Social Question

JennWithOneN's avatar

How to tell someone to stop talking to you so much, but in the absolute nicest way possible?

Asked by JennWithOneN (352points) 1 month ago

I recently got in touch with a childhood friend I haven’t talked to in about 10 years, and I only meant for us to maybe follow each other on Instagram and be casual acquaintances but she’s taken it way too far and now she enthusiastically texts me multiple times every day without fail to send me between 3 and 10 posts she thinks I’ll like, and I always respond with one word answers and lately I’ve started to not respond at all sometimes, and it’s such a chore to open her messages 3 times a day and try to act enthusiastic back, because honestly she’s a sweet person, she’s just not the kind of person I want to text EVERY SINGLE DAY. She also kept obsessively asking me to hang out with her (I kept saying I was busy) until I was kind of forced to accept her invitation to Homecoming in September (which I still don’t want to go to). She requested to follow my personal Instagram (where I only accept close friends), and I felt bad for denying, but I denied her TWICE, and she tried again, texting me, “I followed your personal Instagram :)” (I didn’t respond), and after I denied her for the third time, she asked “do you still use your personal Instagram?” (I didn’t respond again). And to make things worse, she and her mom are so excited that we finally got in contact again and she’s just so happy for us to become super super close, but this is all giving me so much anxiety and I don’t want to say anything that might hurt her feelings and I just don’t know what to do.

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27 Answers

kritiper's avatar

Look that person right in the eye and say, “I know…I KNOW!”

Mimishu1995's avatar

This story gave me PTSD ~

No, really. This story really reminds me of my toxic high school “friend”. Ever since I created an account on Facebook, she obsessively PMed me. Mostly she just sent me links to songs she was listening, and how could I respond to something so mundane? She also liked to call me. But what made me dread answering her was that she was so obsessed she would yell at me for being a bad friend if I saw her message but didn’t respond or failed to answer her call for 15 minutes. It got so bad that I had to disable my account’s online status to have some peace while I was on FB.

What your friend is doing sounds to me like an attempt to control you. Tell her straight that you are busy with your life and you can’t always have time to text her or accept her invitation. If she wants a hangout, arrange a specific date when everyone is comfortable and do it sparingly. Also you need to tend for other personal relationship and some space for yourself and you need to answer other texts and she can’t expect you to answer every single text of her. If she is really a close friend as she claims to be she has to understand this concern. If she refuses to respect your need, then you know who she really is. Just cut her out of your life.

You said she is a nice person, well my manipulative friend was nice too, as long as she got what she wanted.

Jeruba's avatar

I remember trying to discourage a young man (this was long ago) who just wouldn’t take a gentle, tactful rejection. I really, really didn’t want to be unkind, never mind be forced to be rude.

The fact that I couldn’t shake him without acting in a way that felt wrong to me should have been the tipoff. People like that know how to manipulate the ones that truly just want to be nice to them without being dragged into an unwanted intimacy.

My wise friend said, “He’s got the hide of a rhinoceros. If he can’t take a hint after all that, he isn’t very sensitive. So don’t worry any more about hurting his feelings—you probably can’t. Just tell him to get lost.”

You got much more than you bargained for with this one. You wanted a friend; you got a psychic vampire. The woman sounds desperately needy. Unless you tell her straight out (but in your own words) that you feel swamped and have to back off because you can’t make a career out of keeping up with her demands, she’s not going to give it up.

I think you can bet that it won’t be the first time for her. And that’s too bad. But you can’t save her. Take care of yourself and don’t try to be a hero with this one.

“Honestly she’s a sweet person”...I’ve known someone like that. Emotional blackmail. Don’t succumb .

Love_my_doggie's avatar

She reminds me of a very young girl. If you’ve raised daughters, or if you can recall much about your own childhood, what I’m about to describe will sound familiar.

A little girl makes a new best friend, let’s call her Tracey, and becomes completely infatuated. All she wants to talk about is Tracey. Everything that Tracey does and says is perfect. Little Girl can’t survive without a pair of red shoes, just like Tracey’s, because Tracey’s shoes are wonderful. If only she could be exactly like Tracey, in every way possible, wouldn’t that be great?

Before long, the spell is broken, and Tracey becomes a mere mortal, perhaps even a disappointment, in Little Girl’s eyes. The two of them might settle into a normal, healthy friendship. Or, Little Girl and Tracey might both move along to new relationships.

You don’t tell us how long you’ve been back in touch with this newly-rediscovered person, who’s really nothing more than an e-friend. You say “recently,” but does that mean weeks? Months? A year? She might soon calm down and stop thinking about you throughout every day. If this happens, you can get some distance yet avoid a hurtful confrontation.

LadyMarissa's avatar

Sometimes the kindest thing that you can do is to be rude!!! Since she’s oblivious to your ignoring her, I doubt that playing nice is going to do anything short of making things WORSE!!! You might tell her that although you’re glad that the 2 of you got back in touch with each other, you’re finding that you don’t have the time to give her the attention that she seems to need & that you’d appreciate it if she could cut her texts back to maybe ONE per day. I don’t think it will change anything because she doesn’t seem to mind being RUDE TO YOU!!! IF it hurts her feelings, it’s HER responsibility to deal with HER emotions…you are having to deal with YOURS & she doesn’t care. GOOD LUCK!!!

gondwanalon's avatar

Put in ear plugs (or head phones).

SaganRitual's avatar

I recently had a very similar situation: a serious problem between me and a close friend. I knew that there was only one solution, which was to talk to him openly about it. But I was afraid of hurting him, and I was afraid of the pain I would feel due to his reaction, which I knew would be really, really bad.

I went around asking what I should do, but I knew what I had to do. There was just no way around it, no nice way to say it, but it had to be done. Maybe you’re not like me at all, but it’s possible that you know what you need to do and you just don’t want to do it. No judgment about that, by the way. There’s nothing wrong with not wanting to cause pain, or feel pain. It’s just that sometimes, there’s no non-painful solution. Either you’re going to talk to her point-blank and have a certain kind of pain from hurting her feelings and enduring her response, or you’re going to do nothing, and have a completely different kind of pain because she won’t leave you alone.

While it’s true that she’s emotionally manipulating you and blackmailing you, not to mention harassing you, she’s not doing any of that on purpose. She is trying to fulfill her own needs, which are overpowering her recognition of your needs. We all do it in some way or another; some of us cope with it better than others, and some of us are lucky enough not to have such desperate emotional needs.

Here’s the nicest way to talk to her, and for that matter, to anyone with whom you are having difficulty. Start with compassion. For her: she’s wounded, and she’s responding to her wounds in the only way she knows how. Also have compassion for yourself: her responses to her wounds are causing you quite a bit of emotional turmoil. Recognize your responsibility for fulfilling her emotional needs: none. You never signed on to bear someone else’s emotional burden, and there’s nothing in Life’s Big Book of Rules that says you have to. Recognize your competence for fulfilling her emotional needs: none. You’re not a therapist. You can’t help her any more than you could help her with a broken arm. Recognize (and respect) your own needs. Life is way too short for you to let someone diminish the quality of yours.

When (if) you talk to her, don’t use any labels. Don’t tell her she’s too needy, or she’s being intrusive. Only describe the behavior that’s bothering you: she is messaging you too often and she won’t take “no” for an answer. Very specific. No generalities like, “We’re getting too close,” or “I didn’t plan to renew our friendship.” Basically, nothing she would argue with, no opinions, just facts. Also, own your feelings: don’t tell her she’s doing something wrong. Someone else might really welcome her, perhaps someone who is lonely. So, it’s not that she’s wrong to treat you this way; it’s that you feel uncomfortable with these specific behaviors of hers.

It’s important to note that she would not be able to manipulate and blackmail you if you didn’t let her. Again, no judgment, it happens to everyone. The main reason to remember this is that when (if) you have this talk with her, you must steel yourself for her reaction, which will probably involve more attempts at manipulation and blackmail. You must not let her. No matter what horrible thing she says about you, you have to keep your mouth closed. Don’t defend yourself, don’t make excuses, don’t let her manipulate you into turning it into a discussion, don’t let her demand that you justify yourself to her satisfaction. You have your own needs and your own reasons; if you feel justified, then never mind someone else’s standards of justification. The best answer to any “Why?” is “I’m not comfortable with it,” and leave it at that.

If she gets really upset and hurt, then comfort her. But only comfort; don’t offer any concessions, don’t offer to change yourself in any way. You have friends who’ve had bad breakups, or who have been mistreated, or who have simply had a painful situation arise in their lives. Comfort your needy friend the same way, that is, her pain has nothing to do with you, and you just feel bad for her because she’s hurting.

That’s the nicest way: straight talk about specific behaviors, compassion for both her and yourself, don’t make any concessions. Best of luck to you both.

MrGrimm888's avatar

If she’s not gay, you could h I told on her. That might make her feel awkward and find someone else to be friends with…

Invite her to an extreme lesbian bdsm orgy. If she shows up, and you aren’t there, maybe she’ll make new friends…

tinyfaery's avatar

Block her. Or take @SaganRitual ‘s advice and be straightforward about it.

Dutchess_III's avatar

I agree with @tinyfaery. Block her.

KNOWITALL's avatar

I think blocking is rude, especially if you made her and her mom feel like you ‘wanted back in’ or that’s how they took it.

Just be busy every time an offer comes and fade out. They’re coming from a good place, maybe just misunderstood your attempt at communication.

Dutchess_III's avatar

It is so interesting that we have to tolerate rude, boorish behavior from others so as not to give the appearance of being rude ourselves, when as in this case, have every single reason to BE rude because she just won’t take the hint.

KNOWITALL's avatar

@Dutchess_III The OP got in touch and instigated the contact, though.

To me, there really isn’t much reason to be rude, we have far enough of that than to expect it from ‘friends’. Burning those bridges should be a last resort imo.

Dutchess_III's avatar

But instigating contract isn’t a request for a stalking! And she is not taking the passive and polite hints to back off.
But have you tried telling her point blank, but in a nice way? What would you say to her?

KNOWITALL's avatar

@Dutchess_III Hey, you know me, I play nice until that option is removed by the other party, then I am brutally honest.

If this were my long lost hs friend who was being obsessive, I would send a message saying:

“Hey, I am really glad we hooked back up, Angie. I’m sorry I don’t always have time to respond back to your texts and posts, but I’m on a strict data plan and am very busy right now with work and trying to have some kind of a personal life. Hopefully things will slow down soon and we’ll do lunch and catch up okay?! Thanks again, so glad you’re doing well, see you on Instagram.”

Dutchess_III's avatar

You mean you wouldn’t send a message say, “Oh fuckoff aye!!!” LOL!!

KNOWITALL's avatar

@Dutchess_III Right…not if I started it especially….lol

Patty_Melt's avatar

You mentioned attending her homecoming.
Are you much older than her, or are you also in high school?
If you are still in school, are you at different schools, or the same?

JennWithOneN's avatar

@Patty_Melt We’re both in high school (in the same grade), and we go to different schools.

Mimishu1995's avatar

Have you talked to her?

Patty_Melt's avatar

Probably your best bet is to explain that while you are glad to be in touch with her again, being in separate schools means you have a whole other set of friends and activities. Let her know that your time is devoted mostly to your current situation, and that you want to keep in touch, but not to the point that it interferes with your other friends and plans.

Mimishu1995's avatar

And don’t block her, at least not right now. Not only is it impolite, but if she turns out to be really toxic, this will also work against you. She will use this as a proof that you are an asshole and repeat this non-stop to everyone who is related to you. When I burned the bridge with my toxic friend by abruptly stopping answering her PM, she got deranged and started posting cryptic FB status of how sad she was and how someone had changed too much of course it was me. I know she also did a lot of dirt talking about me behind the scene too, with anyone who was curious about what her status meant, mostly her high school friends. Finally, the last straw was when she posted about my betrayal on a public group on FB, and got a lot of people to sympathize with her.

I got it lucky because my relationship with my high school classmates was non-existent, and that group didn’t allow real names so she was forced to make things too ambiguous to recognize. I just started out college and I was making some new friends and she could have destroyed my relationship with my future friends and my chance to ever have a normal relationship again.

Some people are just psycho. Better be safe than sorry.

Jeruba's avatar

You’re both in high school? I thought you were older because you spoke of being out of touch for 10 years. That’s why I referred to her as a woman.

So—you’re kids, and you were last in touch in second grade at the latest. An awful lot of changes occur between ages 7 and 17.

In that case, this isn’t an adult situation, and my remarks above don’t apply. Please disregard them.

Mimishu1995's avatar

@Jeruba If you mean your advice above, I think it still applies. That girl could use the excuse that they had been friends at 7 to guilt trip the OP into staying, even though it’s a ridiculous excuse like you said. She could have been doing this to someone else, we can’t know for sure. An emotional vampire will use everything they can think of to keep their victim around, no matter how absurd it is.

Patty_Melt's avatar

I doubt she is a parasite.
I think she is just giddy over hearing from a friend she thought was gone forever.
She no doubt wants back the joy she had the first time around.
That just isn’t realistic.
High school is a tough time for everyone, on many different levels. A piece of happier times came her way, and she is trying too hard to hold onto that.

Love_my_doggie's avatar

@Jeruba I thought you were older

I think most, perhaps all, of us had the same impression. OP referred to a “childhood friend” and a 10-year gap.

MrGrimm888's avatar

Uh…. Yeah… Had no idea that they were high school kids. I apologize for my comments, and will try to ask the Mods to remove them….

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