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Dilemma: a clingy widowed friend

Katharine Whitehorn / 07 January 2016

Agony aunt Katharine Whitehorn responds to a reader who wonders how she can encourage her clingy friend to be more independent.

Meeting friends
A friend who struggles to join in and meet new people may need a nudge in the right direction

Dilemma: a clingy friend

A close friend was widowed last year and of course I have helped her as much as I can, but she now seems to want to do everything with me and has not started to remake her life at all.

As much as I like her, it’s beginning to be too much; but when I suggested she join a book group or a branch of University 3A, she says she’s not a joiner. How can I get her to widen her horizons – and, to be frank, not rely on me so much?

Katharine Whitehorn's advice

There are no easy answers to this: some widows cope with their unhappiness by throwing themselves into other activities; but quite a few who relied heavily on their husbands lose all their confidence. 

They cling to their daughters or to one or two friends – and of course risk wearying them, as your friend is doing. It’s quite likely that she is really shy and unsure of herself.

Could you introduce her to a group by having one or two friendly people meet her, first over a meal, or take her to some activity you enjoy yourself, and make sure she's introduced to a few people who you know would be welcoming? 

It's quite often the first move that's the hardest, but as time goes by she might be grateful to you for helping her meet new friends and start putting her life back together.

How to keep active and stay social

Our readers say...

We also asked our Facebook followers for their advice...

"Take them out to meet other people at a social, pub, some sort of gathering, hopefully they will not be so clingy to you because they have made more friends."

"I am a widow and find everybody avoids you; they don't want you there, don't ask you out, I found you're just left on your own, no one wants to know they all have their own life. You just have to get on with it ,it's very hard to restart your life when your older and you've been married forty five years and there's only been you and your husband. Very lonely."

"Encourage them to join a walking group, photography perhaps quiz nights... Or maybe a themed Saga holiday or cruise... quite possibly could do the trick!"

"Be there for them and be a friend."

"Oh goodness these stories are so sad... I do fully understand the loneliness as I was widowed five years ago. I have a craft hobby which keeps me busy as I go to an all day group once a month and every other Wednesday I have four friends in for a day of crafting. I also have a young friend who comes for a sleepover and we go out for the day and go on holiday together once a year as she is a divorcee. However, when I see couples out together and see my children with their partners and families I do get a pang of wanting... But we just must get up, make the most of our day and be thankful we woke up that morning..."


The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated.

The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.

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