Ask Sophia: Clingy People (Boyfriends, Friends, Etc)
This week's Ask Sophia is going to be a 2 in 1 type moment because I think that both of these situations can be handled in a similar way.
Q: “There's this girl at my school. She thinks we are bff's. WE'RE NOT. She is so annoying because she will also make unnecessary comments about people. And she is SO negative towards herself. She just gets so annoying and clingy.” - Anonymous
Q: “Hey! I’ve been friends with this guy for a really long time and we’ve been dating for a little over a month. He’s a little bit too needy for me and a little shy. I’m going to break up with him but our friendship means a lot to me and I don’t know how he’s going to take it.” - Anonymous
A: We ALL were the ‘chaser girl’ at some point - wanting to be better friends with someone than they did with us. I can also give you a few examples where I felt like others were kind of clingy and it irritated me. The ideal 50-50 relationships are hard to come by and middle/high school cliques are the epitome of exclusivity. While I could go on and on about being the ‘clingy’ friend or ‘chaser girl’, these posts are more from the perspective of wanting to get rid of these people (in the nicest way possible).
The first, most important thing to consider is the person's best qualities. Do these more preferable qualities outweigh the undesirable qualities this person possesses? While they might be clingy, they may still be super trustworthy, have an amazing sense of humor, be a great listener, or stick up for you like no one else does (or in the case of a boyfriend, attracts you for their good looks). Being clingy is not the worst possible trait and it’s very fixable, so if this friendship has more pros than cons… I think salvaging this relationship won't be too difficult. On the other hand, this person might always direct the conversation back to themselves, have little empathy, talk behind your back, or intervene on your personal life… in this case, maybe a bit of distance would be most healthy for you.
Let’s talk about the source of their clinginess. In my experience, it comes from a hidden insecurity in the relationship. People act clingy when the other party in the relationship seems less invested in it than you are. It’s really easy to convince ourselves that calling someone more often than they call you or over exaggerating your connection to them will make up for their lack of effort. In reality, you’re not reading the cues and I hate to say it because I’ve been in this position but it just comes off annoying. Why? I’ve been wondering this same thing for a very long time and that's a whole other post.
How you can deal with this person:
You might have tried small, little ways to distance yourself from someone by being a bit more dry and less responsive. While pulling away could be one tactic, I think ghosting people who really care about you is mean, immature, and will probably draw them in even more because that fuels their insecurities. I think the safe option on your end is to explain to them that you’re very busy and can’t talk as much as they call you or admit that you can’t hangout because you have plans with someone else. Do your best to be honest and be straightforward but in a kind, gentil way. It’s ok to not want to be friends with everyone and maybe you like your little circle of friends and aren’t looking to expand on that… just try to put yourself in the other girls shoes and know that they are very desperate for your approval and attention.
Be more head on…
In the case of a friend who is starting to get on your nerves with her negativity (and clinginess), these are obvious signs of the holes in her own self esteem and she is looking to you to reassure her. Reassuring a friend and ceasely reminding them to be confident can be tiresome and a strain on you, especially if you are dealing with your own issues too. A first stab at alleviating some of this clinginess with a friend or boyfriend is by INTENTIONALLY giving them the reassurance they are seeking once and for all.
Friend - “Girl, you ARE beautiful! Stop shaming yourself. Would you call me ugly? Your daughter ugly? Ok so stop it then! If you do it again, I’m going to be mad at you. Queen energy only.” OR “Hey! I know you want to hang out this weekend but I just made other plans a few days back. Let's plan something for next week.”
Boy - “I’m SO glad that I’m your girlfriend and I am very lucky to have you. I want you to know that I do have a lot going on with school and friends and I understand that there's a pressure to devote every second to each other but I’m not at a point where I can’t constantly be thinking about US. I want to assure you that I do care a lot about our relationship but I do need my space and I hope you can appreciate that.
If these conversations don’t work, then you might just have to break things off.
Also here’s my take on breaking up with a guy you want to stay friends with: Is it possible to rectify a friendship after a more romantic relationship? I think so maybe. Definitely give each other some time and then build up to a friendship again much later on when you’ve each had your space to reflect on everything. I can assume there's definitely going to be a period of awkwardness and trying to pretend like things will be perfect again is unrealistic.