My Friends Have Me on a Leash

I have these 3 friends who I enjoy hanging out with but they are kinda immature. I feel like they act much younger than they really are. I have known them all for 10 years now but I feel I am growing up when they aren’t.  I wanna hang out with other friends but I feel I never get the chance because I have to hang out with them because they will get upset.

-On a leash
 Dear On a leash,
You may feel like your friends have you on a leash, but maybe it’s just your own guilt that is making you feel tied down. Feeling like you don’t connect with your friends in the same way anymore can be hard, but friendships tend to go in waves and that’s okay. There are times when you are so close they can practically read your mind. Then there are times when you feel like they don’t get you, or you wonder if you’re growing apart since you may have separate interests. But you can have childhood friends that you are close to in some ways and other friends you relate to in other ways. There’s no need for a dramatic friend break up (as pictured above). Think about how much you’ve all changed in the last ten years and now think about the next ten years to come. Who knows what will happen down the road, but it’s nice to know that you have these people who you’ve shared so many memories with, and you don’t have to give that up. Just make room.
In terms of seeing your friends as immature: remember that we all grow up at our own pace. They may still have fun in ways that seem childish to you, but at least they’re having fun and not taking themselves too seriously. If they’re doing something that genuinely bothers you, say something in a nice way. Tell them you’re not into that anymore, change the subject, or just leave the situation to give yourself some space. Try to see where you are compared to them as just being on different roads. You’re all on the same level, heading in the same direction, but you might be ready to run while they are still happily skipping along on this bumpy Teen Street. There’s no one right way to deal with it all, so appreciate what you can and make your way by doing what works for you best.
Balance new friends by making time for your old friends. Usually friends are pretty understanding if they feel like they are still a priority too. So, hang out with them at lunch and if they bring up doing something over the weekend when you’ve already made plans with your new friends, casually mention your other plans and then follow it up with something like, “But maybe we can go see a movie the following weekend.” By quickly showing them that you’re trying to balance different friend groups rather than ditch them, they won’t feel like you’re on the verge of saying, “Out with the old, in with the new.”
When it comes to friends, the old cliche is true: the more the merrier!
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