Signs That You Are in a Clingy Relationship and What To Do About It

Smiling young woman hugging a young man who looks scared or irritated by her

We've all been there. You're dating someone, everything seems perfect, and the relationship blossoms very quickly. Then you suddenly realize they just won't let you go for some reason. They call you incessantly, show up wherever you are, slowly wearing your patience out, and turning your life a living hell. If this sounds like your current or ex-partner, you might be dealing with a clingy person.

While clinginess can be frustrating and come off as negative, it may not be a relationship-ender. You can take steps to deal with your partner's inappropriate behaviors and regain a healthy balance in your relationship. This article will discuss what clinginess is, why it's a problem in relationships, the signs that your partner is too clingy, how to deal with a clingy partner, and how to maintain healthy boundaries in your life. So, let's get started!

What Is Clinginess?

According to psychology, we develop a pattern of attachment style in relationships as we progress into adulthood. Most of us develop secure relationships where we feel comfortable spending time together while respecting each other's boundaries.

Clinginess is the opposite of secure relationship behaviors. Sometimes referred to as being needy, clinginess is when a person requires a lot of attention and reassurance from their partner. The problem can manifest itself in different ways, such as constantly texting, calling, or messaging you, showing up unannounced, needing to know your whereabouts at all times, or getting jealous easily of others spending time with you. 

jealous man spying on girlfriend while she texts

What Causes Clingy Behavior?

People can become clingy for a variety of reasons. It could be due to insecurities due to low self-esteem, previous bad relationships, attachment style problems due to childhood trauma, low self-esteem, or mental illnesses.

Insecurity Due to Self-Esteem

One of the main reasons people become clingy is due to insecurities and low self-esteem. When we don't feel good about ourselves, it's easy to transfer those feelings onto our partner and believe they will leave us if we don't cling to them. 

The self-degrading thinking can create a vicious cycle in which the more clingy we become, the more our partner starts to distance themselves. In return, it only leads to further insecurities and causes us to cling even more.

Bad Past Relationships

If you've had a bad experience in past relationships, it can be natural to want to hold onto your current partner tightly and see the relationship through a pessimistic view. If you have been dumped or cheated on before, these experiences often make it difficult for you to trust again.

Or maybe you've just had a series of short-lived relationships that never seemed to work out. Either way, working through those issues with a therapist is important before they start causing problems in your current relationship.

Attachment Style Problems

Sometimes, our attachment style is the root cause of our clinginess. Attachment styles are formed in childhood and usually stem from how our caregivers responded to us when we were young.

For example, if you had a parent who was constantly absent or emotionally unavailable, you might have developed an unstable attachment style. It means you tend to be clingy in relationships as an adult because you're constantly worried your partner will leave you. Of course, attachment style problems can stem from other factors such as childhood trauma or parental abuse experience.

Mental Illness

Sometimes, clingy behavior can be a symptom of a mental illness. For example, people with borderline personality disorder, anxiety disorders, and depression often exhibit clingy behaviors.

Nine Signs Your Partner Is Being Too Clingy

While it's normal to want attention from your partner, there is a line between healthy and unhealthy clinginess. If you find that your partner's clingy behavior is putting a strain on your relationship or making you feel suffocated, it may mean your partner is being too needy.

Constantly Bombarding Your Phone

One of the most common signs that your partner is being too clingy is if they are constantly bombarding you with texts, calls, messages, or even video recordings. While it's nice to feel wanted and loved, having no personal space can be psychologically draining. Even worse, you think you are constantly under surveillance by your significant others.

Asking for Your Location All the Time

Another sign that your partner is being too clingy is if they are always asking for your location. It can make you feel like you're under a microscope and have no privacy. It also might signal that your partner doesn't trust you, which can damage the relationship.

Outraged Latina looking at her phone

They Feel Insecure Around Your Friends, Coworkers, and Family Members

If your partner feels insecure or threatened whenever you're around other people, it's a sign that they are too clingy. It can be suffocating and make you feel like you have to choose between your partner and everyone else in your life. When they get jealous easily, it can also signify that they are possessive and controlling.

Stalking You on Social Media

In this day and age, it's easy for your partner to stalk you on social media. While it may seem harmless at first, it can quickly become obsessive and creepy. If your partner is constantly liking or commenting on your posts, sending messages, or even tagging you in things without your consent, you may not want to overlook this red flag.

They Make You Feel Guilty for Needing Space

Your partner should understand that you need time for yourself, just like they do. If they try to make you feel guilty for wanting some space or time apart, it's a sign that they are too needy. Everyone needs time to themselves, and it's important to have healthy boundaries in relationships.

They Tag Along Wherever You Go, Even Without an Invitation

If your partner is always showing up uninvited or tagging along wherever you go, it can quickly become creepy as the experience makes you feel like you have no personal space. Set boundaries with your partner and let them know when their behavior is crossing the line.

They Become Your Clone

One of the most extreme signs of clinginess is when your partner becomes your clone. They start dressing like you, talking like you, imitating your behavior, sharing your opinion, and developing the same hobbies and interests. While it may seem flattering at first, it can quickly become eerie and make you feel like you're losing your identity in the relationship.

They Constantly Ask for Reassurance

If your partner is always asking for reassurance, it's a sign that they are insecure and clingy. They might constantly ask you if you love them, if you're still attracted to them, or if you're going to leave them. Although it may come off as cute and endearing at first, this can be very draining and make you feel like you're walking on eggshells around your partner.

They Try To Manipulate You With Emotional Games

One of the most manipulative things a clingy partner can do is play emotional games, such as guilt-tripping, gaslighting, or making you feel like you're always in the wrong. These games are unhealthy and toxic, and you should never tolerate this type of abusive behavior in your relationship.

Young Asian couple, woman questioning man about contents of phone

How Can Clingy Behavior Damage Your Relationship?

While it might seem like being clingy is just a minor annoyance, it can damage your relationship. It can affect your emotional and mental health if you're always feeling suffocated, controlled, or like you have no personal space. In addition, when one partner always needs reassurance or constantly asks for attention, it can make the other partner feel like they're not good enough. Over time, both parties eventually develop feelings of insecurity and anxiety concerning each other. In extreme cases, clingy behavior can even be a form of emotional abuse in which your partner is constantly emotionally blackmailing you to "stay in line."

How To Deal With a Clingy Partner

If your partner's clingy behavior is starting to damage your relationship, it is crucial to take action. The first step is to sit with your partner and have an honest conversation about their behavior. If they are truly interested in changing, they will be willing to listen to what you have to say and make an effort to change their behavior.

How You Can Help Your Partner to Change Their Toxic Behavior

If your partner is willing to change their clingy behavior, you can do a few things to help them.

  • Encourage them to see a therapist or counselor who can help them deal with their clinginess healthily.

  • Encourage them to spend time apart from you and pursue their interests.

  • Encourage them to meet new people and have their own friends.

  • Help them build up their self-esteem by complimenting them, spending quality time with them, and engaging in thoughtful conversations.

  • Encourage them to view your relationship as positive and trusting.

  • Help them develop coping strategies to prevent negative thoughts and clinging tendencies.

What To Do If You Are the One Who Is Being Too Clingy

Do you find yourself wanting to be around your partner all the time? Do you get anxious when they leave your sight or go off and do something without you? If so, you may be in a clingy relationship.

If you find that you are the one who is being too clingy, it's important to take a step back and assess your behavior. Clinginess is often rooted in insecurity and anxiety, so it's important to deal with those underlying issues first. If you're unsure how to do that, consider seeking professional help from a therapist or counselor. In the meantime, here are a few things you can do to start changing your clingy behavior:

  • Stop texting or calling your partner every five minutes. If they don't respond immediately, resist the urge to send another text.

  • Be honest about why you are feeling clingy and whether or not the relationship is healthy for you.

  • Start pursuing your interests and hobbies. Spend time apart from your partner doing things you enjoy.

  • Make sure you have your own friends and social life outside of your relationship.

  • Work on building up your self-esteem. Get used to complimenting yourself, spending time with people who make you feel good about yourself, and engaging in positive self-talk.

  • Stop viewing your relationship as fragile and start trusting your partner.

  • Develop coping strategies for when you start feeling insecure or anxious. Habits like deep breathing exercises, journaling, or talking to a friend can help alleviate these negative habits.

Man desperately clinging to the leg of a woman

Can Both People Be Too Clingy in a Relationship at the Same Time?

Yes, both people in a relationship can exhibit clingy behavior simultaneously. During a new relationship, the jealous behavior may come off cute to some individuals. But the insecurity and trust issue often leads to arguments, resentment, and even the end of the relationship. These types of toxic behavior often usually evolve into a codependent relationship.

What Is a Codependent Relationship?

A codependent relationship is when two people are so invested in each other that they lose their sense of identity. Each person becomes overly reliant on the other for their emotional needs. It often leads to one person being dominant and the other feeling trapped, suffocated, or taken for granted.

Codependent relationships are usually born out of insecurity and a fear of abandonment. One or both people in the relationship may have difficulty being alone, so they stay in the relationship even if it's unhealthy.

If you think you might be in a codependent relationship, here are a few signs to look for:

  • You feel like you can't live without your partner

  • You constantly worry about your partner leaving you

  • You base your self-worth on whether or not your partner loves or approves of you

  • You give up your hobbies and interests to spend more time with your partner

  • You always put your partner's needs above your own

  • You feel that you need to sacrifice your happiness for your partner's

  • You feel guilty when you say no to your partner

Two people's wrists chained together, signifying a codependent relationship

How To Deal With a Codependent Relationship

If you're in a codependent relationship, it may seem like there is no end to the toxic relationship. Instead of hurting yourself and your significant other, it's important to seek professional help. A therapist can help you work on setting boundaries, communicating effectively, and managing codependent behavior.

It's also important to take some time for yourself. It may mean taking a break from the relationship or spending time apart from your partner. During this time, focus on your own needs and interests. Rediscover things you used to enjoy doing before the relationship. Learning more about yourself can help achieve a more balanced and healthy relationship.

When To End a Relationship Because of Clinginess

There is no single answer to the question of when to end a relationship because of clinginess. Every situation is unique, and what may be toxic clinginess in one relationship may be a normal part of another. However, some general guidelines can be useful in determining whether clinginess is a problem in a relationship. 

First, it is important to consider the intention behind the clinginess. If someone is clingy because they want to spend every waking minute with their partner, that may indicate a healthy level of connection and commitment. On the other hand, if someone is clingy out of fear of abandonment or insecurity, that may be cause for concern. 

It is important to look at the overall dynamic of the relationship. If clinginess has periods of independence and individual activities, it is less likely to be toxic. However, if clinginess dominates the relationship and causes feelings of suffocation or entrapment, it may be time to END things. 

When deciding to end a relationship because of clinginess, it is important to use your best judgment and listen to your gut instinct. If you feel like you are being smothered or your needs are not met, that is usually a sign that something is wrong. 

While it can be difficult to let go of someone you care about, it's important to remember that you deserve to be in a healthy and balanced relationship. No one deserves to be in a toxic relationship, no matter how "in love" they are. If you've tried to talk to your partner about their behavior and they refuse to change, it might be time to walk away.

How To Maintain Healthy Boundaries in Your Own Life

Everyone deserves to be loved and treated with respect. To have a healthy and balanced relationship, you must maintain healthy boundaries. Here are a few things to keep in mind: 

  • You deserve to be in a safe and healthy relationship. If your partner is unwilling to change their clingy behavior, it might be time to walk away.

  • You are not responsible for your partner's happiness. They must be responsible for their happiness.

  • It's okay to spend time apart from your partner. It's healthy!

  • You have the right to say "no" to anything.

  • You can have friends and a social life outside of your relationship.

  • You deserve to be treated with respect. If your partner is not respecting your boundaries, it's not a healthy relationship.

African american woman wearing navy striped t-shirt standing over isolated white background making the time-out gesture with her hands

Final Thoughts

Clinginess is a normal part of any relationship. However, it can become toxic when it starts to take over and dominate the relationship. If you think you or your partner might be too clingy, it's important to seek help from a professional. They can help you assess the situation and determine how to move forward healthily.

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