The first days of a relationship are often the most exhilarating; nothing compares to the feeling of discovering a like-minded soul and starting something beautiful together. At this stage, you may spend a lot of time with your partner, exploring new hobbies together, talking on the phone until dawn, and simply enjoying each other’s company. But while showing your affection is normal, clinginess is not. When you become overly attached to a person, you start to neglect your own friends and mental state. You slowly start pushing your partner away, damaging the relationship.
Clinginess may stem from attachment, but it’s a form of anxious attachment that shouldn’t be confused with love and intimacy, and that can affect your relationships in the long run.
One of the traits that clingy people have in common is that they have a hard time being alone so that when a partner asks them to give them more space, they assume that they don’t like their company. Clinginess can also be caused by low self-esteem and emotional insecurity. For example, if you have been cheated on by a previous partner or had a bad break-up, you may need constant reassurance from future relationships.
When clinginess isn’t a result of a negative relationship experience, it can be a learned behaviour. If you were exposed to clingy tendencies growing up, you might consider it the norm. However, it’s important to realise that in a healthy relationship, the partners should give each other personal space. The time spent together is important, but you shouldn’t depend on them emotionally. The need to control their every move and do everything together points to an underlying issue and shouldn’t be confused with healthy love and attachment.
Identifying clingy behaviour on your own isn’t always easy because clingy people confuse their anxious attachment with a form of love. Quite often, individuals become aware of their clingy tendencies after being called out by their loved ones.
The first step in overcoming clinginess is to understand when you’re doing it. Here are some signs that you’re not expressing your affection in a healthy way:
For the clingy person, these behaviours may seem normal, but for the other partner, they can be suffocating and emotionally exhausting. They may feel that they need to make great efforts to keep you happy and accommodate your emotional needs whilst neglecting their own and sacrificing their personal time.
If you’ve spotted some of the signs of clinginess in you and want to change, it’s important to do some self-reflection and identify the situations where you let clingy tendencies take over. Wanting to be better and have healthier relationships is a sign of maturity and growth, and managing clinginess will help you be more satisfied with your life.
And yet, anxious attachment isn’t always easy to give up. Especially if you’ve been a clingy person for years, giving your partner more space can feel scary, which is why it’s important to take things one step at a time. Here’s what can help: