Clingy? What do you mean, I’m clingy? Is that a bad thing?
When people say it (about me or others) it sure sounds like a bad thing.
In relationships, like anything, the way to answer this question is to look at the parties involved and the circumstances.
I honestly don’t think it really matters what the behavior is (unless the behavior is abusive) so long as the parties to the relationship understand it and are cool with it.
But let’s look into this a bit more.
What does it mean to be clingy?
“Clingy” isn’t a technical term. There are lots of shades of clinginess. but in general, being clingy is being maybe over the top interested in someone. Perhaps being interested to the point of annoying your partner, or making the relationship struggle due to the amount of time and interaction you want with that person.
I think it implies that the interest is too much, rather than just enough.
So again, this goes back to the specific relationship, and also to the balance in that relationship.
In one relationship, clinginess (being around all the time, never wanting to be away from the other person, obsessively texting, staying over every night) could be a sign of intense and deep romantic love/attachment and no one would say anything negative about it.
In another relationship, these same behaviors could be classified as stalker-ish.
What makes the behavior clingy rather than romantic?
I think the difference between romantic obsession and clinginess has to do with the motivation behind the behaviors. It is one thing to fall head over heels in love with somone, and to be intensely attracted to them.
It is another thing entirely to stay right next to your love 24 hours a day because you lack the confidence to spend time away from them, or you have other anxieties about spending time alone.
When you are deep in a new romantic relationship, it may be difficult to tell the difference between the two, as the desire to be near that person can be so strong.
How can I tell the difference?
Like I said before, it can be hard to tell the difference, to where you have crossed the line. But a good gauge would be to start by talking to your partner. After all, as we discussed above, behavior can often cross the line between something positive to something negative when the relationship is out of balance.
For example, when one partner needs some space or breathing room, or time to themselves, or time to spend with other friends, and they can’t get it from you.
And remember, needing to have time alone doesn’t mean that they don’t like you or want to be with you. Everyone is a entire human being, complete and functioning on their own. We all have needs, and we all lived our entire life doing what we did before we met our partners. It is okay to want to step back and have some time to ourselves. Or to spend with other friends/family.
Another way to tell is to look inward and assess your own feelings. Does spending time away from your partner (even for short periods of time) create intensely negative feelings (such as sadness, heartache, anxiety about losing him/her, etc?) These feelings are often present during times of separation, and are normal, to some degree. But if they are so significant that you are unable to function on your own (especially if the relationship is newer), then you might be in trouble.
Why am I so clingy?
There are lots of potential explanations for this. It could be that you are a person who thrives in close, intense relationships. You are the best version of yourself when you are with someone you love, and who helps the best of you shine through.
Or, it could be that you are lacking in confidence and self-esteem. You need to be with your partner to feel good about yourself.
Or, maybe you have never gotten used to being alone. I will say that for many people (especially young people), it can be very hard to be comfortable being alone, with no one else around to talk to or do things with. This is especially the case now that cell phones have enabled us to be connected to our personal networks every minute of the day.
Maybe you have been through some rough or traumatic relationships, and you are still struggling to deal with the old hurts as you move forward with your life.
How to deal with my clinginess?
The best way to overcome problems with being clingy is with self-awareness. If you can burrow down deep inside and find the root of what is causing it, you will be more likely to pose a working solution.
If the issue is that you’ve never been alone, and you are uncomfortable spending time on your own, the solution might be that you do things alone to get used to it. Maybe you take a solo trip to another city, or even another country.
Perhaps you’d attend sporting events on your own, or try dinner by yourself. Gaining confidence in just being you on your own might do a lot to give your partner some breathing room. It might also have the side effect of making your partner want to be with you that much more, when they see how well you do without them.
If the issue is one of self-esteem, then working on yourself is pretty critical. Not just for your relationship, but for the other aspects in your life. Self-esteem issues are not isolated to relationships. Low self-esteem causes problems in all aspects of our life, from school to jobs to other relationships aside from romantic ones.
I’d be looking to talk to a counselor or to develop a plan to work on increasing confidence in myself. Having a high self-esteem can only improve your relationship, as you make choices based upon love and understanding rather than based upon anxiety and fear.
And as always, if you are struggling tell, it can be worthwhile to talk through what is going on with a trusted friend or even a counselor. Be up front and honest about what is happening and how you are feeling, and allow them to be a sounding board, to reflect back what they are hearing you say. Maybe you’ll find out that you aren’t as crazy as you thought, and perhaps your partner is playing a role in how you feel and what is going on. Sometimes it is hard to really see what is happening inside a relationship, so that outside perspective could be really useful.
To wrap this up, as I said from the beginning, the issue of clinginess and what makes it a positive versus a negative thing is one that is specific to the relationship and the situation. Whether or not your behavior is good versus bad will have just as much to do with your partner’s feelings about it and his/her needs.
If you are asking yourself right now whether you are clinging too much to your partner, the best thing to would be to go to him/her and ask him/her about it. Then talk about it. What do you each want and need? Then see if those needs can be aligned, so that you are each getting what you want.
And if you can’t make those things match up….then perhaps some other changes of a more permanent nature are warranted.
Any more thoughts about clinginess or relationships? Feel free to go down into the comments and let us know what is on your mind.
Emily Anderson is a mother of three children, all under the age of 10. Located in the Pacific Northwest of the US, Emily is a mom and part-time blogger, jumping in front of the computer when the kids are sleeping. She started this blog in April of 2019 and is proud that the blog is now paying for itself. If you want to know about her journey as a blogger, check out out her personal digital journal or her post about failing her way to blogging success.