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How can I distance myself from a friend without hurting their feelings?

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Question - (17 May 2017) 10 Answers - (Newest, 18 May 2017)
A female United States age 26-29, anonymous writes:

I am currently a grad student in college. I used to be best friends with this girl all throughout middle school. We grew apart through highschool, and I am now a graduate in college. Half a year ago, I thought it would be cool if to reach out to her after about 8 years of not having seen her and catch up.

She's still great, but after we reconnected, she wanted to start seeing me very very often. We have been hanging out maybe once a month or so, and she wants to see me more often than that and get closer. Now don't get me wrong, she's cool and all, but to make it concise, she's just not someone I would want to see all the time or be close with; I just want her to be someone I could see a few times a year, honestly. I kind of regret reconnecting because I don't know how to best distance myself from her so that she doesn't have these expectations. Sometimes I just go out with her out of guilt because I don't know how to distance myself.

I feel like a total dick, but I don't want to force myself to hang out with someone out of feeling guilty. What is the best way to go about this?

View related questions: best friend

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A female reader, aunt honesty Ireland + , writes (18 May 2017):

aunt honesty agony auntThis is a tough one, you don't actually say why you don't want to be close with her? Could she not join you and other friends on nights out so that its not just the two off you?

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A female reader, Flabby Thighs United Kingdom +, writes (18 May 2017):

Just ignore her, eventually she will get the message. Its a bit of a cop out but just think how annoyed you will be if it goes on and on and on....

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A female reader, anonymous, writes (18 May 2017):

Dude just tell her before you met a girl you really like. When I met my b/f (now husband) he was struggling with a friend like that, he said "Hello" to her on Facebook and BOOM this chick was so clingy. She always wanted to hang out with him & complain about her past relationships on the phone for hours. He was too nice to tell her to stop, he didn't want to hurt her feelings. We were together for a year she knew he got a g/f now and she didn't care.....he will come up with excuses for a whole year not to hang out with her but that didn't work, this chick was obsessed.....still asking him to hang out. I got tired of him being too nice & talking (3-5) hours with her on the phone that I answer his phone one Day......well let's just say I fixed his problem ??.

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A female reader, Honeypie United States + , writes (18 May 2017):

Honeypie agony auntYou could be honest and tell her :" I don't really feel like we have a lot in common and I don't want to continue this friendship". Yes, it will hurt her feeling - but it's honest.

Or you can STOP being available, be slow in replying to texts and calls (which I personally find ruder and more hurtful than honesty).

Take 5 minutes and think HOW would I feel if I were in her shoes?

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A female reader, Slippers  United Kingdom +, writes (18 May 2017):

I honestly think what you have done is terrible . You were feeling bored and thought you know what maybe such such wanta to catch up as in a t a loose end . Loose end sorted now it's Oo no how do I get her to back off

Really ?? Why even bother to reach out . Terrible you should feel ashamed of yourself ..

I don't have any advice . you made your bed lie in it

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A female reader, anonymous, writes (17 May 2017):

Like a few other people have said, making excuses is most likely the best thing you can do. It won't hurt her feelings and she'll get the message eventually.

I've had this problem with a few of my friends lately, one in particular who is a very clingy individual. I just made up excuses for why I couldn't go somewhere with her, plausible enough, and eventually she backed off a little. We're still friends and if I wanted to do something with her, our friendship wouldn't be ruined.

Though if your friend ever asks anything like, "Are you trying to ignore me or something?" then it's probably a good thing to have an answer prepared.

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A female reader, Youcannotbeserious United Kingdom + , writes (17 May 2017):

Youcannotbeserious agony auntSurely you must have lots of college work and other commitments which would prevent you having the time to meet up with her too often?

Just keep making excuses if she suggests meeting up when you don't want to. If you stay consistent, she will eventually come to accept that you two can only go out occasionally. Then she has the choice of accepting this or walking away from the friendship.

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A male reader, WiseOwlE United States + , writes (17 May 2017):

You know, it's tough and really awkward to tell people what we really feel. In a case like this you have to be honest, just don't be brutal.

Explain that you really prefer traveling solo or with a date; and you have enjoyed reconnecting. You prefer keeping your loner-status and checking-out the guys. You'll shout-out once and awhile let her know when you're available. Don't take it badly, but you don't prefer to hangout together so much.

Going out and faking-it is worse than hurting her feelings.

She's a grown-woman, it's not a romance. She'll get over it.

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A female reader, anonymous, writes (17 May 2017):

I had precisely this problem with a female friend for about 22 years. She wanted my time and attention ALL the time. Every evening. If I didn't give it to her, she made me feel AWFUL. I moved to get away from her and every single Friday night she drove to me and brought her sleeping bag which she lived in on the settee until Sunday night or Monday morning. She was a nightmare though in many ways and maybe this person that you know isn't.

But I do think that when people start to almost DEMAND your time and attention, that they are not behaving very well and exhibiting a few red flags.

You do not have to feel that you MUST socialise with someone .....even if they haven't done anything wrong as has been suggested here.

In the end I got two jobs and STILL saw her three nights a week and I was knackered. Then one evening she told me that three nights a week wasn't enough!!

I recognise your feeling of guilt and ending up doing something that you don't want to, because you're being coerced.

Don't feel bad and get yourself away from her asap. I told my 'friend' straight out that I'd had enough and she said she knew what she'd put me through all those years! She still tries to get my phone number if we bump into each other even now, about twenty years later!

If you can't tell her straight, that you don't have the time or inclination to meet up as often as she would like (and she may well still give you a guilt trip), then be unavailable for a variety of reasons. Or, if you feel you can, don't give her any reason at all, just 'that's not possible'. If you can give that kind of response it gives her less leeway over you, as she might try to get round whatever excuse you come up with.

I know you feel bad, but really she's the one that's behaving badly. All my friends I only see a few times a year...if that! I work hard and go dancing on my own and I'm happy in my own company, so I totally get you.

Grow a bit of a hard skin and be unavailable and if you feel you can, be unaccountable for being unavailable.....

Good luck x

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A male reader, Denizen United Kingdom +, writes (17 May 2017):

Denizen agony auntJust make excuses like everyone else does. She will get the message. There is no easy way. she might be slightly offended or wonder what she has done. Then you use a white lie like everyone does and say you have been very busy and under stress. Eventually it will all go away. You will achieve the end you seek.

You don't actually say what this poor person has done wrong. You say she's cool and all. but I guess not cool enough.

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