Protect your friendship by developing independence.

How to Not Be So Clingy With Your Best Friend

by Elise Wile

If you're too needy in a relationship, you risk becoming what friendship expert Irene Levine calls a 'toxic friend.' The end result is that your best friend can feel so drained from your interactions that she feels compelled to end the friendship, or at the very least, she may limit her time with you. You don't have to continue clingy behavior, however. Begin taking steps to increase your self-confidence and become more aware of your thoughts and you'll find that you're strong enough to stand alone when you need to.

1. Embrace Your Uniqueness

Conduct a personal inventory and learn what is special about you. Instead of living in your friend's shadow, step out and display your own strengths. For example, instead of asking what she thinks before you purchase a new outfit, trust your own innate sense of style and put together something fantastic. Rather than sticking to your friend's side at a party like duct tape, break out your camera and take fun pictures of other guests. Focus on your strengths, not your insecurities, and your clingy behavior will begin to change.

2. Set Goals

If being clingy is a long-standing habit of yours, it will be difficult to change over night. You will need to be intentional and set goals to curb your tendency to cling to your bestie. For example, you might vow to yourself to call her no more than three times a week or to initiate no more than half of your coffee dates. If you're hanging out in a group, choose to sit next to someone else at the dinner table at least half the time. If you find yourself feeling insecure at a party, choose to leave before you succumb to the temptation to stick by your friend and dominate all of her conversations.

3. Challenge Yourself

To change the part of you that needs to be around your friend day and night, doing what she does, challenge yourself. Try taking a vacation on your own or going on a retreat. Once you've spent some time exploring the world around you, you'll gain new confidence that will help you to feel more secure once you're back on your home turf. Taking risks will help you to become the person you want to be, says John Grohol, Psy.D., founder of PsychCentral.com.

4. Respect Boundaries

Learn to recognize your friend's hints that you might be overstepping your boundaries. If she says things like, "I feel like watching TV on my own tonight," don't ignore her and come over with a bag of popcorn and snacks. If you're visiting your friend and she tells you that she's got some errands to do that afternoon, don't offer to accompany her. Consciously give your friend the space she needs not to feel smothered by your company and attention.

5. Challenge Your Thoughts

Challenge your thoughts the next time you find yourself feeling insecure and wanting to cling to your best friend. If you find yourself feeling afraid of being alone, for example, find a way to cope with that fear that doesn't involve calling your friend at midnight or staying at her house after your welcome is beginning to wear off. Challenge irrational thoughts such as "I'm not good enough to make new friends" or "If I'm hanging out alone it means I'm unpopular." Focus on the positive and encourage yourself to change these thoughts, advises the Mayo Clinic. If irrational thoughts persist that make it very difficult not to be clingy, it's a good idea to seek the help of a therapist so you can get to the root of the problem.

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