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How to Stop Being Clingy (23 Ways to Stop Being Needy in a Relationship)

Last updated on September 9, 2022 by Sonya Schwartz

No one likes clingy behavior in a partner, but what if you are the one that’s being clingy? You might think you are merely being tactile and attentive towards your partner. But if your nearest and dearest doesn’t like cuddling up every second of the day they may see you as clingy. 

Then again, you may be in a relationship where one person texts all the time and the other doesn’t feel the need to be in constant contact. 

So it’s important to realize that there are many different definitions of clingy. It all depends on you and your partner’s expectations. What is acceptable to one might not be to the other. 

However, there are some tell-tale signs of clingy behavior that are true no matter what your expectations of a healthy relationship should be. 

You might not think you are being clingy, but if you are here reading this then there’s a good chance someone has already brought it up.

So, are you a clingy person?

Signs of Clingy Behavior

  • You always want to be with your partner
  • You don’t like it when they go out with their friends
  • You are neglecting your friends
  • You have to be included in every aspect of their life
  • You want to rush the relationship
  • You stalk their social network accounts
  • You like to physically touch them all the time
  • You text or make numerous phone calls during the day 
  • You get upset when they don’t immediately answer
  • You need constant reassurance they love you
  • You have no life apart from the one with your partner

People are clingy for a whole raft of reasons. Perhaps their partner cheated on them, or they feel insecure in themselves. 

The problem is that it doesn’t matter what the reason is, clingy behavior is not attractive. And if you carry on being clingy it might well lead to the break-up of your relationship. 

Why Are You Being Clingy?

There are lots of reasons why a person resorts to being clingy. The main reason is that clinginess comes from insecurity, fear, and anxiety. A person will be anxious that their partner will leave them. They might not think they are good enough for their partner. Or they may have been hurt in the past and can’t go through the same experience again. 

Then again, some clingy traits can be traced back to childhood. Studies show that children who grow up in a loving, warm environment, where their emotional and physical needs are met, develop a strong attachment to their mothers. These children then grow into well-balanced adults who go on to form healthy relationships. 

Conversely, children who grow up with inconsistent parenting, where the parent is not attuned to their child’s needs, will develop an anxious attachment style. As a result, as adults, they tend to have low self-esteem themselves but think highly of others. Not only that, but they need constant reassurance and validation from their partners. 

It’s important to note that although some clingy traits may look like controlling behavior, a clingy person doesn’t want control in the relationship. Actually, they feel out of control of the situation, that’s why they are clinging on for dear life. Clingy people might have trust issues and latch onto someone as a defense mechanism.

23 Ways to Stop Being Clingy

1. Admit you have a problem

If you really want to know how to stop being clingy you have to look at the situation objectively. Being accused of clingy behavior or suspecting it in yourself is difficult. It’s not an attractive trait. But accepting there’s a problem means you are on the road to putting it right. 

2. Look at the reasons why you are clingy

Perhaps the reason for your clinginess is your attachment style from childhood. Do you have trust issues from a previous relationship? Or maybe you are dependent on your partner financially or physically? Can you change your circumstances so that you are not so reliant on your partner? After all, if your partner left you would have to stand on your own two feet. 

3. Talk to your partner

When I was much younger, I had a boyfriend that would put his arms around me and hang off me like a human rucksack whatever we did, even cooking. It got to the point where I couldn’t stand him near me, but I didn’t know how to bring it up. 

Eventually, he noticed my change in behavior around him and he asked me what was wrong. Once we talked about the problem he stopped. 

Talk to your partner and ask them what you do that they find particularly clingy. Then work to change your behavior. 

4. Find out your partner’s ‘Love Language’

Sometimes in a relationship, we have different expectations. I remember another ex who absolutely did not like to cuddle on the couch. He wasn’t tactile in any sense. To show his love he would buy me practical gifts. I learned this was his style of ‘love language’. We all have a particular way of expressing how we feel or love language. 

There are five kinds of love language:

  1. Words of affirmation: ‘I love you’ etc.
  2. Quality time: One-on-one time
  3. Acts of service: “Let me help…”
  4. Receiving gifts: Thoughtful presents
  5. Physical touch: Cuddling, holding hands, etc.

My ex thought I was being clingy because I wanted to cuddle all the time. I thought he was cold because he didn’t. Once we learned each other’s love language - our relationship improved. 

5. Go slowly with the relationship

It’s tempting when we meet someone who ticks all our boxes to want to rush straight in and form a deep and meaningful relationship. When we are insecure we want that commitment fast, and we want it now. It makes us feel safe and secure. But rushing in smacks of desperation. How can you possibly know if this person is right for you? Take your time and find out. 

6. Learn to trust your partner again

learn to trust your partner again

Maybe your clingy behavior stems from a cheating partner. Or perhaps you are an irrationally jealous person. I always believe that it doesn’t matter how jealous or protective a person you are. If someone wants to cheat -they will. There’s really nothing you can do about it. But believe me, acting in a clingy way is likely to push them towards bad behavior.

7. Build up your self-esteem

You don’t see people with high self-esteem engaging in clingy behavior. That’s because they are confident in themselves, in their partner, and in the relationship. Those who are confident also know that if this relationship ends, although they will suffer and feel dreadful, they’ll also get through it. 

Because that’s what life is all about. Learning to deal with happy and sad experiences. More to the point, some things just aren’t meant to be.

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So start building up your confidence. Look back at past experiences and see how you managed to navigate through them. You are stronger than you think. 

8. Give yourself boundaries

Picking up the phone and sending a quick text can become second nature when you are clingy. Checking in on social media to see what your partner is up to can be all-consuming. Letting your friends down again because you don’t want to be apart from your partner will irritate them. 

Setting boundaries is a good way of curbing your behavior. You can allow yourself two texts per day, one look at their social media, and you promise to accept your friends’ invite when they next ask you. 

9. Don’t worry about what ‘might’ happen

Part of learning to trust your partner and giving yourself boundaries means not letting your imagination run wild. We all get scared and start imagining the ‘what ifs’ when we’re not with our loved ones. What if they meet someone better than us? What if they decide they don’t want to be with me anymore? 

Worrying about what might happen means you are living in a future that might never happen. Live in the present and enjoy your time together.

10. Start seeing your friends again

Talking of friends, it’s not healthy to get wrapped up in one person. Human beings need variety. If you only spend time with one person what are you going to talk about? Being with other people expands your horizons, it gives you opportunities to broaden your perspectives. Not only that, but it is boring being with one person all the time. Contact old friends, or make plans to see people from your past. 

11. Spend time with your family

We need all kinds of people in our lives, not just our girlfriend or boyfriend. Actually, I find that families are far more reliable than partners in the long run. But no one likes to be taken for granted. Your family will get fed up with you if you constantly ditch them whenever your partner calls for a date. 

Make an effort to spend time with your parents and siblings. 

12. Stop texting and calling your partner

stop texting and calling your partner

I have a friend that will constantly text me around 6 times a day. If I don’t answer she’ll call me in the evening to ask if I got any of her texts. She’s an older lady who is retired and doesn’t understand that I work during the day and can’t always answer her. I explained to her the situation and she stopped for a while then started up again. 

She’s obviously lonely and wants to talk. She says she only texts when it is something important, but this isn’t true. Now she just texts all the time and I answer her when I am off work. I accept her clinginess because she’s older, but partners don’t have to. After a while, it gets irritating. Constant phone calls and texting just scream that you haven’t got a life of your own. 

13. Become more self-reliant

If the reason for your clinginess is dependence on your other half then it is time to become more self-reliant. Do you depend on them financially? If so, why? Are you employed? Do you work full-time or just part-time? Is there a reason why you can’t work full-time or are you just being lazy? 

It’s time to ask yourself the hard questions. Why do you rely on your partner so much? You are an adult, not a child or a teenager, so you really should start taking responsibility for yourself. Ask yourself why you are unwilling to grow up. 

14. Come off social media for a while

We all get bouts of FOMO from now and then when it concerns our friends. What are they up to? What if they are having a better time than we are? We scour their social media profiles for clues as to their activities and whereabouts. This isn’t healthy behavior. 

If you can’t help yourself then it is better to rip the Band-Aid off in one go and come off social media for a while. So, instead of wasting your time getting upset at what your partner is doing, you can go out and have fun yourself.

15. Concentrate on your own passions

One way to combat clingy behavior is to cultivate your own passions and interests. Not only will you have something to talk about when you come together, but you’ll meet other people and hopefully gain new friends. 

Relying on your partner to provide all the interest in your relationship is a heavy burden. It’s also not an attractive quality when you don’t have a life other than being with your boyfriend or girlfriend. 

16. Give your partner space

Giving your partner space shows you have a maturity and level of trust within your relationship. When you continue to text and call your partner when you are away from them you are pestering them. It’s something a child does when they want attention. In the end, it will get on your partner’s nerves. Their friends will start to question them about your behavior. They might even laugh at your actions and make them feel stupid for dating you in the first place. 

17. Tone down your physical clinginess

It is nice to hold hands occasionally or to cuddle up on the couch, but not everyone likes this kind of intimate contact all of the time. If you constantly want physical contact it can come across as 

clingy. It’s a little like a toddler reaching out for mommy to pick them up. 

If you’re not sure when it is appropriate to hold hands or hug your partner, wait for them to come to you. 

18. Control your anxiety

control your anxiety

When you worry about every eventuality, it’s easy to become anxious about the future. Then you become overly clingy towards your partner as a kind of security blanket. They ease your tension and anxiety. The problem is that your partner is not responsible for your happiness, you are. You are just as much of an adult as they are. So start acting like one. 

Don’t overthink things when they’re not around, and stop relying on them to make you feel better. Go for a run, meet your mates, meditate, do something.

19. Give yourself some alone time

Being happy in your own company shows you have a high level of self-reliance and esteem. It doesn’t mean that you don’t need someone in your life, quite the opposite. It shows that you want them, but you are perfectly happy to be alone at times. 

Wanting someone rather than needing them is so much more flattering. Think about it. If a person needs to be with you because they don’t like being on their own, it doesn’t say much for you as a person, does it? But if they want to be with you because they enjoy your company, that’s different. 

So learn to spend time on your own and be happy in your own physical space. 

20. Don’t use your partner to define your self-worth

Sometimes we cling to particular people because we derive our confidence from being around them. We don’t feel whole in our own right. We only feel complete when we are attached to our partners. 

We feel as if we are nothing without them. But this cannot carry on. Sure, other people can give you validation about how worthy you are, but, in the end, you have to have self-confidence in your own abilities. Plus, it’s draining for people to have to keep boosting your esteem all the time. 

21. Develop a broader social network

If you only ever see one person, it’s no surprise that you become clingy towards them. They start to take on huge importance in your life, simply because you don’t have anything else going on. But you can’t rely on one person to provide you with everything you need in the world. It’s time to cultivate a broader social scene. 

Do more things with your colleagues, go to the gym, get a new hobby, and join a running club. Just start spending time away from your partner. 

22. Get busy by yourself

There’s nothing less attractive than a person with nothing to do, no interests of their own, who expects you to come up with all the plans. In other words, someone with no life. Think about it. What more enticing, someone with lots going on in their social circle, someone with loads of friends and interests, or a person that does nothing? Involve yourself in new hobbies. 

23. See a therapist

Change is hard, especially if you don’t truly understand the underlying causes behind your behavior. In this case, seeing a therapist might be the first step in getting help. Once you are aware of the reasons why you are being clingy in a relationship can you then start to tackle it. 

FAQs

What causes clinginess?

Feeling clingy in a relationship stems from insecurity, trust issues, worries about abandonment, and possibly poor attachments during childhood. You might not have many friends of your own and place too much emphasis on romantic relationships. 

How do you tell if you're clingy?

Do you always want to spend your time with your partner? Are you busy when it comes to friends and family because you don't want to miss out on a date with your loved one? Do you feel as if your life revolves around your partner? Do you get worried when you’re not with them? 

Is being clingy a bad thing?

Being clingy in relationships is a bad thing. It is not attractive and can lead to the relationship breaking down. A clingy person puts all their emotion and value onto their partner and this can be draining. No one should have that much responsibility. 

Why do I get clingy so fast?

Desperate people that yearn for love tend to jump in without being discerning about the relationship. They want love, they don’t care really about who gives it to them. Perhaps it is a lack of self-esteem or respect. Stop being clingy by loving yourself first. 

How do you know if you are toxic?

Being overly needy and clingy is sometimes described as toxic behavior in relationships. You’ll know if you need to stop being clingy when your partner starts pulling away from you and hinting that they want more space. They may suggest you see your friends and family without them. 

In Conclusion

If you want to know how to stop being clingy you first have to be aware of your clingy behavior. I hope this article helps you to address your issues and cultivate a healthy relationship. 

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Sonya Schwartz
A hopeless romantic that struggled for many years to find her Mr "Right" and made all the mistakes you could think of while dating. Known for always choosing the wrong guys or messing up relationships, Sonya was finally able to change her approach and mindset when it came to dating which helped her eventually find the man of her dreams and become happily married. You can read more about me here...

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