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What to Do When Your Friend Becomes Too ‘Needy’

Questioner

Anonymous

Reply Date

Nov 15, 2017

Question

Assalam aleikum. My friend is dependent on me. This means she can’t go out without me or go to school without me. Thanks to Allah now I am a Muslim and she prays and I pray too, but I talked to her about her dependence. I wanted that she goes out without me. It’s obvious that I can’t be with her all day like I am. I talked to her and said that step by step, she can be less dependent, but she doesn’t want that. She has depression and low self-esteem and she said to me that if we are not together like we were since we meet each other, she doesn’t want to be my friend. One day she even threatened me to kill herself if I did not go to her house. I can’t be with my family because of this and a lot of times my mom gets disappointed because I can’t be with her. She also hates my mom and wants me to hate my mom too. I know that Allah will guide her and that in the future she will not hate her. The next year I will move with her and inshallah I can pay a psychologist to treat all her issues. I know that with a psychologist and with Allah she will be happy and have a good life. I think soon I will have an online job, but I want to say to my best friend that I work in a place and that I need to go to this place to be with my family and to work online. Can I do that? If I say that I work in my home with a computer, she will come with me and do not let me do a great job. She never understands me about this and I don’t know what to do. I want to be happy and have a great time with my family. I also think that if we are not together all time, she will be less dependent.

Counselor

Answer


What to Do When Your Friend Becomes Too 'Needy’

In this counseling answer:

“You are a strong girl ma sha’ Allah that you are helping her out in her hard time, beyond your capabilities. However, she does need proper help to have her problems sorted out. Perhaps you should try to involve some adults such as her parents or any elder siblings or other close relatives. If you let your friend be dependent on you consistently, you will eventually feel emotionally burned out. I think it would be best if you set your limits with her.”


As-Salamu ‘Alaykum Sister,

I’m sorry to hear about your situation. I understand from your post that your friend is highly dependent on you. She wants to be with you all the time. Your friend has low self-esteem and depression and has even tried to commit suicide if you do not meet her. This also affects your relationship with your mother since she gets to see less of you. Further, I understand that your friend does not like your mother and wants you not to like her as well. She disapproves you of spending time with your family. You want to start working online and go to your home to complete the job so that you can spend time with your family as well as work without interruptions from your friend.

Sister, you need to understand that spending time with your family and working (however you wish to) is your right. You should not have to lie to your friend about the matter, but if you think it is better to lie so that she does not feel bad, it would be okay to lie. And Allah knows best. However, you must understand that lying will not solve the roots of the problem.

There seems to be a severe problem with your friend since she has tried committing suicide only because you did not visit her. It is apparent that her behavior also affects you and your relationship with your family. It could also be affecting your grades and other things in your life.

There is a lot of missing information about your friend, so I cannot say what her problem could be. You have mentioned she has depression and has a low self-esteem. Her attempt at suicide reveals that her problem runs quite deep. It is possible that she has been a victim of emotional, physical or sexual abuse in the past. Perhaps, her family is disintegrated, and she was deprived of emotional needs in childhood and adolescence. However, I cannot say any of these for sure since I do not have complete information.

Involve a trusted adult

You are a strong girl ma sha’ Allah that you are helping her out in her hard time, beyond your capabilities. However, she does need proper help to have her problems sorted out. Perhaps you should try to involve some adults such as her parents or any elder siblings or other close relatives.

Also, I would advise you to let an elder know immediately that she has attempted or threatened to commit suicide. As she has done that once, it is apparent that she has a suicidal tendency and she can do it again…and again. Therefore, it is best to involve an adult in this matter. Don’t be afraid that you would be “betraying” your friend. I think hiding her suicidal tendencies would be a great risk. It would be better for everyone involved if you do not keep this a secret.

Also, you are not liable to pay her fees for counseling unless you absolutely want to. I would suggest advising your friend’s parents or caretakers about the situation. Get their help to have her counseled by a professional psychologist.

Do not blame yourself for her negative actions

Sister, please understand that if your friend tries to commit suicide because you are not available, or goes through any other negative emotions because you are not there with her, there is no need for you to feel guilty or blame yourself. You are a young girl and are not responsible for her. She has imposed you to be in charge of her needs and be there for her at every whim – without taking into account your preferences and what you want to do with your time. She is controlling your actions by emotional blackmailing to take care of her own needs.

Take a firm stance about your family

In Islam, parents and especially one’s mother has a great deal of importance. You should talk positively about your mother when your friend talks wrong about her. You should be clear about the time you want to spend with your family. Also, try to make her understand the value of family and especially parents.

According to Hadith,

“A man came to the Prophet (Sallallahu Alayihi Wasallam) and said, ‘O Messenger of God! Who among the people is the worthiest of my good companionship? The Prophet said: Your mother. The man said, ‘Then who?’ The Prophet said: Then your mother. The man further asked, ‘Then who?’ The Prophet said: Then your mother. The man asked again, ‘Then who?’ The Prophet said: Then your father.” (Bukhari, Muslim)

According to the Quran,

“And We have enjoined on man (to be dutiful and good) to his parents. His mother bore him in weakness and hardship upon weakness and hardship, and his weaning is in two years give thanks to Me and to your parents, unto Me is the final destination.” (31:14)

Help her increase her faith to quell her fears

It’s great that you and she both pray together, Alhamdulillah. Encourage her to rely on Allah for her needs. Allah is our Creator and Sustainer. In the Quran, Allah says,

“And We have already created man and know what his soul whispers to him, and We are closer to him than [his] jugular vein.” (50:16)

Set healthy limits

You’re a teenager, and in this age, friends take up a lot of your time. Also, peer approval means a lot, especially during the teen ages. However, if you let your friend be dependent on you consistently, you will eventually feel emotionally burned out. You two are quite young and need your own space. You would want to interact and meet with other people in future while your friend is going to keep hindering you from meeting others just so that you can stay with her. This is not healthy.

Be assertive

She needs to learn to live on her own. You need to start making her realize that you have your own aspirations, goals, and values in life.

I think it would be best if you set your limits with her. For instance, you could start by starting your job and going to your parent’s home to do your job. Then gradually, you could make her understand that you wish to spend your weekends with your family as well. Similarly, carry on a gradual increase in your distance with her until you feel comfortable.

I pray for wellness and peace of mind for both you and your friend. I hope that your friend can overcome her dependence on strength and determination. You are a great person who is going out of her way to help and protect your friend. However, you need to understand that you are not responsible for her feelings and actions as long as you do not abuse her verbally (to hurt her).

May Allah guide you and your friend.

***

Disclaimer: The conceptualization and recommendations stated in this response are very general and purely based on the limited information provided in the question. In no event shall AboutIslam, its counselors or employees be held liable for any damages that may arise from your decision in the use of our services.

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About Zainab Farrukh

"Zainab Farrukh has an MS. in Mental Health & Counseling and has been working as a counselor for over 3 years. She is also a Research Specialist working with Psychology professionals and students internationally. She has recently founded The WomeNetwork (www.thewomenetwork.com), where her goal is to help women get better at their game."

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