I have been friends with my best friend for over 6 years now. We have gone through a lot together and have become extremely close over the years. As we have gotten older, our lifestyles have changed. I am dating more seriously than she is which is causing conflict. She has become more clingy than usual and is dependent on our friendship. If I have plans that don’t include her, tension arises and it becomes awkward. I feel like I have enabled her for too long. How do I talk to her without hurting her feelings? We are both young adults and I feel like she needs to learn how to depend more on herself instead of others…especially me. I don’t want to lose our friendship, but I also want to be able to hang out with other people and date without feeling the need to have her tag along. What should I do?
Sincerely, I Need Space
Dear I Need Space,
I can understand how hard of a position this puts you in. I feel like more times than not, we can all relate to this situation. Finding a best friend who is independent can sometimes be hard to find, especially if you guys have grown up together from teenager to young adult. I think the best thing you can do for both of you is to just sit down and talk it out. Do not come from a place of attacking her. Simply ask questions as to what is going on in her life. How is she feeling now that you are dating? How does she feel when you hang out without her? Make it all about her. IF she is a good friend and she hears her answers all revolve around herself and her happiness, she will have a little bit of a light bulb moment and hopefully realize how her needs are impacting you negatively. Now, sometimes this doesn’t happen, so you may need to take on the role of a therapist and gently allow her to see how she is dependent on you. I know this sounds like more work for you, but we are hoping she will realize that she is too needy and change. With that, the conversation will either be beneficial to both of you, or you will realize she is a little too immature and maybe some time apart is best. Either way, approach her with caution and care and let her know you love her dearly, but that you are trying to grow and expand your life and she needs to help you do that. Sometimes friends are clingy because they are insecure and going through some mental roadblocks. Keep that in mind, but don’t lose yourself in the process.
Good luck and let us know how it goes!