I’m an independent person who values a few precious moments of alone time every day. Yet somehow I’ve attracted the attention of a very, very needy friend.
I met “Jennifer” through a mutual friend, who moved out of state a couple of months ago. Ever since our friend left, Jennifer has latched onto me with a BFF death-grip. She calls me every single day, just to chat about how her day went, and wants to stay on the phone forever. She tries to make plans to go out for drinks every weekend, sometimes twice in one weekend. She comments on every post I make on Facebook, and she even sends me instant messages all day while I’m at work.
Jennifer is a nice person, and I enjoyed her company, at first. But I’m beginning to feel smothered. Unfortunately, I’m way too nice to her face. I have a hard time telling anyone “no,’ and I’m probably sending her the wrong signals. Not to mention that Jennifer is newly single after a harsh break-up, and I think her clinginess may be her way of coping. How can push Jennifer away without hurting her?
— Smothered Friend
We’ve all had a friend or two with no concept of boundaries. A clingy friend, especially one that you don’t want to hurt, can be a tough person to shake. But for your own happiness, you’ve got to pry this woman away.
Though I’d feel sorry for any guy she may date, getting Jennifer a new beau may be the answer. If she hasn’t started dating again, you should try and push her in that direction. Boost her confidence with compliments, and take out her out on the prowl. Or help Jennifer get started with an online dating service. If you manage to help her nab a man, perhaps she’ll divert all that overwhelming attention his way instead of yours.
Then again, if you don’t find Jennifer a guy, this plan could backfire, leaving her even more attached to you. She may view your desire to help her as some kind of best friend move. You may need a plan B.
That’s where the old “I have to stay home and wash my hair” excuse comes in (remember when Kelly always used that line on Saved By the Bell?). The next time Jennifer invites you out for drinks, tell her you’re planning a quiet night at home alone. Explain that just as she needs lots of friend time, you must have some private time to maintain sanity. Learning to say “no” will be an important lesson for you anyway.
When she instant messages you, just ignore it. If she asks later why you haven’t been responding, explain that you were taking a work call or in a meeting. Finally, when you do go out on the town with Jennifer, bring a group of other women along. Maybe she’ll find another lady in your posse to cling to, and then she can become someone else’s problem.
Got a problem? E-mail Bianca at firstname.lastname@example.org.