“Am I too clingy?”
“Am I acting desperate?”
“Am I going to scare them off?”
^ Questions I hear from my clients all the time. If you’ve ever thought this way, you are not alone.
I have never been a fan of the terms “needy” and “clingy,” as I think they are 1) used pejoratively and 2) used way too often. The dating world would be a kinder place if we got rid of these overused tropes and focused on the behaviors rather than labeling the person exhibiting them.
Having said that, there is a difference between having needs and being needy, and there are certain “clingy” behaviors that are unhealthy. Some of those behaviors include calling/texting incessantly, demanding immediate responses, having inappropriate boundaries, and lacking the ability to self-soothe. If you want to know whether you are in the ranks of a “stage five clinger” – another term I don’t like – you can find out here.
But sometimes, you are not the problem. Sometimes what other people consider clingy behavior is actually fairly normal in healthy relationships, especially if the person criticizing the clingy behavior has a tendency to exhibit hyper-independence. A hyper-independent, distant, or avoidant person is likely going to consider talking on the phone a few times a day “too much” and label you “clingy,” whereas the issue is actually that they aren’t capable of closeness and communication.
Said another way, an anxious person who needs a lot of attention and communication is always going to seem clingy in the presence of an avoidant person who doesn’t feel comfortable with emotional intimacy. Take that same anxious person and put them with someone who knows how to meet their emotional needs, and suddenly the word clingy disappears from the picture. The context matters.
Of course, the point of this is not to blame someone else and take no responsibility for your behavior. It is possible that you are clingy and the other person is distant, in which case you have to focus on working through your stuff. (A good place to start would be to find out your attachment style)...
But before you go asking everybody if you are too clingy and labeling yourself as such, ask yourself if you are dating someone who is securely attached or someone who is distant and avoidant, and remind yourself that the dynamic of every relationship is always co-created by both parties.
Kevin Nahai from the Keys Team
Dating & Relationship Coach