Leaving a friendship brings up a range of emotions.

How to Ditch a Needy Friend Without Feeling Guilty

by Eliza Martinez

No one wants to spend time with a needy person. Whether your friend wants constant reassurance that she looks nice, that you enjoy hanging out with her or just seems to want to suck all your extra time or energy, it might be time to end the friendship and move on. This won't be easy, but letting go of a needy friend is sometimes necessary for your own well-being.

1. Timing

Only you can decide when you're fed up with a needy friend and ready to call it quits. If you're tired of her demanding ways, borrowing all your extra money and never repaying it or getting upset with you for wanting to spend time with other friends, it's probably a good time to ditch her. However, if she's going through a romantic breakup, a family member just died or she's recently lost her job, you might want to hold off for a week or two. This might make it easier for you to break things off, but it also serves to keep her from losing everything at one time, which might backfire on you because she could become even clingier in an effort to keep you around.

2. Technique

It might be easier to quit returning your needy friend's calls or cancelling your plans, but you'll probably feel better about giving her an explanation and making a firm break. Start telling your friend "No" when she asks for money, clothing or time and gradually break away from her company by finding new friends to spend time with, suggests Irene S. Levine, Ph.D. on the Psychology Today website. Let her know that you have your own needs in a friendship and that you don't feel like she is meeting them. Tell your needy friend that you need a break from your friendship. That way, you have the chance to revisit the situation down the road and start over, if you feel like it might work better another time.

3. Wording

While you are likely looking forward to getting away from an overly needy friend, wording the break properly helps preserve her feelings, prevents her from losing respect for you and keeps the situation open if you'd like to start the friendship again in the future. Don't say mean things or rant and rave about her neediness. Simply say, "I'd like a break from our friendship," and give her a reason without being harsh. Maybe you can't afford to loan money anymore or you want to spend time with friends who don't monopolize the conversation or refuse to hear about your life. Say, "I'm sorry -- I feel like we're on different paths" or "I need friends I feel are my equals." These phrases effectively end the friendship without making you look bad.

4. Your Friend's Reaction

Some friends aren't going to go away just because you've asked them to disappear, which can happen if you're trying to ditch a needy person. Expect your ex-friend to call, email or text you, asking you to reconsider. You might also hear from her if you turn down an invitation to a party she is hosting, her wedding or graduate school graduation. She might call you if she finds out you're hosting an event and she wasn’t invited. You might also come up against anger, denial and hostility. In each instance, gently remind your ex-friend that you'd like to break things off and kindly ask her to stop contacting you.

About the Author

Eliza Martinez has written for print and online publications. She covers a variety of topics, including parenting, nutrition, mental health, gardening, food and crafts. Martinez holds a master's degree in psychology.

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