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How Do You Handle a "Friend" Who Gets Too Close Too Soon?
A reader wonders how to “escape” a pushy woman who wants to be her friend.
Sometimes, people come on too strong when trying to make new friendships. And this can make the person on the receiving end begin to feel uncomfortable.
I have a visible position in a public profession that brings me into contact often with lots of new people.
Last year, a woman who attended a conference where I was speaking approached me after my talk. I had met her in the past at other events. She felt we had "lots in common" and wanted to exchange phone numbers and get together for lunch. I enjoy meeting new people, so I said yes.
Soon after, this woman started inviting me to lunch and emailing or texting me regularly. Aside from the fact that I'm busy and not looking for a new best friend, I soon realized that I didn't "click" with this woman and didn't want to continue or develop the friendship.
The problem is that once she got my number, this woman was determined to pursue a friendship and is continually putting me on the spot with invitations to get together. I keep declining, but she keeps pushing.
At the risk of sounding like an egotist, I sense this woman views me as a "trophy friend" in terms of her career advancement. She's also the sort of person who refers to people as close friends in a very short period of time, which isn't comfortable for me.
So my question is: How do I discourage a new friendship that I’m not interested in continuing—without hurting the other person? It's hard not to feel guilty after I've already accepted a couple of "getting to know you" invitations to lunch.
Am I obligated to explain why I don't want to allow a new friendship to develop? Or do I simply "ghost" this person?
Thanks for your help!
Yes, it’s always awkward when one person is more invested in a friendship than another.
You certainly didn’t do anything wrong by trying this friendship on for size. All friendships start the same way: An acquaintance becomes a friend over time as two people get to know each other better. You couldn’t have possibly determined that this woman wasn’t friend-worthy before you had these lunches.
Not only did you discover that you didn’t click, but worse, you got the sense that she was using you.
You don’t owe this acquaintance an explanation, nor do you have to ghost her. Instead, continue to be consistent about declining her invitations. You also have no obligation to respond to her texts. If she calls and you answer the phone, tell her you’re simply too busy with your work and family commitments.
Friendships are voluntary relationships that have to be mutually satisfying. When they’re right, they bloom like a flower (sorry, I couldn’t resist the pun, Rose!)
While it may not feel comfortable to do this repeatedly, you have no reason to feel guilty that she’s tone-deaf. Eventually, she’ll get the message.
Sheryl & Irene
Friendships are voluntary relationships that should be mutually satisfying.
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