When You're Being Clingy With a Friend

What to Do When You Are Too Needy

Troubled woman in contemplation
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Being clingy means that overall you have a habit of calling friends too frequently, wanting to hang out all the time, being jealous when they spend time with others, or being insecure and in need of emotional reassurance constantly.

Clingy behavior makes it impossible to have a true friendship. That's because one person is not respecting the boundaries of the other or acting fake because they are afraid of losing the friendship. When one friend is clingy, it puts a strain on the relationship, causing tension that will ultimately end things for good.

Why Is Being Clingy a Bad Thing

Good friendships can only develop if both people are independent and "whole" people on their own, meaning that they have opinions and likes already when they come into the friendship. They don't need another person to "complete them," but instead enjoy the company of friends because it adds to their life. 

When both people feel safe in the friendship (meaning that they enjoy the amount of togetherness and alone time they have), they will be more authentic (and act like themselves, freely comfortable with their true personality) and therefore able to give and receive as equal individuals. This is the best version of friendship, when people learn and grow from each other but do not lose their individuality. 

But if one friend is clingy, there is an imbalance. One friend is making the other uncomfortable and the two aren't able to share in an equal give and take. Typically the clingy friend will want (demand, beg for) more time together, and being angry or whiny when the other friend can't devote the time. The clingy friend will also need more emotional assurance from the other friend about things in their life, like their appearance or job prospects. The clingy friend saps the energy from the other friend because they not only take more than they give, they insist that things be on their terms (meaning that the other friend cannot say no easily.)

This does not mean that the clingy friend is dominant or demanding, it means that they aren't respecting the boundaries of the relationship and therefore not being a real friend. Clingy people are often passive aggressive and have people pleasing tendencies. 

If You Are the Clingy Friend

If you know that you need more interaction than your friend, you may come off clingy to them. However, if you were friends with someone else, your need to be together may suit them just fine. So it's important to understand what your friend feels comfortable with and respect their wishes. 

Clingy behavior may be temporary, especially if you have been under stress, had your best friend move away, or had a major life change. In this case, your friend should be able to understand your need for togetherness and help you through it.

If your friendship is new, however, and you immediately want to be with your pal 24/7, it could mean that there are other issues in your life. Healthy friendships are not threatened when one person has other friends, so if you are feeling constantly left out or that your friends don't give you the time you need, ask yourself:

  • Is this person perhaps not really as good a friend as I imagine?
  • Is our friendship one-sided, with me doing most of the nurturing?
  • Do I have codependent issues I need to work through?
  • Have I had self-esteem issues that are playing into this?

If you answered yes to these questions, then you need to dump some emotional baggage before you can have a balanced friendship.

Sometimes apologies can help acknowledge bad behavior, but in the case of clinginess you need to change your behavior before saying you're sorry will help things. If you have been clingy with a friend, it's not enough to apologize, you actually have to do something about it before your friend will feel comfortable again. 

If Your Friend Is Clingy

If your friend is the one clinging to you, I've got some advice here. People have a tendency to end a friendship with someone clingy, but you don't need to. There are ways to manage it and re-establish your boundaries so you feel comfortable with this friend and enjoy spending time together.