Your bestie’s got your back no matter what. She’s by your side, like, ALL THE TIME. Hells, she even skipped netball practice just to help you with your homework. Yeah, sometimes it’s a bit much, and you often wish she’d give you space so you could be on your own and hang out with other people... But that’s just best mate love, right? Er, no – not always.
HER ONE AND ONLY
Clinical psychologist and founder of GroupWorx Psychology Stefanie Schwartz describes this type of relo as a “codependent friendship”, whereby one friend puts the other friend’s needs before their own to create the idea that they are “needed”. “The codependent (read: clingy) friend usually ends up giving up their own needs to accommodate their friend’s, and when the care isn’t reciprocated, they are often left feeling hurt or rejected,” she says. So if your mate’s forever telling you how amaze you are and dropping all her plans just so you guys can hang out, it might be because she expects the same in return
WHY SO CLINGY?
Your friend might dislike being alone, or there could be problems at home; sometimes it’s the result of low self-esteem. “Someone who doesn’t think highly of themself can begin to evaluate their own worth based on their friend’s thoughts, beliefs and reactions,” says Stefanie. So yes, she might be secretly hurting, but you’ve got to look out for yourself too. If you’re feeling frustrated or overwhelmed by her neediness, you can’t let it continue. Stefanie says codependent friendships are usually unhealthy for BOTH people involved because “feelings can escalate and develop into more serious problems including mental health difficulties such as anxiety, depression, eating disorders or even addiction."
SHE'S SMOTHERING ME!
If it’s all getting a bit too much, here’s Stefanie’s advice on how to “detach” your friend with care:
TALK IN PRIVATE
... with your friend (NOT in a group of friends) and discuss what you’ve noticed and why you’re worried. Be honest, open and caring.
... to hear some difficult things; your friend may entrust you with feelings or situations that you need to keep private.
IF YOU FEEL
... overwhelmed by your friend, don’t just stop returning her phone calls or ignore her at school – remind her that you need your space too.
... to find activities and interests that she’s good at that are not solely dependent on you.
... to a range of people so she can slowly begin to make a wider group of friends and not constantly rely only on her friendship with you.
UH-OH! SIGNS YOU'RE A CLINGY FRIEND
You think you’re not good enough, or worry what your friends think of you.
You always put yourself second to help and care for your friends.
You stop things you enjoy to spend as much time as you can with one friend.
You do things for friends, even if you don’t want to, because you’re worried they will stop being your friend.
You’re drawn to people who are going through a rough patch because you love the feeling of being needed.