• Resolving Problems

Her friend won’t leave her alone

November 14, 2014 | By | 19 Replies Continue Reading
A woman feels tormented by an overbearing friend who won’t leave her alone.

QUESTION

Hi,

I’m at my wit’s end with a very needy friend who won’t leave me alone, and her behavior is actually getting quite creepy.

We’ve had a toxic relationship for some time, with her using me as an emotional crutch and then getting angry and aggressive toward me if she feels I’ve not responded in the ‘right’ way. She’s just come out of a long-term relationship and started criticizing how well I was supporting her – to the point I felt sick with stress from it and didn’t sleep for days.

I tried to tell her how I feel, and that it’s not fair for her to judge my support and how much time I can dedicate to her, and that I have a life away from her and she needs to respect that. She went nuts. She didn’t apologize; she just yelled and shouted at me while I sat there sobbing, and told me I was a bad person. I suggested she needs professional help, and she got even worse.

We have lots of close mutual friends so I can’t just cut her adrift. Since this bust-up, she’s now pretending the whole thing hasn’t happened and is bombarding me with calls, text messages and emails at work. I’m very sparsely replying to them to try and set some appropriate boundaries but nothing deters her. She will continually message me, over and over. At least three or four times a day.

When we meet up with other friends, she then makes subtle digs about me not replying, or starts questioning about where I’ve been and why I’ve not been seeing her.

Please help! What do I do? She has shown that she’s incapable of having an adult discussion about this. And I can’t talk to my friends about it because they’re her friends too and that would be bitchy. It’s making me sick with stress.

Thank you very much for taking the time to read this.

Signed, Ruth

ANSWER

Hi Ruth,

When a friendship is so distressing that it’s causing you to lose sleep, to feel sick and is impacting your work, it’s time to cut loose.

It sounds like this friend is the type of person who has a hard time taking no for an answer but at the same time, you may have been giving her mixed messages by continuing to put up with her abusive behavior.

Even though you share mutual friends, you have no choice but to tell her that you need to have “time off” from this relationship. Make it crystal clear that while you will likely see her as part of your group of friends and act cordially, you don’t want to communicate with her or see her one-on-one. Simply tell her that you need time for yourself because this relationship has become too draining. I realize this may be difficult for you but you need to take care of yourself.

If she continues to make “subtle digs” in front of others, just ignore the comments. Unfortunately, this friend doesn’t respond to subtle gestures so you will need to be firm. It is likely that she does need professional help, far more help than you can provide as a friend.

Best, Irene

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Category: Needy friends, RESOLVING PROBLEMS

Comments (19)

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  1. T says:

    This reminds me of a ex friend I was trying to offload and it turned into a disaster. I can totally relate to the feeling of the person having a crush on you. I mistakenly made friends with a woman on my sons soccer team. I thought she was bright and bubbly and fun at first. We then went to her son’s birthday party not long after. A friendship started and lasted for about 1 year. Slowly I started to see that underneath it all she was a toxic person. Who was always arguing with her ex partner and current partner, I got dragged into both situations. She was nasty to her mother too.I also realised she was a drug user, so that prompted me to get rid of her too. Last time I saw her she seamed upset and unbalanced and it turns out she had a fight with her partner again. I didnt see her for a month, I decided it was my que to get away. So I started not answering her calls and texts. She was pushy trying to bring me her birthday invite and bought me a birthday present with 2 little girls on a glass, saying best friends. I told her I was sorry and that I wanted to end the friendship and to just go our separate ways. She did say at first ok, then came the why text. I just said we were going in different directions and we should just agree to move on.

    Then I got a tirade of nasty texts form here about me being better than her, uncaring and selfish etc, I finally got rid of her via text telling her I was actually really sick of her voice and to bugger off and leave me alone. After that came the glass that was dropped off to my door. She still did it after I told her it was over, to try to guilt trip me. I actually smashed it and threw it in the rubbish, I was mad she wasnt respecting my boundry. Then the last straw was when I walked past her son in a store 3 months later. I saw them and hurried past as I knew she would make a scene. I got a tirade of nasty texts about not talking to her son when I went past him. How immature and nasty I was. It took a while to get rid of her, and I was lucky to get away. I felt like she did have a crush on me actually. I was scared she would come to my home and do something, I was awake keeping watch and scared to be honest.

    You just have to stay strong and keep saying no I reckon. Some people arent right in the head.

  2. Njb says:

    I did this to a very close friend. I never yelled at her but I would get upset when she didn’t reply. I had very bad anxiety and depression. I kept telling her I needed to back away so it didn’t pull her down too, but she wouldn’t hear of it and got upset about it. Finally she started ignoring me. When I did get her to answer she say stuff like I’m always here for you, you’re my BFF etc. but her actions spoke differently. One day she finally told me she had to cut contact for a while. I cut down a lot but I felt like my BFF mislead me and I was going through stages of grief. I felt bad because I tried to back away. Needless to say I offered to cut our friendship completely. She didn’t want that. We ended up going back and fourth about a few things. I was trying to explain myself and she took it as drama. We finally agreed to be friends. But she doesn’t want to be BFF anymore. I promised to not be dramatic or anxious or clingy anymore. She said she’d try to respond more. Can I ever fix what I did so we can be BFF’s again? Anxiety controls a person and I never had issues before. It was very recent, and I was adjusting to meds. I never ever would do anything intentionally to hurt her or pull her down. Please help!

    • QueenNeferitii says:

      I believe you have what I call an FBI-friend. They keep you by the side just to get info about your life and talk behind your back how you are such an energy-drainer and stuff like that. Stay away from such a friend, they don’t have your best interest at heart; most people might not tell you what they think about you, follow their actions, they will reveal a lot to you.

  3. Inez says:

    I already left this friendship once, when my friend’s obsession weighed too heavily on me. I left it alone for a year. I let it back in my life, thinking now that she’d sought professional help that it would be better. It is better, but it’s still not okay.

    She tries to manipulate me with our mutual friends and is successful, as far as some of them are concerned. Where I have longstanding friendships, they see the problem. Where I’m the newcomer to the scene, I’m sure they are puzzled by my earlier disappearance, and will be puzzled again when I walk away again.

    A common “third-party” friend who had no idea she was saying something so apt commented on how we were dressed alike. My friend imitates so much of who I am, it is sick. She had her hair cut to try to be more like me.

    I know I’m being vague. I don’t want this found and twisted into some new fresh hell.

    I don’t know how to get through this. She seems so responsible and trustworthy. Honestly I think she is, in ways that have nothing to do with me.

    She had, or has a crush on me. She’s never had a crush on a woman, I think, and it’s turned her inside out. It’s unrequited love. I love her as a friend, period, but even that feels twisted and unreliable for me now. I think this bottom line, the unrequited love, is still an unconscious event for my friend. So it shows up as resentment. In front of people or not, she has no problem telling me what’s good for me, telling me I’m making a big deal out of small things when they are not small things. Minimizing my feelings. It was so obvious at a recent event that a third-party called her out on it, saying my concern was not “a small deal” at all. There are so many subtle ways she basically tries to make me feel small.

    Talking to her about this becomes a “when did you stop beating your wife” question. There’s no winning, because if I make a “big deal” about the manipulation, I’m just being hysterical. For her it warrants hours, and I do mean many hours, of time spent dissecting the friendship. And in the end it’s still going to be this awful thing. I need an exit strategy.

    Never in my life have I been in this situation with a woman friend. This friend is uncomfortable if I ever bring up an old love; there’s no such thing as admiring George Clooney together (to grab a name from the air). All the normal conversations I have with my other women friends, none of those conversations about attraction or romance ever get any air time. If I bring it up, it’s like a rock thrown in a pond and then poof, it’s gone. Nary a ripple.

    I’m just going to make the leap, again, and stop having anything to do with her. I feel too oppressed by it. Like other comments I read here, I find worry about this, about how it will play out in my other friendships and circles, all of it is a great big source of Fret.

    The trouble I have is that most of my friendships overlap with this person. I’ve never been in a situation where so many aspects of my life have so many overlaps with someone, someone who has turned out to be so obsessive and controlling. I can’t even see clear to how I make this happen.

    It seems that even people who have full lives and plenty of friends can stumble into some deep inner vein of loneliness. I wonder if my loneliness, and I have some, resonated with hers, and then together it started some magnetic field that has a life of its own. Not that I can’t opt out. I can. I just know it’s going to take a lot of energy. What I have to keep in mind is how much energy and discursive thought this thing has in my life while we are “friends.”

    Thanks for listening. Happy to hear your thoughts, unless you are my friend. If you are, please see your therapist at least once a week for a few years, and leave me and my world in peace. I will do that for you.

  4. LaTrice says:

    First off Ruth, I agree with Irene that you should end the friendship, and it’s obvious that your best friend is stressing you out-due to her own selfish reasons. It seems that your best friend wanted the friendship to be all about her, when it supposed to be all about the BOTH of you. No matter how hard you’ve tried to support her, your actions had fallen on deaf ears. Honestly, her behavior is unacceptable, and you didn’t deserve to tolerate that kind of abuse from her.

    Don’t bother answering her phone calls, replying to her text messages, and responding back to her emails. You need to put your foot down, and tell her the friendship is OVER! If she’s having a difficult time accepting it, it’s her problem that she has to deal with-not YOURS! If her behavior continues, she should seek professional help, and file a restraining order.

  5. Olivia says:

    Hi Ruth – I know I’m late to this discussion, but felt like I had to chime in. I had a very similar situation happen a couple of years ago, where I had a bad falling-out with a very domineering, abusive, possessive friend. She lives in my (small, rural) town and knows all of the same people that I know. Our kids go to the same school and they are friendly. She has spent the last two years quasi-stalking my family and trying to destroy my reputation.

    I thought long and hard about ending the friendship with her because I knew it was going to get really ugly, but I have to tell you, I’ve never once regretted it. Just remember that – none of the grief you think you’re going to have to deal with is worse than what she’s doing to you now.

    Also, after the falling out (I did what Amy suggests, wrote her a short email), I did a few things:

    – Spoke to my closest friends, the ones whose opinions really matter to me, and honestly told them what had happened. I didn’t tell everyone in the world about it, but I have three close friends at the same school and I basically said, “X and I had a falling out, I felt like she was being really disrespectful of me…I’m sad to lose her friendship but I hope you can respect that I want nothing more to do with her.” That way they were prepared with my side when X started accosting them with lies and guilt trips.

    – Anyone else who asks me what happened gets this response: “I wish her well, but she and I were just not compatible as friends.”

    – When I see her in public, I try to be polite. I try. There are times when that’s impossible because she’s rude to me or asking prying questions. In those instances, I say I have to go and then I leave.

    – If I know I’m going to be stuck somewhere with her for an extended amount of time (like at my daughter’s ballet class) I bring my phone and catch up on calls…basically I leave myself unavailable for conversation.

    The hardest part has been getting people around me to stop giving her personal information about my family. Honestly, this is still going on and it stinks. My rule is, whenever she contacts me, I just don’t respond. I don’t respond to emails, calls, or texts. When she showed up at my house I didn’t answer the door. I’ve blocked her on all social media. I have had to explain to my kids that they can see those friends at school and in dance class, but that’s it. Any attempt on her part to contact me for any reason is met with silence.

    Good luck. You deserve to spend time with people who value your friendship and treat you with respect.

  6. Leeanne says:

    I had this happen once with a very close friend. When she called I simply told her that I’m not mad at her but I couldn’t go on with this friendship any longer. She tried for 6 years…YES, 6 years to contact me through friends, emails, texts but I wasn’t having it. She bad mouthed me to mutual friends, contacted my ex husband (whom she’d only met once) to have a play date with our children and went to great lengths to get my attention. I ignored everything even though I was tempted at times to defend myself. She finally gave up. It’s been a year since I’ve heard from her. This friend of yours is controlling and being direct is the only way to deal with her.

  7. Maddie says:

    Cut her off and respond to nothing. She’s toxic. Don’t bring her up with others except to say you are not as close as you used to be if they ask. If you must see her and she makes digs politely tell her you will not be discussing this now and walk off. Good luck. Never let someone become this toxic to you.

    • another good post says:

      I really like your suggestion, that is actually a very good reply for when people ask. If someone asks for more details because they’re too curious they can easily be brushed off.

  8. Bizzy says:

    Oh, I am so sorry. I can relate so much. I had to get away from two such toxic friends a while back, and I can honestly say it was one of the hardest things I ever did. But I too was feeling sick, not sleeping, plus I didn’t respect myself for being trapped in such a situation.

    But it got to the point, I couldn’t not do something. I kept telling myself–“baby steps.” It was very painful and took a long time, but they finally got the message and were out of my life. But it was very awkward for a long time. But it was worth it to get away from them. I am now very careful about who I get involved with as friends.

    All I can say is keep at it. Eventually she will go away.

  9. Susan says:

    I ditto the advice given here. No one should have to accept that kind of behavior and abuse.

  10. hanna says:

    Every time you reply to her 10th email, you are teaching her that she needs to message you 11 times before she gets a response.

    I would create a filter sending her emails straight to the recycle bin and her phone calls directly to voicemail. Rational communication is wasted on crazy people.

  11. mouse says:

    Beautiful words from Amy F.

  12. jennifer says:

    Ruth,

    I completely agree with Irene on this one. If she is incapable of respecting you, and the “friendship” then you have to end it. If it were me and she wasn’t taking my advice of getting help, then there isn’t much more you can do. You have tried to be there for her time and time again it seems… and sounds as if she makes it all about her when your together. Cut her off, block her number if need be. I hope you can rid yourself of the toxic “friendship” and relax.

    Good luck to you,
    Jennifer

  13. Amy F says:

    Dear Ruth,

    Too bad you have mutual friends. That type behavior creeps me out too,

    I’ve found the most effective way of dealing with friends (or ex-friends) is to set very firm boundaries. Since you’ve already discussed the issues, I would send an email asking her to leave me alone. Don’t explain. Don’t apologize. Don’t let yourself be manipulated. Do keep to the limits you set.

    If I were writing the email (and I have been) in your circumstances I’d say:

    Dear Whiny Needy Friend (insert name),

    I’m sorry I haven’t been clear and consistent. I’ve sent you mixed message (apologizing for my part in the equation, not her feelings and reactions).
    I’m not interested in continuing the friendship and I need you to stop trying to communicate with me. I will no longer respond to your texts and emails, nor will I answer the phone if you call. Please respect my boundaries. If you respond to this email I won’t read it.
    Of course I’ll be cordial to you when we’re out with the group, but please don’t interpret that as a rekindling of our relationship.
    I wish you the best and hope things become easier for you.
    Me (you)

    I’d keep the email short, dry, and business like because that sends a serious, clear, concise message, I’d also be careful not to burn any bridges. I’d remember anything I write online can be posted or forwarded. Keep a copy of what you send in case she manipulates the letter. I wouldn’t write anything mean because even if I hated her, being mean is unkind and I wouldn’t want that to happen to me.
    She’ll probably reply to your email, especially if she’s the type person who needs to have the last word. If it were me, I’d try not to read it, but curiosity would probably get the better of me. I would stop reading as soon as I found a mean or manipulative sentence. I would keep the email in a separate folder, just in case I’d need documentation if she becomes stalker-y.
    If you decide to send one last email, realize that she’ll probably get mutual friends involved. If they come to you, I say, “that’s between us. I don’t want to talk behind her back. You know me. You know the type of friend I am.” Your friends will respect you, even if they REALLY want details.
    There was a public to do between two people within a group of friends a while back. The drama came from the first friend. Thr second friend said she wasn’t going to talk about it any more (agree to disagree) One was rational and honest, the other was volatile and manipulative. Both were upset. The less rational former friend played victim, trashed the other and tried to get people to take her side.The more rational friend talked about her part in the equation and she even expressed empathy for her ex-friend. When I expresses surprise at her reaction she just shrugged. She said: its never all one person’s fault. Then she proceeded to tell me what she wished she’d done differently. I learned so much from her. We drifted apart after grad school when she moved out of state and I only see her when she comes back to visit family, but are Facebook friends. I still ask myself what she would do in my situation.

    I guess what I’m trying to say is the high road earns respect. The rational friend only talked for one day and the other seemed to ruminate with anger for weeks.

    This might not be your approach. It’s been effective for me. When I’ve needed to vent (and I often do), I do so with friends who don’t know the the person.

    Good luck! I hope you get the situation resolved soon. I know how it can weigh on you.

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