• Resolving Problems

My friend asks too many questions

Published: March 16, 2017 | By | 17 Replies Continue Reading
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How do you handle a friend who asks too many questions…to the extent that you feel like you’re being interrogated?


Hi Irene,

My friend is constantly asking me questions and I have no idea what her motive is. She asked me what meds I take, what my doctor’s name is, etc. She will ask me when I did something, what day, what time, was I by myself, what was I wearing? UGH!

Signed, Maura


Hi Maura,

There are many reasons why someone might ask too many questions: For example, the person might be very anxious and need to keep up conversation. Or…the person may not have the social etiquette to know when questions begin to feel invasive rather than signaling genuine interest.

The person also may feel like she has a more intimate relationship with you than you do with her.

Regardless of why your friend acts this way, I can understand how uncomfortable it might make you feel. It sounds like she’s asking questions that you don’t feel like answering.

I suspect a problem like this may be tough to resolve. If you want to maintain the friendship, you can have a talk with your friend and let her know that she asks too many personal questions, to the extent that you often feel uncomfortable when you’re together.

If she can’t remedy her ways, you may have to see her less often and/or be more assertive about telling her you don’t want to talk about things that you would rather keep private.

Hope this helps.

Best, Irene

You’re not the only one having this problem.

Read other similar questions that appeared previously on The Friendship Blog:

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Comments (17)

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  1. Pinksneakers says:

    Is this a new friendship? I think some people are socially inept or very curious. I have a sister who asks many questions but she does it in a casual way. She is very private about herself but she is very interested in others and sometimes overly judgmental. If a person asked me those questions I would wonder if they had a disorder like Asperger’s syndrome. These are people who miss social cues. I guess it depends on why the person wants to know. Does the friend who asks about the boyfriend with mental problems have a genuine caring interest. I would just say mental problems are like medical problems and perhaps you are not up to date with his current condition. I also would limit what you share with others. Wait until you know someone well if you think information will make a difference.

  2. bizzgirl says:

    This kind of problem is so frustrating, and I am the kind of person who always feels put on the spot when this happens (even though I am starting to be better at handling this). I have a friend who constantly asks me about my old boyfriend who now has mental problems. I keep telling her that I don’t like to talk about it, that it makes me sad, and that is why I never bring it up. She still brings it up though. I feel like she is fishing. For what reason, I don’t know. I think she used to like him and maybe is jealous that he never dated her. But at any rate, I am frustrated and hurt that she doesn’t respect my wishes and keeps asking me about it. Even after telling her I don’t want to talk about it.

  3. Olivia says:

    I think there is a difference between someone who is just comfortable sharing (maybe even over-sharing) information with a friend and someone who is fishing for information. When the letter writer said, “I have no idea what her motive is,” it makes me think that the LW’s friend is fishing.

    In my experience, people fish for information for a couple different reasons. Sometimes they are gossips and enjoy gathering social currency that they can then use to gossip about you to other people. Or they might be envious/jealous and competitive with you.

    This discussion is really interesting to me because I’m dealing with a person in my life who is like this. She’s the mother of one of my daughter’s friends, and is part of our general “mom group” of friends, but she has an unhealthy obsession with my daughter and my family. I realized early on that all of her nosy questions were designed to find out what activities my daughter does, so she could sign up her daughter too. She’s taken it to another level and is now following me, shopping at the stores where I shop, going to my doctor, going to the place where I get my hair cut, etc. so that I run into her everywhere I go. I’ve stopped giving her information, or I’ll respond with, “Why do you ask?” but she always comes up and joins in on conversations I’m already having, then asks me the nosy questions in front of other people to put me on the spot. I really don’t know what to do. When I’m around other friends, “Where are you going for spring break?” is an innocent question, but if this woman finds out we are skiing at X resort, she will schedule her family’s vacation there too!

    I guess my point is, be really careful with people like this. If you feel like they have an ulterior motive, they probably do.

    • Darlene says:

      I agree, if your instincts are making you wonder about motive, there probably is one. I’m sorry you are dealing with this situation yourself.

      I would add that there are people who simply like to be in the know about others. That way, they can boost their own importance in the community. I have a friend like that. She doesn’t like sharing, but sure wants to know everything about others. I have started simply ignoring her questions, deflecting with her a lot. I”ve also started pressing her for answers on her own life once in awhile, especially where it is has relevance to me. For example, she is very reluctant to tell me where she is going on holiday…and I am taking care of her pets. I need to know, in case anything happens. It’s very weird, when she wants to know everything about my holidays….

      Some people need a bit of pushback, if it is innocent, it will change for the better, if it isn’t, you will have made your point that you aren’t going to play that sort of game.

      • Olivia says:

        This is a good strategy, if you are dealing with someone who just likes to be “in the know,” asking them a personal question can be a gentle nudge that they are doing the same to you. And of course you’d need to know where she is going if you are pet-sitting, that’s so funny that she is hesitant to tell you!

    • Irene (the other one) says:

      Olivia – this sounds almost like the woman is both psychologically and physically stalking you. Perhaps she sees you as more successful than herself, and wants to get her daughter involved in things that she thinks will be beneficial to her, by copying what you do. Some people can be very strange and tiresome – be circumspect in what you tell her. You could of course be a little naughty and say: “oh, well, we’re going to such and such a place for a winter break, then book your holiday somewhere else. If she asks why weren’t you there, you could just say: “We had to re-schedule, etc.” I would only suggest this if the woman is generally well off and can afford to go on holiday, as someone who may have spent time saving up for it could be really hurt by this. Don’t hurt anyone, just be wise.

      • Olivia says:

        That is the general feeling that I am having too. I think at first her intentions may have been good, but I realized that my daughter never did as well as her daughter in the shared activities, once she’d signed her child up. She has gone behind my back several times to instructors and coaches and demanded that her daughter get the starring roles or starter positions, and my daughter always ends up in the back row, on the bench, or getting second billing once this woman gets involved.

        It’s gotten to the point where I have to tell my close friends not to share information with her, because after she gets a non-committal, “I’m not sure” answer from me, she will act like she never spoke to me and try fishing for information about my family among mutual friends. I think that’s the thing I resent the most – when people have an agenda, and they’re asking nosy questions, and you’re not sure yet what their agenda is…but you know it’s going to come back and hurt you in the end.

        And this woman is unfortunately not well off at all, but she will spend money she doesn’t have – or even worse, she will demand favors from the wealthy people she purposely befriends in order to compete with others!

        • Irene (the other one) says:

          Olivia – you are dealing with a really strange person here. I’d question her mental stability. At the same time I’d also say ‘now is the time for you to create a distance between the two of you.’ It seems as if she’s in competition with you – in my mind the worst kind of person. Darlene (above) seems to have some good ideas on how to create that distance – you could start there. But I hope your daughter will get the recognition she deserves – in her case would it be possible for her to change activities venue? So that she can get away from this unhealthy, virulent relationship.

        • Darlene says:

          I would be very frustrated and pretty creeped out by this situation Olivia. It does sound like you are taking productive steps to deal with this, but it’s so hard to deal with people who aren’t behaving according to the normal rules. But, yes, I agree with Irene that this woman is competing with you…likely she sees you are someone who has what she wants. At least, that’s my read on what you’ve described. If she gets the message that you aren’t going to put up with her, she may move on, she could be counting on your reluctance to be confrontational or unpleasant to pursue her objectives. I really dislike this kind of behaviour.

          Probably a combination of distancing and persistent, firm boundaries is all you can do. I’m glad your friends are supportive in this, a united front helps, too. Good luck 🙂

    • Krishn says:

      She thinks your family is the Kardashians. Enjoy the spotlight while it lasts 🙂 LOL

  4. Ariane says:

    Ask her why does she need to know about (fill in the blank). Make her feel uncomforable. I find nowadays people in general ask too many personal questions. I live in another country and am I frequently asked intrusive quetions. I don’t feel the need to quench anyone’s curiousity especially if I have no click with him/her meaning if I don’t see possible friendship or a necessary working relationship with him/her I don’t see the need for that person to know loads about me. And even with friendships there should be boundaries as well. I think if these aren’t established earlier on in the relationship then things can run amuk in regards to the interrogations. You can also put a sarcastic spin on it and say “Hmmmm, do you work for the FBI now?” Or deflect her questions back on her. She probably wouldn’t be my friend for long because it sounds like she lacks boundaries or possibly has none. Talk her about it. If she isn’t willing to tone it down dump her or don’t deal with on a regular or frequent basis.

  5. Tanya says:

    I think people have different set of boundaries and different expectations of friendship. Some people prefer one or two close friends where they really connect on a deep level. Others prefer tons of friends but no one really close. My sister likes having a few friends close and she shares everything. She puts herself out there in the hopes that they will put themselves out there as well and a connection is formed. However, once she feels close she may ask too personal of questions, some people will not mind because they have shared so much anyway that it makes sense that she would ask that question. But another person may mind, they may give you information then suddenly draw back. So I always tell my sister to be careful for that.

    I on the other hand am closed off. I reveal information to those I feel close to or connected to in the moment. However, I may feel guilty for revealing too much and then iii act like a stranger for our next meeting, which can be confusing. I am connected to my sister and I have lots of friends that I have known for 5 yrs since I moved here and they still feel like acquaintances to me, although I have let them in to an extent. Just recently, I let my friend of 5 yrs know that I am on medication for anxiety. She was shocked I didn’t mention this before! So naturally she asked more questions.

    I guess I am saying that if these questions come out of the blue it is odd. But if there is a natural progression to what lead to this questioning, it is common sense to expect these questions. That is the consequence of opening up on an issue. And how you feel about the relationship.

  6. Lady Mary says:

    I had to smile at this but not in a mocking way. I so relate to this scenario. I don’t have friends who do this but my daughter-in-law and sister-in-law grill me like this. Drives me bonkers. I’ve seen articles online about “smart people ask lots of questions.” So I think it’s a thing….? I don’t know. It does seem like manners in general have tanked. Maura, the only advice I have is to tell her that you realize she doesn’t mean to come across as nosey, but she does, and her excessive questioning eventually makes you uncomfortable. Since the friendship is not balanced, what do you have to lose by laying it out there….?

  7. Latasha says:

    You’re not obligated to answer any questions unless you under oath in a courtroom setting. Just casually say to your friend each time she dives too deep for you, “This conversation is over.” If she asks “why” say it come under the “Nunya Clause” None Of Your Business, then keep walking, if she persists then say too much familiarity breeds contempt and point our that you don’t grill her like a cheese sandwich.

  8. Amy F says:

    Sounds to me like you and your friend gave different boundaries and different definitions of the emotional intimacy of your friendship. When this happens, the person with the looser boundaries (her) has to acquiescence to the wishes of the friend with the stronger boundaries. Sometimes this means the relationship won’t be satisfying to the person who wants more, and that probably signifies the friendship won’t last.
    You might want to respond, next time she asks questions, “When you ask me so many questions, I feel uncomfortable and it makes me less interested in talking with you.” Unless you tell her, she may not be picking up on your cues that her questions feel intrusive. .
    If you’ve encountered this with other friends in the past and see a pattern, you might want to examine whether you’re too closed off to have close interpersonal relationships.

  9. Irene (the other one) says:

    My advice is: Don’t give too much information about yourself. Some people gather information about others, which, at a given time – perhaps at a time of falling out – will then use against them, by passing this information to others, who may then mock you. There are things you should keep totally private, particularly that which is nearest to your heart, because that’s where you are most likely to get hurt. Be wise in what you say.

    • Melinda says:

      I agree with Irene! Because I have experienced people doing that to me in the past, I’m much more careful about sharing information with others.
      A lot of people can’t be trusted.

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