Good friends are there for us. They laugh with us, cry with us, and talk us back up when we're down. But if you find yourself constantly answering the same friend's phone calls and texts, being tagged in a million Facebook pictures, and feeling guilty if you hang out with someone else, you may have an overly attached friend on your hands.
Dealing with an overly attached friend can be a bit like dealing with a smothering boyfriend or girlfriend. And like in any relationship, you have to lay the groundwork for a healthy, longterm union.
Set some boundaries… gently
It's a sensitive topic to broach, but the sooner you do it, the better. Just be tactful. Tell your overly attached friend that as much as you enjoy the close bond you share, you have a busy life and other people to make time for too. You have to be pragmatic, even about your allotted "friend time," and they have to understand that it's nothing personal if you can only hang out once in a while. It's basically giving the old "it's not you, it's me" excuse. No need to hurt someone's feelings if they're willing to abide by your wishes and give you space.
Turn “we” into “you” and “me”
You need to stop allowing your friend to think of you as a unit. Attached friends usually have deep insecurities, making them feel the need to be part of a “we” unit for validation. Stop referring to the two of you as “we” whenever possible. “You and I are going to have a great time at dinner” is a much better choice of words for subtle decoupling.
Find out why they're so attached and talk about it
If the previous solutions didn't amount to anything, then it's time to have a more serious talk. This is where you have to be a good friend and prod a little to get to the root of the problem. No one is unhealthily attached for no reason, so open that can of worms and find out what’s going on. Tell your friend how you’ve been feeling and make sure she knows you’re not mad – just concerned. It might even be time for her to get more serious help.
Take a friend-break
If talking isn’t doing the trick, some time apart may be a necessary option. Cut your friend off cold-turkey and let her remember that she can in fact survive without you. If anything, you’re the one who might feel the need to call if you’re used to the constant companionship, but don’t cave. Settle on a specific length for the break (a week or two at least), and wait it out. It’ll give you both time to rediscover yourselves as individuals.
Ask the tough question: Is this person a good fit in your life?
The sad truth is, sometimes people develop at different paces and no longer fit each other. If you’ve both gone down different paths and you no longer gel, it might be time to move on separately. Don’t just stay together for the memories of the good times, or you’ll ruin even that with your growing resentment. It really is like a relationship; and sometimes you have to let the bad ones go.