Hey Gynomite, can you help me figure out how to break up with a friend? I have this female friend that has gotten increasingly odd and angry and clingy in our interactions. We haven’t known each other for long, and at first I thought it was cool that she always wanted to hang out, but if I have other plans, she either invites herself along or gets weirdly hurt that she’s not involved. I know she’s had some tough stuff happen to her in her life, but I feel like I have to hang out with her more than actually wanting to hang out with her, and that sucks. I want out. Help!
My goodness, that is tough. It’s hard when people you know really well go through a rough time, but it’s even harder when someone you barely know presents to your life with a bucketful of crazy. First, I don’t think it’s at all selfish for you to want to break ties with a person that is sapping your energy in such a way. Somehow, whether it be from movies or god knows what, people have gotten the impression that relationships with others should be slightly painful at all times, and if they’re really deep, they should be painful from the very start. That is not true. Being friends with someone should be fun and supportive, and for fucks sake, feel good. This friend of yours is obviously going through something on her own that has very little to do with you, and if you want to break up, you have a couple of options.
One, do it the balls out honest way, and to let her know that you feel like you can’t handle the intensity of her friendship, and while you like her, you can’t hang out with her all the time and she is going to have to be ok with that.
Two, do it the wussy way, and just keep avoiding her calls, texts, emails, etc until she “gets the message” that you don’t want to hang out. Be warned that she may confront you about this, and that she has every right too.
I find that the best way to handle saying something to someone that could be considered really mean is to phrase it in terms of yourself, as in “I have a problem dealing with this”, rather than “You are going all Fatal Attraction on me!” I often think about this scene in Beaches (yeah, I know, it’s a cheeseball movie) where Bette Midler is complaining to her mother that men always leave her, and her mom screams “You always wanted too much attention! You wanted so much attention from everybody all the time, that you wore people out! You wore me out, you wore your father out, may he rest in peace, by the time you were 15 years old!” I always cheer at that part. Some people are exhaustingly needy, and if they have been in your life a long time, or if you adore them in spite of all that, then fine, but if it’s a person you met last week, or if it’s someone you adore because they need you so much, it’s time to do what’s best for you. And break up with them.