Ask Sahaj: Should I break up with my high-maintenance best friend?

Hello Sahaj: My best friend expects me to talk to him on the phone any time of the day. I spoke to him about the fact that our communication preferences do not match and that he is pressuring me, but nothing has changed.

I also don’t want to hang out with him as much as he would like. He was moving out of state and I thought this would be my chance to work things out, but then he flew back almost every weekend. Before he moved, I told him directly that I wouldn’t and don’t want to come and visit every year. I told him I would see him maybe every three to five years depending on how things are going in life. I knew this would be a problem and tried to communicate concerns and intentions clearly early on.

I’ve had three big conversations with him and talked about the fact that our expectations of friendship aren’t all the same, but somehow I always feel guilty – and then I compromise. That friendship has grown into something that I feel compelled to spend time with my older sibling. How do I deal with a high maintenance friend? Is it time to end this?

Cannot trade: Trust and respect are key components of a healthy friendship and are absent from the friendship you describe. It sounds like you know what you want to do. Not wanting to talk to someone or be with someone is reason enough to stop being friends with them.

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You have clearly expressed your abilities and tried your best to meet your friend’s expectations, and yet you feel bad all the time. Are you okay with not having that friend in your life anymore? What do you get from the friendship? currently? Does it make you feel more bad than good? Is this actually your best friend, or are you still friends from commitments or a shared history?

Friendships evolve over time, but having fundamentally different ideas about what a friendship should be is more than an evolution. Now that you’ve already had “three big conversations” about it, you can decide if it’s worth reiterating what’s at stake. It might sound like this: “I feel like I’m not being heard in our friendship and I’ve started to get angry. If this keeps up, I can’t keep being your friend. Can we talk about this?”

Unless Really If you’re committed to your boundaries, chances are your friend will see them as suggestions. Let’s face it: people often take what they can get. For example, if you said you can’t talk all the time, and your friend texts you all the time And You react immediately, you have not reinforced the border. Instead, you can respond less frequently or with a set time to meet expectations on a daily basis. Boundaries that are set verbally usually require behavioral reinforcement.

You keep compromising what you want and it’s clear you want to spare your boyfriend’s feelings at the expense of your own happiness. This makes you friendly but shows a lack of commitment to your own needs. Setting boundaries in relationships isn’t about changing the other person, it’s about protecting your limited time and energy. The harsh truth here is that you’ve maintained this dynamic regardless of whether your friend is “high care”.

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Friendships are meant to be supportive and nurturing, not demanding or controlling. There’s a difference between someone who doesn’t have a clue and someone who blatantly ignores boundaries to get what they want. The latter can be a sign that the friendship is manipulative and unhealthy.

If you feel like you gave your friend the time and opportunity to respect your needs and they didn’t, then you probably shouldn’t be friends anymore.

Be honest while also appreciating what this friendship has meant to you. You can say something like, “I have treasured our time together throughout our life together [name of city] and bond over [shared hobby/interest]. For some time now, I’ve felt like our friendship has changed and I no longer feel like we’re a good match.” Make it clear why you are ending the friendship by focusing on it your Needs. “I feel like I was trying to communicate what I want in this friendship, but I didn’t feel heard.” Or, consider focusing on the dynamic rather than what he does or doesn’t do. “I feel like I’m expected to be there for you at all times.” Make it clear that you’re ending the friendship and that this isn’t a discussion: “I think it’s time to end our friendship breaking up, but I will always cherish the time together.”

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Avoiding this conversation because of the guilt you felt won’t save you from feeling bad. It may hurt your friend, but being honest and intentional about how you feel about your friendship is actually a generous and loving act. Instead of continuing to hold grudges, the two of you can focus on friendships that don’t work when you are fully aware that the friendship is not working.

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