Static Cling

Again, sorry for the title – I am most assuredly not talking about laundry tonight. What I am talking about involves at least one word – or, rather, a variation of one word – in the title, so it’s at least closer than last night. The presence of this behavior has been confirmed by several sources, so I can be relatively certain that it is present. Important to note, however, is that I didn’t know it was present until someone told me. But more on that later.

I have talked, at great length, about how close I am to my friends and how much I value them. While valuing loyalty and placing a great deal of trust in one’s friends may be admirable qualities – and I certainly hope they are – I rarely get the chance to see, or hear about the experience of being my friend, from one of my friends. It’s been on my mind lately, though, because of things I have been worried about.

Because I place such value on my friends, I tend to prefer their company above that of most other people. Part of that is because I don’t deal with rejection or loss very well – when I ask someone else, even someone who I am friendly with, to do something, and they say no, for whatever reason, I take that much more personally than I should; it feels like a personal rejection, when it might just be that they had other plans already. With my friends, I don’t have that; when I ask a friend to do something and they can’t, I can accept that, because I feel that, as a friend, they’re not rejecting me personally. So, naturally, the first people I ask to do things are my closest friends.

This may sound normal, but if I don’t feel like I can comfortably ask other people out, to do anything, I rely heavily on my friends. While they tend to allow this, it can become a heavy burden – for my last several months in St. Louis, because I had no friends nearby or people I felt comfortable asking to do things, I contacted one couple, both close friends, on a nightly – or almost-nightly – basis. I did this for months, and they put up with it, because they saw it as their duty as friends. I love them for it, but there was no reason they should have had to do that.

This is seriously clingy behavior, and I can only imagine that it gets kind of old. While in Menninger, we had no real choice but to see the same patients on our unit every day, and spend time with them every day. So there’s a level of closeness that develops, especially if people become friends. But once I transferred to the step-down, I wasn’t really sure what to do, because ti had been a long time since I’d been around friends for such a long period of time. So, as you might imagine, I stuck very closely to the people I knew here who were already friends, and while I made efforts to be friendly to others, it was to my close friends that I turned to first.

This was probably OK for a while; it takes some time for my more annoying traits to manifest, after all. Some people might not find those traits annoying, anyway. But I’ve been here for three months now, and eventually, spending time outside of groups with the same person starts to wear on people. Upon reflection, and having been told about my behavior, it’s pretty obvious that I am a relatively clingy person; I’d prefer to spend my time with the same small group of people, because being with my close friends actually makes me feel better – my fear and anxiety goes away, I relax, I feel like I belong. But I am not the easiest person to be around.

This is the part I mentioned earlier. I am aware that I can be clingy and annoying. But being aware of the ability doesn’t mean I know when it is happening. It might seem hurtful to tell a friend that they are being clingy, but in my case, at least, I’m a big boy – I can take it. I would much prefer to know when it starts happening than for a friend, trying to keep my feeling from being hurt, keeps their annoyance hidden until it builds up to a more intolerable level. More than  just knowing when it starts happening, I need to know what I am doing that is bothersome. Without knowing when and how I am bugging people, especially my friends, I can’t take steps to fix it. 

This isn’t the responsibility of my friends – I know that being clingy is my problem. If it sounds like I am placing blame for my actions on anyone but myself, then I’m saying things incorrectly. I’m not blaming you – I blame myself. What I am doing is asking for your help. I need to know when I’m being clingy. I don’t want to be. Please, help me and in doing so, perhaps help yourselves. 

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One comment on “Static Cling

  1. Jen says:

    I think you are naturally working on a solution to this problem. Choosing a few close friends and spending almost all of your free time with them is normal and makes sense. People (you included) like to be around those close friends that make them feel comfortable, where they can relax and enjoy each other. The problem that I see and where this becomes “clingy” is if you have too much free time and you always want to be with your close friends then they have no time to do anything that they need to get done without you (especially if they are trying to work, attend other functions or have family/friends outside of your group).
    You are working on this and I think this will solve itself naturally for you. As you work towards your goals over the next few weeks (finding 2 groups outside of pathfinders, becoming actively involved with 1 volunteer group, and getting a job) time in your day will fill up quickly – hopefully doing things that you also enjoy. Then when you only have a few hours of free time rather than many hours it will be easier to spend those few hours with your close friends without being clingy. I think you have recognized a problem that is very insightful, however in time I think this will naturally solve itself and you are currently on the path to do so.

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