“Help: My friend is acting like a stalker!”

Dear Sarah,

A year ago I met the man of my dreams and began a relationship with him—I am so happy! However, at the same time, an old friend broke up with her college boyfriend.

She was an incredibly clingy girlfriend and had barely reached out to me once she started dating.  Eventually, he simply had enough and ended it. Since then she’s been clinging to me, sending me multiple messages a day wanting to know where I am and who I’m with. Unlike her, I’m in school and I work so I’m super busy—this means that when I’m unable to reply right away she gets more and more horrible for no reason.

She’ll throw anger fits at me and my other friends—the most recent was when I didn’t have time to drive her home after a party. She ended up throwing her phone at the table, and when it shattered, blamed me for being selfish. She expects me to drive her everywhere even though I have told her again and again I can’t do that (besides which, she never offers any money for gas and I simply can’t afford it).

The main reason I’m writing is that she’s become obsessed with my boyfriend’s best friend. She has started to e-stalk him most days; it has gotten to the point where I’m scared to tell her where I’m meeting my boyfriend because she will turn up hoping that the friend will also be there. She keeps asking me to set them up, but I don’t want to. I’ve set her up in the past and she was rude and only went out and led guys on for free drinks. I don’t want this for my boyfriend’s friend as he is lovely and deserves so much better! Apparently she also writes “essays” to all my BF’s other friends on Facebook telling them that they would be the perfect couple. Every time I see one of these guys I’m so embarrassed!

She calls herself my best friend and gets jealous when I mention anyone else, yet she doesn’t act like she respects me or listens to me. I’ve tried ignoring her but she keeps messaging me—in the time it’s taken me to write this I’ve have three messages from her. I’ve tried to simply turn down her invitations, but they keep coming.

I’m a complete loss, please help!

—Freaked Out in the UK

Dear Freaked Out,

Problem number one: this girl is in a bad place and acting way inappropriate. Problem number two: you are trying to magically make it go away without being totally direct with her.

I suspect you are an extremely kind person who avoids confrontation. You have probably put up with her for years: maybe you felt sorry for her, maybe there were parts of her that you loved so were willing to accept the messiness. Anyway, now she’s not only impacting you but your boyfriend and his friends, so suddenly the behavior seems intolerable. First of all, you don’t need to be embarrassed, the other friends can take care of themselves, its not “your fault” that she’s pestering them.

However, I suggest its time to take a harder line with her. Some people (myself included) always want to seem like the nice person and have people like them. Part of growing up is realizing that you are going to piss some people off and others simply won’t like you. You have to come to terms with that fact; when you do, it will help you be both stronger and more true to yourself.

Think hard about whether you want her in your life at all. If the answer is no, then you should tell her firmly and plainly (or write/email, if you absolutely can’t bear a face-to-face) that she’s crossed a line and you are done. She will probably be outraged and upset. She may lash out and make you feel guilty. She may act weak and sad and beg you to give her a chance. Its up to you whether you do so. You aren’t obligated to be her friend. If you do decide that you genuinely value and want to preserve your relationship (not just because it makes you feel like a good person—that’s patronizing) then set ground rules.

If she harasses you, its okay to unfriend her, block her messages, etc. While you shouldn’t go out of your way to hurt someone, you really are allowed to have boundaries.

Love, Sarah

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