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How to deal with a clingy friend.

(36 Posts)
SuperTooToo Tue 25-Nov-14 21:32:12

Last few months I've made a new friend.

I was in very difficult straits at the time, and she has really helped me. So, first of all, I am very grateful.

However. I also notice that I find her rather clingy, texting, phoning and wanting to meet up, and not letting there be a break before I suggest something by return. We also don't have much in common in terms of interests and after a while of meeting up, I run out of things to talk about (very unusual for me!). I also find I don't now tell her any of my "plans" because she seems to find ways of inviting herself (pushy), which makes conversation even more restricted!

I like her in some ways and would be happy to remain friends on a more distant basis, but I really need to find a way to distance myself, without hurting her feelings or creating bad feeling. I've never really had a clingy friend like this before, and its making me feel very uncomfortable. Because she was so helpful, I'm finding it especially hard. But realise I need to start to do this consciously from now on.

I've tried waiting longer between answering her messages and texts as I have heard this works. Also make excuses why I can't see her, so there are longer gaps.

But any further ideas from people?

SuperTooToo Tue 25-Nov-14 21:33:57

Maybe I've answered my own question hmm

SolidGoldBrass Tue 25-Nov-14 21:45:12

Just be polite but firm - 'No, sorry, can't make it tomorrow/really busy at the moment/I'll get bck to you on that one' and ignore texts or emails if it's not convenient to answer them. The fact that she was helpful to you doesn't mean you owe her the rest of your life. She's probably put off a lot of other people by clinging and whining already: all you can do is detach kindly.

SuperTooToo Tue 25-Nov-14 22:04:09

You're right SGB.

Glenshee Tue 25-Nov-14 22:15:57

"It doesn't work for me" is a good template to have in mind when you have to decline an invitation. Yes, sometimes you are busy, but sometimes you are not and making up excuses all the time is hard work, and unnecessary. Be honest. You owe it to both of you.

SuperTooToo Wed 26-Nov-14 11:03:46

Thank you too Glenshee. I will just have to be clear about my availability and boundaries. She has been very helpful, as I said, but as SGB says, I can't just let her do anything and make any demands as a result.

At first I thought it was just different styles e.g. some people need more contact, etc. And though I think there is some truth in this, I am also feeling hemmed in. A couple of times she has invited herself completely inappropriately to things. I have just got to back off.

Thanks again.

SuperTooToo Wed 26-Nov-14 12:03:42

Was invited to hers or xmas lunch.

Again, in my circumstances, it was very kind of her.

But now have sense of dread about that now too.

I don't know how or if I can get out of it delicately!!!! Or will I just go with it - I am worried because this will involve more plans and togetherness, when I am trying to create some more distance.

Any help on that one?

dadwood Wed 26-Nov-14 12:09:45

"I am always pretty booked up around xmas! Can it wait until next year?"

SuperTooToo Wed 26-Nov-14 12:17:01

I said yes a few weeks ago! She knows I've got no family.

May be best to just leave it and let it go - and pop along for lunch. I should never have said yes, but it was just that "instant gratefulness" when everything else in my life was pretty crap and it sounded a good idea. I also have only noticed the clinging intensifying the last couple of weeks, and my alarm bells are now ringing loudly. Before it was just a tinkle!

I feel guilty even tryna' think of how to get out of it grin!

holeinmyheart Wed 26-Nov-14 12:21:30

In my lifetime I have had several clingy friends and at the moment I have one. They are lovely people and I don't want to hurt them so I read this thread with interest. There doesn't seem any easy answer.

I don't live near one so that helps. I am just going to not give an inch and be firm. I am not going to feel guilty either, or be made to feel guilty. It 'doesn't work for me' is an excellent phrase to use.

The other one has just invited herself to my Christmas Boxing Day walk and lunch in nice Hotel etc. I don't want her to come as I don't see much of my family as it is. So it is the brutal but sugar coated approach for her.

One clinger who would have moved in with me and my DH, I just had to be very blunt with. She just drove me mad with her planning my life.

So let this thread be a warning to all of those people who text back immediately and invite themselves, whenever an activity is mentioned, STOP and think.
Take your time, try not to be so needy as you can kill a friendship stone dead. Ask to be invited. Don't wait around for people and rely on them, get out and make your own life full.
Being too NEEDY Drains other people.

soaccidentprone Wed 26-Nov-14 12:26:40

So basically you need to redefine the boundaries of your friendship.

You really needed her, and she reciprocated, but now your circumstances have changed.

What's the maximum amount of time you could spend with her? Set done limits and stick to them. Arrange meetings where there are things to do together which don't involve talking!

Crafting sessions
Voluntary work
Going for a run (too out of breath to chat) or swim. Yoga or exercise class

Or arrange to meet her within a group setting?

Mammanat222 Wed 26-Nov-14 12:45:13

Hmmm, you say this friend has helped you through a difficult time but is this with regards to something you mutually share?

Or was it purely one sided in that you were in a terrible place and she was happy / able to help?

The reason I ask if that of course your friendship could be mutually helping her get though something / deal with something and whilst you aren't struggling any more she may well be?

Just a thought.

Glenshee Thu 27-Nov-14 19:41:52

I think if you already agreed, you have to go. It's good manners, and it will make you a better person if you keep your promise.

But in the future, think before committing. Say that you will think about it, and that you will get back in a day or two, if saying no is hard, or if you find yourself agreeing more often than you'd like to. Then in a couple of days you can say that "it doesn't work for me." If she asks for an explanation, you can say that you have too much on, and just need some me-time, or something to that effect. People rarely ask though.

Iflyaway Thu 27-Nov-14 20:09:52

People are too wimpy. We women are brought up to "take care of everyone and everything, that, s our problem, and to "be nice".

We can be our own worst enemy in that respect.

The expression "that doesn, t work for me" is vague and confusing. You could be talking about a broken down car!

"Sorry, I,ll have to get back to you on that"
"Not sure what, s happening then with family, friends, work commitments, etc".

Most people come into our life for a limited period. To teach us something, be a mutual support, whatever.
Doesn, t mean you owe them a life-long martyrdom.

I think she, s here to teach you self-assertiveness smile

SuperTooToo Thu 27-Nov-14 20:56:38

Thank you IflyAway and Glenshee, such good points!

re. Glenshee, I think I will probably stay with my original commitment, and in my particular dire personal circumstances, probably seems the best all round. I will only come for lunch and not stay very long. I will not drink either, so it will mean easier to leave rather than wait 2 hours for a taxi! Hopefully, within the boundaries of all that, we will all have a nice time.

I do agree with big picture presented by Iflyaway. We can be too wimpy. Life-long martyrdom indeed! Its almost as if I'm scared of pissing her off (she is quite a strong, demanding person). I have definitely backed off. It feels uncomfortable - but I know its for the best.

Never had a clingy friend before - though one came close. However she lived far away, so it was easier to control. This friend lives very near hmm and I would even bump into her in street sometimes ... can be uncomfortable.

As you say Iflyaway, most people come into our life for a limited period. To teach us something, be a mutual support, whatever. Doesn,t mean we owe them a life-long martyrdom.


Mintyy Thu 27-Nov-14 21:01:36

I'm intensely curious about how you could have relied on a brand new friend so much in recent months (suggests you have no other friends/family?) but you have already decided she is clingy?

SuperTooToo Thu 27-Nov-14 21:03:16

I don't want to speak about my actual personal circumstances that led to this. They are very traumatic indeed, but thanks for your concern <sarcasm>

Mintyy Thu 27-Nov-14 21:51:45

Ah. Looks like your new friend is going to get off lightly if you ditch her.

holeinmyheart Fri 28-Nov-14 01:22:44

mintyy you are being a bit harsh. Have you any ideas how to help the Post? If you read the guide lines we are supposed be helping the post with useful suggestions, not having digs at them.
Having a clingy friend is suffocating. I have had loads. I must attract them somehow as I am soft hearted. They appear nice, in a way too nice. They come to your house uninvited and stay and stay, they invite you to everything going, they can be jealous of any other friends you have and be quite grumpy about them. You begin to dread them appearing as they make you feel guilty.
They become part of your life by stealth. One minute they seem really nice and the next minute they seem like a stalker.
supertoo has a genuine problem and although my own answer was to just frost the Clingers off, I am genuinely interested in any other ideas. It is difficult to explain to someone that I can't continue being friends with them because they are overwhelming me.
Is the only answer to go cold on them ? Poor Super now has to go and endure Christmas dinner out of guilt. She could feign illness.
Honestly, I would rather be in bed with a TV Christmas Dinner and a bottle of Baileys than spend hours with a Clinger.

Lushlush Fri 28-Nov-14 06:48:44

WHy not just be frank and say you do not have much in common and need to let go of the friendship however you do appreciate all the support she gave and you wish her all the very best in the future.

That is what I would do.

SuperTooToo Fri 28-Nov-14 07:42:20

What a nasty comment Mintyy, but says more about you. I think you probably need to find something more positive to do with your life than troll angrily around MN.

But thank you to others for support and ideas. Every relationship, clinging or otherwise, is unique. But it really was a new experience in life for me to dread someone else's phonecalls and texts. I also got the jealous and grumpy "vibe" thing holeinmyheart.

Probably taking friendships slowly is the best idea, though in specific difficult circumstances, I guess I dropped my guard this time. Sometimes relationships seem such hard work... sad

Thanks all, and hope this helps others.

Lushlush Fri 28-Nov-14 08:01:41

I had this exp a long time ago with someone in the end I had to write her a nice polite letter asking her to stay away lol.

IrenetheQuaint Fri 28-Nov-14 08:08:45

Difficult, but I think you are basically handling the situation in the right way. It may also be worth dropping lightly into conversation at some point that you are a bit introverted/need time to yourself or whatever. Even if it's not actually the case!

Thecroissantthief Fri 28-Nov-14 08:18:45

Although I do sympathize with your predicament and agree that just distancing yourself is best, I can't help but feel sorry for this friend - whatever the situation was that she supported you through, you obviously gave off signals that you were really close and you really needed her as you admit yourself. In fact, you were so in need of her that you failed to notice how she needed you and now your need has gone, but her need remains - not really her fault. Its a sad situation, but do be gentle. Its a lesson in taking friendships slowly in the future so people don't get hurt unnecessarily.

Blueteas Fri 28-Nov-14 08:25:04

Mintyy, that's unfair. The OP has expressed her gratitude to her friend on a number of occasions on the thread, but should she really feel obliged to commit to a highly intense, time-consuming friendship with someone who sounds as if she is trying to muscle in to the OP's life, because she was helped out at a bad time? Does help come with those kinds of strings?

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