how to stop being clingy
Whether you are currently in a relationship or simply dating, you have probably experienced clinginess before and know how neediness can ruin your relationship.
Being overly clingy, controlling, or even jealous seriously turns a man off and makes him question your confidence in yourself.
Neediness shows that there is a lack of self-esteem and lowers your chances of finding love in the first place because it often leads to self-sabotaging behavior.
It communicates that you do not believe that you are worthy of love, and therefore need constant reassurance from your man.
Unfortunately, this behavior will weigh down the relationship in the long run, because of the pressure you put on him to validate you.
And ultimately lead to a breakup.
And if you are now thinking: “Oh no, I acted needy and desperate now what?!”. Then you have come to the right place.
In this post, I want to share a few simple tips on how to stop being clingy, that will not just improve your romantic relationships, but also your sense of self.
But before we dive in, let’s first explore what neediness looks like and how it manifests itself in your behavior.
What are signs of being clingy?
As mentioned above clinginess often shows itself in behaviors that point to a lack of self-esteem and self-confidence.
When you are clingy you feel like nothing your boyfriend says or does satisfies your hunger for attention, approval, and love. Despite his words and actions, you still find yourself anxious and constantly doubt his love for you.
Some of the signs that you are a clingy girlfriend include:
- You chase after him
- You don’t give him space
- You control his every move
- You get anxious about him leaving
- You constantly need his reassurance
- You give up your own life for the relationship
- Your self-worth is dependent on your relationship
- You get insecure because of other women in his life
Do these behaviors sound familiar?
What causes clinginess in a relationship?
If you constantly feel jealous or insecure in your romantic relationship, then you may actually have an anxious attachment style. This attachment style is rooted in a fear of abandonment that often stems from early childhood experiences or romantic experiences.
That fear of abandonment makes you want to hold on to your boyfriend for dear life, constantly worrying that he will leave if you don’t.
And in case you feel like you are the only one, then I have to disappoint you. I used to be anxiously attached too and have worked on getting more secure for years.
But from time to time I will fall back into old thinking patterns and default behaviors.
That’s when I will start to worry about my relationship and whether I am good enough to keep my boyfriend. I will start to people-please and avoid speaking my mind in order to be accepted, which then quickly backfires.
So yea as you can see, I know what being clingy and needy feels like.
And it’s not fun. But more importantly, it’s also not attractive.
Is being clingy a bad thing?
Yes. Being clingy is a bad thing because it makes you codependent upon your partner. Rather than functioning as your own person, you become a burden to him and make him feel like he is responsible for you. Which is something no one wants.
As people, we like men and women that are self-sufficient and living a life they enjoy. Just try to think back of a time when a man that seemed thirsty and needy pursued you.
Did you find him attractive? Probably not.
That’s the same with a woman that is overly clingy. That’s why it was so important to me to share with you how to stop being clingy in your relationships.
The following five steps will show you how to not be clingy and needy and instead learn how to be confident in a relationship.
How to stop being clingy and needy
1. Analyze your deeper fear
I truly believe that most of our behaviors are either inspired by faith or controlled by fear. And neediness, clinginess, and desperation are all rooted in the fear of abandonment and rejection.
So the reason why you find yourself chasing after a man is out of fear. And more specifically out of a fear of abandonment which is a form of anxiety.
As mentioned above, abandonment issues often appear over the course of our lives because of wounds from childhood or past experiences.
When you experience the loss of a loved one, maybe as a child, maybe in your past relationship it impacts your subconscious mind so much that you build different responses and patterns of how you attach to men in your romantic relationships as adults.
One of the responses your subconscious now believes is “I am not good enough for this person”. And that triggers an unhealthy behavior of needing to hang on to him.
And whenever you do something out of fear it is in misalignment and eventually breeds more anxiety and more exhaustion.
So if you are looking how to stop being clingy and jealous, you need to go deep and find out where is that fear coming from. Which experience has shaped your thinking. Or maybe you can even point to a single event that you know led to it.
In my case, I know that my fear of abandonment comes from my past romantic relationships. For almost 10 years the only romantic affairs I would experience were situationships. During that time it seemed like nothing I ever said or did was good enough for any guy to want commit to me.
That considerably lowered my self-confidence and made me believe that I was not beautiful enough, funny enough or smart enough too keep a man. In short I felt like I was not good enough to be committed too.
So, I started overcompensating through people-pleasing and other needy behaviors. Which would turn men off even more.
It wasn’t until I got to the bottom of why I felt so fearful that I was able to stop being needy and desperate.
2. Develop a coping mechanism
Once you figure out what behaviors trigger your anxious attachment style or fear, it’s time to come up with a coping mechanism or soothing method.
A coping mechanism is a strategy you can use whenever you are stressed or anxious.
One strategy that I share with my clients in “Become The One” is to tackle that fear of abandonment at the root, without looking to someone outside of yourself to give you security.
So, if you are currently seeing someone and can feel yourself getting anxious whenever he pulls away, I want you to do the following:
- Start paying attention to when you try to control him
- Ask yourself: “What do I need from him that would make me feel safer?”
- Find a way to meet that need
Here is an example of something I incorporated in my relationship, that helped me meet my need for intimacy.
- I used to get anxious when my boyfriend would ask for space or not give me attention
- I needed attention and reassurance that our relationship was safe (a need for quality time)
- I treat myself to a me-day where I spend quality time with myself. I do things like a picnic at the park, going to the movies, or getting a manicure
This exercise help me self-soothe and deal with that emotion of anxiety. By taking my mind of him and redirecting it to myself, I did not just learn to meet my own needs, but also started nurturing my relationship to myself. Which is what will make you less anxious about losing your boyfriend, because you now realize that you can survive alone too.
3. Reframe your thinking
One of the most critical sayings I teach my coaching clients is a quote by Jen Sincero:
Your thoughts inspire emotions that inspire action that forms your reality.
What does that mean?
It means that before you decided to call and text your boyfriend multiple times or show up at his boy’s night, you had a million thoughts that triggered emotions that inspired these needy actions.
That’s why learning how to reframe your thoughts and talk yourself out of the many “What if’s” that pop up every time you get anxious is crucial.
Instead of giving in to the negative thoughts, take out a pen and paper and start gathering evidence why those thoughts are not true.
If you are worried that he lost interest, remind yourself that he called you earlier that day and said “I miss you” or “I love you” at the end.
The goal is to become aware of how your insecurities sabotage your thinking and decide not to give them any more power.
I know for myself that just the act of slowing down, writing out the thought and then reading it back to me helps. That split second is enough to go from stressed and worried, to “things aren’t that bad”.
4. Practice feeling good without him
I already hinted at it above, but the number one thing you can do when you’re wondering how to stop being clingy to your boyfriend, is cultivating more self-confidence.
And I don’t mean self-confidence in terms of your looks, but more so in yourself.
One thing I have learned in my relationship, is that every time I lose touch with how much I used to enjoy life as a single woman and get hung up on how much I want to be married and have kids I become more clingy.
It’s crazy but it’s true.
Whenever I am too focused on the state of the relationship I get fearful because I can’t control my boyfriend.
So what I recently had to do is practice feeling good without him more often.
Going out and going something I enjoy doing that will feed into my self-esteem. Or doing something by myself that will remind me of my independence. Or even go on a little trip to practice some self-care and self-love.
The more you make this a habit, the less your relationship status matters. You want to be in a place where a relationship is solely the icing on the cake and not the epicenter of your being.
And this step is the best way to do that.
5. Communicate (get out of your own head)
One of the worst things about feeling in relationships is that most of it goes on in your head. The conversations you have, the anxiety you feel, the scenarios you imagine.
Meanwhile, he doesn’t even know what’s happening.
That’y why it’s important that you share how you feel with your man. Don’t try to play cool, and don’t hide your real emotions from him. Instead, share openly how some of his actions make you feel and let him know what your needs are in the relationship.
Communicating your needs and boundaries will help both of you navigate the relationship better.
Book on how to stop being a clingy girlfriend
In one of my favorite books, Attached by Amir Levine, you will learn how to overcome attachment anxiety by using a technique that helps you recognize negative thoughts and get to the root of your insecurities.
I have recommended this book to many of my clients and it helped them cultivate secure and healthy relationships with their boyfriends.
So before you go make sure to grab a copy of Attached.