All of us need a shoulder to cry on, confidants to vent to, and pals to confide in sometimes, but there are certain friends who rely on these crucial friend duties to an emotionally-draining degree. Low self esteem is often the reason for unhealthy reliance on others – responding in a way that's truly helpful is really difficult. Don't just feed the cycle of dependence and instant gratification. Help a needy pal learn to help themselves, then you can both enjoy a more balanced relationship. Here are some relationship-saving ideas.
Learn to say no
Don't let a needy friend become a toxic one. Learning to say no protects both you and her from getting hurt. Making promises you can't keep will let her down and make you feel resentful. Be honest, rational and reasonable when your friend makes high demands. Take her best interests to heart, but don't compromise your own needs. You want your relationship to be fun. Negotiate to get it to a place where it can be.
Set boundaries, and stick to them
If you need to, set clear limits about the type and frequency of contact you want to have. If this sounds extreme, think about what might happen if you continue your friendship without taking any action. Keep in mind that you don't have to keep this friend around – you're not responsible for her, or anyone else's happiness. If you decide your friendship is worth it, then do whatever you can to make it work, including being candid about what you need from her.
Be there for her – but not right away
Weaning your friend off of the immediate contact affirms that that you have a life, and expect her to have one, too. It doesn't have to send the message that you don't care about her. Assure her that you're still as much her friend if you wait a few hours to text her than if you do within seconds. Friendship isn't measured in minutes / hours between texts. It's the quality, not the quantity, of your communication that matters.
Help her build confidence
Encourage her to find her own way by arranging to meet places instead of going together, or introduce her to others in social situations and get her involved. Help her build the confidence to be self sufficient by showing her she can be.
Set an example
Einstein said setting an example isn't just a way to teach, its the only way. Do your own thing, just like you'd want her to. Don't hide what you're up to – that will make her feel left out and suspicious. Show her you've got a busy life, and assure her that she's a (wonderful!) part of it, even though she's not always on your mind.