It’s kind of flattering when your new bae spends so much time with you, texts and calls you almost every single minute to check up on you, and showers you with so much attention whenever you’re together. But there comes a point in the relationship when you suddenly feel that these habits are not actually sweet, but suffocating.
Welcome to the world of having a clingy GF, bro!
“Anxious attachment is a way of describing the way some people connect with others—especially emotionally significant others—in their lives,” Leslie Becker-Phelps, Ph.D, a clinical psychologist and author, tells Psychcentral.com in an interview. “Individuals with an anxious attachment believe they’re flawed, inadequate and unworthy of love.”
Bit by bit “they develop a characteristic sense of feeling needy for attention and needing others to help soothe them,” she adds.
This is usually the case when your S.O. feels insecure in the relationship. While feeling that way is normal, insecurity can grow and suck the happiness out of you both, creating negative tension over time.
“Every relationship is a balance between dependence and independence,” says Nathaniel Chua, MA, personality and relationship development consultant. “[Clinginess] becomes harmful if it gets in the way of functioning in day to day living. We are meant to love and to work. If anything gets in the way of these two then the clinginess may be a reason to be concerned.”
Another possible reason for the clinginess is patriarchal culture. Chua further explains: “All of us are a mix of nature and nurture. If a woman grows up with an enmeshed relationship in her family of origin, especially her relationship with her dad, then there is a stronger probability that she will act the same way with a romantic partner.”
If you feel like you’re a hostage more than a boyfriend, address the issue ASAP. Tolerating her behavior would only lead to an even more miserable and unhealthy set up. Here are five ways to deal with your clingy girlfriend:
1) Talk it out
As with any problem, it’s important to have an open communication. Make her aware of her behavior—she might not realize her neediness is making you uncomfortable. Find the perfect timing. Let her know that it is important for you to have a sense of freedom at times.
“To avoid hurting her feelings, start the conversations by saying, ‘I feel that...’ or ‘I hope that...’. This kind of dialogue emphasizes the impact of her behavior without putting the blame on her,” advises Dr. Joy-Alvi R. Arañas, RPsy, RGC, counseling psychologist from Pathways Counseling and Assessment Center.
2) Set rules
Another useful strategy, Chua says, is to consider “setting good boundaries.” Assert these boundaries gently but firmly. Make her understand what actions are tolerable and non-negotiable. Don’t give in to her paawa effect otherwise she will not take those rules seriously.
“Don’t take demands and [give in to] angry outbursts. Establish good boundaries by learning what you are responsible for and what you are not,” Chua suggests.
3) Schedule things out
“Try to delay her gratification at times,” advises Chua. Instead of seeing each other daily after work (or school) hours, just meet once a week and go on a date. This way you’d be missing each other—and maybe her being clingy too. Don’t forget to maintain your communication through call or text so she’d know you think of her even when you’re apart.
4) Seek help
Some men find it hard to bring up the issue. They are afraid that this will cause further conflict and tear the relationship apart. You may need a third party—a trusted common friend or a professional counselor who can act as go-between so you can get to the root of this issue and find alternative ways of communicating your feeling.
5) Get out of the relationship
If all else fails, then it might be time to walk away from the relationship. It’s better to move on without her. As what Marilyn Monroe said: “It’s better to be unhappy alone than unhappy with someone.” But remember, there is no turning back. Once you break up with her, there is no more going back.