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Needy friends: A friend indeed?

February 13, 2008 | By | 525 Replies Continue Reading

Do you have needy friends? There are some friends who feel like an emotional ball and chain. They’re always in need of one thing or another: money, favors, help, coddling, praise—or simply more time than you have to give.

Like a wailing toddler, they can be so demanding that their friendship tires you and weighs you down. Who needs that kind of friend? Many women do.

  • People who like feeling needed—or once liked the feeling (even if they don’t anymore)
  • People who feel like they aren’t worthy of healthier, more balanced relationships
  • People who are stuck—either feeling angry or sorry for their needy friend—and feel unable to get out of it

But if you have begun to recognize that a female friendship is a drag, you’ve taken the first step in relieving yourself of the burden.


  • Change the nature of your friendship by learning to say “no” and setting boundaries (e.g. “Even though we are both single, I don’t want to spend every Friday night together.”)
  • Tell her that you have to tend to your own needs (or those of anyone else you can think of)
  • Slip away – Spend less time with her and add other less demanding friends to your inventory
  • Take a relationship sabbatical or hiatus from the friendship (you deserve it!)
  • If it’s that bad, simply cut loose!

Remember, the term toxic friendships refers to relationships that are consistently negative and draining. It is the pattern, not the one-time or occasional lapses in the balance of needing that occurs between good friends. If your truly needy friend has been that way for some time, the real possibilities of changing the relationship verge on hopeless.

These are people whose needs can never be satiated. No matter what you give, what you do, how much, or how often, it will never be enough. Since character tends to endure, this person probably treats other people the same way she treats you. It’s likely that many of her friends have probably already dropped out of the picture and that’s why she is so dependent on you.

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Category: Needy friends

Comments (525)

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  1. Julie says:

    Cherrie… no guilt.. move on! I have sooo been there! Many times over… You are going to have to stand up and TELL that person..I am busy and I really need to take care of ME… I hope that you take care of you and let this “supposedly close pal” go… I have been with close friends who treated me like you know what..but, it’s also because I let it go on and on and on..and I should have said.. “Buh bye!!!”

    I hate when friend’s guilt others.. what a huge pain!! :-(

  2. Elaine says:

    I have a very needy friend who has been draining me for years. I’ve pulled back, and just a few months ago, I had a face to face talk with her, that if she doesn’t stop pushing (for more and more, no matter how much I “give”, I will back out completely. The daily texts asking for anything and everything slowed for a bit, but she’s back at it. My husband passed away last year and she has NO idea how much of a struggle it is every DAY to do what I’ve got to do (go to work, clean, take care of our son all the while grieving for the wonderful man I had planned my future with. ). She is a good listener, but I don’t need anything from her. I rarely call her, but i do offer support that i hope she finds another job, etc. Even when I do have her here just to hang out for a bit, she’s asking, well what are you doing tomorrow? So it’s come to me now getting texts or voicemails that say “can you please find it in your heart to let me come over tomorrow, I can really use a friend and the companionship and a hug. I just don’t have it in me anymore. We have known each other since we were children, and she was somewhat like that then (like she had chores to do after school, and would say, hey if you mop the kitchen, i’ll be done sooner, so we can go out), I remember saying, I have my own chores to do, sorry.. and she says she wants to “be there” for my since my husband passed (I am young, 43) but again, I don’t expect or NEED anything from her, and I don’t force anything on her or anyone. I just don’t know how to get her to see that I’m doing the best that I can with having her over, etc. I’ve told her that I TOO need to get out and do stuff, yet she only wants to come HERE and sit (even if I tell her i am going to be napping, she’ll say, that’s okay, I’ll just sit there, I JUST need out). that’s bizarre. Seriously, for the past month, I’ve had debilitating acute vertigo, vomiting for over a week, and she said she just wanted to come and sit (while I slept). She offers to “help” if i let her come over, and when I do, she just sits while I do whatever. Not that I would ever expect a friend to do dusting, vacuuming, etc. but anyway. I just can’t take it. I have enough to deal with.

    • Elaine says:

      oh and PS: she keeps losing her jobs, so if I go out to eat, etc, she has no money and asks if I can pay for her, since she’s got no money . So the only thing she can do is come here and sit, in the hopes that I feed her, but sometimes I NEED to get out of the house too. If I take my mom out to dinner for her birthday, this girl is asking if she can go too, but I’ll have to pay since she’s out of work. I thought adults knew that if they dont have the money to pay for something themselves, they simply can NOT GO.

    • Alberta says:

      Unfortunately it sounds like your friend has no empathy for you. Creeping in your life like a flea infestation but offering no benefit. Don’t kid yourself. She does have an ‘idea’ of how much of a struggle it is, you want to kid yourself to think she ‘cares’ becasue you have shared history, which is her hook into you. You can’t get her to SEE that you are doing your best and struggling because she doesn’t CARE – that is the reality shown by her behaviour towards you in the super super hard times you have been going through. She comes across like a psychopath – zero empathy.

      I’m not sure who said it (Oprah???) but if someone shows you who they are, BELIEVE them. Most of us are caught up in our fantasies about how people should be, add shared history into this and you can have a real fantasy friendship while being treated like crap the whole time.

      You have reached the point where you can’t take it – that means you are completely drained. As Irene mentioned character endures – this person has been maniupulative for a very long time. You are under no obligation because of shared history -friendship is a choice. You have the choice to say no to having this bs in your life – though your ‘friend’ will do everything in her power to make you feel like you have no choice but to stay in this toxic vortex.

      If you have trouble being direct in real life and are easily bulldozed it can be helpful to watch shows,movies, read novels with confident characters (Nurse Jackie, Dexter are my faves for confident characters and Dagny Taggart from Atlas shrugged is good as well, Mr Lee from East of Eden) you can surprise yourself with your confidence.Being direct can be empowering

      . Your friend starts wanting to ‘help’ you, “NO” “I don’t have time goodBYE” and don’t engage with her guilt trips or whinging, engaging with these types is like putting naptha on a campire.

      Read the book The Gift of Fear – he has a good example about people who offer ‘help’ ie woman is in an underground parking lot taking out her groceries and the nice man offers to ‘help’, help that she isn’t asking for, help that she doesn’t want. Your friend is the same as the man in the underground offering ‘help’; she is ‘helping’ allright, helping herself to your time and energy and you get to be a marionette for her to control so she can have ‘power.”

      Another saying – ‘don’t argue with an idiot, they will bring you down to their level and beat you with experience’ You show indifference to her, as she has towards you -caring about a person who doesn’t care about you is a waste of your time and energy. If she starts talking about her personal issues – you start talking about yours – I guarantee she will exit the conversation quickly since it isn’t about her and her ‘issues’

      Read Ken’s posts – it sounds like your friend is feigning helplessness so you can feel sorry for her – even though you are the one going through major stuff right now. The situation is set up this way so the energy is always going her way, no matter what YOU are going through. Some people you just have to tell them to fck off and not worry about being ‘nice’ or ‘polite’ about it because they will ‘nicely’ steal your soul if they can.

      • Elaine says:

        Thank you Alberta, and ty for your suggestions on books, tv shows, etc. I actually did text her a couple of days ago and said I can’t do all that you need me to do, and it’s never enough anyway (in your eyes), so IF you can text or call me without needing anything from me, OR saying that you need such and such, it will be fine. Her reply?” I’m sorry I am a horrible person. Then, it was It seems like you don’t care, etc. I’m about to lose everything” . I got angry and said that she didn’t read or comprehend anything I said. I told her to read it again, and also to read how many requests she has had of me in the past 6 months. I said READ HOW MANY. There are many. Too many for me to be able to appease you. She even said something like, well you go out to meet up with others and it’s never “me”. Well, I’m not sure what to tell you, but this can’t continue. It’s been very “freeing”, but I still have a twinge of guilt at times. It probably won’t be permanent, but I do hope she’ll learn from our previous face to face conversation and then THIS. People have limits and I’ve reached mine. and people should know and learn boundaries, which she seems to have no concept of. Let me add just for giggles (and gasps) that my father in law also lived here with me and my husband. He passed the yr before my husband. and my mom called it for sure, when she said that “K” will soon be asking if she can move in. She did. and i told her no. Her answer was that well I thought that friends helped other friends who were down and out. So i said, well you live back in your mother’s house, which isn’t fun, but you’re not homeless. But since then, it’s reached this new threshold. and my tolerance level of her BS and demands and expectations is . at. it’s. end. Thanks again.

        • Elaine says:

          I wanted her to sift through the texts she has sent, to actually see how many times she’s asked me for something. I actually tried the detach emotionally thing first. With her, it didn’t work. So now I’ll try this.

          • Alberta says:

            Try watching on youtube 4mingthoughts videos – google 4mingthoughts emotional vampire series – she is very well spoken and has good voice tones and phrases. She also helps you to see through the guilt trips.

            Boundaries is a very interesting concept – I thnk some don’t care about boundaries because getting through the boundaries is a power trip for them. This is why you have to be strong and use firm tones and don’t back down or be afraid to say fck off. Boundary pushers – bulldozers – can use your own politeness against you. This is why you can’t even worry about her feelings – even whether or not she feels remorse for not caring about you. Guaranteed she doesn’t care- otherwise she would have shown you kindness and consideration after all that you’ve been through. These types are predators, a type of predator we are not taught to watch out for -and they don’t care about feelings. You have to be indifferent otherwise she will still push you through guilt and old ties.

  3. Renee says:

    This site helped me alot today. I have been dealing with a very needy friend that is very self centered but has a way of making me feel guilty for not constantly feeling sorry for her. I do so much for her, yet get next to nothing in return. She gets very vindictive when she drinks. I don’t drink more than one, and she gets blitzed and is very manipulative and verbally abusive. Just this week I distanced myself from her because of another drunken embarrassing evening with her. She keeps texting me saying that I am her best friend, can’t we get past this, on and on and on. I am so tired and really am tired of being embarrassed by her when she is drinking. It seems to always be about her and what she wants, what she needs and what she needs me to do for her. Any advice out there?

    • Ken says:

      Two choices:

      1) Become emotionally detached (maintaining contact from an emotionally detached/disentangled frame of mind).

      2) Cut all ties, Burn all bridges, AND
      become emotionally detached (assumes that #1 won’t work).

      • Renee says:

        Thanks Ken. I have tried Number 1 and she just keeps pushing. I am going to cut off all ties for the moment. I think I just needed someone else to tell me that was ok to do. I always feel guilty but I just can’t continue with her at this point. It is interfering with my life, my job etc. Thanks for your input.

        • Ken says:

          You’re quite welcome, Renee. Guilt can become debilitating (in my particular case) if it’s not stopped in its tracks. In my case, the woman was an expert at using guilt to manipulate me, the guilt of not doing enough for a convincingly helpless woman (the way she portrayed herself). Eventually, after nearly going nuts, I realized that her intentions were to simply manipulate and abuse me as her narcissistic supply (her behavior met all conditions for both BPD and covert NPD, simultaneously). But the good news is, once I knew the truth, it became easier to emotionally disconnect, knowing that what I pitied and cared for was the illusion (fantasy) and not the real her. Once a person can distinguish between fantasy and reality, it’s like waking up from a dream/nightmare, as if one took the red-pill in the movie Matrix. When you eventually recover from the rude awakening, you’ll become far more resilient in your character. That’s a very positive gain, spiritually (energetically) speaking. From an energy-focused vantage point, you’ve learned tons about the draining effects of “energy vampires”. The time and energy spent with that person can be viewed as getting clinical/internship experience on understanding how toxic energy works. That’s quite valuable from a long-term perspective.

          • Alberta says:

            To add to what Ken has said- in this thread – Renee you made the wise choice and also try to not think about her too much so she won’t get ‘implanted’ in your mind and you end up wasting energy thinking about her.

            Guilt is the tool of implantation. Anger drives it deeper into the soul system so try to think of this situation in a humourous way – pretend you are doing a stand up comedy bit about weird ass friends. This way she won’t get implanted in you and you can get rid of the infection of guilt and anger. Humour is like a broad spectrum soul antibiotic.

            It seems these types who feign helplessness choose friendships and romantic relationships in order to manipulate. When in this type of friendship I ended up playing the role of ‘spouse’ to these ‘helpess’ women at a cost to my own relationship. And the most verbally abusive manipulative ‘helpless’ feigning female friends were also the ones who told stories of how they were ‘wronged’ by men. When these types are ‘friends’ they can infect and affect and steal from spouse/partner relationships.

            This person could be your unintended angel – the lessons you learn can save you much greater problems later on.

            • Ken says:

              Alberta, you mentioned exactly what happened to me, once again, the part about not realizing that going the extra mile to help a “helpless”, covertly manipulative woman was affecting my own personal relationship. Thankfully, despite affecting it to the brink of collapse, I was able to save it just in time.

              At that time, I wasn’t aware that I was facing fraud in the sense that there was no true reciprocation of respect. Her niceness was superficial, a facade meant to continue her power quest for control/manipulation of my mind, because this brought her pleasure. But it all makes sense now, the idea of manipulating warm-hearted men by acting shamelessly helpless with tears and all. The acting would put Hollywood A-List actors to shame. And it worked supremely well for her, because she actually believed in her own lies. (Side note: M. Scott Peck wrote a book about such people, which happened to be titled “People of the Lie”.) It’s incurable self-delusion due to excessive pride.

              Nevertheless, it’s very possible that she was also my “unintended angel” as you put it, because this experience was priceless in enabling me to see the intricacies of mind manipulation. Now I can spot these types from a distance. Have her to thank, because if it weren’t for her, I’d still be naive.

              Here’s one more positive lesson to be grateful about: At least all this wisdom was acquired without such a selfish person actually being my spouse or my daughter (God forbid!).

              Life is simply too precious to live in misery and confusion generated by manipulative fraudsters. I’d rather spend my time helping those whom are truly genuine/respectful in character. But thanks to her, I’m now able to identify the genuine from the fake. I’ll end by saying to her in my heart, “a sincere thanks for all the wisdom, but it’s time to bid farewell.”

              • Renee says:

                You guys hit the nail on the head several times. Thank you so much for helping lift this burden off my shoulders. This particular friend has a way of making it seem like I am the “bad” friend for walking away and not accepting her apology. She only apologizes in order to worm her way back in and never actually means it because she repeats her behavior over and over. She keeps telling me that I am her best friend. In my mind she is very good at having a best friend, not so good at being one. Thanks a ton for all your advice. Greatly appreciated.

  4. Alberta says:

    Co-dependent would be a more accurate word than needy. Toxic friends are those who want to be co-dependent on you – they want you to be their ‘parent. They act ‘helpless’ so you do stuff for them and go out of your way for them at the expense of your own life. This also gives them a sense of power and control through the manipulation of pretending to be more helpless than they really are and seeing what they can get others to do for them. I have seen some really evil women do this pretend-to-be-helpless behaviour and it is disconcerting and makes me ashamed to be part of the female gender who does this to others.

    • Ken says:

      Alberta, you’ve summarized quite accurately the predicament I fell into, as a result of pitying the seemingly innocent, helpless/victimized damsel-in-distress. It’s how she gained manipulative power over me, knowing too well that I’ll soften up and feel sorry for her and go out of my way to help those whom appear helpless.

      Therefore, never feel sorry for the narc. Had I not pitied her, I would have helped from a distance but not given her any special treatment. Would have just, figuratively speaking, thrown a rope to the drowning damsel-in-distress, instead of diving in full-fledged, finding out that it was a “Trojan Horse”.

      With the way the universe operates, however, I for one believe there is justice. Narcs are inherently negative/hating inside (in their cold hearts).
      For example, self-destructive negative emotions including anger, jealousy, etc., cause the physical body to tense up, blocking oxygen, resulting in inadequate supplies of oxygen being circulated, and when this is prolonged, may become cancerous or result in other debilitating ailments. Hence, narcs are self-destructing every moment of every day, due to their willfully destructive thoughts and emotions. It’s just how nature operates. Can’t flout the rules.

      As for those who are recovering from the narcs’ malevolent influence, find stuff to be grateful about (there’s TONS if you dig deeply enough). If you cling to the negativity that the toxic narc implanted in you, you will also destroy your own life with hidden anger within. Find the strength within to eliminate all inner negativity, consciously leading a life of gratitude, even gratitude from having developed greater wisdom from your experience.

      • Alberta says:

        You are so right about clinging to that negativity implanted within – timely to read this at this point – very powerful.

        I’ve been clinging to anger because it feels oddly comforting to be angry. Growing up around angry people I hated them but was one of them at the same time. It is too easy to be angry – to be angry you have to generate negative thoughs – and also to derive energy from that anger generated by the angry thoughts. This is the twisted aspect of how anger can be comforting – it is a source of energy, but, like junk food, not a good one.

        I can see angry people about me and know that this is a short term solution and so NOT the way to be, even if it is strangely comforting. Chronically angry people are the old hags – the elders who chose to complain instead of to be a good example for the younger generations.

        Since reading this post – the last sentence is powerful – have been doing gratitude thinking. Being grateful and watching out for things to be grateful for is THE remedy for dealing with the implanted negativity. It helps to prevent being further caught in the web of the toxic behavior. It is a way to work the anger out of the system so it doesn’t fester and become a way of being.

        • Ken says:

          It’s true about not letting anger fester in our hearts. Prolonged, the anger becomes our personality. When necessary, I remind myself to avoid anger at all costs. By letting go of that anger, I have become far more resilient and simply more energetic. Acquiring wisdom and always looking forward (not dwelling in the past) is what the ancients (Lao-Zi) teach. I think it still applies even today.

        • Ken says:

          Here’s a helpful article on gratitude, and it’s written in a somewhat spiritual (energy-focused, health-focused), yet non-religious way:


  5. Jess says:

    I consider myself a needy person, partly because what Cherrie said above is true – we need to need and feel needed by our friends, even more so in my case. I have had a history of abandonment by people close to me; my parents were divorced when I was quite young and my mom, a single-mother, had to frequently leave me at home due to work or vacation – without me tagging along. She would lie about going too because I was that clingy to her before. Then, during my school days, I was abandoned at least three times by my best friends – one went overseas for good without telling me, the other became popular and left me for the “cooler” group and the last became close with someone else (we are still in contact, and last I heard, she told me that that someone else dumped her as well).

    All these “traumas” made me wary of meeting new friends and always doubting whether they are sincere to me or not. I know it is unfair to my new, innocent friend(s) for being constantly judged and tested for loyalty, but I guess it is my natural, defense mechanism against possible heartbreaks. Everytime my current best friend texted me late yet she was online at Whatsapp, I always had a notion that she ignored me on purpose. And when she refused to meet up with me and went with someone else instead, all Hell broke loose. My mind was screaming, “Traitor! Traitor!” even when my logic tried to make other explanations such as, “Perhaps she needs to discuss schoolwork with her” or “Perhaps she just wanna catch up with old friends”, etc. My inner insecurity always wins.

    Around a few weeks ago, I started ignoring her when she prioritized some other friends over me (again) by saying that she didn’t receive my message for dinner even when I’ve sent the message almost 6 hours prior and I saw her being online several times during that time period. I was stressed out at work and not in my best physical condition. I haven’t met up with her for almost a month and would like to catch up and perhaps share my worklife stress out so I can chill for a bit. But that happened, and now I was even more stressed out than before.

    I finally wrote her an email because I think it’s unfair to just ignore her without explanation. So I wrote to her what I felt and said that I wanted to either find a way out either through compromises (she would care about me more and I will try my best to not be clingy or needy around her) or parting ways in good terms.

    No replies. Not even an acknowledgment whether she has received the emails (sent two emails from different servers to make sure they don’t go to Spam folder). And now I was tormented from not knowing whether she still wants to go on or part ways. The frustration is killing me, and I hate being made this way. I waited because I wanted to be fair: perhaps she is mad herself and need a time-out, or perhaps she wants to arrange the wordings of her reply, or perhaps there was an email delay and she is still not receiving the mails yet. Still, I’m afraid I will think something negatively and make the situation worse….. I hope God will show me a way to get through this soon…..

  6. Cherrie says:

    There is a big difference between “needy” friends and toxic friends. I believe we are ALL needy at times. We do NEED each other. I try to never be so self involved not to lend an ear, a loving hand, or just be there for a friend, and make time for a friend. Lift them up, send them well wishes n hugs n kisses. Being very self involved and just selfish and not making the time for your friends is WAY more a problem than having a friend in need. I believe we need to reach out more to our friends who are in need. Love them…show them you love them by your actions. There are WAY more selfish gurls and women out there these days and I find it very sad, sad indeed. To me, you should never have to hide the fact you NEED to your true friends. Love is the key…. Love your friends….. No one is leading perfect little lives out there…. No one.

    • Audrey says:

      I agree with Cherrie. Yes, there are some people who take needy too far, but it is important to realise that everyone has some stage in their life when they need support.
      I had a friend who I saw often, we had great times together and lots of laughs. The warning sign should have been when she told me how she had divorced two husbands because they were “needy” – in that they asked for affection from her.She declared that she hated needy people.However, we got on really well and I didn’t think she would turn on me.
      She opened up to me about all her own issues and especially her grief when her dog died – I was the person she phoned when it happened;I let her talk out her grief and sent her flowers.
      One day we were lunching I let slip about a problem I had that at that time had no possible solution;I wasn’t asking for her help, I just wanted to talk about it.Anyway, after that she gave me the cold shoulder and we never met again, although I emailed and left messages on her phone.She had wiped me completlely.

      • Cherrie says:

        Well, she certainly sucks!! You were there and then when you needed her to be just a little supportive, she just bails…. Not cool at all. She seems a total selfish pig!!!! Happy day sweetie :) you’re so good to be rid of her!!! :);)

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