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20 Non-Clingy Ways to Stop Being a Possessive Friend and Give Space

If you’ve been told you’re a clingy or possessive friend, well, that’s not a compliment. This is your window of opportunity to learn to become a better friend. 

Possessive Friend Signs

A couple of days ago, your friend sat you down and told you that you’re a possessive friend. Ouch. That stung. The good news is that it’s not the end of the world. They might have even helped you open the door in not just becoming a less clingy friend, but a better person entirely. 

No matter how much you love your friend, even if they’re your best friend in the entire world, they’re still entitled to having adequate space from you. As a possessive or clingy friend, you will suffocate them until you unintentionally push them away. 

Thankfully, you still have the chance to recognize your actions and choose to become better. You might have promised your friend that you’d become better, but how exactly will you do that? The thing about being a possessive friend is that you’re unaware you’re this kind of friend until someone tells you otherwise. 

[Read: Am I clingy? Here’s how to honestly know the truth about yourself]

Why do we become that possessive friend?

When our love and appreciation for our friends becomes too much, it’s possible to unintentionally depend on them completely for all our happiness, without meaning to. You might want your friend all for yourself, afraid they’re going to abandon or replace you if you don’t cling to them.

It’s also possible that you were traumatized by a friend who betrayed your trust in the past or ended up leaving you.

However, no matter how valid these reasons are, it still isn’t an excuse to suffocate someone with your friendship. More than these fears, the foundation of friendship is trust, respect, and love. You can’t love someone properly if you don’t trust that they won’t leave you and don’t respect their individuality. 

[Read: Am I codependent? 14 signs you’re clingy and rely on a friend for your happiness]

How to stop being the possessive friend

Telling yourself you’re going to change is different from actually doing the work. Despite all your instincts telling you to be clingy, you need to prove to yourself and others that you’re changing. 

[Read: Good friends are like stars – 18 ways to build lasting friendships]

Learning how to stop being a possessive friend isn’t about being perfect. You’re allowed to make mistakes and stumble along the way.

Sometimes, you’ll learn things about yourself you didn’t want to know. However, this is all a part of the journey of becoming the authentic you.

There are a few things you can do to stop being a clingy friend. Don’t worry, after this, you’ll learn to give your friends more space, and learn to experience healthier and better friendships as well.

1. Do some self-reflection

Now you were probably told you’re possessive by your friend, or by someone else. Or maybe someone dropped a hint or you heard some remark.

Self-reflection might feel uncomfortable, but it’s necessary if you want to change for the better. You’re off to a better start with the intent to become a less possessive friend.

The next step is to sit down and take a hard look in the mirror. Be introspective with yourself and look closely at your flaws, as difficult as this might seem. [Read: How to be less clingy and stop being called a Stage 5 Clinger by your friends]

2. Realize you don’t own your friend

This is the important thing to remember: you don’t own your friend. Your friend doesn’t have to stay joined at the hip all day. While it’s normal to feel attached to someone and you always want to spend time with them, remember that they’re their own person.

Acting like you own someone is what makes you a possessive and clingy friend in the first place, and this is the mentality you should be shaking off immediately. It’s not healthy and it’s not doing your friendship any good. At the end of the day, you are free people who decided to be friends, but that doesn’t mean your friend should now drop everything and everyone else just to be with you.

3. Get to know each other’s friends

Jealousy is one of the factors that contribute to being a possessive friend. To deal with this, getting to know each other’s extended circle of friends can be a great help. If you know who they’re spending their time with when they aren’t with you, this can make you feel more relaxed in becoming a less clingy friend.

You never know, you could end up liking their other friends and becoming friends too. It’s a win-win for everyone. [Read: Why am I so jealous? Understand it and learn to fix it]

4. Learn to trust your friend

Friendship, just like every other relationship, is all about trust so if you can’t trust them to live their independent lives without you, then why are you even friends with them?

You need to trust that no matter who or what they spend their time on, you’ll always be their friend. You must realize that possessiveness is often a sign of internal issues you’re projecting to your friend.

Do you think you’re so insignificant your friend would drop you the minute they meet someone else? Are you afraid of being alone? Are you trying to escape dealing with someone? Are you using your friend to fill a void in your life?

These questions can help you see the bigger picture behind being a possessive friend.  

5. Live your own life

Another way to stop being a clingy friend is to spend your time elsewhere other than obsessing over your friend. At the end of the day, you are two separate people with two different lives. Not only is this unhealthy, but co-dependent friendships never end well.

If you have nothing better to do than to smother your friend with your possessiveness, this is your chance to find new hobbies and interests to occupy your time with. [Read: Codependent friendships – The signs and why it’s really bad for you]

6. Practice self-awareness

Similar to self-reflection, it’s not easy to be aware of your actions and behavior. Self-awareness doesn’t manifest itself overnight, and it takes a lot of practice to be a less possessive friend. Change takes time and effort, and that’s okay.

The next time you’re tempted to get clingy, be aware of the pattern you’re trying to show. Are you clingy every time you’re bored, you’re dealing with something, or you’re lonely? Finding the pattern is a great way to be a less clingy friend. 

7. Don’t try to change them

This happens in every possessive relationship; one person is trying hard to change the other subtly. Here’s the problem: you can’t change your friend. It’s not your responsibility to change them or make them better – it doesn’t work that way.

The beautiful thing about friendships is that there’s a mutual acceptance of both individuals without trying to change one another. Accept your friends for who they are today rather than wanting to change them into who you want them to be. [Read: Do you understand and embody what it means to be a good person?]

8. Focus on being independent

It’s okay to lean on your friend from time to time, especially when you’re going through a rough time. However, they can’t help you with your life.

There’s a huge difference between leaning on them for support and being dependent on them entirely. This is why you need to be your own person outside the friendship – and to become a less possessive friend.

You should be able to live your life without being around your friend constantly, suffocating them. You don’t need your friend to help you decide what you’re going to wear that day or how you should reply to a text from a boy you like. Try to do these things yourself. 

9. Figure out your passions

Instead of spending all your free time being a clingy friend, you can spend it around the things you’re passionate about. If you don’t know what you love, you have all the time in the world to figure it out.

Paint a canvas, join a workshop, create new music, do something new. Whatever it is, the world is your oyster and you can do anything you want to try. Explore yourself and find the things that make you happy. [Read: How to stop being codependent and start living your own life]

10. Give each other space

Space isn’t necessarily a bad thing and you don’t always have to take it personally. You don’t need to talk to them for endless hours over the phone every day, and you’re entitled to having space. That time could be used to help you grow and become your own person instead.

You can use this time to go on adventures and find new interests instead of suffocating your friend constantly with your presence. This also gives you a lot to talk about when you do catch up and get together again. 

11. Be open to new possibilities 

The world has the capacity to bring you so many possibilities and opportunities. As long as you’re clinging to your friend, you won’t get to explore those possibilities and live your life. Life is all about change, and things will happen in your life that you least expect.

As the saying goes – the only constant thing in the world is change. You might not always talk to them, but this doesn’t make your friendship less valuable than it is. Don’t be afraid of change because it’s going to happen, whether you want it to or not. [Read: Are you envious? 15 bad signs of envious friends]

12. Respect your friend

Respect means everything in a friendship and it’s the key to becoming a less possessive friend. This means respecting their needs and wants, and that they’re entitled to their independent life without you. It’s easy to take this personally, but realize this has more to do with what they need rather than with you.

If you truly want to have a genuine friendship with this person, then respect your friend and vice versa. If you want them to stay your friend, you must respect them at all costs. 

You can’t just drop by their place when you know they’re busy, just because you’re bored. You can’t third wheel yourself into their date because you have nothing better to do. Of course, all of this is fun the first couple of times, but soon enough, it’s going to get really annoying for your friend to be disrespected this way. [Read: 24 truthful signs your friend doesn’t respect you or care enough]

13. Ask for help

Asking for help is never easy and this might just be the hardest point on this list. However, especially if being a possessive friend comes from your internal issues, it can be beneficial to ask for help from a professional. Therapy isn’t as bad as you think.

In fact, it’s a safe space to about your feeling without any judgment or criticism. Going to a therapist is a great way to find out the root of your problem and give you tools on how to handle the situation. You don’t need to do this alone.

14. Talk to your friend

Friendship is about having a safe space to talk to them about whatever you’re feeling and having them listen to you. If you open up about your struggles in being less of a clingy friend, they might understand you and give you a concrete piece of advice.

Make sure you are open about the issue and are not pointing fingers and blaming them. No friend would want to help you if you’re constantly blaming everyone around you but yourself. [Read: How to be mature and grow up and act like an adult]

15. Fight through your urges

Stalking through your friend’s social media accounts won’t help in being a less possessive friend. It might even trigger your need to cling to them and be around them constantly. You need to stay grounded in your independence and individuality outside the friendship.

No matter how much you love them, give them space and freedom to be who they are outside of you. By not giving in to possessiveness, you will grow. [Read: What makes a good friend? The art of honing your friendship skills]

16. Set firm boundaries

Being perceived as a less clingy friend is all about setting firm boundaries. When you have your own boundaries, there’s a better chance that you’ll likely respect theirs as well.

Setting boundaries can also help you not to depend on the relationship for your entire happiness, especially with the pressure that it comes with. Boundaries can help you keep the friendship healthy without the fear of suffocating them too much. [Read: How to set personal boundaries & guide other people to respect it]

17. Meet new people

Whether you’re an introvert or an extrovert, you have the choice of going out to meet new people. Realize that your entire world and happiness shouldn’t revolve around just one friend or one group of friends. You need to expand your circle and give yourself the opportunity of connecting with others.

The more friends you have, the less likely you’ll become a possessive friend. You’ll be spending your time with different groups of people and your attention span and focus won’t be on why a certain friend isn’t texting you back. 

18. Watch your thoughts

Your mind is the most powerful part of you, which means you need to watch your thoughts more carefully. Just because you think it, doesn’t automatically mean it’s true.  By changing your mindset and thoughts from negative to positive, you can better control your possessiveness.

Every action you take comes deeply from your thoughts, so if you want to be a less clingy friend, tackle it from your thoughts first. [Read: Is your negative thinking ruining your life?]

19. Let go of your past 

You may tend to cling to them because of an unfortunate event that happened in your past. Maybe a friend betrayed your trust or they abandoned you completely without any warning. As valid as these fears are, your past doesn’t equate to your present.

Your friend is a completely different individual from the one who betrayed you earlier, so you need to change that mindset entirely. [Read: How to let go of the past and be excited by the future]

20. Distract yourself

There are so many things you can do instead of being a possessive friend. Work on yourself, try a new hobby, travel the world, take a new class, follow the career of your dreams, go to a bookstore.

You don’t have to close yourself off from the world just to be near to your friend constantly. They’re not going to leave you just because you don’t communicate that often anymore – friendship isn’t conditional. [Read: How to set boundaries with friends without hurting or insulting them]

So, how do you stop being a clingy friend?

You stop suffocating them with your friendship by being your own person outside the friendship. As much as you love them, your happiness and joy should never depend on them solely.

You’re entitled to live your independent life and the same goes for them.

[Read: Am I a bad friend? The bad friendship skills that push people away from you]

Do you really want to stop being a clingy and possessive friend? If you see a few of the signs mentioned above in yourself, it might be time to change and become better. It will be challenging, but it’s a process that will benefit all the significant friendships and relationships in your life. 

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