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Clingy friend - how to distance?(21 Posts)
Sorry for the long post, this is an issue that has been affecting me for a while and it has been bringing me down. Namechanged for this.
I have a close group of best friends, however I don't see them that often (in person, online/by phone we keep up with each other). This means I have quite a lot of casual friendships. One of these friends introduced me to a girl and we hit it off - same interests etc. She began to ask me to have lunch with her, and enjoying her company, I did. This was not a regular thing as I often had other commitments.
6 months ago, due to various issues, these commitments were no longer a problem. She then began to find me at lunch every day, every week, which at first seemed fine but now is making me feel distant from my usual friends, as she insists on sitting alone.
Then, she began to find me during my breaks and sit and try to chat for the entire break even though I often was working during these and trying to concentrate. Also, I usually use my breaks to chat to my casual friends, so once again, I feel distanced from them.
I feel a bit suffocated by this friendship, as none of my casual friends get along with this girl, and although she is nice, I am finding her more and more annoying. (Sorry if i sound rude, it's hard to verbalise my feelings in this particular scenario.)
I want to talk to her and tell her to stop coming to see me during my breaks and reduce the amount of times we eat lunch together, however I don't want to be rude to her as she doesn't have many other friends and she told me that the last proper friendship she had did not end well as her previous friend began to experience what i am going through now. However, she is quite unstable and I am unwilling to turn on her completely. Is there any possible way I can let her down gently without seeming like a total idiot?
Forgot to mention, she introduced me to several groups that I enjoy very much and I am worried about the awkwardness of having to meet up for them regularly if I do try to distance her.
I think Father Ted eventually got his clingy friend hit by lightning on a crazy golf course.
Mademan - if only it could be that easy! Thanks for the clip :-)
Time to put on your 'big girl pants' I think. She can't 'insist' you sit on your own with her unless you let her. Go in to lunch on your own, and sit with whoever you want to. If she tries to corner you on your own, evade and slip. You don't have to be actually rude - but you just don't follow her meekly and do as she says. Change the 'power balance' of the friendship - at the moment it's all about her and her wishes.
Why don't you tell her? "X, I really enjoy talking to you and having lunch with you, but I also want to talk and have lunch with other people during my breaks. And sometimes I prefer to have a break on my own. Perhaps we could next meet on (whatever day suits you)?"
It's polite, it's reasonable. If she gets upset, then that's her problem, not yours.
Why do you have to sit alone with her? When she says something, say no, I want to sit with x. When she disturbs you when you are working, say sorry, I can't chat right now, I'm busy working.
Change your routine and have lunch earlier or later? Say, 'sorry x, I really need to catch up with y and z today, I feel bad that I've been neglecting them a bit recently'.
What's she like? I mean is she fundamentally a possible long term friend? I had an almost stalker like friend once who drove me mad. She'd call every day and plan our days for us! We were both Sahms. However nearly 20 years on I see her perhaps once every 18 months, (we're on different continents) she's loyal fun and generous and my life would definitely be the poorer if I'd distanced myself from her when she was too intense. The other friends who she put off, I've lost contact with- we didn't have much in common.
Can you find a different place to have your break? She might be like me and had alot of rejection then when someone does like her she feels accepted and comfortable but perhaps not realising she is suffocating you.
Matildathecat, I have tried! She does accept it, but she continues to sit next to me as I work, and keeps talking but without expecting me to answer.
Seriouslyffs, I would say she is long term friend potential, and we were beginning to go that way but then our lunches/breaks became a full time thing and I can't handle that level of commitment.
I would try to find a different place for my break, but I enjoy talking to my casual friends during my break and she knows where exactly we like to meet, and I don't want to distance myself from them to distance myself from her.
As for talking to her, I would but I am a bit unwilling to do it immediately as she has a lot of backstory in terms of this issue and has already told me she is trying to reduce her clinginess.
I don't think there is a future for this friendship. If she has 'issues' around clinginess then that's not going to resolve itself cos you have a quiet word, too ingrained for that.
I think people who are clingy expect/crave rejection, it's as if they push and push until they get it.
what about distancecall's suggestion?
giving an even-handed sort of thing will help ... yes, you need more space but you are also giving her concrete times when you -will- be there to sit and chat with her.
Difficult if you're sitting near her tho and she's chatting away ... is it possible to let it drift over your head?
in terms of this issue and has already told me she is trying to reduce her clinginess.
The kindest thing you can do, is to calmly and clearly explain to her what you consider to be appropriate.
Over the years I have worked with many people with poor social skills. Most of the time they just have no clue what is normal. Telling them kindly usually works. You must not be ambiguous or vague to avoid hurting the person. The person is confused about the boundaries.
Your "friend" says she is trying to sort out her problem. You have to spell it out very very clearly. You will be doing her a massive favour.
For example, I have much experience of that sitting beside you chatting thing. Turn to her, look her straight in the eye and say "<name> I would like you go away from my desk now. I find it distracting when you talk to me when I am working. We can talk tomorrow at lunch time." Smile at her.
It would be rude with a normal person but a relief to a socially confused person.
"I like have to have lunch with different friends on different days so I can have lots of friends. I will have lunch with other people for the next two days. I would like to have lunch with you on Thursday, if you would like that too?"
If she already knows she has problems and is trying to improve, I would think she would be open to you telling her that she needs to back off a bit. She maybe doesn't understand social interaction well and that is why she is not recognising your boundaries. Can't you just tell her that you need peace to work and that you sometimes want to sit with your other friends? Do it in a way that doesn't make her feel attacked. If you cold shoulder her she will end up losing another friend with behaviour she maybe doesn't realise she needs to regulate. If you like her, give her a chance to improve her behaviour and keep a friend.
Thanks to all of you, I will try talking to her tomorrow - haven't talked about the clingy issue for a while but should be ok. Will get back to you.
Ahh! Sorry about the long hiatus but life has been moving quickly at the moment.
I talked to the friend last week and said I was busy during my breaks next week and I would not be available to talk to her. She understood, and said that was fine.
However, I come back to work after the weekend and there she is standing at my desk as soon as my break begins. I said hi to make the situation less awkward, but made a point of talking to my other friends. She stood there for a while, and left when my break ended. The next two days - the same thing!
I am not sure if she is just content being near people during her break, but she has her own department for that, as far as I am concerned.
It is really starting to annoy me now, as every time she sees me she wants to catch up and hug me (?) and I am starting to feel more and more distanced from her.
I just don't seem to be getting the message through. No idea what to do.
It all sound very odd. Can you speak to hr and ask them for advice? Does she just stand there? Do other people not find it weir?
She stood there, and after a while took out a book and began to read her kindle facing me. When I was talking to my other friends they did mention it as being a bit odd but she is known for doing things like that so it was not dwelt on.
@RudePepper, hug me as in hug a friend when you see them, often when I see my colleagues I will give them a quick hug hi/goodbye but she insists on doing it every time I see her/leave her and it just all seems a bit childish.
She didn't hug as frequently before this week, not sure why it has increased...
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