If you’re worried that needy or clingy behaviour has pushed someone away, you may be freaking out right now, wondering how you can fix things.
When you really like somebody, strong emotions can seem to take over and show up in pretty intense ways.
But can you recover from acting needy? Absolutely.
Read on to find out how to redeem yourself after being too clingy, desperate or pushy.
Why do I act so needy?
Needy or clingy behaviour can present itself in many ways:
- Getting annoyed when he/she wants to do things without you
- Sending excessive messages
- Constantly calling to see what they’re up to
- Losing a sense of self
- Checking up on them when you aren’t together
- Assuming the worst or becoming angry if they don’t instantly get back to you
- Extreme jealousy
- Interrogating or pushy questions
- Always needing constant reassurance
- Moving way too fast
When you value your relationship or another person you want to care for them, but in the case of needy behaviour, it can get out of hand.
We all have different emotional attachment styles. It’s how we connect and bond with other people. The problem is that some styles are less healthy than others.
Whilst some people feel secure, others can feel very anxious. This tends to occur especially if you felt like certain emotional needs were not met when you were young.
If you have an anxious attachment style you may find:
- You act quite needy or clingy.
- You constantly worry about how to make your partner love you or keep loving you.
- You get jealous quite easily.
- You are fearful that even tiny mistakes could end your relationship.
- You worry that he/she might meet “someone better” than you.
- You worry that you are not good enough for them.
- You are always waiting for or expecting partners or friends to hurt you and let you down.
At the root of most needy or clingy behaviour usually lies certain insecurities about ourselves.
What to do after acting needy
1) Don’t panic
First things first, stay calm. It is likely not as bad as you think. Our minds can end up exaggerating things when the reality is usually far less critical.
Overthinking anything tends to make it worse.
We can get lost in worry and end up overcompensating. This then feeds into a cycle of creating more “try hard” energy that can also come across as clingy.
If someone really likes or cares about you, they will probably be understanding if you are making efforts to change.
The truth is that when we’re genuinely into someone it takes a lot more to “scare them off” than we think.
So anybody who really does go running for the hills at the first sign of trouble probably was never going to stick around long term anyway.
You might be beating yourself up right now, feeling embarrassed or regretful about whatever you think has come across as needy.
But honestly, we’re all capable of acting a little foolishly from time to time. It depends on your personality type how that shows up.
That doesn’t mean you won’t have to make some adjustments to how you’ve been behaving. But start by trying to take a little bit of pressure off yourself.
Being more lighthearted about it will help to ease the situation more than getting upset or frantically apologizing.
That might feel challenging if you’re feeling like you’ve messed up right now but it really can help to shift your energy before moving forward.
A little self-awareness goes a long way.
When we calmly correct our errors and resist the urge to catastrophize them, it helps to lighten the mood.
When we learn to smile at our own perceived flaws, rather than chastise ourselves over them, we can forgive ourselves, which actually makes addressing the problem much easier.
2) Identify problem behaviours and put a stop to them
This one might seem obvious at first, but often our behaviour isn’t conscious, it’s habitual.
So you might not see all the things you had done which could be interpreted by others as a bit needy — because being that way is so familiar to you or you’ve always done it.
Perhaps a few things have been pointed out to you. Try to do a mental or written inventory of the things which have been causing conflict.
Work out little rules for yourself to help you put a stop to certain unhealthy patterns you might have fallen into.
For example, you might ban yourself from stalking his social media or you could commit to only replying to her text messages but not sending the first one for the following week.
It may feel tricky to work out wherever you’ve been needy and will require a bit of introspection.
You can always turn to a supportive friend or family member who knows you very well to offer you a more objective take on things.
3) Back off a bit
That doesn’t mean you have to disappear off the face of the Earth or cut off all contact (unless the other person has specifically told you they don’t want to talk for a while).
It just means that giving the situation some time and space is going to help. Especially as stifling behaviour is usually part of the problem when it comes to being needy and clingy.
Learning to loosen your grip and trying to step away will most likely automatically resolve many of the tensions that were being created.
If they feel like they need more time alone — to be with friends, or pursue their own interests — make sure you give it to them ungrudgingly.
The distance will help the situation to calm down a little, and also give you time to miss one another again.
4) Try to understand what is triggering this behaviour in you
Whilst it’s totally normal to be thinking “How do I stop acting needy?” it’s not as simple as telling yourself to cut it out.
Especially when it feels like just a part of our nature, we don’t necessarily even understand why we do the things we do.
It’s like saying to someone who has anger problems, “just chill out”. It’s not very helpful as it’s easier said than done. And if we knew how, we probably wouldn’t have the problem in the first place.
So how do you change needy behaviour?
You have to do the inner work and get to the real bottom of what causes you to be clingy. Look beyond the behaviour to find the reason for it.
Do you feel worthy of love? Do you believe that someone would want you? Do you find it difficult to trust romantic partners? Do you feel like you love and respect yourself?
The key to happier relationships with yourself and others often involves addressing the shadow work, so that we can try to heal our wounded self.
This is why self-love practices can be so significant. The better we feel about ourselves, the stronger our relationships will be.
If you discover some deep-rooted self-esteem issues or trauma that has been affecting you, you may even want to seek some outside support.
Investing in therapy, coaching or some form of personal development can help you to work through difficult issues which need more attention.
If you’re looking for practical tips to help you to be less clingy you’ll find plenty in this Hack Spirit article on “How to stop being clingy in a relationship: 22 no bullsh*t tips”.
5) Show some independence
Even though I say show some independence, this certainly isn’t just for show — it’s for your own sake as well as the sake of your relationship.
From their side, it may look like you are showing more independence but from your side, that will involve strengthening your own independence.
Even though we all want to feel valued and wanted by our partners, nobody wants to be totally relied upon to fulfil all of someone else’s needs.
It’s unrealistic to rest our own happiness solely in the hands of others.
If you are overly attached, you can end up neglecting your own interests for the sake of someone else.
Be sure to invest time and energy nurturing your own friendships. Explore the hobbies and activities that give you pleasure. Try to get to know yourself better with a little bit of “me time”.
It might mean discovering new things or rediscovering neglected passions. Try to make yourself the centre of your world again, rather than this other person.
It won’t go unnoticed. People who have more going on in their life tend to be even more attractive and desirable.
6) Consider if your needs are being met
It’s easy to lay the blame 100% directly at your own door.
But before you continue with cursing yourself for losing your cool — does being with this person make you feel particularly insecure or unsure of where you stand?
It’s natural, especially in the early stages of dating to wonder how someone feels about us.
We might worry that we like them more than they like us — which can prompt us to behave a little strangely as our defence mechanisms kick in.
Or if we have been hurt in a previous relationship or been cheated on, it can also be a case of “once bitten and twice shy”.
But the other person’s words and actions towards you should also reassure you to a certain extent.
Of course, if you are a very insecure person then you will need to work on your own feelings of self-worth — as this can never come from someone else.
A good self-esteem is a strong foundation upon which we build all healthy relationships in our life. But it’s also important to have healthy boundaries for how we expect to be treated by others.
So it’s good to check in with yourself and ask honestly whether this person who you acted needy towards has provoked it within you?
For example, you may feel like they withhold affection, are unclear about their feelings, act dismissively towards you or give you cause to question what they’re getting up to behind your back.
It’s important to try and be objective when doing this, so if you aren’t sure if you can look at things from a third party perspective — ask a trusted friend or family member who you know will tell you the truth as they see it.
If you recognize that certain things someone else is doing are triggering you to feel needy, it’s important to decide whether the connection is fulfilling your needs.
If it’s not, you should have an open and honest chat with them about that — as it will involve change not only on your side but potentially on theirs as well.
7) Remember actions speak louder than words
Particularly if you’ve shown someone you’re very demanding of their time or energy — words are not enough to resolve the situation.
Promising that you will change your ways isn’t as effective as proving that you have changed.
So, if he’s told you that calling him whilst he’s at work is off limits. Hear him and respect that boundary.
If she knows you used to get moody if you don’t get a reply straight away to every text message you send, actually show her that you’re chilling out by not keeping tabs on her.
It might be useful to discuss and establish boundaries with your partner, so you know what feels good for both of you. For example, how often you will speak or see one another.
Understand that it may take a little bit of time before they can see that you are making an effort. So you will need to be patient, as you back up your words with action.
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