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Clingy Friend: What Makes Them & 22 Easy Ways to Fix the Friendship

If you have a clingy friend, it can be maddening and frustrating. So, what should you do to handle this friendship? Here are some tips for you to follow.

clingy friend

Just like boyfriends or girlfriends, platonic friends can also be clingy. A clingy friend can put a lot of pressure and stress on your friendship. It can exhaust you mentally, emotionally, and even physically.

Yes, we should always be there for our friends, but when you have a clingy friend, those lines get blurred. No one can be someone’s everything. Your clingy friend cannot expect you to fill every void or fulfill every need. In the same way, you can’t expect a romantic partner to be everything you need.

When this does happen and a clingy friend gets out of hand, it can be daunting. You don’t want to hurt their feelings or let them down, but you need to put your own mental health and wellness first.

[Read: 20 signs a friend is using you and subtly making you an unhappy person]

What is a clingy friend?

A clingy friend is someone who just doesn’t respect the boundaries of natural friendship. They don’t understand that both friends need to willingly show interest in spending time together or investing in the relationship.

At first, it may seem like they’re overenthusiastic and eager to get closer to you and stick around. But when they don’t accept no as an answer when you subtly hint that you need some space from them *or want them to back away*, that’s when their true clinginess appears.

They just don’t seem to take no for an answer, and they don’t ever seem to realize or care *intentionally or unintentionally* that you’re actually asking them to back away because you can’t invest so much time into the friendship with them.

What makes clingy friends so bad to have around?

A clingy friend can range from someone who over-texts to someone that manipulates and gaslights you. It can be a friend that guilts you into spending time with them or even tries to sabotage your happiness so you can be miserable together.

They may expect you to answer every text and phone call immediately. They may get jealous if you go out without them or don’t include them in your plans.

This person is often very self-conscious and needs a lot of reassurance. Even if they behave like they are confident, it may be an act. Of course, a clingy friend isn’t always malicious or purposeful with their poor behavior. They could be lonely or depressed and in need of human connection and attention.

However, it is not your job to be this person’s rock. You can be there for them as you would any other friend.

But, when you have a clingy friend, not only is the relationship often one-sided and unbalanced, but it is also wildly unhealthy and dysfunctional. [Read: What is an energy vampire? 20 signs your friend is clearly one]

The psychology of a clingy friend

What makes someone clingy? Well, it can be any number of things. However, the chances are that they probably had a traumatic experience *or many* growing up.

Perhaps their parents were not very attentive and didn’t give them very much love. They might not have been able to count on them, and they might have been in and out of their life. This makes them anxious with a tendency to cling on to other people.

They also could have had a bad experience with other people in their lives, such as a romantic relationship or other friendships. These incidents make them insecure in other relationships. So, they feel a need to hold on tight to people so they don’t lose them. [Read: How to stop being clingy and 19 ways to gain self-confidence]

Why do I attract clingy friends?

Again, there could be many reasons. But the biggest possibility is that you’re just a really nice person. You probably listen to them and make them feel loved and liked.

That’s great, isn’t it? Congratulations for being such a wonderful person! But of course, the consequences of being so nice aren’t always fun to deal with. So, you probably need to know what to do about a clingy friend! [Read: How to set personal boundaries and guide other people to respect them]

What to do about a clingy friend

Many people have seen and experienced all sorts of clingy friends. They are all hard to deal with. This person is your friend, after all. You know they are a good person and you may like having them around, but too much of anyone can become a hardship.

How do you let them down easily without hurting their feelings? How can you get a clingy friend to pull back without rejecting them?

This is a very delicate situation. When you aren’t sure why your clingy friend is so needy, you may feel the need to tiptoe around the topic. 

You may even be prone to fibbing about your plans to avoid them. Not only does this add to any guilt they may be putting on you, but it doesn’t help the overall situation. [Read: Ghosting a friend and the scenarios when it’s okay to do that]

Dealing with a clingy friend requires open communication, patience, and some blunt honesty. And if that isn’t quite specific enough, try these methods to help you deal with a clingy friend.

1. Don’t ghost or avoid them

If you’re wondering how to ghost a clingy friend or wondering if it’s okay to ghost them, you should know that this seems like the easy thing to do when you have a clingy friend. You hope if you stop answering their texts and start canceling plans, they’ll figure it out. The thing is, that is super disrespectful and not something any decent friend would do.

Clingy or not, this person is your friend. If you avoid them or ghost them, you are only ensuring that they remain needy and clingy and struggle to find confidence. [Read: 20 non-possessive ways to teach a friend to stop being so needy and possessive]

2. Don’t gossip about them

It can be easy to get annoyed when you have a clingy friend. You feel guilty and overwhelmed. You want to vent, but if you share your feelings at the moment, it can lead to gossip that can get back to them and make things worse.

Instead of talking to others about your clingy friend, talk to them.

3. Talk to them about their life

When you hang out or talk, what do you talk about? Do you talk about random things? Do you talk about your life? Are they intrigued by everything you do like they’re living vicariously through you?

Talk to them about what is going on with them. Ask about their life. Maybe they are clingy because of their fear of rejection or a lack of attention at home. You never know what’s going on with a clingy friend. [Read :15 types of toxic friends that make you miserable and drag you down]

4. Are they adding to your life? 

It can suck to end a friendship, especially when you feel like they need you, but you must put your happiness first. If this friend isn’t adding to your life regardless of their clinginess, it may be time to rethink the friendship.

Is this someone you want to sort things out with or distance yourself from? [Read: Do you have a toxic friend who brings unhappiness to your life?]

5. When was the last time you enjoyed your time together? 

Maybe your clingy friend is a bother when you’re at work or with your significant other, but when you’re with them, do you have a good time? Is there still a healthy foundation for your friendship?

If so, you can get back to that in time. If not, you may want to think about whether this friendship is worth it. If hanging out with your clingy friend feels one-sided or like they are guilting or manipulating you, it has crossed a line.

6. Don’t give in to the guilt

Learn to say no when needed. If you are with your family or other friends, you don’t need to leave to give your clingy friend your undivided attention. When you are with this friend, you can focus on them, but don’t let them control your thoughts or behavior when they’re not around. 

A decent friend will want you to have a full and well-rounded life, not one that revolves around them. [Read: Selfish friends – How to recognize them and stop them from taking so much]

7. Let them know how you feel

Talk to your clingy friend about how their behavior is making you feel. Don’t accuse them of anything. Instead, use I-messages.

Say something like, “I feel guilty when you text me all day and I don’t have the time to respond,” or “I feel worried when you seem to need me all the time, is something going on?” Don’t make them feel bad for their behavior, just help them be aware of it and how it makes you feel.

Let them know you’re there for them if they need to talk about something. But you have other friends and obligations that also need your attention. [Read: How to stop being so needy – Why people become clingy in the first place]

8. Ask them if there is something they need to talk about

Once you let them know how you feel about their behavior, ask them about why they think they are being such a clingy friend.

You may not be a therapist, but you might be able to help your friend work through whatever is causing their behavior.

9. Set boundaries

Make it clear to your clingy friend that you want to remain friends and be in their life. They should understand that you have other people in your life that also need your time and attention. Make plans and stick to them, but you don’t have to text at all hours. [Read: Helpful tips for setting boundaries with difficult people in your life]

10. Check-in

Make sure you are checking in and being there for your friend as you would with anyone else. See how things are going for them. Are they making other friends or dating? Are they working on their confidence or enjoying their time alone?

11. Don’t get angry

It’s so easy to get angry and frustrated with your clingy friend. After all, they are very annoying and don’t make your life too pleasant.

But, you don’t know why they are clingy. Maybe there is something in their childhood that caused them to be that way. Try to have a little compassion and empathy instead of anger.

12. Introduce them to other people

If you want to get your clingy friend off your back, then introduce them to other people you know. The more people they meet, the more possibility there is that they will go and cling to someone else.

If you know someone else who is also clingy, then introduce the clingy people to each other. They would be a perfect match! [Read: How to meet new people – 16 ways to find an exciting new crowd]

13. Say no

If your friend is always asking you to do things with them, learn to say no. Just because they want to see you all the time doesn’t mean you have to. Sure, you might feel guilty, but saying no to them will hopefully send the message that you want to.

14. Don’t reply to texts immediately

Everyone knows this trick, right? When you wait hours – or even a day or two – to respond to someone’s texts, you are telling them that they are not a priority for you.

You’re not doing it to be mean, but it will let them know that you are not as eager to talk to them as they are to talk to you. 

15. Take your time to return phone calls 

Similar to waiting to return texts, do the same with their phone calls. You might even want to tell them that you are not a “phone person” and so you will take a while to call them back.

This also sends the message that they are not as important to you. [Read: 18 serious warnings of a clingy guy and how you can avoid this type of guy]

16. Get off the phone quickly

If you do have to talk on the phone, try to stand your ground and get them off the phone quickly. You might even tell them at the beginning of the conversation that you don’t have long to talk because you’re really busy. If you don’t do this, then you could be on the phone for hours with them if you allow it.

17. Stop feeling sorry for them

Maybe you do know why they are clingy. Perhaps they had neglectful parents and are trying to seek love from other people. But just because that happened to them doesn’t mean you need to fill the hole in their hearts with love.

You can feel sorry for them to a point, but not so much that you compromise your own happiness.

18. Don’t worry about the consequences of saying no

You might feel guilty about saying no too often. Of course, you want to be seen as a good person and friend. So, you might worry that you will hurt their feelings or the friendship as a whole. But you can’t get too worked up or upset about that. Just be true to yourself. [Read: How to say no – Stop pleasing people and feel awesome instead]

19. Talk about plans with other friends

If your friend is clingy, then they want to make you the center of their universe. They want your attention too – at the expense of others.

So, make an attempt to talk about all your other friends and that you are hanging out with the clingy friend. This will let the clingy friend know that you have a life and friends outside of your friendship with them.

20. Let them know how busy you are

Whenever you do talk to them, you need to let them know how busy your life is. Talk about the stress at work, the family commitments you have, and the projects around the house that you have to do. That way, the clingy friend will get the idea that you really don’t have much time for them.

They might ignore that message, but at least you can say things like, “remember that I am busy that day? Sorry I can’t hang out.” [Read: How to set boundaries with friends without hurting or insulting them]

21. Drop hints

This is an indirect way of dealing with it. But, you can talk about how much you hate clingy people. You can use examples of other people you know in your life that aren’t independent and how much it bothers you.

If they’re smart, they will figure out that the hints you’re dropping also apply to them.

22. Decide if you want to continue the friendship

If you’ve tried everything you can to keep your clingy friend at arms’ length but nothing is working, then you have to have a serious talk with yourself.

Do you even want to keep this person in your life? If they are not adding anything good, then should you even continue with the friendship? This is a question that only you can answer.

[Read: Do you have broken bird syndrome? How to be empathetic with boundaries]

Figuring out how to deal with a clingy friend can be hard to balance. You want to be there for them but also need your space. The good thing is, you can have both if you use these tips.

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