How to deal with needy friends? Dealing with clingy friends is difficult because you would ideally want them to stop their needy behavior without risking your friendship.
It is complicated because you don't want to seem rude by not picking up calls, not replying to texts and using lame excuses to avoid meeting such people. This post discusses how you can keep a needy friend at arm's lengths without making him or her feel bad.
1) Don't reply to text messages immediately
Ward off the urgency in your needy friend's behavior by deliberately delaying your reply to text messages. Wait at least an hour before you send your reply and don't give any excuses for replying late.
In the meanwhile if your needy friend calls and asks why you haven't replied yet, say that you were busy with something important. This should send a strong signal that you have other priorities in your life.
2) Don't feel obliged to pick up all calls from your needy friend: Call back later
If you are doing something important when your needy friend calls you the next time, don't feel obliged to pick it up. Let it go on to voice mail. If it is something urgent, your friend will leave a message.
Not picking up calls is just another way to show your clingy buddy that you are not free all the time as per his or her convenience. A couple of unanswered calls should be enough to send a subtle message.
3) Stop putting yourself in your needy friend's shoes
If you are always putting yourself in your friend's shoes, you are making one of the most common mistakes people make while dealing with clingy personalities.
It is a good thing to be concerned about other people but there is a fine line between being nice and being nice to the extent where others take advantage of you. Don't cross this line. This could be the reason why your friend has become clingy in the first place.
4) Don't feel guilty if you can't hang out with your needy friend
Most people succumb to the whims and fancies of a needy friend because they feel terribly guilty if they can't hang out with them. This feeling of guilt is totally unnecessary.
Every time you have pangs of guilt, remind yourself that other people won't hang out with you if they don't want to. So there is no reason why you should feel guilty in doing the same thing. This little self-help thought will make you mentally stronger and help you avoid becoming gullible.
5) Say no: Don't worry about the consequences of a No
Next time you find yourself doing something that you don't want to do simply because you are concerned about the consequences that follow a refusal, take a deep breath and think of the following.
- What is the worst that can go wrong if I say no
- Do other people think before saying no to you
These questions will make you realize that all crazy thoughts in your head and the fear of saying no are virtually baseless. Everyone has their own preferences and choices, and so do you. If you don't want to entertain your needy friend's requests, put your foot down and say no.
6) Introduce your needy friend to another friend
A cheeky way to deal with a needy friend is to introduce him or her to one of your other friends who is equally clingy. Play a dotting matchmaker and introduce the two like-minded personalities when you casually hang out somewhere.
If all goes as per plan, the two will hit it off instantly. As days and weeks go by, subtly start withdrawing your presence and let the two new besties deal with each others' needy ways.
7) Tell your needy friend about how you hang out with your other friends
Tell your needy friend that you can't hang out because you have already made plans with some of your other friends. Do this a couple of times in a row. It should be enough to let your friend know that you are not exclusive.
This excuse comes at the risk of annoying your needy friend. He or she may feel insulted because you are choosing to hang out with someone else. This is a risk you must take if you are firm about setting the boundaries in your friendship.
8) Keep yourself busy: Take your mind away from your toxic friendship
Toxic friendships with people who are clingy can take be tough on you from an emotional perspective. Such relationships will bog you down with the stress of having to avoid someone's calls and having to lie to people about your unavailability.
The easiest way to deal with the negative vibe around such a friendship is to keep yourself busy. Immerse yourself into work or studies. Do something that is highly productive and highly engaging. It will help you take your mind away from the drama associated with dealing with a clingy personality.
9) Let your needy friend know about your busy schedule: Being upfront about your priorities
Some people just don't understand subtle signs and you have to spell it out for them. If this sounds like your needy friend, you may have to take the risk of sounding a little rude and being upfront about your priorities and commitments.
For example, you can directly tell your friend that you are burdened with extra classes at uni for the next couple of weeks. Leave no room for misunderstanding and be direct as you tell your friend that you will not get even a single minute to hang out together.
10) Use travel as an excuse to have the friend back off instantly for longer periods
If you and your friend are not in the same college, school or office, use traveling as a quick and easy excuse to ward off the needy behavior for longer periods of time.
For example, tell your friend that you are traveling interstate. This will make you unavailable for the next couple of months. In the meanwhile, if you happen to bump into your needy buddy, keep a poker face and say that you had to fly down urgently because someone in your family wasn't well.
This is not a permanent solution to your friend's needy behavior. But it is an instant fix and an easy way to stay away from someone if you have important things like college exams or increasing workload during end of financial year coming your way.
11) Drop subtle hints: Tell your friend how you hate people who are clingy
Give your needy friend some food for thought by actually telling him or her how you hate people who are clingy. Subtly weave this in your regular conversations so that your friend can do some introspection.
For example, suppose your friend is telling you gossip about a couple's relationship problems where one of the partners is getting excessively needy. Instantly say 'Don't you hate it when people get clingy, it is hard because you can't tell them to back off directly, can you?' Change your voice tone to lay emphasis on the latter part of this sentence.
The sudden shift in your tone will be enough to grab your friend's attention. If said at the right time and in the right way, your subtle message should make your friend reflect upon his or her own behavior.
12) Set your priorities straight: Decide on the future of your friendship
There comes a point in all relationships when you have to put take stock and decide if the problems are worth tolerating. Sooner or later, you will have to take this heartbreaking decision for your friendship too. Here are some of the things you should consider before ending your friendship.
- Are your friend's needy ways affecting you emotionally
- Do you feel that your friend has taken you for granted and he or she is becoming pushier day by day
- Have you tried your best to set boundaries in your friendship
- Have you exhausted every possible ways to try to get around this annoying behavior
- Is your friendship worth saving
Thinking about these things will give you more clarity and help you take a firm stance. Always remember that friendships once broken can never be the same again.
Girl on March 06, 2020:
Hmm... a lot of excuses being used a solution. I would like to know how to deal with it in an honest way, since it is concerning one of my best friends who can be quiet needy. So for instance how to handle a short break in contact.
John on November 19, 2019:
That was actually really helpful! Thanks!