Hmm, I've been going through the same sort of thing. People get older, they change, you drift apart. When you were young, you had similar ideals and desires, but as you get older, you each chose your own path, and those paths diverge. And sometimes, you end up with a situation where you used to get on really well with someone, but you hardly know them any more.
This can go the opposite way too, I've found. Those you've drifted apart from, can come back close to you, like your paths have converged once more.
I also think that some more inadequate people can become jealous and envious of you, and this manifests itself as the snide 'banter', p1ss-taking and some degree of 'challenge'. That's quite hard to cope with, because you invariably won't know what their problem is, until things blow up.
I also feel strongly that friendship, as a comittment, takes a back seat in our society where constant pressure to 'move forward' in career, with money, social status etc, takes precedent. People forget how to just have a good time with one another.
People can also place too high demands on one another. I've seen this with one mate; he was one of those that would always be the first to help you, incredibly supportive, always making sure people were ok. Had a really big circle of friends round him, and would often organise big nights out, where lots of us would get together, have fun, get to know others, etc. A real social dynamo.
But over the last 3 or 4 years, mainly due to a very destructive relationship he was in, he deteriorated as a person, became distant and elusive. He was actually pretty ill, too. But people still expected him to be the same lively, fun, supportive bloke they had always known. He simply couldn't be that for everyone, and his relationships deteriorated significantly. I was actually moved to tell certain people I thought they were being **** to him, and that they should be supporting him, like he would, them. That caused a bit of a stir..
Thankfully, he's back on the up, now, but it'll take time. And after all I said to people, I forgot the poor ****'s birthday last week...
So, people change; they grow away from you, and sometimes they grow towards you. You change yourself; you have new desires, new expectations, and sometimes, others just don't fit into your 'plans'. It's life, really, I spose.
But 'cutting out the dead wood' is a good thing to do. Why let others hold you back? And maybe they see you, in the same way. It can be tough, but I say better be honest, than live a lie.
There are plenty of others out there, deserving of your friendship, and let's face it, you can't give everyone your attention all the time.
Oh, and for the record, Aleigh is lovely, and deserves nice things. If people can't give her that, then they don't deserve her.