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How To Manage A High Maintenance Friend And Keep Your Friendship Going

By Lisa Harris
Updated October 30, 2015

If you have a friend (or a few) in your life that seems to always invite drama, or is the person you can always count on to call you during the wee hours of the morning to assist them with some perceived emergency, you know what it’s like to deal with a high maintenance friendship.

Understandably, these types of friendships can be very draining, and you may even find yourself wondering why you still continue to interact with these people. Friendships can be complicated, though, and it’s not always easy to just cut ties with people.

The tips below can be useful if you’d like to know how to handle a high maintenance friendship, because you aren’t ready to give up altogether.

Set Limits

Gently but firmly set limits regarding what you are able or willing to provide. For example, you can say, “I care a lot about you, and want to help you through your problems, but I’m simply not available to help you out in the middle of the night.”

If the person calls you claiming to be stranded on the side of the road because of a flat tire, you could suggest alternatives such as calling an emergency towing service. On the other hand, if the person has needs that are purely emotional in nature, you can offer to help the individual when the time is more suitable.

Obviously, your exact response will vary depending on the issue your friend is having. However, the key is to try to respond in a kind way that doesn’t make you feel like you’re being used as a doormat.

In some cases, you can even help your friend develop new skills, such as the ability to be more independent. If the friend always expects you to go with them, whether you’re going to eat at a new restaurant or watch the latest film at the cinema, gently remind that person that you have your own life to lead, as well.

If you are a person who is very caring by nature, you may feel extremely guilty about firmly telling your friends you’re not always available to help. However, as you gradually create a bit of distance, you should be able to start feeling the benefits of that head-space.

Be Honest

If your friend is truly out of control to the point of being embarrassing, don’t feel like you’re overstepping your boundaries by having a heart-to-heart talk in which you’re brutally honest.

Sometimes, a person may not fully realize the effects of their behavior. As a friend, it’s up to you to try to highlight it without being alienating. Try to give the conversation a personal slant by discussing how the behavior made you feel and how you would like to help the person make improvements.

Attempt To Understand Your Friend’s Goal

There may be a very specific reason why your friend is acting in such a high maintenance way. For example, perhaps the behavior is being used to seek attention, or maybe your friend is going through something tough and doesn’t know how to handle it, so they are displaying that behavior out of stress.

Once you are able to have some sense of clarity about why the behavior is occurring, you may be able to get to the bottom of it and help your friend start acting in healthier ways.

Remember The Good Parts Of Your Friendship

All the tips you have read so far will probably be a little hard to carry out, especially because your friend may resist when you put them into action. To give yourself confidence about why you are moving forward with making changes in the dynamics of your friendship, think about all the good parts of the relationship and why you care so much about preserving this friendship.

Pin It Spend Less Time Together

Explore the possibility of restricting the amount of time that you spend around your friend. Sometimes, you can give a person the tools they need to make positive changes, but it is up to that individual to actually take action. Putting a restriction on the amount of time in which you interact could be what it takes to make that person shape up.

As you can see, the remedies for handling a high maintenance friendship aren’t always easy, but they might be necessary, especially when you feel the relationship is a drain on your existence. Be kind and patient with yourself as you look for ways to save your own sanity without severing the friendship.

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Katherine Hurst
By Lisa Harris
Lisa Harris is a qualified relationship and friendship coach. After studying in California, she started up her own friendship building business, where she helps clients to reconnect with others, making companions so that they no longer feel lonely. Lisa is passionate about helping others find happiness with a large client base of people that have made friends for life.

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