversation with intention by using ‘I’ statements to express concerns without assigning blame. When you focus on the issue, it creates room for constructive dialogue rather than confrontation. Acknowledge the imperfections in communication. Not every exchange will unfold flawlessly.”



I find myself growing apart from my best friend – what can I do?


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Content creator and podcast host Steph Tonneson says:

“If you can’t relate to your best friend anymore because you’ve made dramatically different life decisions, and you’re worried it’s never going to be like it was, this message is for you. 

In her memoir, Ani DiFranco wrote about growing apart from her childhood best friend when the friend got pregnant. The friend started down a more domesticated path while Ani continued playing music and travelling the world. But 20 years after they lost contact, Ani’s father dies and the friend comes to the funeral. ‘I couldn’t believe how good it was to see her face,’ she writes. ‘She who knew me to my core.’ 

The friend I’d grown apart from dropped everything to be with me

When my father died a year ago, the same thing happened to me. The friend I’d grown apart from, and spoke to the least often, dropped everything to be by my side. This is all to say that just because you can’t relate to each other now, it doesn’t necessarily mean that history will not beat circumstance in the end.”



I'm travelling right now, having the adventure of a lifetime. But I'm having trouble starting conversations with new people. What should I do?


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Clinical psychologist Dr Tari Mack says: 

“What I want to say to you is, yes, of course you’re going to feel uncomfortable doing new things. But the only way we grow is when we get out of our comfort zone. And so that means looking at what fears are holding you back. Fear is the only thing that keeps us stuck. So is it a fear of rejection? Is it a fear of looking stupid? Is that a fear of saying the wrong thing? 

Fear is the only thing that keeps us stuck

And what I’m going to tell you is those things make you human and make you relatable to other people. When you show up and try to say everything perfectly, you’re not being authentic. And your people can’t find you. Every time you practise doing something that’s uncomfortable, it becomes easier. You change, you grow and, in this case, you will make new friends along the way.”



Our mission at Flash Pack is to create one million meaningful friendships via our global community of like-minded solo travellers. This friendship series brings together relationship experts to answer your top questions on friendship. Follow along on Instagram for insights on navigating social situations, building deeper connections, and more.


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