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Clingy Friend

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Dear Rachel,

Recently a newly married couple moved to our neighborhood and I wanted to make them feel welcome, so I brought them a cake and invited them over for dinner. They are extremely nice and friendly. The problem is that the woman now won't leave me alone. She calls me every day, always wants to come over and hang out, and isn't making any effort to meet other people. While I want her to feel comfortable and I know she doesn't have other friends here, I simply cannot give her the time she needs. Any suggestions?

J.R.


Dear J.R.,

It is always hard when we extend ourselves and get more than we bargained for. It was extremely kind and hospitable of you to bake them a cake when they moved in and have them over. And more than that, the time you are spending with her I am sure has gone to great lengths to make her feel comfortable. But now it is time to cut the umbilical cord—for her sake as much as for yours.

Since you are so kind and available in her mind, she probably sees no reason to make the effort of meeting new people and making new friends. But she is new Now it is time to cut the umbilical cord to the community and it is important that she does so. I also imagine that there are other people who would be more than happy to have her over but probably feel she is "taken care of" because of your involvement.

My suggestion would be to call other women in your community, explain that she recently moved in, and ask them if they would be able to invite her and her husband over and make them feel welcome. I would also find out about other community events happening and encourage her to go so that she can meet people there as well. If you are willing, you could even host an event or bring her out with a group of other friends of yours so that you can be there to make the introductions and so that she would feel comfortable.

If you are concerned that if you pull back she will take offense or feel you are ignoring her, explain to her that it is just the opposite. Tell her how you feel badly that you are the only ones who have been given the mitzvah of being able to host them. Other people would also like to participate in such a mitzvah and want to meet them as well. Rather than giving any indication that you are looking for a break, focus on the fact that other people really are asking to be able to spend time with them as well.

Use the time to do something productive You can also let her know ahead of time that you will be busy so that you do not seem so available. Start dropping comments like, "I can't believe how busy my week is next week. I don't think I'll have a second to breathe!" So then if she asks to spend time the following week you can remind her of how packed your schedule is.

And if she does keep dropping by uninvited or spending time hanging out at your house, use the time to do something productive with her. You do not need to entertain her, and you do not need to let her interfere with what is going on in your life. Ask her to help out, to participate in what you are trying to do. I am sure she would be more than happy to sit and help you fold laundry or cook for Shabbat if it meant spending time with you. And then, not only are you doing the mitzvah of helping her out, but you are giving her the opportunity to do a mitzvah by helping you out in return.

May everyone be blessed with a friend as good as you are. And may you be blessed with many more opportunities to help others!

Rachel

"Dear Rachel" is a bi-weekly column that is answered by a rotating group of experts. This question was answered by Sara Esther Crispe.

Sara Esther Crispe, a writer, inspirational speaker and mother of four, is the Co-Director of Interinclusion, a non-profit multi-layered educational initiative celebrating the convergence between contemporary arts and sciences and timeless Jewish wisdom. Prior to that she was the editor of TheJewishWoman.org and wrote the popular weekly blog, Musing for Meaning. To book Sara Esther for a speaking engagement, please click here.
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Anonymous Hattiesburg August 7, 2017

In case anybody sees this so long after it was posted, trying telling such a friend, "I can't visit with you for a few days because.... but can we get together 3 days from now, or whatever. Do this quite a bit and let the intervals get longer.

Also, make sure to introduce her to other people. Or, another alternative is to take her with you when you go shopping, take the kids to the park, or do other mundane things. In fact, you might enjoy having her company then. Tell her at the beginning that you have to end the get-together at a particular time because . . . (whatever the reason it). That way, she gets company and you aren't losing valuable time to be alone in your house.


Is your friend religious? Maybe she would like to volunteer or teach part time at a school? Reply

Anonymous Pittsburgh May 17, 2016

This happened to me as well, and I've got to say it was a blessing in disguise. I decided to have her help me with a bake sale for my niece's school and we had great fun. It also allowed her to connect with my sister and others in the community and she, my sister and I started a bakery business. We often laugh about the way this all came to be. Sometimes life works in mysterious ways. Look at it as if g-d is trying to tell you something and search for the message. You may be surprised like I was. Reply

Anonymous Hattiesburg August 7, 2017
in response to Anonymous:

What a wise and compassionate response. Reply

Pamela Kimball San Francisco, Ca via chabadnoevalley.org May 26, 2013

tactful honesty is required The advice seemed very good except for the part of not mentioning that the giver needs a break. I dislike this type of social dishonesty and it kind of confuses and angers me when people act this way to me. It feels like lying & deceitfulness, with a hint of superiority thrown in. A person -- especially one with poor social awareness like this newcomter has -- needs to learn what is really going on (the giver needs a break). Reply

Anonymous Tzfat May 19, 2013

I really like your answer, Sara Esther. Reply

Anonymous new york, NY July 30, 2012

emotional drainers I tried to be a mentor to a woman, it worked, and she became stuck to me like glue. She was oblivious that I had a family (she was single) and I DID have other people invite her. She was just emotionally unstable and suffocating to the point I asked a rabbi. He said cut the relationship, but do it kindly. I emailed her that I was uncomfortable in the relationship, blessed her for success and blessing and I felt truly liberated by ending it. Some people get hints (I tried often) and some don't. The whole thing was 3 mos. total but drained me considerably. I'm more cautious now! Reply

Lisa Providence, RI January 22, 2011

Clingy Friend Getting married and moving to a new place can be very stressful, and not everyone is equipped to handle the sudden changes in their lives.

It's possible your new friend is lonely and unhappy and feels she can't adjust to her new life. Does her new husband know about this? He should, since the move affected him, too.

You need to tell your friend you can't be with her 24/7, and she needs help adjusting to her new home and making new friends. Hopefully, you'll be able to help her do just that. Reply

Edith Brown Silver Spring, MD June 30, 2009

Tough Position While this is difficult for you it is going to be just as hard for your neighbor, if not harder. Try to understand she doesn't have a clue & why would she? She is probably thinking your both becoming best friends & having a great time everyday.

It's no ones fault. Its just one of the situations that happens when we don't know how to be a bit more assertive in a gentle, tackful, loving way. Instead I know I have been guilty of becoming resentful & the other person was totally in the dark.

I think 'Rachel's suggestions are excellent. But I think if I were in her shoes I would want the truth from you even if it 'stings' a bit - I would respect you more. Reply

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