The Help Line

Q: One of my friends is very clingy. She always assumes that she’s included in whatever plans I make. This makes me want to lie about what I’m doing for the weekend or be really vague. I hate doing this, but I also don’t like her leeching into my social life. I like hanging out with her, but I also want my separate friends. How do I explain this to her without hurting her feelings?

A: There’s no easy way to do this. You can either suffer in silence for the remainder of the year and let your resentment fester, or you can be honest and talk to your friend. Keep in mind that leeches cling when they have low self-esteem and are scared that they will lose their host should their grip loosen; it’s a survival tactic. The irony of the situation is that this leeching mechanism usually chases friends away, convincing the leech that friends will continue to run away if given any space. The best way to break this vicious cycle is to explain how you feel. Be gentle about it – tell her that you sometimes want to do things with other friends, just as you sometimes want to do things solely with her. Make it clear that you truly like having her as a friend and that you’re not going anywhere – and then make plans, just the two of you. Hopefully she will understand, and you’ll finally have some room to breathe. If that doesn’t work, however, and she tries to invite herself to something again, simply say, “Oh, but I thought I was seeing you Saturday to go shopping?” That should give her the message.

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