You know who I'm talking about. She's the mum in playgroup who gets hurt feelings when you don't respond to her 400 daily texts. She's the Debbie Downer who holds you emotionally hostage with her constant sob stories--the gal who always has a complaint about life, but never a solution to solve her problems. She's the neighbour who asks for a favour every time you pull out of your garage. She's the lady on the school run who won't STFU about Mary Kay, and peer pressures you into throwing a party even though you'd rather spend an evening rubbing sandpaper on your eyeballs than alienating your acquaintances at a pyramid scheme shindig.
I've had my own experience with a needy friend.
A few days after moving to Scotland, I accepted an invitation to have coffee with a lady I met at the library. She was a reader! She was friendly! She offered to show me around town! What could possibly go wrong?
We began with the requisite "get to know you" small-talk.
What do you do for a living?
How did you meet your husband?
What brought you here?
Then the red flags went 'a flying. She started asking me uncomfortable, personal questions.
How much money do you make?
Tell me about your sex life?
In hindsight, I should have called it quits right then and there, but some part of me felt like I had to answer her--like I owed her my time and vulnerability, just because she asked for it. Shortly thereafter, the hourly emails began.
Then the texts.
Then the phone calls.
Then the monopolisation of my social time.
Then the demands on my finances.
That's how needy people operate. They don't respect your boundaries. They don't consider your wellbeing. They ask too much of you, to the point where you feel drained at the mere mention of their name.
As women, we often fall into the trap of people-pleasing. We let these so-called "friends" take advantage of us because we feel guilty saying no. But ladies, we need to stop that nonsense.
Just because someone gives you a ticket to the guilt-trip train, doesn't mean you have to climb aboard. No one can make you feel guilty without your consent.
The fact is, you have kids, and a husband, and a job, and a life of your own. You can't possibly please everyone in your circle, and if a needy friend is crossing the line, you have every right to dump her. After all, healthy friendships are based on give and take. When one party is all "take" and the other is all "give", the relationship is toxic.
Hear me, dear reader: it's okay to break up with your needy friend.
Have the hard conversation telling her you need to take a step back. Limit your exposure to her. Unfriend her on Facebook. Block her phone number. Even ghost her if you have to. You don't have to be close with people who drain the life out of you. There is simply no rule mandating that you must attach yourself to a joy-sucking clinger.
I know that breaking up is hard to do, so let's practice with some role-play, shall we?
Needy Friend (NF): Can you be my closest confidant, even though I just met you five minutes ago?
You: It's gonna be a no from me, Dawg.
NF: Will you spot me couple of hundred pounds this week (due to my egregious mismanagement of my finances)?
You: No, to the No, to the No, No, No.
NF: How about I come along on your vacation and impose upon your family time?
You: How about nope>
NF: Why haven't you responded to my 4,000 messages?
You: Why haven't you visited Nopeville? I hear it's nice this time of year.
NF: Will you text me on the hour, every hour, to check on my fragile-yet-volatile emotional state?
You: Negatory, good buddy. Negatory.
NF: I just have to vent to you for the 7-millionth time about drama in my life that I created myself. Because I'm the Queen of Dramaland, in the Province of Drama, on the corner of Drama Ln and Drama Rd. (Our chief export is Dramamine.)
You: Ain't nobody got time for that.
See? It's not that hard. You feel better already, don't you?
The fact is, needy people will always find someone to leach off of.
But that someone doesn't have to be you.