How to Drift Apart From Clingy Friends

Instead of pushing a needy pal away, slowly start hanging out with a new group.
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You liked her at first, but as the weeks go by you're starting to feel like your new friend is more into shadowing you than socializing with you. If you have a needy Nellie or clingy Cathy on your hands, finding a way to gradually drift apart can sever your ties without hurting her.

1 Make New Friends

If you're feeling annoyed by the 24-7 cling of your friend, adding new people to your social circle to slowly displace him can solve the problem. If you've known the clinging pal for years or he was your BFF at some point, tell him that you think both of you should start meeting some new people. Moving on from a friend who is new to your life or that you consider more of a casual acquaintance might not require the same type of deep conversation. Whether you tell your bud or not, start hanging out with a few new people. Join a school club that you have an interest in, volunteer for a community group or start hanging out with the funny guy that you always joke with in bio.

2 Set Boundaries

Showing up at your place unannounced every night, constantly texting -- even when she knows that you're at work -- or inviting herself along on every social outing are all signs that your clingy friend has no boundaries. Gradually drifting apart from her means setting boundaries that will eventually take her away from your side. Start saying "no" when she oversteps her bounds or wants to spend too much time with you. While you might feel like the "mean girl," the more boundaries you make the more likely it is that she'll get your point and slowly start stepping away.

3 Take a Break

What do you do when a romantic relationship gets too intense? You take a break and step back to reassess the situation. Take this idea into the friendship arena, and ask your clingy pal for a BFF break. If you aren't entirely sure how to do this without hurting her feelings, use a family vacation or business trip out of town as a chance to get away. If you aren't traveling anywhere, tell her that you're really busy and need a break from hanging with her. The break gives her a chance to get used to life without you, making her less likely to keep up her clinging in the future.

4 Grow, Girl

As you grow and develop, your interests, likes and dislikes also change. Friends can slowly grow apart as they change and explore new identity roles. Use this to your advantage when trying to drift away from a clingy friend. For example, if your art club pal is hanging on your every word, consider exploring another interest -- such as drama or volleyball -- that takes you in a different friendship direction. While you shouldn't quit an activity that you enjoy just to get away from your clingy friend, you can slowly start discovering what other interests you have.

Based in Pittsburgh, Erica Loop has been writing education, child development and parenting articles since 2009. Her articles have appeared in "Pittsburgh Parent Magazine" and the website PBS Parents. She has a Master of Science in applied developmental psychology from the University of Pittsburgh's School of Education.