How To Be Less Clingy In Your Personal or Romantic Relationships

When it comes to the pursuit of romantic relationships there are some people that love the thrill of the chase while others find it exhausting and stressful. Once the relationship begins to solidify there will be people that want to spend as much time as possible with their partner, while others may need to keep their space and some freedom intact.   

Trying to figure out how to act from the onset of a relationship can be very challenging. Should you text your partner again or give them some space and wait? Should you spend both nights of the weekend hanging out with them or should you keep a night to yourself? How often should you check in on their social media? The difference between having a healthy infatuation with someone and an unhealthy obsession can be a very fine line to walk. While you may not know it you could be acting clingy, which is a huge turn off for just about everyone.

Why Do People Become Clingy?

Whenever you start dating someone, it’s completely normal to want to spend a lot of time with them. After all everything will be totally new and exciting and the process of getting to know your partner better can be very fun. However, it’s possible to take it too far too fast and you may need to take a step back

Clinginess can be the result of people feeling insecure, having self doubts or anxiety about the future. A lack of confidence can also contribute and the idea of being alone can be so uncomfortable for someone that they may cling to another person in an effort to avoid their feelings of loneliness. 

So what is the difference between finding comfort spending time with your partner and having an unhealthy attachment to them? How is it possible to know whether you are suffering emotional neediness and being overly sensitive to rejection as opposed to falling madly in love? 

The easiest way to answer is to ask yourself the following questions:

  • Do you have a hard time being alone?
  • Do you struggle when your friends or a partner asks you for some space?
  • Are you afraid that people will want to spend some time without you involved?

For people who are clingy, their extreme thoughts and actions will look and feel just like love and intimacy, and they won’t want to let what they perceive as a great thing go. The issue with this, however, is that their feelings (the obsession with physical and emotional closeness that comes across as clingy) is actually not love.

How To Manage Your Clingy Tendencies 

In order to move past dependent behavior, that are a few things that you can do in order to reel in your clinginess if you don’t want to opt in to seeing a mental health professional:

  • Work on your trust issues. While it may sound fairly obvious, it’s crucial that you are able to completely trust your partner. If you don’t trust them, it will be impossible to ever let them have the space to be who they really are. Not having trust in your significant other can end up making them feel less secure about the relationship and can lead to feelings of resentment.Trust is key to maintaining a healthy, long term relationship that will make both parties happy and fulfilled. Placing trust in your partner can mean anything from not constantly asking them where they are during the day, to believing that this new step is good for your relationships, even if it may not feel like it all the time.
  • Let your partner have their space. Love does not mean that you and your partner should be attached at the hip and do everything in life together. For a lot of couples, being too close can put a strain on the relationship. Sharing things like thoughts, feelings and space is good for any relationship, but too much sharing may result in your significant other feeling trapped.No one wants to be suffocated in a relationship. It’s important to be able to give your partner the space that they need. As a result, your partner will be less likely to associate your relationship with negative feelings, which will make the relationship much stronger in the long run.
  • Focus on yourself. Take some time and really focus on centering your thoughts on yourself. It can be amazing how much you can learn about yourself and your feelings if you just take time to think about things. By focusing your thoughts inward and using this time alone, you can not only begin to feel more centered and rested, but also demonstrate to your significant other that you are not dependent on them for your happiness. Dependency can lead to one partner feeling more responsible in the relationship than the other, which could end up creating major problems in the future.
  • Purse your interests. For people whose lives center solely around their partner, clinginess can often become an issue. It’s important to prioritize your own goals and interests. Not only will these things give you something to focus your attention on, but they can also provide a healthy outlet for your energy as well. Instead of focusing too much on your partner, try turning this energy and focus towards something more constructive. This can give your significant other breathing room, while still maintaining a healthy and balanced relationship.
  • Manage your anxiety. If you are prone to anxiety, then it can be easy to turn to your partner as a way to ease your suffering. However, this may make your partner feel too responsible for your happiness and will be an inconsistent way of managing your feelings. Instead, turn this anxiety into something positive and consistent, like a daily ritual or activity. By simply performing habitual tasks you can ease your anxiety and be left with more positive energy that can be put into the relationship. If you find that this doesn’t work or that you are chronically suffering anxiety then you may need to speak with a mental health professional.
  • Build up self esteem. While it may be a little challenging at first, you should recognize that you’re able to accomplish things on your own and without anyone by your side. Clinginess tends to be the result of feeling that you need others around at all times in order to help and support you. However, by focusing on your individual achievements and spending time alone, you’ll be able to recognize that you don’t need to rely on others in order to succeed. By improving your confidence, self esteem and ability to be more self sufficient, you will naturally be less clingy and less needy. 
  • Develop your social networking. Clinginess is often the result of having too much of one thing. If you feel like your significant other is the only person that you see anymore, it may be a sign that you should diversify your social scene and widen your circle. Whether it’s going out with other friends, joining a club or visiting your family, getting out there and talking to other people can help you to steer away from clingy behavior.

Don’t Be Afraid To Talk About It 

It’s important to be open and honest with your partner in just every single way. The topic of ‘clinginess’ is an important one to cover early because it’s one of those relationship issues that tend to widen over time if left alone. If you’re not careful then a vicious cycle can be created: one person backs away from the other because they are feeling too smothered, this will cause the clingy person to panic and intensify their negative behaviors, which in turn will cause their partner to feel even more trapped and so on. 

It’s much better to attempt to intervene before things reach this point. Whether you are feeling like your partner is too clingy or if you feel as though you may be a little too clingy, it’s important to air it out and establish boundaries. 

The Takeaway 

No one wants to be in a relationship with someone who is overly clingy. If you feel like you may be a little too clingy for your own good then there are steps that you can take in order to become a better partner and improve your relationship

It can be difficult trying to change your behavior, but if you are too clingy and can’t improve your behavior, then you may end up losing your partner. Being clingy is about as unattractive a quality that a person can have, and it can ruin a relationship fast. 

Taking the time to work on yourself and eliminate negative emotions and behaviors will go a long way toward helping to build a strong and healthy relationship. If you are unable to do this by yourself, consider seeing a mental health professional in order to help this process.


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author avatar
Angel Rivera
I am a Bilingual (Spanish) Psychiatrist with a mixture of strong clinical skills including Emergency Psychiatry, Consultation Liaison, Forensic Psychiatry, Telepsychiatry and Geriatric Psychiatry training in treatment of the elderly. I have training in EMR records thus very comfortable in working with computers. I served the difficult to treat patients in challenging environments in outpatient and inpatient settings
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