How to Ask a Close Friend for More Space

A script for setting boundaries without hurting the friendship

Deanna Pai
Published in
5 min readJul 2, 2019


Photo by AttosFotograficos

Scripts is a weekly series dedicated to helping you navigate the tough conversations.

IIt’s a hard truth that a friend, even a close one — maybe especially a close one — can be a source of stress rather than its antidote. No matter how close the relationship, you’re still two different people, with different needs and expectations. Lives change, priorities shift, and at some point, you may find that you’re not able to be available for a last-minute hang out like you once were, or your friend might need emotional support that you don’t have the capacity to give.

We’ve all been on both sides of this equation. People get busy, move, get married, start new jobs, change. Friendships, like romantic relationships, sometimes require space and boundaries. And just like a romantic relationship, learning how to have tough conversations is crucial to the long-term health of the dynamic.

“Think about how you’d want to be let down,” says Nicole Sbordone, a therapist in Scottsdale, Arizona, and author of Surviving Female Friendships: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly. Whether you’re declining to do them a favor or simply requesting more space, your goal is twofold: You want…



Deanna Pai
Writer for

I’m a writer and editor in New York City. You can find my work in Vogue, Cosmopolitan, Glamour, New York Magazine, and beyond.