Attachment is an interesting concept when it comes to interpersonal relationships. There are many types of attachment, and attachment styles differ for everyone. Attachment can be good or bad, but there is a more negative aspect associated with attachment: clinginess. What is it exactly, why is it harmful, and what can you do about it?
What is Clinginess?
The concept of clinginess is a bit hard to define. Some people see clinginess in different ways; there are others who may see it as an act of care, and vice versa.
In general terms, clinginess is the anxious attachment one feels towards another and their resulting actions. They have a desire to be with and receive attention from their partner in order to feel secure, and are overtly emotionally needy.
Being appropriately caring and desiring the right amount of affection isn’t clinginess; clinginess is more toxic. Here are a few examples of clinginess.
Always Wanting to Be in Contact with the Other Person
Usually seen in long distance relationships, this can even happen with people in relationships that live closer to one another. A clingy partner may be someone who is always wanting to talk right away, or expects an immediate response to a message. The clingy person’s partner may feel like that can’t seem to take a break from being in contact and have healthy boundaries. If they do go for a while without communicating, their partner may think the worst, like they’re possibly cheating, or something bad happened to them.
Jealousy and clinginess go hand-in-hand. If two people aren’t communicating very well, and one party is acting suspiciously, that could be a valid reason to be jealous. However, a clingy partner will jump to jealousy seemingly because of everything that happens. For example, a clingy person’s partner may not even be able to talk to a friend of the opposite sex without being suspected of cheating, even if they are completely transparent with their interactions.
They Always Have to Be Near You
There is nothing wrong with partners who are always together, but when you’re at an event, a clingy partner may have anxiety and try to always be close to their loved one. This can limit socializing with people you may already know, and could inhibit connections with potential new friends, business prospects, etc.
They Want to Put a Ring on it Immediately
Clingy people tend to rush relationships. They may feel like they will lose their partner if they don’t get to big milestones or become serious quickly enough. They may move in with their partner before the right time in their relationship. They may propose without fully knowing if that’s the best thing for them to do. A clingy person may have a child with their partner before they are financially or mentally ready because they feel like they will be able to keep their partner.
If you feel rushed during a relationship, say something. Both parties should be able to communicate with each other and establish reasonable expectations for how quickly things move in their relationship.
Social Media Control
A clingy person may try to control the social media accounts of their partner. They may expect their partner to comment or like their posts or pictures, or will interact with every single post on their partner’s accounts to signal to others that they’re ‘taken.’ Someone who is clingy may tell their partner to unfriend and/or block people they find to be a threat to the relationship. A clingy person may even make their partner merge social media accounts so that they are sharing profiles. If not, they may log into their partner’s accounts and read their messages, making sure nothing is going on, even if there’s no rational reason to think so.
Why Does Clinginess Happen?
Some people are just naturally clingy, but others may be showing signs of anxious-ambivalent attachment. This is a form of attachment who grow up with unpredictable, inconsistent, and uncaring parents or guardians.
A child who grew up with an anxious-ambivalent attachment style may feel like the only way to get attention is to be clingy. They may feel anxiety when they are separated from their partner, and become uncomfortable if they perceive a threat in the relationship (usually, without merit). Someone with an anxious-ambivalent attachment style may have a hard time being independent and trying something outside of their comfort zone.
Someone who is clingy may have low self-esteem or confidence, too. They may feel like they are ugly or undesirable, and they will cling onto their partner, feeling like they may have no other option.
How to Be Less Clingy
If you are clingy or you have a partner who is clingy, this can be addressed. However, you can’t just stop being clingy overnight – it’s an incremental change. Here are a few ways you can be less clingy.
- Reduce your phone or Internet usage. By slowly reducing that, you may feel a little less constantly-connected to the world, and temptation to check social media accounts or messages is lessened as well.
- Slowly get into new hobbies that are independent of your partner. This doesn’t mean you and your partner can’t enjoy hobbies altogether, but it’s important to establish interests just for yourself.
- Do things that make you happy. Take a few risks. Clinginess can lessen when you feel more confident.
If you have a clingy partner, or are clingy yourself and are experiencing difficulty, consider seeking professional help.
Often, clingy people act in this manner as a result of trauma in their childhoods or dating lives, and it can take a while to move past being clingy.
Talking to a therapist may be able to help you identify and manage your clinginess. You may be able to learn why you’re clingy, and learn some coping mechanisms that can help you move past it.
This is a featured post by site sponsor Better Help.
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