Friends are an integral part of our everyday lives, providing mutual support, company and a unique perspective that we aren't always able to see. Unfortunately, at times, a friend may become overly dependent on you and may feel that it is necessary to consult you often on things she should be deciding for herself. Turning the phone off or screening your calls are optional solutions. But it is important to set boundaries with a friend who calls too much.
Tell your friend how her frequent calls are affecting you, without blaming her or judging her actions. According to the Indiana University–Purdue University Fort Wayne website, healthy boundaries between friends are more easily established by communicating clearly how you feel. In addition, experts from the Mayo Clinic explain that stress, which can result from your friend's calls, can cause you to lose sleep, become irritable and feel anxious. Explain that to her, but don't imply why you think she is calling so often. Remaining on the topic at hand and focusing on how the calls are affecting you are the best approaches to prevent your friend from becoming defensive, which occurs as a form of protection against hurt feelings.
Establish reasonable but firm limits for your friend's too-frequent phone calls. As a friend, you want to be available if she needs to talk. But frequent and often unnecessary phone calls cross a line of respect for your life and obligations to work, family and other friends. If you are caught up in a string of frequent phone calls from a friend, explain that although you appreciate her wanting to talk, you aren't willing to lose sleep or time spent with your family. Instead of answering every call, explain that you will answer a set number of calls daily for a duration that you decide is reasonable. This approach lets your friend know that you're there for her if necessary but not simply there to talk every time she feels compelled to call.
Encourage your friend to become more emotionally independent. If your friend seems to call you every time she feels vulnerable, betrayed or slighted, keep in mind that it is not your responsibility to improve her self-esteem. Your friend is the only person who can establish her emotional independence, but you can encourage her to take steps to reach this goal. Suggest that your friend join activities such as a bowling league or something related to her hobbies and interests. Additionally, urge your friend to get professional help from a counselor, for example, who can work with her and help her function more independently. Your friend should begin to solve problems by herself, spend time in activities alone and start the process of self-discovery and reflection. As your friend becomes more reliant on herself and gets comfortable making independent decisions, you'll probably receive fewer unnecessary phone calls from her.
Increase time spent apart from your friend. This approach, however, means you walk a fine line between exerting your independence and alienating someone who feels particularly vulnerable. Keep that in mind as you create a healthier distance between you and your friend and maintain contact, albeit less frequently than you have before. Ideally, your friend will be forced into a more independent role. And your phone calls will become more enjoyable and less dominated by her problems.
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Maura Banar has been a professional writer since 2001 and is a psychotherapist. Her work has appeared in "Imagination, Cognition and Personality" and "Dreaming: The Journal of the International Association for the Study of Dreams." Banar received her Bachelor of Arts in psychology from Buffalo State College and her Master of Arts in mental health counseling from Medaille College.
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