Has your partner accused you of being clingy? Is your partner clingy or needy? What does being clingy mean in a relationship?
Most of us know what it’s like to fall in love. You meet someone, get to know them better, and develop excitement, happiness, intense passion, and intimacy. You may even feel like nothing else matters but your person.
Now, that is not actually a bad thing. However, it may get so intense that you end up constantly demanding your partner’s affection, attention, and time until it becomes unhealthy.
Being a little clingy is okay, but it gets worse when it crosses the line from acceptable to toxic.
Keep reading to find out what it means to be clingy in a relationship, why it happens, and how to keep it under control.
What does being clingy really mean in a relationship?
Clinginess is the excessive need for reassurance, acceptance, or attention that results in a person becoming too dependent and attached to others.
Being clingy in a relationship means your world revolves around your partner, and you don’t give them the freedom or personal space to do what they want.
Being clingy doesn’t mean wanting to see your partner or spending a lot of time with them. But you may be clingy in your relationship if you’re highly dependent on your partner for emotional support and to feel secure.
What causes clingy behavior?
Clingy behavior is caused by a person’s belief that their needs and desires (whether physical, emotional, or mental) will not be met, so they cling to the other person to avoid this.
The following are the causes of clingy behavior:
Do you often worry about everything? Everything being work, family, health, social life, school, etc.
You may have generalized anxiety if you’re always on guard, waiting for disaster to strike. It may feel like you’re in a constant state of extreme fear, worry, or dread.
Generalized anxiety can stem from growing up in an unstable environment. Unfortunately, it can continue as an adult, even though you’re in a safer environment where there is little or no reason to worry.
When you have an anxious attachment style, you have doubts and abandonment anxiety. As a result, you spend a lot of time thinking about whether your partner is paying enough attention to you and your needs. In addition, being away or separated from your partner makes you feel nervous instead of being present in the moment and enjoying the relationship, leading to clingy traits.
Like generalized anxiety, anxious attachment stems from childhood due to the lack of a relationship with one or both parents. Also, it can be caused by a history of traumatic events.
Maybe a previous partner cheated on you, ghosted you, or was emotionally or physically abusive. As a result, you may be extra cautious and super clingy with new partners to prevent these issues from repeating themselves.
Low self-esteem or confidence means that you see yourself as incapable, unworthy, or undeserving of your partner. As a result, you feel insecure and jealous, causing unnecessary arguments in the relationship because you may feel like your partner doesn’t even like you.
You can also struggle with clingy behavior if you’re going through the following issues:
- Struggling with social skills
- Craving affection
- Craving attention
- Lacking a sense of self-identity
How does a clingy person act?
So, how do you know if you or your partner are clingy? Here are the signs to look out for:
- Calling continuously
- Texting a lot and expecting an immediate response
- Panic if you don’t get a prompt response
- Asking repetitive questions
- Making frequent unannounced appearances
- You get upset when your partner tells you they have weekend plans
- Wanting evidence of your partner’s whereabouts or who they’re with
- Not giving personal space or alone time
- Requiring constant reassurance
- Too dependent on a partner, such that their routine dictates your mood
- Always seeking attention
- Constantly monitor partner’s social media activity
- Rushing the relationship
- Hanging around your partner’s favorite spots
- You lack your own interests and have less time for your friends
- You feel threatened by your partner’s friends or acquaintances
- Controlling behaviors, such as wanting to track your phone
- Creating a false image that you think your partner likes
- You are always feeling insecure
- You are overly affectionate
- You fear being alone
How do I stop being clingy?
Great, now that we’ve established the signs of clingy behavior, how can you stop being clingy to your partner?
Understand your attachment style
Attachment styles contribute to how you behave within a relationship, especially when it’s threatened. Therefore, understanding or learning your attachment style can help shape and influence your relationship since you know why you behave the way you do, how you perceive your partner, and how you respond to or react to things.
There are three types of attachment styles that affect relationships. Each style is mainly influenced by your childhood.
- Secure attachment: This is the ability to build and develop a secure and loving long-term relationship without fear of abandonment. Secure people have their own self-identity, understand emotional boundaries, and are confident in their partners.
- Avoidant attachment: People in this category invest little or no emotion in relationships. Additionally, they have intimacy issues and are not willing to share their thoughts and feelings with their partners. Basically, they want to be loved but let the fear of abandonment take the best of them.
- Anxious attachment: Anxious people were most likely abandoned by their parents or primary caregivers during childhood. This makes them anxious about whether their partners really love them. This often leads to clingy or needy behavior because they fear abandonment (even when there is no reason to worry).
Put that phone down!
If you’re constantly calling, texting, or sending direct messages on social media, your relationship may be in jeopardy.
Why? Because you don’t give your partner some space to focus on other things and go about their day, which may be distracting or annoying to them.
While constant communication can be flattering and exciting during the initial stages of a relationship, you may get carried away, and things can take a wrong turn. Texts and calls 24/7 can be clingy behavior and, in some instances, be abusive (stalking).
You may be dying to check on your partner to know what they’re up to every hour, but hold back. Instead, shift that energy elsewhere. Text a friend or find a different outlet.
Focus on yourself
When was the last time you took some “me” time to focus on yourself? Maybe you watched a movie, read a book, took a walk, or engaged in any other activity without involving your partner.
Has it been a while?
Well, you need to change that.
Clingy behavior can stem from a lack of goals and interests.
Focusing on yourself means pursuing and prioritizing your own passions. This doesn’t mean you’re selfish. It simply means you’re working on becoming more independent and less codependent. Additionally, alone time is important for creativity and inspiration.
You can begin by revisiting your old hobbies and interests. Further, learn a new skill or improve an old one, schedule time to take a walk, exercise, and set goals. By doing this, a whole new world will open up, exposing you to new experiences and new people.
Spend more time with your family and friends
It’s pretty common for people in relationships to spend all their time together, especially in the initial stages of a relationship. However, too much time can lead to codependency, which can affect the quality of a relationship.
Having family and friends can help you have a more fulfilling life. Good friends and family are those who love and accept you. They can create memorable experiences with you, provide support, encourage you, validate your actions, or even help you cope with stress. As a result, this can increase your self-esteem.
Establish and respect your partner’s boundaries
Boundaries are rules of interaction in relationships. They tell you what’s acceptable and what’s not.
Setting boundaries helps you create a clear guideline for how you want people to treat you. Boundaries in relationships help you identify things like your self-identity and responsibility, as well as where control begins and ends with your partner.
Further, setting boundaries can help you accommodate the life you had before the relationship. They let you know that you have a life away from your partner, and vice versa.
These are some questions you should ask yourself when setting boundaries:
- How often should you communicate (calls and texts)?
- How often should you see each other?
- When is your designated “me” time?
- When does your partner need their space?
Finally, allow your partner some needed distance to do other things away from you, such as hang out with friends or go for dinner.
Seek professional help
If you’re constantly worried, insecure, or anxious in your relationship, working with a therapist can help you interrogate the root of the problem. Sometimes, these issues can result from our childhood experiences or trauma.
A therapist can give you tips to help you manage your anxiety as well as help you rebuild trust, ultimately leading to a healthy relationship. Therapy can also improve your self-awareness on a more compassionate level.
How to cope with a clingy partner
Of course, you love your partner, but you may want them to give you more breathing space. Perhaps they blow up your phone with a whopping 150 calls each day and constantly demand your time, energy, or attention.
Sounds annoying, right?
So, how can you balance spending time with them and having personal space?
Understand why your partner is clingy
Have an honest talk with yourself. Are you calling or texting less? Are you spending less time with them? Is the relationship losing its initial spark? Have you lost interest along the way? What has changed in the relationship?
If there has been a change on your side, your partner may be experiencing fear of abandonment.
Also, understand your partner’s attachment style. If your partner has an anxious attachment style, this may have nothing to do with you—it could result from their childhood experiences or a previous relationship.
Discuss it with them
Have an open discussion with your partner, and gently and lovingly state your feelings and concerns. Make sure you approach the discussion with empathy and diplomacy without criticizing them on an emotional level. This can help you explore and understand the reasons behind this behavior and address them
Talk about the kind of relationship you want and what behavior is unacceptable. Boundaries can help you determine when you’ll be spending time together and when to give each other personal space to do other things.
Gently explain that spending time away from each other doesn’t mean that you’re leaving them. Time away from each other gives you the space to miss each other and strengthens the relationship.
If it becomes too much for you to handle, it’s better to seek professional help.
Being in a relationship can make you want to be around your partner all the time. You want them to be there for you to create new experiences and memories together. However, maintaining your self-identity, independence, and control is important to having a healthy and fulfilling relationship.
Clingy partners can be emotionally draining. A clingy partner doesn’t want you to socialize with others, seeks constant reassurance, calls or texts you frequently, wants to keep tabs on you, and has zero regard for personal space. This can make you feel suffocated, ultimately leading to an unhealthy relationship.
To maintain a healthy relationship, make sure you have “me” time, set and respect boundaries, spend time with family and friends, and ask for professional help if you need it.