• Resolving Problems

Help! My Friend Is Too Clingy!

Published: September 17, 2010 | Last Updated: November 13, 2021 By | 6 Replies Continue Reading
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Two good friends, one feels too clingy, the other feels strangled by the closeness.

QUESTION

Dear Irene,

My best friend has been with me through the ups and downs of life since we were both eight years old.

I’m now in my junior year at college. Four years ago, I decided to go to a state school and study to become a vet. I was ecstatic the day I received my acceptance letter but the next day, my friend got hers, too.

At first, I was thrilled to have her go with me, but when I asked her why she wanted to go to the same school, she told me it was so I wouldn’t be lonely.

I didn’t tell her at the time but that comment made me mad. I was perfectly able to take care of myself and was able to make friends on my own. The thing that really bothered me was that she was following me and it felt too clingy!

I pushed the thought to the back of my mind because I thought it would be sort of fun to have my best friend with me at college. But she got really annoying, trying to take all the classes that I took, and trying to be with me all of the time. I understand that she was trying to be a good friend, but it got on my nerves.

Now I’m at the breaking point because she doesn’t get the message that we need some space from each other. On top of that, she is a party pooper. How do I tell her that she is getting on my nerves and acting too clingy without hurting her?

Signed Nicole

ANSWER

Dear Nicole,

The years after graduation from high school through college are ones when people grow and change a great deal. It seems like you and your friend had a relationship that remained on an even keel for more than a decade; you both depended on one another for support.

As you suggest, your friend seems overly attached to you now: taking the same classes and wanting to be with you all the time. While this may have been reciprocal at one time, and appropriate when you were younger, it isn’t any longer. It’s great that you’ve grown in self-confidence and found a career path that interests you. She needs to do the same.

Since your friend hasn’t responded to your subtle messages seeking more space between you, you may have to be more explicit. Tell her that you want to remain friends but that you both need to expand your horizons and meet new people too.

Can you have a supportive heart-to-heart with her and find out why she hasn’t been able to become more independent or get involved with other friends? Perhaps, by talking about it, you can both figure out what is holding her back.

Friends need a balance of time together and time apart to grow. When a friend is extremely possessive and clingy, it’s easy to become resentful. It’s likely that your friend doesn’t feel good about the way she is acting either. If you can’t sort this out on your own, you may want to suggest that your friend speak to someone in the college counseling office.

Hope this helps.

Best,
Irene


Prior posts on The Friendship Blog about coping with needy friends:

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  1. When a friend is too clingy : The Friendship Blog | July 19, 2014
  1. Eva says:

    HI Ladies, I am having similar problems too, please help!

    My best friend and I have known each other since freshman year in college. We’ve been there with each other’s ups and downs, she dropped out of college in our junior year while I stayed and finished my degree. Recently I’ve been running into problems with her. I am a Christian and she’s not, since I am a Christian, naturally I have other friends that shares the same faith and we would have bible studies together and we hung out. She, on the other hand, don’t really have many friends; she doesn’t hang out with anybody except with me and her boyfriend.
    In the past, I have never let the religion came in between us, yet these past few months, ever since I told her that I have accepted a job offer in Washington DC and I start in August she’s been using my faith as an ultimatum, making me choose her or my faith. She got angry and upset when she found out that I went to a new store down the street with my other friends and my brother whom just returned from Iraq (or she calls the “Christian” freaks) instead of her. She yelled at me and told me I am a selfish, ungrateful person, that I ought be ashamed of my action. (She said she wanted us to go to the store together, yet I went there without her) Things like this happened way too often in the past few months that I am starting to reevaluate our friendship and begin to think maybe its toxic. I feel hurt and worried that our friendship will fall apart, by the way she behaves towards me. Especially now that I am moving away to DC because of my new job. I feel that I am not allowed to have other friends, because I can only have her. I am scared and afraid of her knowing that I am hanging out with my other Christian friends so much that I have to ask them not to tag me on Facebook photos! (Which seems very, very ridiculous and silly to me.) Please help me! I love her dearly, she’s like my sister. But her behavior is very manipulative and I don’t know how I can communicate without her throwing a temper tantrum like a 6 year old.

    • Anonymous says:

      Hey Eva! I was in a similar boat, with a friend whom was pretty much agnostic while I am a Christian. While we are still friends, she has to understand that your faith is very important to you and that if she doesn’t accept it, or your other friends for that matter, it might be best to not try to continue the friendship as it sounds pretty destructive. She sounds pretty possessive to some degree, rather than supportive and a good friend is supportive yet respective of boundaries and beliefs.

      In this case, I say that you talk to your friend and if she continues to act the way she does, then it might be time to break. Being a Christian sometimes means you have to break off some relationships if it impairs your relationship with God.

      I hope this helps! 🙂

      The best of luck to you!

  2. Chari says:

    Hey, I know it’s been 3 years now. 2 years ago, I went through the same dilemma. I had a bestfriend who meant a lot to me but things kind of got weirder for me. She became obsessive, wanting me to quit my college org just so I can hang out with her more. I think it’s insane for her to think that I’d choose her over my org. Seriously? I needed that org because with it, I have a sense of responsibility. There are far more worse things she did but I won’t get into that.

    Instead, I’ll tell you what I did. I avoided her for one year and when my conscience could not take it any longer, I talked to her. She deserves an explanation after all. I told her every wrong move/trait/actions/thoughts she had that made me want to abandon her. I apologized for my behavior. I told her how sorry I was that I couldn’t be the perfect friend. I also made it clear that I’m no longer willing to be her bestfriend. She’s just too much baggage for me.

    I’m only human. What’s done can’t be undone. And if we ever become bestfriends again, things would always be awkward. I just don’t want to go through that crazy shit all over again.

    The answer to the question is be true to yourself. Be honest to yourself. Be honest to that person. You both deserve the truth which is you can never ever force yourselves to be friends without each other’s blessing. The faster you admit it, the better. But, one year of avoiding her helped me a lot. I needed one year to confront her, to pluck up the courage and look where it’s got me.

    Now, I’m guilt-free. I’m finally free.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Dear Nicole,
    Try to understand that the behavior of this clingy friend is based on an unmet need. As a former clingy friend I sympathesize with her. I had a friend move away and it forced me to try to new activities and meet new people. I am better off for it as I have met great people and it increased my self-confidence that I can make it on my own.

    Talk to her. Good friends are hard to find and those past memories that you have are invaluable.

    Debbie

  4. Laura says:

    I agree on having the heart-to-heart talk with clingy friends. I also think she should try to understand what’s driving the behavior of Clingy Friend. Is she anxious or apprehensive about forging new relationships? Tell her it’s OK that the friendship becomes less intense as you grow up and change. It’s not a tragedy; it’s reality. Both of you have an equal right to change interests, careers, etc. And that she shouldn’t see it as abandonment because she has the right too to seek out new friendships. She needs to hear you say that to remove guilt. You can always visit the fond memories you had as childhood chums; but that’s it — it’s the past and you’re no longer children. The Portuguese have a term for this: “saudade” It means a sad longing or nostalgia for the past; it’s sweet and bitter at the same time. And it’s a part of life. I think we have to give people explicit permission to let go of their clingyness through explaining explicitly how you feel at the point of your life where you’re at. Personally, I think a lot of friendship conflict issues are due to unrealistic and unspoken expectations and differing emotional maturity. Seems like the latter in this one.

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