As members of the personality type grouping known as "rationals," NTs are practical and unsentimental folks. Great at solving life's little problems, they are not so great at dealing with people who get sunk into their emotions. NT's are pretty hot on reciprocity, too, and don't appreciate friends who demand more than their fair share of attention. Unsurprisingly, NTs are the type least likely to cope with an excessively needy friend - those who take a mile while giving barely an inch in return.
If you find yourself avoiding phone calls or blowing them off every time your attention-seeking friend wants to meet up, you're probably not handling the situation very well. Here are some tips to help NTs cope with emotionally needy relationships.
Analyze the Problem
Behavior that seems emotionally needy to a level-headed NT may seem completely normal to everyone else. Before you design a plan of action, you need to be very clear that your friend is the problem - not you. Ask yourself, is your friend making demands that are excessive? Are you stuck in a cycle of the same drama, different day, or is there a reason for your friend's sudden neediness (relationship break up, bereavement, job loss?) Perhaps your friend usually behaves in a perfectly self-reliant manner, but you have created the problem by controlling the relationship through strict and rigid boundaries. NTs have a tendency to keep people at arm's length. If your friend is not getting the intimacy she needs, then she may become clingy simply to get your attention. Lessons learned, you can start tinkering around the edges to fix your friendship.
Be Less Available
A friend in need is a friend indeed, but what if your friend sounds like a broken record? If your friend is always asking for a sympathetic ear, money or a favor, you need to take a reality check. Chances are, this friend needs more help than you can provide. Worse, they may be quite content lurching from crisis to crisis and have no intention of doing anything about their demanding behavior.
If you are stuck in an endless cycle of drama, you need to establish clear and consistent boundaries. Tell your friend to stop calling you during work hours. Tell them that you are crazy busy and can only spare a half hour before dinner to chat. If they call after dinner, let the call go to voicemail. And for goodness sake don't change your plans to deal with the latest emergency - your energy is limited, and your friend needs to understand that you can't give what you don't have. An NT's tank of sympathy is small, and it will empty out pretty quickly if your friend continually draws from it without giving you the opportunity to refuel.
Widen Their Friendship Circle
Another way to cope with your friend's clinginess is to introduce them to a new group of independent-minded people. This will have two positive effects. First, your friend will have other people to talk to and this will dilute the impact of their behavior. More significantly, being introduced to a new group of people can act as a great stimulus for change. The human desire to fit in is powerful, and your friend may go to surprising lengths to blend with their new, self-sufficient friends.
Given Them An Alternative
As a rational, you are very good at telling people where they are going wrong and how they can make the situation better. Stop! This behavior gives your friend an escape route. They will learn to rely on you to meet their emotional needs instead of fixing their own problems. The better course of action is to gently cajole your friend into finding a solution that they must implement. For example, if your friend wants to cry on your shoulder about their significant other (again), suggest that they talk to their partner about it or seek counseling. Be clear that you are supportive, but your friend needs to take responsibility for their own problems.
Become the Happy Friend
All friendships get stuck in a rut, and it may be that your friend has come to think of you as the friend who lends a helping hand whenever she turns up on the doorstep in tears. To change the relationship, you're going to have to break the mold.
How? You could start by doing the things you both enjoy so that your friend begins to associate your relationship with happy feelings, and not as another therapy session. In the beginning, choose activities where your friend can't talk much to stop them wallowing in self-pity (the movies, dancing, skydiving!) Praise them on their positive qualities to help boost their self-esteem. Over time, your friend should start to feel good about the time they spend with you, and they will be less tempted to spoil it with drama.
If the relationship is completely exhausting, you obviously need to cut loose. There's nothing wrong with downgrading a friend to an acquaintance if the relationship becomes too draining. But a true friend will accept that you don't have the energy to be there for them all the time and accept that it's OK for you to have a life that they are not the center of. These tips should help you put your relationship back on track before it's too late.