Clingy friends are drawn to those who don’t value their time and who have a low self-worth. You may attract clingy friends if you think it’s your responsibility to fix their problems (it’s not). Being naive also attracts clingy friends.
Those are, in a nutshell, the main reasons some people tend to attract friends who are clingy.
Is that you, or someone you know?
What are clingy friends?
“If you describe someone as clingy, you mean that they become very attached to people and depend on them too much.”
That’s the definition of clingy according to the Collins dictionary.
Clingy friends are emotionally needy. In their mind, they have the right to take all your time and attention until you’re exhausted.
Typically, they don’t do it on purpose — nor do they realize that their behavior is unhealthy for both them and you.
Clingy friends are friends who text you all the time, who make you feel guilty when you ignore them. Clingy friends will also make you feel uncomfortable.
Signs of clingy friends
They are possessive
If you have a friend that’s clingy, chances are they are possessive as well. They probably get jealous whenever you spend time with someone else, for whatever reason.
Unfortunately, there are types of friends that tend to make you feel guilty, and clingy people often fall into this category. Whether they do it on purpose or not.
A friend that’s clingy or possessive will sometimes treat you like they own you, like they have the divine right to be with you, and when they don’t, they’ll get upset.
They always ask for help
You’re dealing with an issue in your life, and you ask a friend for help. Totally normal. That’s one of the reasons meaningful friendships can make your life so much better (and easier).
Now, clingy people ask for help in a completely different way. They always ask for help or advice. Even when the issue is not that important. Even when there is no issue at all.
And because they are emotionally needy, they’ll sometimes create problems for themselves just so they can ask for help. Sounds ridiculous, but I’ve seen it many times.
They expect you to be available
Here’s another sign you may be dealing with a clingy friend: if they constantly text you, if they expect you to be available 24/7. Basically, if they don’t respect your time.
And guess what happens if you don’t reply to their messages, if you say you’re busy, if you cut them short — they’ll act like they’re shocked, and ask if there’s anything wrong.
Because in their mind, they don’t even question the idea that you should always be available. After all, you’re a friend, right? Clingy people don’t respect boundaries, which is why sometimes…
They invade personal space
Another sign of a clingy friend or person is that they may physically invade your personal space. This reflects their belief that they have the right to be clingy.
Ever had a friend who would get close to you, touch you, sit too close to you even when it clearly made you uncomfortable, or even when inappropriate?
That’s what clingy friends tend to do. They don’t just take too much of your time, they also take your space. As if you were a partner, or parent.
You feel drained
How do you feel, mentally and physically, when you spend time with a friend that you think is clingy?
Our body, our emotions, the way we feel — these will indicate whether the other person is meant for you or not. Pay attention to the way you feel because it very often corresponds to the truth.
The easiest way to find out if a friend is an energy vampire (or someone who shouldn’t be your friend anyway) is to observe yourself and see if they are draining your energy.
They ask questions
Finally, clingy friends tend to ask questions. Way too many questions. And they also ask questions that may be inappropriate or intrusive.
You can think of clingy friends as people who are too friendly (and yes, there is such a thing).
Clingy friends want to know everything about you because the more you know, the closer they’ll get to you emotionally, the more you’ll be their friend, their best friend they can’t live without.
Why you may attract clingy friends
Do you believe you attract people that are clingy? Including friends?
You may be right, or you may be wrong. But know this: some people do tend to attract those who are needy, emotionally dependent, or just “desperate”.
Who we are and the way we behave attracts certain people, things, and situations. It’s real.
We all interact with clingy people, emotional vampires, narcissists, etc. in a way or another. But why is it that most people are immune to them, while a smaller percentage seems to just… attract them?
It has to do with them. It’s an uncomfortable truth, I guess. It would be easier to blame everyone else, but 99 percent of the time, it is you.
If you’re the type that attracts clingy friends, these may be the reasons…
1. Low self-worth
What type of friends do you think you deserve? Do you deserve to be surrounded by people with whom you can be yourself, people who align with your personality?
Or people who are nothing but a waste of time? I’m being brutally honest here, but hopefully I’m making it as clear as possible.
What you think you deserve, you get. Sometimes the reason you have clingy friends is because you think that’s the only option. Know that you’re worthy, and you’ll attract better friends.
2. No boundaries
You don’t need to be an entrepreneur, or a workaholic, to value your time. You don’t need to have mental health issues to value your mental health.
Boundaries are like lines, or thresholds, that define how much you can give or take, what others can or cannot do to you. They are one of the foundations of your wellbeing, especially in relationships.
Guess what — if you have no boundaries, if you are way too generous with your time, energy, and attention, you’re going to attract people that are clingy.
3. False responsibility
You are responsible for your own wellbeing. You are not responsible for other people’s wellbeing.
Read it again until it sinks in.
If you subconsciously believe it’s your responsibility to help others (because of your personality, or the way you’ve been raised), you’ll definitely attract those who are emotionally needy.
Some people are pathetic/desperate. Some friends are bad for your mental health, and you shouldn’t waste a single second on them.
A friend that’s clingy may compliment you, they may tell you you’re the best, most amazing friend they’ve ever had. Naturally, this feels good. But you can’t afford to be naive here.
There are people you want to be around, and people who just aren’t meant for you — no matter what they say to you! Listen to your feelings, not to their words.
5. Toxic empathy
Empaths can be some of the nicest, most wonderful people on the planet. Empathy makes you an excellent listener, and it naturally leads to genuine, fulfilling relationships.
But… there is a thing called toxic empathy (you may call it “unhealthy” empathy) and you don’t want to be a victim of it. It’s similar to the concept of false responsibility explained above.
Those who have a toxic empathy may tend to attract people who take advantage of their good nature, such as clingy friends.
Choose your friends wisely
Jim Rohn once said that we are the average of the five people we spend our time with.
It may not be 100 percent accurate. But psychology has indeed proven that others’ behavior affects us, subconsciously.
We tend to copy and model those around us — their actions, the way they speak, their attitude, and so on — and we don’t even realize it.
This alone, I think, is enough to justify having only a few friends, but really good friends. In other words, being selective with friends.
And if it doesn’t sound convincing, consider this: do you really want to give your time and attention to someone who makes you feel uncomfortable, with whom you can’t really be yourself?
Some friends that are clingy are totally fine in small doses. That’s not what I’m referring to here. I’m referring to friends who act like you’re their property.
Again: it may sound harsh, but it’s not your responsibility to fix others. Ultimately, if someone is clingy, or too emotionally dependent — that’s not your problem!
And you are not being selfish for prioritizing your peace. Choose your friends wisely — your mental health will thank you.
How to deal with clingy friends
Essentially, these would be the opposite of the traits/mindset that attract them, explained above.
To deal with, or avoid, clingy friends…
- Choose how to respond. First of all: if you’ve known a clingy friend for a while, you may have developed patterns in terms of how you respond to them. For example, each time they send a certain text message, you may reply on autopilot. Take time to think, and know that you’re not a computer — their input doesn’t have to equal a certain output.
- Be as honest as possible. Straightforwardness seems to have become a sin in today’s society. It’s true we shouldn’t hurt other people’s feelings (when possible). But we shouldn’t hide the truth, either. If a clingy friend makes you feel uncomfortable, if you don’t like what they say or do — feel free to tell them. Be honest.
- Be as free as possible. As long as you respect others, you are basically free to do whatever you want. A clingy friend’s problems are not your responsibility. There’s nothing that you really have to do. You don’t have to be super nice to them, you don’t have to reply to all their texts. Develop a freedom mindset — don’t be afraid of anyone’s reaction.
- Say the magical word. Lastly, use the word “no”. Say no to clingy friends who don’t respect your time or boundaries. Just say it. The more often you do it, the more they’ll respect you, the more you’ll realize it’s totally normal (and healthy) to prioritize your time, and say no to people.