Discover more from Friendship Rules
An Unhealthy, Possessive Friendship
A young reader starts to feel uncomfortable when her friend becomes overly possessive.
I’m 22 years old and my friend is a few years younger than me. I love her to death, but she wants me to be with her 24/7.
We used to have the best time together. We would laugh, watch movies and have fun.
She’s had a really tough year because the first two boyfriends she ever had acted like big jerks and weren’t nice to her. I was there for her but a year later, she’s not talking to anybody else but me, not even her family!
On top of that, she frequently locks herself in her room and cuts off contact with everyone.
She cancels plans with other friends just in case I want to hang out with her. When I say I can't get together or I'm not up to it, she gets mad and won’t speak to me for days.
I’m in the process of applying to colleges and she is insisting that I go to an in-state college so that in two years, when she graduates from high school, we can live in an apartment together. When I tell her I want to live in a dorm, she says she doesn't want me to.
I’m thinking of going to college four states away and I don't know how to tell her because I know an argument will follow.
I know I have to stick up for myself more, but I care a lot about her. I’m not sure how to change things. I’m so tired of feeling like a rug she walks all over.
Do you have any advice?
This relationship doesn't sound healthy for you or your friend.
We presume that she is still a teenager who has become overly attached, possessive, and dependent on you. Maybe she looks up to you because you’re a few years older.
She demands exclusivity in your relationship and doesn't seem comfortable being alone or with other friends.
If she’s really as emotionally volatile and is "locked in her room," as you describe, she may need professional help. You should speak to someone in her family in confidence and admit that this problem is more than you can handle at this stage in your life. It seems like it is.
You may have inadvertently encouraged her dependency by giving in to her unreasonable demands. At this point, you need to start setting some limits and gradually begin to put more distance between you and your friend.
Moreover, you must examine your motives for allowing this to happen. It sounds like this relationship is dominating your life when you should have other interests and involvements. You certainly shouldn't let this friendship dictate your college plans. It wouldn't be good for either of you.
Recognizing this problem is the first step in resolving it. We know this situation is tricky and we wish you luck and grace in resolving it.
Irene & Sheryl
Recognizing a friendship problem is the first step in resolving it.