In this post, I’m going to show you how you can stop being clingy in your relationship.
In fact, if you follow these tips, not only will you feel less dependent on your partner, but you’ll create a healthier relationship as well.
We have a lot to cover so let’s get started.
1. Let your partner be free with the following actions
When someone is more clingy than they need to be, they have the inherent belief that if they grip tighter to their loved one, they’ll be less likely to lose them.
But it’s time to wash that theory away, and heed author Richard Bach’s famous words:
“If you love someone, set them free. If they come back they’re yours; if they don’t they never were.”
By “free”, we don’t mean ending the relationship. Free in this case means trusting the other person in the relationship enough so that they can…
- go about their day without texting you to check-in several times an hour (or you texting them)
- meet people without you worrying who they are with
- make decisions on your behalf without your feeling a loss of power
- keep their social media private if they wish
- act in ways you don’t understand yet you do not see this as threatening to you in any way
- be in touch with former partners if the need arises (such as co-parenting children or shared events in the family like a death) without you feeling jealous
We can all agree that taking action is the best way to induce change, so start the process of being less clingy by allowing your partner to do the above.
2. Learn to trust your partner
One of the building blocks of a solid, healthy, and satisfying relationship is trust.
That is, believing the other person is in your corner, with your well-being at heart.
Knowing that they are just as committed to making this relationship work as you are, and that they will do all in their power to keep you happy and safe.
In general, the more you trust the other, the less you are anxious about your relationship.
Sometimes, the other person has done or said something that has caused you to lose your faith in them.
On the other hand, your life experiences may have taught you that trusting others is NOT a good idea.
Whatever the case, if you’re lacking trust in your relationship, it is clear that this situation needs to be addressed by both of you.
The best way to do that?
Through a face-to-face conversation about it.
By communicating with each other, you’ll be able to talk about why you (or your partner) are too clingy and what you can do about it.
Perhaps you both just need to reassure each other that you do indeed trust each other, and then set some boundaries (we’ll get into that later).
In your conversation, you should have 2 goals:
1. Your partner is made aware of why their actions or words caused you to lose trust.
2. A plan is made to avoid such situations in the future.
3. Try couple’s therapy
Depending on how far along you are in your relationship, you may consider couple’s therapy to sort through your clingy behavior and trust issues.
The data shows that even a single, couple-based psychoeducational session is very effective.
A sample of 21 couples participated. The session discussed relationship anxiety and how to reduce it.
The results showed that after the session, the anxious partner needed less reassurance in the future, and the other behaved less negatively on the occasions that reassurance was asked for.
4. Figure out what “attachment style” you are
Attachment theory is a psychology theory that describes the nature of emotional attachment between humans.
According to psychologists, there are 4 different attachment strategies adults can adopt.
Secure attachment style: People who are comfortable displaying interest and affection. They’re also comfortable being alone.
Anxious attachment style: These people need constant reassurance and affection from their partner. They often have trouble being single or alone.
Avoidant attachment style: These people are uncomfortable with intimacy, and are extremely independent. They tend to have commitment issues and feel suffocated when people get too close to them.
If you’re interested in taking a test to figure out what attachment style you are, click here to take a quiz.
If you’re overly clingy in your relationships, then it’s likely you have an anxious attachment style.
The good news is that your attachment style can change over time, though not without effort.
Psychologists have theorized that one’s attachment style corresponds to the degree of positive/negative self-image and positive/negative image of others.
Therefore, if you’re the anxious attachment style, you can work on creating healthy boundaries and fostering a healthy self-image.
Find something you’re passionate about, get good at it, and make that a focal point of your life, rather than your partner.
If you’re the avoidant type, you can work on opening yourself up to others. A great piece of advice for avoidant types is to find something great in everyone you meet. Become curious and stop being judgmental.
But remember, you need to work out what attachment style you are first. Once you know, you can work on change.
5. Are you clingy because you need them in your life?
One common reason a partner can be overly clingy is that they do not have enough resources to live a basic life, and they rely on their partner to provide those resources.
In these cases, the person clings to the other as their means of financial support.
Sometimes challenging things happen. It could be that you are studying full-time and don’t have a spare moment to work.
Perhaps you have a temporary physical condition which is keeping you off work completely or only partially on the job.
In these circumstances, realize that your situation is temporary. At some point, you will graduate. Your studies will give you a higher earning power. Eventually, your good health will return, allowing you to return to full-time employment.
Try to let this understanding bring you peace and calm.
Then, take a fresh look at your financial relationship with the other.
Can it be done in a way that reduces clinginess?
Perhaps a weekly/monthly budget could help, with the funds being transferred to your own bank account, giving you some independence. In this way, you won’t have to ask for every penny, causing you to feel (and seem) totally clingy.
So, why aren’t you earning money? Why have you chosen this option? Do you enjoy being taken care of? Are you feeling somewhat lazy?
We all want a break from work now and then, sometimes for quite a long time. However, we must realize that our “work rest” is our choice.
Our partners, friends, and family should not suffer our clinginess as a result of our decision.
Since you have control, change your situation if it is causing stress in your relationship(s).
In general, there is always legal work if someone is serious. It may not be in your profession. It may not be at the salary level you are used to. It may require some additional training, but you will be earning an income, and you will feel (and seem to others) less dependent and clingy.
6. Try not to rely on your partner for your own self-worth
This one is about self-esteem and self-worth. Having low (or no) personal “wealth” is about believing that we are worthless, without value, unimportant.
Since we feel empty, we cling to others to “fill us up.” For example, we feel that we are unloveable, so we hang on to our partner good or bad because who else would want us?
It is time to increase your self-confidence, self-esteem, and self-worth.
An effective way to do this is by taking some of your eggs out of your “relationship basket.”
Chances are, you have been defining yourself in a large part (or perhaps completely) by your relationship.
So, it makes sense to be clingy because without this relationship, who are you? What do you have left?
Excessive neediness leads to clinginess, and neither is attractive.
Here are some other “baskets” to put your eggs into:
- Spend more time with family and friends.
- Travel, especially on your own—you will see how self-reliant you can be.
- Take a course or start a hobby.
- Volunteer—giving to others ends up being a gift to ourselves.
7. Less phone time
Can you believe that there was once a time in the not so distant past…just 30 years ago or so…
Partners left the house in the morning to go to work, and they were not in contact at all until they returned home at night!
At that time there were no (or very few) mobile phones. Workplaces generally forbid personal calls during work time unless, of course, there was an emergency.
This meant that for 8-10 hours every day, partners did not see, speak to, or chat with each other. As a result, they got a break from one another…and had something to talk about during dinner—the classic: “How was your day?”
How often are you in touch by phone in your relationship? Is it excessive?
Check it out by choosing a 24-hour period. Keep track of ALL the times you are in touch with the other in a proactive way (not reactive such as replying with a short comment or emoji).
This includes not only voice and chat but also sending images, forwarding things, and posting links.
For the same 24-hour period, keep track of ALL the times the other was in touch with you in a proactive way.
Let’s look at the proactive contact numbers for your 24-hour period. How much difference is there between the two numbers? In other words, how much MORE are you in touch than the other is in touch with you?
If the difference is more than 5, you should consider dialing it back.
For example, in a 24-hour period you are proactively in touch with the other 25 times. The other is proactively in touch with you 16 times.
This difference of 9 times may be why they see you as “clingy”, even though you may see it as being loving and showing you miss them.
8. Create more space between you and your partner
Even in the strongest, most loving relationships, partners need time apart from each other.
As we mentioned above in the phone section, being “no contact” in the old days was one way this was achieved naturally.
Today, we are used to being in touch much more often. So, for the sake of good relationships, we need to consciously build in “apart time”.
Limit phone contact
You could go “no contact” during the workday or limit proactive contacts to a low number. In effect, you would be updating an old school hack. Easy to do and doesn’t cost you anything.
For partners sharing a home…
- Schedule some time in which you each occupy different parts of the residence WITHOUT being in contact at all. For example, from 9-10 am every Saturday, you are in the garden and your partner is in the kitchen.
- Use a “do not disturb” sign. Yes, the same as in hotels. When the person hangs the sign on the doorknob of a room and closes the door, they are not to be bothered (not even by phone) unless there is a justified emergency. Make sure you use this option also, even if you feel you don’t need it, in order to give your partner some space.
Do it by yourself
You don’t always have to have someone with you when you shop, take a yoga/pilates class, go to a movie, eat out, walk along the beach, go to the gym, etc.
Is it nicer together? Sure, but you are a grownup, and grownups know how to do things by themselves when needed…and it is needed, so your partner/the other has space to breathe.
This is the popular “girls night out / guys night out” suggestion. The idea here is that each of you can go out without the other in a non-threatening way. It means that you are not dependent on each other to have a fun night out.
If you don’t have a “tribe” because you’ve been clinging onto the other person in the relationship exclusively, you are going to have to build one. It is easier than you think.
Many people you know will be willing to be casual friends with you. You are not asking for a big commitment, just doing something enjoyable together once in a while. z
You will be surprised how many people are looking for a tribe, too.
By learning about your attachment style and choosing to make changes, you will stop being so clingy.
This is better on both sides. You will feel more empowered and independent. Your self-esteem will be increased, and your self-image will improve.
The other person in the relationship will not feel so “choked” and dragged down by your neediness.
They will be able to see you as the person who attracted them in the first place.
Overall, these changes will help to strengthen your relationship and change it in positive ways.