Sex & Relationships

What to do with a clingy friend

Our advice expert, Claudia Dey, answers the tough sex and relationship questions

Breaking up with a friend

Photo, Getty Images.

Dear Claudia,

I love my best friend, but lately she’s become clingy. She still expects the closeness we shared in our 20s. The problem is that I just got married, and my husband and I feel a little crowded. How do I tell her we need some space without hurting her feelings?

Dear Best Friend,

You don’t. Somewhere, in her own crowded heart, she already knows. Asking her for space will only stir shame, which will lead to anger, which will lead to a break of some kind (these can be hard to repair, as every country song can attest).

I understand you’re now juggling two big relationships and that this plenitude can be overwhelming. But look at it for what it is: an upside-down horseshoe of fine luck. That said, you do have a new dynamic that you need to establish — delicately.

It sounds as though your BFF is simply not adjusting well to your wedded state. Help her out. Begin by making a regular date — not with your husband but with your friend. Propose a meeting every two or three weeks for what one of my own closest friends calls a “booking.” This is a time for the two of you to engage in every mischief, to build that glimmering world of private jokes no one else could possibly penetrate and to parse the details of your lives.

Remember your marriage and your best-friendship are not in competition. They are very different intimacies. In time, as you emphasize the moments you spend together — and apart — you will be happy that she is still there for you, just as she was when you were in your 20s.

Claudia Dey is a novelist, columnist and Governor General’s Award–nominated playwright. She is the author of  How to Be a Bush Pilot: A Field Guide to Getting Luckier and has written about sex and relationships for the Globe and Mail and Toro.

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