5 Hard Lessons I Learned From Being a Clingy Friend
I don't have balance in many areas of my life—but when it comes to social independence, I'm pretty well-aligned.
I love a fun makeup event with coworkers or a night out with friends, but I also get excited about coming straight home from work and doing me things… alone, or spending the weekend walking around my neighborhood running errands by myself. I gratefully live alone, I'm single and I don't have pets, so yeah, lots of time spent solo. I'm content with my thoughts and my company, and while there are certainly times (Saturday nights, for example) when I really want to have social plans, for the most part, I'm comfortable with just me.
It wasn't always that way. Back in 2011, I don't know what came over me, but I became a person I wouldn't recognize today. I had recently made a new friend, and when they started hanging out with some of my original friends, I lost my mind. It was a combo of bitterness and wanting this friend all to myself, and it was totally unhealthy. I became so consumed with where this person was, and what they were doing. I couldn't control my behavior, and it all came to a head when the friend could no longer take it, and we had a huge blowout in the middle of a restaurant in front of a ton of mutual friends—it led us to six months of not talking.
Those six months were beyond painful (and so were the six months leading up to it), but not being around this friend—or some of my other friends who gravitated to this one once we parted ways—allowed me to see things a bit clearer. I realized that I sabotaged what started out as a perfectly easy-breezy friendship. I knew that this behavior wasn't okay, and I very much wished I could do things all over again.
Below, are the five hard lessons I learned from being the clingy friend.
1. It Takes a Very Long Time to Shed Your Clingy Image
After all the chaos, I reconnected with my friend months after the big blowout. Despite my efforts to repair our friendship, the damage had been done. Any time I would casually ask them who they're texting or why they can't hang out on a particular day, I would always get the, "oh, my god, why does it matter?" It was hard because I was simply asking to make conversation, but it was never considered okay. Or, if one of my other friends had plans with this particular friend, it would be this big thing they'd need to sit down and tell me. It really messed with my confidence, and made me feel like I didn't have my own thing going on. This went on for years. It's only been in the last two years or so that everyone's finally acknowledged that I'm not the same.
(Mean Girls via Paramount Pictures)
2. Clinginess Gives Someone Else All the Power
Being vulnerable to someone else can help tighten your bond, but giving them too much of you gives them the upper hand. As soon as my clinginess got the better of me, this person dictated when we would and wouldn't hang out. It was like they could act however they wanted to me because they had all the power and they knew I'd jump at the chance to spend time with them, regardless of how they treated me. Much like No. 1, when you become labeled "the clingy friend," it's incredibly difficult to gain back the power in the dynamic, or even get to a place where you're equal.
3. Clinginess Leads to Being Left Out
As noted in our post about being the clingy girlfriend, being so consumed with someone's every move will only push them away. In our sometimes irrational minds, we think begging to hang out will get us somewhere, when, in fact, it's only turning people off. While most people do love a little flattery and attention, when they feel suffocated by you, the last thing they want to do is include you in all their plans. Being the clingy friend led to a ton of fights with the person I wouldn't leave alone, and they, therefore, made many plans without me. It really hurt my feelings, but in retrospect, their decision made sense.
(Riverdale via The CW)
4. Being Clingy With One Friend Can Affect All of Your Relationships
When I was consumed with one particular friend, everything became about them. So, if I was out and about with someone else in our friend group, I could never fully enjoy our company. The conversation always turned to the whereabouts of this other person and how they've been hanging out with someone else. Even people who I had seemingly healthy relationships with were pushed away because they were sick of our hangouts being dominated by one specific topic. It also made things uncomfortable if they'd been hanging out with this friend lately. It definitely put a strain between me and everyone.
5. If You Play It Cool, Things Will Be Cool
Above all else, the most important thing I learned from one of the most trying times in my social life is that all you need to do is play it cool. Sometimes it's faking it 'til ya make it and playing it off like you don't care, and other times it's actually creating a life outside of one particular friend or one group. It's perfectly fine to have your go-to person or your regular set of girls you go out with each weekend, but centering your life around just one thing or individual is so unbelievably unhealthy.
Making other friends and developing my own hobbies and independence was a game-changer. Were things suddenly perfect with me and this friend? Definitely not. But, instead of regularly moping, I took a step back and began putting the ball more in their court. The moment I pulled away a little, they started to come around, and they eventually realized that I wasn't the same as before.
(Pretty Little Liars via The CW)
Do you have a friendship that's on the rocks? HERE are four personal roadblocks that may prevent it from ever being healthy.