My best friend is too demanding

Published: September 22, 2010 | Last Updated: October 10, 2010 By | 5 Replies Continue Reading


Dear Irene,

My best friend has become overly dependent on me. She’s been living in another state for the last few years but we see each other, on average, once every three months and talk multiple times a day, via phone, text and AIM.


I live with my fiancé (newly engaged) and even though we talk all the time, if I’m not readily available to answer a text, she throws a hissy fit and tells me I’m not the same anymore or I’m being neglectful. My fiancé and I visited her and her hubby for the holidays and she got very angry that I wasn’t coming for a couple days before my fiancé so we could have "girl time" (My fiancé was the one purchasing the plane tickets which enabled me to see her.)


Lately when we talk, she asks me to tell her "sweet nothings"—constantly. For example, she will say multiple times, "I miss you. I can’t wait to see you. Do you miss me? I wish I could just be there with you. I wish you weren’t getting married. All my plans for us are ruined now, etc." When I don’t acknowledge these statements or reciprocate, she gets upset and tells me I’ve changed and alludes to the fact that I need to "change back".


To me life is all about change, people grow, they move, they build lives for themselves. To me, a true friend is one that can be happy for you and be there without giving you a guilt trip or constant nagging. Every recent conversation is an invitation for her to complain about life’s circumstances. I find it completely draining of my energy; I don’t understand why she can’t focus on the positive; instead, she makes everything negative.


Another friend (to whom I haven’t talked in over a year) recently reached out to me. My best friend became openly jealous: She has flat out told me that it bothers her and this also seems ridiculous.


I got to the point where I told her I needed a few weeks to myself. After that, she told me I don’t reciprocate the loyalty that she has shown me in the past, that I’m not a good friend, that I’m one sided, that I’m selfish, and that I’ve ruined her life. I’ve tried to explain that we need to have boundaries. The whole relationship just seems to be completely dysfunctional for me and I’m not sure how to fix it. Any advice would be great.




Dear Meg,

Long-term friendships can be immensely rewarding; a chat or laugh with a friend can make a bad day better. But when friendships change or sour, they can be as draining.


It sounds like your relationship with your best friend has taken a dramatic turn for the worse. I’m not sure if your recent engagement set her off because it’s made you less available. Assuming she was never excessively needy or demanding in the past, could the change in her behavior be unrelated to you and stem from other aspects of her life? For example, if she is having problems with her marriage, job, health or something else, she may be seeking constant reassurance from you to make her feel better.


When you both have time and feel less pressured, perhaps you could talk to your friend and ask her about her life. Is she happy? Is she satisfied with her marriage and job? Could she possibly be depressed? If she does have real problems or complaints, listen and offer advice. But don’t be surprised if she turns the conversation back to your friendship and how you’ve let her down.


Since this conversation alone won’t change her behavior, you need to determine how much more of this clinginess you can tolerate. Depending on how the conversation goes, you may decide you want to remain connected and help her through this rough spot. If so, you need to set clear limits about the type and frequency of contact you want to have. It might be worthwhile to suggest that she also needs other friends who live or work nearby for support, and, if appropriate, that she seek out professional help.


In the end, you (and she) may realize you simply need to take a break from the friendship or end the friendship entirely. While neither of these are pleasant outcomes, feeling "sucked dry" by a friend can be very painful (and potentially damaging to other parts of your life.) Not all friendship problems can be resolved in a way that satisfies both parties; long-distance friendships can be particularly challenging. While you want to be a good friend, it’s also important to protect yourself as well.



Other posts on The Friendship Blog about needy friends:

Needy friends: A friend indeed?

Getting out of a sticky friendship

Why don’t friends just talk about it?



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Comments (5)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    The guy must go ahead and speak to his friend. Things can be sorted out by understand her point of view and explaining her what is correct and what is not. She just needs to broaden her point of view and things can work out. 

  2. Anonymous says:

    Sometimes I think Sex And the City didn’t do the female sex any favors when it comes to grown up friendships. Calling or girlfriends, or accepting calls 24/7, putting girlfriends with frivolous — as opposed to serious — issues ahead of your bourgeoning romance/marriage. Growing up means being emotionally self-reliant.

    • Kiki says:

      I agree. All the stupid conversations about your sex life is really a betrayal of your boyfriend or spouse. People who understand the concept of intimacy understand what I am talking about. Your girlfriends don’t need all the details of your life, and a real friend will understand and respect your boundaries. Those women were so immature on so many levels, and had serious boundary issues. I also think Friends did the same, but was poorly written and acted.

  3. Anonymous says:

    This sounds like a tough situation for both of you. I agree you should have a talk with your friend, you must really love her wiht all off the effort you put into maintaining the friendship, and if you can navigate thru the transition you can all be the better for it. Somehow the combination of your friend’s move and your getting engaged has triggered an insecurity. This happens in any close relationship-(ask any long term partner if they have ever acted like a 5 year old).

    But it cant be just any talk. Conversation needs to be skilled, because if she becomes the child where YOU are setting limits she is going to feel condescended. YOu are likley stuck in a communicatoin pattern that is not working. Conscious Loving by K and G Hendricks provides great conversational methods such as being curious about what is going on and bringing out insecurities and concerns and then being able to come to mutual agreement on how to maintain the relationship so both are happy.If you can do this work, I envision your friend a year from now not being so clingy and overcoming this psychological issue once she realizes the friendship is not lost, that you loved her enough to stick it out with her. This is a great gift you can give her,the ability to feel secure in the unconditional love of friendship, but it will take time. Usually, the healthier person is the one who has to do the most work for awhile and that is you. She does have a problem with thinking you should call her back right away and all of that ,and questioning your loyalty when you have shown loyalty so she does have problems, you just have to decide if you can tolerate them a bit and work through it.

  4. Anonymous says:

    I think her friend is just feeling jealous and threatened by the new relationship. When things calm down and she sees they can still be friends even though her friend is engaged, I am sure their relationship will improve.

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