• Handling Breakups

This guy is just too clingy and dependent

June 22, 2016 | By | 6 Replies Continue Reading
A woman laments her involvement with a friend who has become too clingy and dependent.

QUESTION

Hi,

Almost a year ago, I got to know this guy. He was friendly (although shy) and we had a fair bit in common. He’s not as outgoing as me; he’s very sensitive and struggles a bit in social situations – he doesn’t have many close friends (I’m lucky enough to have quite a lot) so I was always happy to be there for him.

Around November last year, we started texting more frequently and we got to know each other quite well through that. It got to the point where we texted much more than we spoke (although I did struggle with his victim mentality at times).

Last January, he asked me to go to prom with him “as friends”. Whilst surprised (I hadn’t realised we were that close, and had assumed I’d go with one of my other, closer, male friends), I accepted. After a while, he admitted that his feelings for me extended beyond platonic. I apologised and said that I didn’t return his feelings, but that I hoped we could still be friends – despite having a go at me for “misleading” him – he agreed.

I soon regretted both that decision and my decision to agree to prom; whilst it was a way off, he immediately started making plans, referring to me as a “princess” and promising to treat me one, even offering to get me a corsage, etc.

I felt rather inundated and pressured and with him texting me all the time, I insinuated fairly heavily that I felt very overcrowded and needed some space. He apologised, but texted me again about 5 times that weekend. Things came to a head when he gave me a colour chart for my prom dress, so he could select the right colour tie to go with it. Tired, exhausted by our relationship, and dreading prom, I apologised sincerely and called it off – a decision that he tried to pressure me into changing.

I have tried to remain friends, tried to keep supporting him (he’s had a lot of difficulties recently) but it’s been difficult – he constantly messages me massive texts, asking if I’m okay, asking what’s wrong, trying to sort out tiny issues in our friendship and I just feel really overwhelmed.

When he messaged me, yet again trying to make plans for summer (ages away) and reassuring me that he had moved on, but making sure to let me know he was still open for a relationship in the future, I decided not to reply. He then informs me that he can tell I am “online” from my Facebook status and that I have obviously been gossiping about him behind his back with my other (male) friend who was “online”.

I finally asked for space as I couldn’t cope with the emotional pressure any more – he’s emotionally manipulative and plays on the fact that I hate hurting anyone’s feelings (telling me he’s “not worth anyone’s concern.”)

He then informs me that he is depressed and that it got much worse when he was rejected by me, but that he’s been trying to save our friendship as I’m his “rock”. Our friendship is toxic and bad for both him (who considers me his closest friend and is too clingy and very dependent) and me (who constantly worries about hurting his feelings).

I feel I should be there for him and that it’s selfish for me not to be, but he keeps texting me and telling me our friendship’s over… and then that I’m a good person and that he needs me… and then that it’s over again and again (I don’t reply now, he’s messaged me about 20 times in a row) and I don’t know what I’m meant to do. Should I try and be there for him, even if it is just out of pity and a sense of duty?

Signed, Reba

ANSWER

Hi Reba,

Pity isn’t a sound foundation for sustaining a friendship because that’s not a relationship between equals. Feeling this way about a one-sided friendship can easily turn into frustration or even contempt. Friendships are voluntarily relationships that need to be mutually satisfying.

You’ve said that your friend is emotionally manipulative, dependent and too clingy. You tried repeatedly to let this friend know that you do not share his romantic feelings and need more space than he is willing to give you. Yet he’s been unable or unwilling to allow you the space you’ve asked for and isn’t good at reading social cues.

Messaging you twenty times in a row is way too much. Given this background, my advice would be to tell your friend that you care about him but can no longer remain friends. Express your concern about his difficulties and depression and suggest that he seek professional help. You’ll need to be crystal clear that you need to work on yourself right now and just don’t have any more energy to put into the friendship.

Hope this helps.

Best, Irene

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Category: HANDLING BREAKUPS

Comments (6)

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  1. Eric says:

    This guy sounds like he has a bit of a problem up there. Sometimes to break free you might just have to hurt his feelings. It would be hard but just slowly migrate away from him. That’s what I would do anyways. This is probably not the best advice you will get all day but anyone trying to emotionally manipulate you is not someone you want to let stick around.

  2. Lisa says:

    Hi Reba, Sorry you are dealing with this. This relationship is very unhealthy for both of you. It’s time to cut ties all-together. Block his number from your phone so you won’t get any texts from him and this will ease your stress a great deal. This person needs professional help ASAP. There is a lot of manipulation on his part which if left untreated can become dangerous. I have dealt with a person like this and it was no picnic. I have blocked them from any contact with me period. Good luck with whatever you choose to do.

  3. DJ says:

    Seeing he’s unable to say “Yes I am disappointed you don’t have the same feelings towards me that I have towards you but accept that, can you outline what level of friendship you want and what does that involve” and stick to it then it is stalking. You mention a prom coming up which means you may be at school. Is there a school counsellor or similar person you can see as you do need some advice and help with the situation. And it sounds like he needs help both for the stalking and his social awkwardness. Yes it must be hard for him finding it difficult to make friends and thus doesn’t want to lose a friend which may have lead to his behaviour (not thst you have to put up with it or have a relationship with or be friends with someone you don’t want to be). But being possessive doesn’t save a friendship and with his he can become better at socialising!!

  4. Amy F says:

    Reba, your friend is manipulating you, by trying to use his problems to keep you from walking away. As DCFem said, run, don’t walk away from this guy. He hasn’t respected your boundaries, he hasn’t respected your feelings (or lack of feelings). He makes you feel uncomfortable. He needs professional help to learn how to respect other people and to not use your friendship as a replacement. You can’t give him what he needs, no friend could, because he doesn’t need friendship as much as he needs a therapist. My advice would be to continue to keep him out if your life, since he hasn’t respected your desire for distance. Every time you communicate with him, you give him hope.

  5. Kris says:

    I believe I’m older than you are, but I’ve been in your position before. I will start out by telling you that it’s very hard to deal with a friend (of either sex) who wants more than you are able to give. Before long, it leads to resentment, and it can eat away at your peace of mind. Or worse.

    Any relationship that’s seriously imbalanced in any way is going to cause grief and frustration for both people. When one person cares more than the other, or wants more from the other person — or if your values are extremely different — it can be a struggle. As the other commenter noted, you need to have some boundaries and you need to stop allowing this guy (or anyone else) to manipulate you or guilt you into a relationship. If I were you, I would let this guy go and let him move on — before he becomes a stalker.

  6. DCFem says:

    Run, don’t walk away from this “friendship” — Run! This guy is emotionally manipulative and it’s no accident that he picked you to be his “rock” because he knows you hate to hurt peoples feelings. But you aren’t responsible for other peoples feelings. If he’s hurt because you are enforcing your boundaries so what? You have the right to live a life free of manipulation and psycho drama. Get away from this guy as fast as you can and hang out with your other friends. Hopefully you will be going to college soon and can put some physical distance between you and him and not just psychological and social distance. Also, tell your mom or another trusted female adult about his behavior. At some point, almost all women have had to deal with a guy who just won’t take no for an answer. They can help you stand your ground and cope with the fallout. Good luck.

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