The tighter you cling, the further they back away.
One of the quickest ways to ruin a relationship is to be too clingy; this is common relationship wisdom, and yet we’re probably all guilty of having violated it in at least one of our past relationships.
The thing is, we’re all needy to some extent. If we didn’t need each other, we wouldn’t bother with relationships at all. And in every relationship, there is someone who is more invested – one person loves more at any given moment. The key is to have that seesaw go both ways; in a healthy relationship, you take turns needing each other more, and even loving each other more. Psychiatrist Mark Banschick says there’s no shame in being needy. “There are usually good reasons why you became that way; like anxieties in early childhood.” But, he says, if you value your relationship, you need to learn to overcome your neediness. “The more you hold on, the more he or she will want to escape. Love requires trust in order to work.”
If you’re being clingy, you probably already know it, deep down. But in case you need a reality check, here are seven signs you’re being super clingy, and you need to stop it – yesterday.
1. You send three (or more) texts for every one they send you
Yes, it can be nerve-wracking to wait for that text back. And yes, you know they most likely saw your text as soon as you sent it – we have our phones within reach nearly all the time, and we reflexively check them thousands of times a day. (Yes, thousands – a 2016 study showed that we touch our phones an average of 2,617 times a day.) But bombarding him with texts isn’t going to make him more likely to text you back. Once is enough. Then wait for a reply. And when it comes, don’t text him back right away. We’re more likely to want what we can’t have, so make him sweat a little. It’s okay to be a little elusive.
2. You expect them to spend all their free time with you
When you’ve both got jobs, families, and busy lives, it can be hard to find free time to be together – so naturally, you might want your partner to spend every possible free moment with you, enjoying quality couple time. But resist the urge to try and take up every spare moment of his time. In a healthy relationship, each person has things they like to do on their own. It shouldn’t be a threat to your relationship; in fact it’s just the opposite. Growing as individuals will help you grow as a couple, too.
3. You always want to talk about the relationship
Communication is key to a solid relationship. But constantly having what psychologist John Gottman calls ‘State of the Union’ meetings is likely to drive your partner crazy, and drive the two of you farther apart. Instead, suggest instituting once-a-week relationship talks. “When couples meet once a week for an hour, it drastically improves their relationship because it gives the relationship space to have constructive conflict and the partners an opportunity to get on the same team,” writes relationship coach Kyle Benson on the Gottman Institute blog.
4. You get mad when they hang out with their friends
If you’re bothered when your partner spends time with friends and doesn’t invite you to join them, ask yourself why. Do you not trust him? Do you not like his friends – and if so, do you have a good reason not to like them? Or do you just feel uneasy not being together all the time? How would you feel if the shoe were on the other foot, and he got mad when you spent time with your friends? Trust is the bedrock of a good relationship; you need to be secure enough to feel fine when he hangs out with his friends.
5. You shower them with attention
It’s great to do nice things for your partner. Sending love notes, buying them little gifts, making dinner for them, surprising them with flowers at work – these are all lovely gestures. But are you the only one making them? When your cascades of affection are overwhelmingly one-sided, never being returned as enthusiastically as they are given, it can come off as needy and clingy. Back off and let him be the one to do things for you for a change.
6. They actually tell you you’re being clingy
If things are so bad that your partner actually comes out and tells you that you’re being clingy, you definitely need to step back. The usual dance is for the needy person to smother their partner, and the partner to withdraw. It’s rare that they will bother to talk to you about it; more often they just fade away, fed up with your clinginess. So if they care enough to come to you and talk about it, take it seriously, and change your ways.
7. You never give them a chance to miss you
If you never leave your partner alone, how can he ever miss you? Being too available will only make him take you for granted, at best, or at worst, get sick of you. Make a point of nurturing your own friendships, interests, and hobbies, outside of the relationship. The more invested you become in your own life, the less likely you’ll be to cling to a partner. The ironic thing is that by being less available and more interested in things other than your SO, the more interesting you’re likely to be to him. Play your cards right, and pretty soon he’ll be the one clinging to you…
Images via tumblr.com, hulu.com, nickatnite.com, giphy.com.
Comment: Do you tend to get clingy in relationships?
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Elizabeth lives in Brooklyn with two daughters, occasional mice and innumerable to-do lists. She runs a nine-minute mile, bakes a mean chocolate chip cookie, and can always be persuaded to sing at a karaoke bar. Follow her on Twitter.