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Siren's avatar

Demanding friends: to deal or not to deal with?

Asked by Siren (3386 points ) November 12th, 2009

Do you have a demanding friend(s) who expects more of your time and energy than you can freely give? How do you deal or cope with this individual? Or, do you cut them loose? If you are finding a trend of demanding friends in your life, what does this say about you as an individual? Are you yourself a demanding friend? Are these types also “high maintenance” friends?

I occasionally get into a situation with a friend where they start to expect/demand to see me or talk with me more frequently over the span of a week than is convenient/feasible. Inevitably, I conclude the friend is being high maintenance and deal with them as such (ie see them less, demonstrate my schedule is not as flexible as theirs, etc.). Is there a way to avoid getting to this point? How do you train your friends to respect your time boundaries?

Any comments, suggestions, stories and antidotes are welcome.

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16 Answers

CMaz's avatar

Christmas is coming.

A nice pair of cement shoes and a walk on the pier is always a good thing.

Kraigmo's avatar

I’ve cut everyone like that loose, usually fairly quickly. I’m glad most are not like that.

Sarcasm's avatar

Antidotes? Is this to say that you think your demanding friends are poisoning the relationship?

wundayatta's avatar

I’m one of those. Maybe that’s why I don’t have any friends except online, where people can turn me off as if with a remote any time they want.

I don’t know. If they’re worth it, then go the extra yard for them. If not, then what you’re doing is fine. Maybe they’ll get the message fairly soon. I just got shut down by a friend who thought I was asking too much. That really hurts. But then, it’s typical. Why should it ever be any different? I only have one speed—serious and intense.

Siren's avatar

@daloon: Awwwh, at least you are honest with yourself and can see both sides of the equation. Some people enjoy that kind of intensity in a friendship. After all, it IS flattering that someone thinks you are worthy of spending a lot of time with them.

@Sarcasm: Sometimes, yes. I think I meant antidote to save the friendship, if it is salvagable at this point. An amicable solution or map to guide the friendship to longevity and not short-term termination.

Siren's avatar

Actually, I wanted to hear all comments. All perspectives. Not necessarily a solution to my own conundrum.

marinelife's avatar

What you don’t list in your solutions to date is a direct conversation. Have you tried sitting down with these people and telling them precisely what is making you uncomfortable and providing guidelines for what works in your life? Also, perhaps setting out there how you plan to handle things in the future. “So, just to make sure I’m clear: I can probably get together once or twice a month depending on what is happening in my life. If I can’t make a certain event, I’ll let you know. Nothing personal.” People who did not make an effort to comply, i would cut off.

One thought. We have all had friends like this. I am not sure it happens to me a lot, though, or even regularly. If it does to you, do you need to look to see if you have some issues that are part of the dynamic? For example, is there a chance you are keeping everyone at your life at arm’s length? One way of doing that is to label them as needy and justify eventually cutting them off. I am not suggesting this or any other thing is the case, merely asking you if there is a strong pattern going on?

Haleth's avatar

They probably don’t see what they’re doing as demanding. Your friends probably think they are mostly giving, and you are mostly taking, because they make more effort to see you than they do. If their problem is that they don’t have enough going on in their own lives, then they really are taking and not giving in these interactions with you. Maybe they’re just really outgoing. I have some friends who try to get together once a week or more, because they are always going, going, going and have really active social lives. To these friends, it’s just the more, the merrier, and they are sharing their fun and energy with me when they invite me along.

Have a talk with these friends. It sounds like other than wanting to see you too much, there aren’t really any problems with you. Maybe they have some qualities that would make you want to keep them in your life if they would give you some space. Most people will get the idea and back off if someone can’t see them that often, but you may have to really talk to them. If you have a couple of friends who are this demanding, maybe you should try to introduce them to each other. I introduced two friends of mine who were kind of overbearing by inviting them both to a party. They hit it off and hang out and talk all the time- problem solved!

janbb's avatar

With my close friends and me, there is generally a dynamic ongoing discussion and negotiation of how much time we have to talk or to meet. Sometimes one or the other needs more contact at any given point, but it is rarely always coming from the same direction. Because we are basically secure with each other and the need goes both ways, it is not hurtful when one of us says, “I’m too busy this week.” There have been times in the past when I have felt clutching or clutched on. In those cases, sometimes a discussion has helped and sometimes, I’ve had to back away from the friendship – or been backed away from!

Lorenita's avatar

I have a few good friends, and some of them are very demanding and I hate that. It’s like I know they are my friends and that they are there for me, so I dont feel like I have to be seeing them all the time to make sure about the friendship, but they think otherwise and get extremely mad when they find out i’ve been seeing other friends or my boyfriend instead of being with them.. so what do I do? I give them a phonecall, chat with them a bit and say “hey we could all meet in “whatever place” to hang out” make sure every demanding friend goes, and with the best smile I go and have a good time, hopefully they’ll be very happy too so happiness will last a couple of weeks before they start demanding atention again.
It sounds very awful and selfish and all.. but I can be a bitch sometimes.. I know. jajajaja =)

Siren's avatar

@Marina: Very good points you’re making. I’ve tried to be subtle and lead those friends lightly along, but they resisted. Then I tried the direct approach: ignored. I just don’t want to lose another friendship this way, but I guess it’s not up to me. If the friend wants to be a friend I guess they will have to act like one, right?

@Haleth: Ha! Good solutions. I have been thinking of getting that friend together with another group. I like your perspective. Thank you.

@janbb: I hear you. I know this friend may be going through something at home, but they have yet to talk to me about it. Also, I think they have decided to avoid dealing with their own situation, and is using the time with me to not be home.

@Lorenita: Doesn’t sound bitchy to me, just accommodating in my opinion. At least you have a positive attitude. :)

ShoulderPadQueen's avatar

luckily i never have had any “needy” friends. i dont think i could be friends with someone very long if they were that way anyway.

thecountry's avatar

I like Lorenita’s answer to needy friends. I feel the same way “get your dose of me and then leave me alone for awhile.” I’m not only busy but I like my privacy and I like doing things alone. I have a friend who I invited to attend a yoga class with me. Now, it’s like I’m not allowed to go to yoga without inviting her, and after listening to an hour of her hemming and hawing about wether or not she wants to go, I have to pick her up and take her back home. It’s not convienient for me, so I don’t invite her anymore. When she found out I was still going to yoga she told me to call her before I go and if she decides to go, I am to come and pick her up. When I explained that I sometimes don’t decide myself untill the last minute and then I don’t have time to call her and pick her up. She told me that “it’s only a few minutes out of your way and you DO have time.” I resented that, so I never invite her along anymore. She mentioned it again the other day. I lied and told her I don’t go to yoga anymore. I don’t like feeling guilty for enjoying yoga alone.

Siren's avatar

@thecountry: Wow! Sounds like your friend is co-dependent on the yoga. Or, she feels guilty/envious if you go and she doesn’t. Kind of holding you hostage for going, isn’t she? If at some point she finds out you’re still going, I recommend telling her the truth, that you prefer to go alone, and your schedule changes, so coordinating with a friend makes life too complicated (as she has made it for you).

Just_Justine's avatar

I have an assortment of friends who seem to contact me in a “normal” fashion. I use that word but this is purely subjective. I have bipolar myself, and have two bipolar friends. Well I should say “had” as I had to cut them loose. One texted me the entire day, the other got seriously demanding. If I didn’t return a call she’d get all emotional. I think it was because both didn’t work because of their bipolar that they were bored? Personally I don’t infringe on peoples boundaries and consider myself very low maintenance. In the end it is about personal comfortability and gut feel. If you feel smothered then for your needs you are. If you miss a call or refuse a visit and explain that you are so busy on weekends or with other things too, I would say expect them to understand. If they don’t I reckon warning bells.

Tiarra2010's avatar

Yep. I have one of these demanding friends. I can’t believe I even survived living with her at one stage. Every time I went out I had to explain to her where I was going. At one time she even went as far as making my bed for me when I didn’t make it one day. LOL. At times I felt like she was treating me as a five year old. Even when I tried to move out on my own, in my own terms. She was like ‘no you are not.’ I was living with her and her sister at the time and they both made up lame excuses to keep me there longer. I agreed to keep the peace between us. In the end though. We all had to leave the place for another reason and I got out unscaved.

Another thing this girl does. Is when we are at a outing or I am at her place and I wanted to leave on my terms, early at times. OMG. The reaction I would get. It would either be guilt trips or she would fully scold me for it. I was at a birthday of hers after moving to the City all day. Made the effort to still come dressed in costume and everything. When I wanted to leave early on my own terms cause I was buggered from the move. Woah. That was a big no no. Got told off and bagged out big time.

She also is standoffish and rude to people I am friends with outside our group. I have not introduced my current boyfriend to her properly yet because of this.

This behaviour of hers has been getting to me a bit so just have been backing off on the friendship to cool the air. That’s how I have handled it. She ended up apologising for how she behaved at her birthday at least.

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