Clinginess (A brief guide)

Clinginess
JuanitaHFNE

Juanita Agboola is the editor in chief of HFNE and an expert in mental health online. She has been writing about online behaviour, mental health and psychology issues since 2012. All Guides are reviewed by our editorial team which constitutes various clinical psychologists, PhD and PsyD colleagues.

In this brief guide, we will discuss what Clinginess means and why someone can be considered clingy. 

Clinginess: What does it mean?

Clinginess comes from the action of being “clingy” and according to the freedictionaty.com means to hold fast or adhere to something, as by grasping, sticking, embracing, or entwining, to remain close; resist separation or it can also mean to remain emotionally attached; hold on. Here we will use the term clinginess in a romantic relationship setting specifically. 

Clinginess (A brief guide)

People feel the more they are with their partner, the easier it is for them to understand how much they love them and how they cant actually live without them. For some, this might seem very cute but in reality, clinginess is not loved since love is not supposed to be clingy. 

People who are clingy have a mentality that their thoughts and actions look and actually feel like love since the sense of closeness or the feeling of connection and intimacy is what they are most interested in. They can be classed as “love addicts” of the relationship world and this doesn’t necessarily mean you can be clingy in one relationship and not in the next, especially because this seems to be a personality trait that persists in time if you don’t change your behavioral pattern whilst in a relationship.

Moreover, love and clinginess are not meant to be the same thing. Love isn’t supposed to be grabby or co-dependent, especially when the clingy person needs continuous reassurance by texting, physical contact or spending every minute they can with their partner. 

In this case, clinginess is associated with anxiety and anxiety is translated into insecurity or feeling insecure. If your partner based your relationship in the number of hours you spend with each other or the number of texts they receive with the word “I love you” then it may mean they are clingy. 

Texting your partner and spending time with them could have a high peak during the first stages of the relationship but if this persists and you see that it is just too much, you don’t have any privacy or your life tends to revolve around your partner then there may be a problem. However, by no means, the solution to clinginess is finding someone that actually likes it or is also considered clingy, the key point here is to learn to love yourself more. 

New relationships, some might say they love the chase and some others can find it quite daunting but once your relationship is more solid then enjoying every waking moment with your partner can become the ultimate goal for some and for others exhausting since they tend to demand their own space. 

Clinginess (A brief guide)

In reality, clingy people are never going to be satisfied with will be able to fill the emotional void they are feeling if they don’t actually take care of the real problem. Meaning that, “if all you do is seek positive reinforcement by way of someone else’s reassurance, it’s just going to become a positive feedback loop, with you increasingly dependent on it and pawing for more (Kris Gage from Medium.com).”

Is clinginess the same as being co-dependent?

Yes, we have news for you and are not very good ones. Clinginess can be a sign of co-dependency. The problem here is that when you find someone who is compatible with your level of clinginess, most likely they are the sort of person who battles with their own emotional and/or psychological problems.

Why do people become Clingy?

When it comes to relationships, it is actually quite normal that you want to spend time with your partner, you are trying to get to know more about them, especially when starting a new relationship but some people take it too far and it becomes necessary to give your partner some space.  

There are actually many factors that can contribute to someone being clingy. Often it is related to feeling insecure, doubting about oneself or being anxious about the future. Previous relationships (past experiences) or being in the first relationship ever, can also contribute to someone becoming clingy. Being alone can be quite terrifying for clingy people so this is why they may cling to others to avoid feeling this way. 

But how do you know the difference between looking at your partner for some comfort and being co-dependent? How can you be sure you are emotionally “needy” and highly sensitive to being rejected instead of simply being in love? Well, there are actually some signs that can help you answer these questions. 

“To those who are clingy, extreme thoughts and actions look and feel a lot like love and intimacy; and they don’t want to let a good thing go. The problem is that this feeling  — the obsession with a physical and mental closeness that can come off as clingy  —  is not love (talkspace.com).”

Clinginess (A brief guide)

Abandonment

It is a reality that for many of us facing being abandoned by our partner can become quite scary, just by thinking about it. We are also afraid they may leave us for someone else and then the relationship might end. 

However, the more we worry about being abandoned and the more we remind it to our partner, the more they will feel like they can’t stand it anymore. Here, working on building a strong trust and open communication is key. 

Child Development and Basic Trust

When we are little, we understood at some point that mom and dad or both had to leave the house to go to work or even were used to not having them at all. For some, that didn’t adjust to this situation. An insecure attachment was developed. 

As infants, if you had one of your parents nearby you could simply enjoy playing knowing they were around or for some, if they were not actually there with you then you would cry uncontrollably until they come and pay attention to you. Most kids fit somewhere in the middle.

“For those who have internalized an image of mom or dad, they can self soothe knowing that sooner or later, they will see their beloved parent again. For some, a baby blanket will suffice to keep them comforted. In psychology, we call this Basic Trust (psychologytoday.com).”

Clinginess (A brief guide)

A self-limiting belief vicious circle

If you are clingy, you will feel as if the only source of happiness is knowing your partner actually loves you. This can be considered as a self-limiting belief and it is not uncommon.

For some people whose partner is just as clingy as they can be quite difficult to break the circle this can prevent many people from going on with their lives and just depending on one person as their source of reinforcement not giving the chance to explore other sources since they don’t find the need to do it. 

If you start in a clingy relationship to be more independent, take good care of yourself, develop a hobby or interest apart from your partner they will actually try to drag you into the circle. T some point, you may even question your actual relationship and what you really need to be happy. 

Insecure relationship 

Mostly, clingy people are trapped in a clingy relationship with insecure people who want to be needed. When one of them actually wants something different, the other feels as if their balance is disrupted trying by all means to restore it. 

However, in many cases when one person in the relationship wants to get better, they try to bring their partner along but sometimes one of them won’t feel a change is necessary and won’t seek change. 

How can I stop being clingy?

Clinginess can be severely criticized by other people, and for some clingy people, this doesn’t necessarily mean they are doing something wrong. Others can monitor their behavior at some point and realize they need to make a change. 

To stop being clingy it is important to identify you are and then accept changes that need to be made. There are a few strategies you can implement to help you such as:

  • Find other sources of happiness or reinforcement, such as activities you enjoy the most and try doing them without your partner. Develop interests and hobbies. 
  • Listen to the feedback from friends and family and ask them to help you set boundaries. 
  • If you have identified your behavior as clingy, talking about your insecurities and past relationships with your partner can help you heal open wounds and trust issues. 
  • You may feel that if you don’t try to control a situation, something bad may happen. Talking about it with your partner will help give you that sense of security you crave.

Why is this blog about clinginess important?

Clinginess is nothing to be ashamed of, recognizing and admitting these type of behavior can actually be the first step into modifying the behavioral pattern. There are usually very good reasons why you developed this clingy behavior, so if you recognize you are being too needy in your relationship try doing something about it.

Most of us carry wounds, insecurities and trust issues from the past. Work on them to be able to look forward into the future. Remember, clinginess is not the same as love or the best way to show affection. 

Please feel free to comment in the comments section below!

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about clinginess

What is a clingy person?

A clingy person can be characterized by getting obsessed with a new person the moment they meet them, even if you are just making friends. After the first meet up, they can start calling the person constantly, asking to hang out most of the time and they tend to feel sad or abandoned of you do want to spend some time alone. 

What is being too clingy?

Being too clingy can mean you concentrate on making happy just one person in your life and you spend the most (if not all) your time with them. In this process, you tend to neglect other people around you that care and love you. 

What is a clingy girlfriend?

A clingy girlfriend is considered as a girlfriend that is constantly seeking attention and reassurance from their partner. Is someone who wants, needs or demands more love from their boyfriend so they can be certain they do love them. 

What’s another word for clingy?

Other words for clingy include adherent, adhesive, gluey, glutinous, gummy, sticky, tacky and tenacious, according to the merriam-webster.com dictionary. 

What are some examples of being clingy?

Some of the examples of being clingy can include texting your significant other constantly, getting nervous when they don’t respond to your texts, following them wherever they go, overanalyzing their social media activity looking for evidence of cheating or not loving them as they say they do, not trusting them, etc. 

Recommended reading

References

Thefreedictionary.com

Medium.com

Talkspace.com

Psychologytoday.com

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