How to Break Away From an Overbearing Friend

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An overbearing friend is a friend who isn't adept at listening to your concerns, honoring your wishes or respecting who you are as an individual. Once you find yourself in such a relationship, do your best to set limits to steer her behavior in the other direction. If this fails, however, cutting ties can be the right thing to do.

Set Boundaries

If your friend insists on knowing the calorie count of your lunch, and you're tired of her nutritional nagging, say something like, "You focus on your diet, and I'll focus on mine." If you continue to set these boundaries when your friend behaves in an overbearing manner, she'll either get the message and stop her behavior or become upset at your refusal to play a passive role in the friendship. In the first case, you'll no longer have a problem with your friend. If the second is true, you'll likely find your overbearing friend breaking away from you on her own.

Eliminate Guilt

Friendships, unlike familial relationships, are voluntary. If you feel uncomfortable around someone who is essentially impeding your personal growth, it's time to cut loose. Don't allow guilt to keep you from doing what you need to do to get space to breathe. Otherwise, you risk sentencing yourself to years of being overshadowed in social interactions and listening to your friend urge you once again to change your political views to ones more to her liking.

Be Firm

You need to be firm and consistent with a person who has problems with social cues, says friendship expert Irene Levine, Ph.D., on "The Friendship Blog." An overbearing friend is more likely to ignore subtle attempts at distancing yourself and may refuse to accept excuses such as your insistence that you can't hang out because you need to wax your kitchen floor. When she calls, stick to your resolve to break away from the friendship and repeat that you aren't available as many times as it takes for the message to sink in.

Frank Discussion

If you've previously had a close relationship with your overbearing pal, sit down with her and let her know why you're moving in the opposite direction. It will give you both closure, notes psychiatrist Gail Saltz, Ph.D., on You might say, "When we're together and you insist on doing what you want to do regardless of what I want, I begin to feel more like a groupie than an equal partner in the friendship. I need to spend more time taking care of my own needs." Doing this allows your friend the opportunity to learn and grow from the experience, rather than wondering what might have gone wrong and perhaps reaching the wrong conclusion.