My So-Called “Best Friend” is Smothering Me

Reader’s Question

Lately, my best friend has been accusing me of not wanting to be her friend anymore. I think this is just because I’ve been spending more time with another one of my friends. My best friend and I are part of a group that has 3 other girls. We’ve had similar discussions before, all of them ending up with her asking me not to spend so much time with any of the others and to spend more time with her. It has reached the point that I feel smothered by her, and I’m beginning to feel like I don’t want to be her friend anymore. I feel like she’s trying to control my life and expects too much of me as a “best friend.”

I am not the sort of person whom you can easily talk heart-to-heart with. And it’s the same with my friend and our 3 other friends. The five of us are fairly much ‘good time’ friends who generally have loads of fun together and only occasionally talk about serious matters.

My best friend doesn’t know how to accept the fact that my other friends and I are not like the other people she knows who are more outgoing and open. My other friends and I have never had a really affectionate friendship before. I want to be her friend, but she makes me uneasy because she appears to want something from me that I can’t give her. I’m a person who almost NEVER expresses her feelings to anyone, not even my parents. I don’t want to be as close to her as she seems to want to be with me.

I am trying to find a way to continue being friends with this girl because I don’t want our group to split up (no matter how selfish that may sound). But I don’t know how to deal with her wanting more from me.

Could you help me find a way to say what I need to say to her? Every time I’ve attempted this before, she always ends up putting the blame on me for not being a good enough friend to her.

Psychologist’s Reply

Everyone brings different needs into a relationship. It sounds like your friend is looking for a level of friendship with you that you are not prepared to offer. There is no other way but being direct (though not necessarily harsh) about this. Let your friend know that you want to enjoy her company and have good times with her as well as your other friends but that you’re not ready for anything more. Take responsibility for what you need, but not the blame. In other words, don’t fault your friend for wanting something more, and don’t blame yourself for wanting something less. Simply tell it like it is. You can also share your concerns about wanting to keep your group together and on good terms.

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Even though you’re uncomfortable sharing feelings, you’re going to have to risk some degree of self-disclosure if you want to continue any level of friendship. Have the courage to make your wants, needs, and desires clear. Be clear about your intentions as well. Your purpose is not to hurt this girl or to condemn her for her wants or needs, but rather to clarify the kind of relationship you’d like to have with her.

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