People with anxious attachment styles can trigger avoidance behaviors in those who feel just fine not checking in with friends every five minutes. If you have friends and acquaintances who simply don’t give you the space you need, it may be time to limit or even discontinue contact with them. A person who has firmly glued herself in your space may be more difficult to get rid of than some, but if you send clear messages, you’ll soon be able to breathe.
If you’re tired of your friend sticking to your side like duct tape at every party and insisting that you invite her everywhere you go, you’ll need to curtail the behavior. Such people can be emotional vampires, and you may need to firmly state your limits and boundaries, says therapist Patrick Wanis, Ph.D. on his personal website. So don’t beat around the bush. Tell your friend that you’re willing to spend an evening every month hanging out -- if you don’t want to completely eliminate her from your life -- but that you have other interests you’d prefer to explore on your own.
Give the Brushoff
It takes two people for needy behavior to continue, says psychologist Lynne Namka in an article on her website, AngriesOut.com. If you continue to allow a clingy friend to stifle your life, you are adding to the problem. When the clingy person approaches you to once again attempt to engage you in a lengthy conversation about his latest project, excuse yourself and leave. Say, “It was nice seeing you. I’m eager to catch Steve and catch up with him before he leaves. Please excuse me.” With luck, enough subtle brushoffs will send the message that you don’t want to hang out with the person who sticks like glue.
Lay it on the Line
Unfortunately, clingy people are notorious for not understanding the indirect messages you send about your need for space. If this is the case with the needy person in your life, you may need to be direct, instead of indirect. Tell the clingy person, “When you call me every day, I feel as though I can’t breathe. It’s better if we don’t talk for a while.” While the person may be hurt, it is better to deal with this issue now than to allow it to drag out. You’ll have to address the problem sooner or later, and it’s best for both of you if it is resolved before your resentment of her demands on your time festers.
File a Restraining Order
Occasionally, clingy people can become a serious nuisance or even dangerous. If you have clearly asked the person to stop dropping by or calling and she continues to do so, you can file a restraining order at the courthouse. This is especially advisable if the person seems at all threatening. Once the paperwork has been submitted and the restraining order temporarily granted, the person will be served with papers and a hearing date will be set, according to the Family Violence Law Center website. Note that while you’ll need some documentation to get a restraining order, a police report is not necessary.
Elise Wile has been a writer since 2003. Holding a master's degree in curriculum and Instruction, she has written training materials for three school districts. Her expertise includes mentoring, serving at-risk students and corporate training.