How to Respectfully Set Boundaries With a Needy Friend

We all want to be there for the people we care about—but we've got to put ourselves first.

There's a big difference between needing a favor or shoulder to cry on here and there and being a needy friend altogether.

If you find that a pal of yours constantly requires your energy, it's time to take a step back and (subtly) let them know you can't be their everything. Keep reading to find out how to respectfully set boundaries with a needy friend.

1. Respond to Their Texts Sporadically

A needy friend is likely to contact you at any given time. Whether they need help with a homework assignment, want to vent about their S.O., or whatever the case may be, it's easy to get caught up in a never-ending back and forth with them. That's why you can't respond to them on demand. It's not that you're playing games with them—it's simply that the more you reply, the more they'll think it's okay to consistently contact you. If you wait an hour here and an hour there, they'll get that you have other things going on, or that you're simply not a prompt texter.

Serena staring at her phone looking sad in a scene from Gossip Girl

(Gossip Girl via The CW)


2. Make Your Routines Very Clear

If you work out every day after school, you use the hours of 3 to 5 p.m. as solo study time, or every Saturday is date night with your S.O., make that known. If you state your routines loud and clear, you're letting this friend know that interruptions are not welcome. The minute you seem wishy-washy or willing to break your patterns for this pal, they'll absolutely take advantage of your flexibility.


3. Avoid Making One-on-One Plans With Them

Depending on the friend, it may not be necessary to remove this person from your life altogether. You may actually like having them around—but keep it to groups when possible. Whether it's a small group or a much bigger one, avoiding one-on-one plans makes it harder for them to corner you or have high expectations. When you're in a group, it's every (wo)man for themself.


(Pretty Little Liars via Freeform)


4. Avoid 'How Are You?' Texts

Generally speaking, a "How are you?" or "How's it goin'?" text is harmless. It's a longer way of saying "hi," as well as a way to check in with someone going through something. But when it comes to the consistently needy friend, you absolutely want to avoid those dreaded three words, for they will catapult into paragraphs upon paragraphs of much more than you anticipated. Where a normal friend gets that "how are you" is an incredibly casual correspondence, a needy friend will take any and every opportunity to share their innermost thoughts and capture your attention. Don't give them that chance. If, indeed, you feel like checking in, send them a funny meme or tell them something funny that happened to you recently. Keep things light and don't open the doors for much else.


5. Just (Respectfully) Say 'No'

Sometimes there's no way around a situation without blatantly saying "no." Whether it's a friend who always wants to borrow something from you, or someone who always demands your attention, if all else fails, you've got to put your foot down. It doesn't mean you have to be rude or disrespectful in any way. Just simply say you can't do whatever it is. You don't owe anyone an explanation for the personal choices you make. They may seem shocked or angry if they're used to getting what they want out of you, but once you get in a habit of saying "no," it'll get less tricky and they'll accept it more.

Two friends setting on a step talking and listening

(via Unsplash)


Do you feel like this friend has crossed the line? HERE are the most likely reasons why someone doesn't respect you.