Two young women in a city walk on a sunny summer day, eating ice cream, using smart phone while walking, for social media and text messaging.
How To Handle An "Obligation Friendship"
If you have an obligation friendship where you hang out with a friend because you feel like you have to, it’s important to set clear boundaries to protect your space and energy.
1. Check-in With Yourself
Clinical psychologist Dr. Roxy Zarrabi explains on Psychology Today that feeling like you have no energy after seeing your friend is a sign that you should leave the friendship.
As a rule of thumb, it's best to leave any friendship that makes you feel bad about yourself or that feels competitive, rather than supportive.
2. Evaluate Yourself
Obligation friendships, unlike other relationships, can often limit or encourage you to act in not-so-authentic ways. You might feel like strangers more than besties.
Even if you used to enjoy spending time together, an obligation friendship can form when you’re no longer growing in the same direction, which can make things feel awkward.
3. Change How You Show Up
Start by changing how available you make yourself to your obligatory friend. You may even discover that a little time apart gives you more to bond over the next time you meet.
Also, start setting stronger boundaries. If guilt is the only thing keeping you in the relationship, learn to start honoring your needs and wants by saying no.
4. Learn To Let Go
If distancing yourself and setting boundaries still leaves you feeling unsatisfied, know that it's totally okay to let go of a friendship that's become a chore to maintain.
If your friend continues reaching out, psychotherapist Gina Handley Schmitt told WebMD that it's a good idea to clearly, though kindly, communicate your intentions moving forward.