How to Gently Dispense a Sticky "Friend": 15 Steps

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How to Gently Dispense a Sticky "Friend": 15 Steps
How to Gently Dispense a Sticky "Friend": 15 Steps

It's nice to spend time with friends, but we all have limits when it comes to how much time we spend with others. Do you have a friend who demands too much attention from you? This can be a serious problem within friendship. Before breaking up with him, it might be a good idea to assess the seriousness of the problem and find out what is behind it. You can also talk to the person to set clear boundaries and make the friendship more productive for both of you. If nothing else works, it's time to cut ties anyway. Come on?


Part 1 of 3: Focusing on your needs

'Gently Dump a Clingy "Friend" Step 1

Step 1. Assess the severity of the problem

Before sitting down with your friend and worrying about the situation, try to really assess the relationship honestly. Is your friend clingy only occasionally, or does he want your attention all the time? The severity and frequency of the behavior are the things that will decide what next step to take.

  • It's possible he's having a serious problem and needs a little extra attention. In that case, the problem should resolve itself over time.
  • If the need for attention is constant, it's a good idea to set limits on friendship.
'Gently Dump a Clingy "Friend" Step 2

Step 2. Don't make excuses

As much as this is a good short-term solution, it's tiring to make up stories so you don't see your friend. Whenever possible, don't do this! If you don't want to go out with someone, it's better to be direct. Thus, you will make the other understand their limits and their needs more clearly.

  • Don't pretend you have an appointment just so you don't go out with a friend.
  • Eventually you'll get tired of making excuses. The direct approach is actually more effective.
'Gently Dump a Clingy "Friend" Step 3

Step 3. Assess the situation

If your friend is really pushing the limits of need and emotional need, you need to deal with that. A good friendship is like a two-way street, in which both give and both receive. If your friend receives a lot but doesn't give anything back, it's a good idea to talk about how you feel and what you need.

  • Tell him you feel he is demanding too much of you.
  • A real friend will listen and give you the time and space you need.
  • Your well-being is important and should not be neglected because of the needs of others.
'Gently Dump a Clingy "Friend" Step 4

Step 4. Don't feel guilty

Thinking about your personal needs and putting them above your friend's can make you feel guilty or selfish. Remember, it's okay to think about friendship and her problems. Realizing that there is nothing wrong with thinking about your needs within a relationship will help you avoid guilt.

  • Always remember that your needs are just as important as each other's.
  • It's also a good idea to remember that good friendships should make both parties feel good about the relationship.
'Gently Dump a Clingy "Friend" Step 5

Step 5. Think about what you want to do

Do you believe friendship can be saved? Do you think there's no way to continue? All good! Depending on the other's needs, you will need to choose between mending the relationship or putting an end to it once and for all.

  • Think about everything you've done to resolve the situation. Have you talked to your friend about your needs? Have you tried other strategies to distance yourself? Did it work? Did it work just a little bit? Did nothing go right?
  • Assess how you feel about the friendship. If it wears you out and you find it stressful to go out with your friend, you had better put an end to it.
  • Would seeing your friend once a week, or twice a month, be enough to make things better? Would it be better to end the friendship? Only you can answer these questions!

Part 2 of 3: Getting some space

'Gently Dump a Clingy "Friend" Step 6

Step 1. Introduce your friend to new people

Are you the only person close to that person's life? So it's easy to understand why she wants to spend so much time this close! Introduce her to new people who can make her feel more connected and have other friendships. This will be a good way for you to keep your relationship healthy, without that toxic closeness.

  • You can get together in the middle of a larger group so that your friend can get to know other people.
  • Ask your other friends to spend time with him.
  • If you say you're busy and can't go out with him, suggest he meet someone you two know.
'Gently Dump a Clingy "Friend" Step 7

Step 2. Only make plans that you are comfortable with

Don't feel pressured to find your friend if you don't want to. Whenever making plans, it's important that they are fun and fit your schedule. When meeting a friend, the hangout should be good for both of you.

  • Don't be pressured to go to a place or go out at a time you don't want to. If you don't feel like meeting your friend, say something like "Oh, it won't happen. Could it be another day?"
  • It's also a good idea to set some basic limits. For example, let's say you want to go to a movie once a month with your friend, but he wants to go every week. A good way to approach this limit would be to say something like, "I enjoy watching movies with you, but I only have the time and money to go to the movies once a month. How about we go on the first Friday of every month?"
'Gently Dump a Clingy "Friend" Step 8

Step 3. Let him know which days are convenient for you

If the friend calls or sends messages all the time, it is necessary to say on which days and times he can contact you. It doesn't matter if you're busy with work or if you're doing something else, it doesn't matter. You may also just not want to talk to him or go out with him. Those are your rights!

When you're free, let him know. For example, you could simply say something like, "I'm very busy on Mondays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays, so it can be difficult to talk on those days. You can call me Tuesday after 7pm and any time on the weekend!"

'Gently Dump a Clingy "Friend" Step 9

Step 4. Encourage him to seek help

It's possible that your friend is sticky because he's suffering from a problem he can't handle on his own. He may have issues with his parents, a medical condition, or something else he doesn't want to face. Spending more time with you is perhaps the only form of distraction he has.

  • Talk to him seriously to find out if anything is making him so needy and sticky: "I noticed you're spending a lot more time with me. Is everything okay?"
  • If he opens up and says he is having a problem, encourage him to talk to a therapist or psychologist. For example, you could say something like, "Wow, it sounds too complicated. I think you might want to talk to a professional who can help you."
'Gently Dump a Clingy "Friend" Step 10

Step 5. Confront your friend

If he doesn't deal well with less attention or the fact that you need some time alone, then confrontation is inevitable. Find him in a neutral place where you'll be able to chat without interruption to make it clear how you feel and explain what you need.

  • You don't have to be aggressive or rude, but it's important to focus on sincerity and be direct.
  • Speak in a friendly, understanding tone. The idea is to air your feelings, but be empathetic with your friend.
  • Speak in the first person to explain how you feel. Try not to talk about how you see your friend's behavior. The focus must be on you!
  • An example of speech: "I like your company a lot, but I need some time for myself. I think we should see each other less for a while."

Part 3 of 3: Cutting Ties

'Gently Dump a Clingy "Friend" Step 11

Step 1. Identify your space requirements

To get some peace of mind, it's good to start by setting clear boundaries. This may end up irritating your friend, but you will reinforce your self-respect. First of all, you need to identify your personal needs.

  • Think about how much time alone you need to be happy? How often does your friend interfere at these times?
  • Think about how you would like your friend's behavior to change. What kinds of things did you want him to do less or stop altogether? Send messages? Turn on? Knock on your door without telling you you were leaving?
'Gently Dump a Clingy "Friend" Step 12

Step 2. Explain your limits well

You need to be very clear when it comes to reporting things that are acceptable and unacceptable to you. That way, the two of you will be able to express how you feel about the friendship and find out if it's possible to continue or not. Be honest and kind when setting boundaries, remembering also to be understanding.

  • If your friend always invites himself to events you've planned on your own, say something like, "I love doing things with you, but I already had plans for today. Let's see you another time, okay?"
  • If the person calls or texts you at an inconvenient time, you need to explain what you would like them to do. For example, you could say something like, "I love talking to you, but it's hard to pay enough attention to our conversations during work hours. Can you call me after work, like around 7pm?"
  • If your friend gets annoyed or fills your inbox if you don't receive an immediate response, for example, say something like "Look, I like receiving messages, but I can't always respond right away. While waiting for a response, you may not bombard me with other things?"
  • For your friend to respect your privacy, whether at home or on the street, try saying something like "I really want to see you, but it's not always convenient to get home unannounced. You can text or call me before you come to see if I am free?".
'Gently Dump a Clingy "Friend" Step 13

Step 3. Be Direct

The conversation is going to be difficult anyway, and it's tempting to make exceptions or talk in a way that doesn't express your feelings or needs accurately. Always speak clearly and directly when you want to communicate your need for more personal space.

  • Don't change your mind in the middle of the chat!
  • Be careful to avoid ambiguity. It takes confidence and getting the message across, so no "I like being with you, but maybe, I don't know. Like, are we going to meet once in a while? I don't know, anytime, no crisis." Nobody will understand this conversation!
'Gently Dump a Clingy "Friend" Step 14

Step 4. Be firm

Your friend may continue to invade your personal space and push the boundaries you've set, using guilt or other manipulative tactics to change your mind and pay attention to them. You have to stand firm and follow your place rules.

  • Giving in and breaking your own rules will send the message that your friend can do whatever he wants.
  • It can be difficult, but keeping your rules and your limits is the only way to deal with the problem.
'Gently Dump a Clingy "Friend" Step 15

Step 5. End the relationship, if necessary

If your friend keeps ignoring your requests to stay away, or doesn't like you bringing up the subject, it's best to put an end to the friendship. As painful as it is, ending a relationship with a person who ignores your well-being will do you good!

  • A friend who doesn't give you space and doesn't let you be alone, especially after talking about it, probably doesn't respect you and doesn't deserve your friendship.
  • Your friend is likely to care more about his own needs than yours. That's not how a healthy relationship works.
  • Don't let guilt or the false feeling that you owe the other something trap you into a bad friendship. If the person doesn't meet your needs, it's okay to withdraw from the relationship.


  • Focus on your needs. If your friend is too clingy, don't be afraid to ask for space.
  • Reduce the amount of attention you give your friend.
  • Encourage him to go out with other people too.
  • Don't go publicizing your plans out there.
  • If the problem is serious, it's best to talk directly to your friend.
  • If the person doesn't respect your desire to be alone for a while, it's best to put an end to the friendship.

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