At some point, most of us will have to deal with a clingy friend.

Sometimes, it’s great when friends text constantly and expect to spend every waking moment together. Other times, it’s absolutely stifling and can prevent both friends from living their best lives.

If you’re not sure how to address the subject with a clingy friend without damaging your relationship, try this approach:

Try to See Where They’re Coming From

While it’s not your job to babysit your friend or manage their feelings, it can make your situation easier if you try to understand why your friend is acting so clingy. Sometimes, people attach to others because they’re going through something. If your friend is spending all their time with you because they’re having problems in other relationships with friends, family or an S.O., you might want to handle the situation differently than if they just don’t know how to deal with being alone.


(SpongeBob SquarePants via Nickelodeon)


Speak to Them From a Place of Concern

When you approach the subject with your clingy friend, it’s important to do so with kindness. You shouldn’t start the conversation when you’re feeling frustrated or at a breaking point. Make it clear that you’re bringing it up because you want to improve your friendship, and that the both of you can gain from spending some time apart. This isn’t a friendship breakup, but a chance to establish a healthier friendship.


Be Honest and Specific

It’s important to let your friend know specifically what behaviors you’re having difficulty with. Do they call at all hours of the night, show up uninvited to your house and expect you to hang out with them whenever you’re free? Be precise about what they’re doing and how it negatively impacts you. After all, you’re not trying to hurt them. You’re simply being honest with them to prevent this friendship from overtaking your life. Let them know it’ll make you even better friends if you can develop individually with a little breathing room, and that the current course of action is threatening your friendship.


Set Boundaries

It’s critical to set some boundaries about how much time together is appropriate. It’s not that you want to cut them out of your life—just that you’re seeking out a healthier balance. Set actual consequences for when they overstep the line. Make it clear that you won’t always respond to their texts right away, and won’t make yourself too available if you think the two of you have been spending too much time together recently.


(Beauty and the Beast via Buena Vista Pictures)


Help Them Find Their Own Balance

Again, you’re not responsible for a friend’s well-being, but it’s a nice gesture to help them carve out their own lives and develop their own interests that don’t have to involve you. Introduce them to hobbies and activities they can happily pursue on their own. Encourage their relationships with other friends, and show that you’re truly happy for them when they branch out and meet new people. If you act jealous, it’ll just reinforce their clingy behavior.


Be Consistent

Your friend may react negatively to you telling them that you need space, but it’s important that you stick to your guns. Be ready to listen to any concerns they have, and let them be upset, but don’t give in. This isn’t the time to defend yourself, but you still need to hold firm in the choice you’ve made.

Most importantly, don’t waver when it comes to the boundaries you’ve set. You’re still going to be friends and spend time together, but when it crosses a line, it’s time to be honest with them. If they call or text too much, let them know that you’re busy and give them a clear timing of when you’ll be available again. If they invite you to hang out, be straightforward and say you appreciate the offer but you need some time. It won’t be easy, but if you both maintain healthy boundaries, you’ll both benefit in the end.


(Adventure Time via Cartoon Network)


Have a tough time dealing with clingy people? Maybe your crush does, too. Click HERE to find out your crush’s biggest turnoff, based on your zodiac sign.