How to Stop Being Clingy (And Maintain Your Independence in a Relationship)
How to Avoid Being an Obsessive Girlfriend
Doing it For You
Spot your obsessiveness.Obsessive behavior in the romantic context tends to involve being constantly preoccupied with the loved one, wanting to be with him or her all hours of the day and contriving it so that you actually are together as much as possible. Romantic obsession can lead you to presume the person you love needs you as much, causing you to inject yourself into every part of his or her life, whether it be family, home, work, and so on, offering unasked for advice, support and remodeling even though there's no indication any of this is useful or wanted. In some cases, obsession is the flip side of jealousy, in which case you wish you had similar characteristics to the person you love and in some way you're trying to adopt his or her character for yourself by being constantly present.
Check your feelings.You may find yourself quite exhausted, wrung out emotionally and very intense whenever you spend time together, because you're too preoccupied by concentrating on the two of you without taking a break. You might be more focused on quantity of time rather than quality, even though this often feels aimless.
- It's a fairly common tendency to become obsessive at the beginning of a relationship. It's new, it's exciting and this person is endlessly fascinating to you. By realizing that you're not the first person to feel this way about somebody, you can let go of guilt and concentrate instead on dealing with it in a healthy way. Perhaps your obsession has roots in feelings of insecurity and fear, or it could simply be about being totally amazed by how wonderful this person in your life is. Whatever the reason, you can tame it!
- Ask yourself why you feel you need to mesh so completely with another person––perhaps you can answer this alone by simply working through the reasons and questioning them. But if not, don't be afraid to seek counselling if you think that could help you overcome your obsessive tendency.
As soon as you've recognized that you're feeling obsessed toward your partner, put the brakes on and slow right down.This doesn't mean not seeing each other at all but it does mean reintroducing a more balanced routine into your relationship. Find ways to shorten time spent together while increasing the quality of such time.
Keep your hobbies and friends.The key to a healthy relationship is balance, rather than hanging out together closely every possible moment. Couples need time apart to re-establish their individual identities; moreover, time spent apart helps to define the boundaries of who you are outside of your relationship in your partner's eyes too. Remind yourself of who you are by reconnecting with friends and relatives, or picking up those old hobbies you've been setting aside. Suggest that your partner do the same. This is a simple way to show him or her that you're confident and interesting (even if you don't feel that way for now). Suggest that your partner goes out with his or her friends while you visit with yours. Or even suggest he or she work on his hobby or interest while you take time for yours, separately.
Take time for yourself.Visit friends, family, take a class, anything you find interesting or would like to learn. Do this even if you have to tear yourself away from your beloved. He or she should be supportive of you, and encourage your interests, too. In fact, this is a good indicator of whether or not your partner can handle separation and being left to his or her own devices––if not, it could be a warning sign to you that your partner is overly attached or has co-dependent tendencies. Focusing only on the one you love isn't living your own life to the fullest. By taking time for yourself, you make room for personal growth and new experiences, as well as staying well-rounded. It isn't selfish––it's the opposite because it shows trust in your partner and establishes expectations that both of you will operate as individuals as well as a couple. And, if you aren't the best person you can be, then you can't expect to be the person you need to be for your significant other. Having your own experiences will only improve your relationship by giving you more to talk about.
Reaffirm who you are and why you are special as an individual.Do those things that you do best. If you're not sure what that is yet, then try everything. If you're feeling less than confident, or insecure in your relationship, sometimes it helps to go back to something that created a sense of accomplishment. Don't look for confidence from your partner––instead, find it within yourself. To do this, seek out those things at which you can succeed and receive recognition for outside of your coupledom.
Practice detachment.You don't own the person you love, just as he or she doesn't own you. Yet, obsession is a little like trying to own a person and once you feel this way, it's easy to presume that this person can't possibly thrive without your input or support, even though this assumption is totally in your own head. Practicing detachment can teach you to let go without feeling afraid that you'll lose this person. Set aside this worry and have faith that it's okay to step back and stop trying to solve everything for your beloved––you can store your energies for when you really are called upon to be strong for him or her.
Doing it For Your Beloved
Give your beloved space.If he or she wants to hang out with friends, encourage it––you're not joined at the hip. Let your partner know that you want him or her to have a good time and to spend as much time with friends as liked. If you have to, fake your enthusiasm and put on a brave face. There will be times when you'd really rather spend that time with your beloved than seeing him or her out with friends; however, forcing your partner to spend time with you usually results in further pulling away, mostly out of fear that you'll insist on this state of affairs eternally and he or she won't ever be able to spend time with friends. If you're able to encourage and support your beloved's time away, it will reinforce his or her belief that you want what is best for him or her, which strengthens your relationship.
Suggest your partner take time for his or her hobbies and interests.The key to longevity in any relationship is to make it clear that you're neither threatened nor resentful about your partner's distinct interests. By encouraging your partner to pursue his or her interests, you will strengthen your togetherness. And by assuring him or her that you love spending time together while making it clear that his or her hobbies and interests are also important, you remove the guilt trip. It's even more helpful if you clarify that you can––and will––find enjoyable things to occupy your time when apart, freeing him or her up to enjoy the time spent apart. Just be sure that you don't say one thing but show you really mean something else; that's manipulative and will result in resentment.
Bond by doing things your partner enjoys.By showing a willingness to be interested in his or her endeavours beyond your own interests, you establish that you aren't obsessive about forcing your partner to "join only your clubs" and that you're not jealous of his or her interests. While you don't have to continue participating directly in your partner's interests, displaying an initial interest and making it clear that you respect his or her choice will go a long way to proving that you can handle any differences between the two of you and that you won't turn alternative interests into a guilt-trip. It might be as simple as helping him or her to find a place, a club, an item or a book––whatever the interest is––to get things started. Then, give him or her the space to enjoy the interests without being crowded by you.
Know when to back off.Learn a little body language so that you can note when he or she is feeling a bit crowded or cheesed off about spending too much time together. Indicators might include turning away from you, not making eye contact and refusing to cuddle or touch as usual. Verbally, you may hear sighs, mumbling or sounds of derision when you suggest spending time together on that occasion. Don't presume the worst but equally, don't ignore the signs––ask what's wrong and be very open to hearing the answer. Listen attentively to what your partner explains and listen also for what's not said. It should be fairly clear to you that this is an issue about wanting more space and rather than feeling threatened, try to respond with openness and a willingness to find solutions.
- Don't probe too deeply––ask a few questions but not so many as to be invasive and cause your partner to not respond at all.
- Listen to what your gut instinct is telling you. Most times, it'll be plain as day that the excessive time spent together is at the core of the discontentment. Don't play coy or naive; facing the matter is much fairer on both of you.
- If you feel your partner is pulling away, don't force yourself on him or her more. It may be tempting to cling even more but you'll need to resist this response. Let go and have faith in the one you love.
Be bold and suggest some time apart for a few hours or days.Let him or her know you're available as soon he or she wants to catch up again. In the meantime, find other things to do with your time. If you really must talk over what's happening and he or she isn't ready to do so yet, talk to someone you can trust, in very broad terms so as not to give away your intimate trust. Simply talking it through might help you to realize that you're overreacting.
Trust your partner.If lack of trust is at the heart of your obsessiveness, the relationship is doomed and the obsessiveness will only increase over time. If you have trust issues, deal with them before they eat you up and establish an unhealthy pattern toward all of your relationships. While someone may have breached your trust in the past, assuming that every person will do the same thing to you restricts your opportunity to discover that trust is more often returned than not. Many people, when given trust, will feel so deeply grateful for the trust placed in them that they'll do anything to repay it in kind. Ultimately though, if you don't trust your partner, you have a bigger problem than obsession and you really shouldn't be in the relationship. Either you trust your partner, or you don't––which is it to be?
Doing it For Both of You
Pace yourselves.Marriage is not on the cards on the first date and it may never be. Viewing yourself as "Mrs Jones" before you even know the other person is obsessive. Avoid trying to rush things too fast, avoid less-than-subtle mentions of biological clocks and how much you'd love to have children some daysoon, and avoid making hints about getting engaged or what you'd wear at your dream wedding. For the sake of your relationship's healthiness, let it unfold in good time without the expectations of "forever". For all you know, it might turn out to be forever but equally, it might just be a wonderful relationship for this point-in-time; either way, trying to move things too fast will easily destroy it.
- Be careful about giving gifts and when you give them. Gift giving can give the impression of an attempt to tie someone down if it occurs too early in a relationship. Moreover, giving something expensive too early can make some one feel uncomfortable and "bound" to you, and giving gifts which may be inappropriate will simply be embarrassing.
Stop calling, texting and checking up all of the time.When obsession drives you to keep calling and texting 24 hours a day, checking up on your partner, you've turned jail keeper and your lover is imprisoned. It's okay to call once and see how his or her day is, but if you're calling every couple of hours, this could reinforce his or her belief that you have nothing else going on in your life and surely you don't want to seem like you have nothing better to do? People are attracted to interesting people, not those at a loose end. If it becomes clear that the only thing you've got going in your life is him or her, then he or she will lose interest; it's too big a responsibility to make up for someone's lack of self-esteem. So, turn off that phone, shut yourself out of the email and IM, and find something else to occupy yourself with, like going for a walk, catching up with friend or family member, taking a nap, doing a workout or learning something new (see above).
Never turn stalker.A lack of trust coupled with obsessive neediness might compel you to tail your lover. Nothing is more likely to turn him or her off you than this sort of behavior and if it seems threatening to your lover, you could find yourself being charged for stalking. Don't follow your partner anywhere that he or she claims to be going to––you will be noticed eventually and it sends an instant message that you don't trust him or her. For most relationships, stalking is the death knell.
Set up days or times to reconnect after spending time apart.This is simple and very effective. After asking for time apart, set up a time and day to reconnect. For instance, if one of you wants to hang out with friends for the day, suggest that you meet up later for dinner. Or, suggest a time the following day, and an activity, in which the both of you could get together. This gives both people in the relationship permission to enjoy their time apart, while also giving each of you a grounding point, or rather a reassurance in knowing you will see the other person and they wish to see you.
- Make sure that your desire to spend time apart doesnotturn into an argument. Spending time apart can turn into a sensitive topic, especially if the other person feels that it's an attempt to detach for good. Make it absolutely clear that this is about ensuring that both of you have time to enjoy as an individual so that time spent back together is refreshed and renewed.
Create endpoints in your dates, to ensure that time spent together truly is about quality and not quantity.Surround your date time with activities either side, as well as regular commitments. This way you are restoring the balance to the time spent together rather than letting yourself just hang around endlessly, ignoring the things that really do need your attention. For instance, say you want to hang out with your date during the afternoon. Suggest a time and ask that your date drop you off at your house after the outing, making it clear that you've something else to be doing by that time. This prevents the date from running into overtime and lets both of you have freedom to do something more. It also allows each of you to open the dialogue about spending longer dates together where appropriate should the times you're setting seem too short. The best thing about endpoints is that neither of you end up feeling trapped but can actually look forward to the next time you'll spend together.
- Remind yourself often that being together is all aboutquality time, not quantity time. Use the time you do have together wisely. Ask yourself if you'd rather have 8 hours of mediocre time with him or her, or 2 hours of fantastic time together.
- Be wary of the lover who encourages clinginess. He or she may be seeking to control you and to get constant attention from you. Clinginess is rarely a sign of balanced love.
- Starting a journal can help you to work through feelings of obsessiveness. Write out your feelings, rather than just what you did during the day. Try to discover why you feel a certain way. Insecurity often leads people to act in ways that we tend to see as "crazy" or "clingy". If you have worries about loss, explore these through writing. Do worst-case scenarios while still hoping for the best. Write down how you'd cope if something did go wrong in your relationship––this helps you to start forming a realization that you will cope, that there will be a tomorrow should the worst happen. Avoid focusing on your lover's behavior––focus on your own and on your feelings. Try to get to the nub of what you're so afraid of. Fear of being alone? Fear of rejection? The journal will let you explore your thoughts and feelings without having to set them in stone. It should be an area where you can express every possible emotion without fearing recrimination. Once on paper, re-examine it, does it still sound true to you? What can you do so that you won't fear rejection or loneliness, and can become more confident in who you are? Just make sure your partner cannot find it; that could turn into a sticky situation.
- Don't act jealous if there is no justifiable reason. Even if you do get jealous, try not to show it.You wouldn't want your partner to know you don't trust him. Try giving him space.
- Don't try being so clingy because he or she will eventually get the feeling that you don't trust them or might take it as you have nothing better to do with your life.
- If you only see your guy or girl every couple of weeks and you live in reasonably close to each other, then you're not being clingy. He or she's being distant. Don't settle for a guy or girl who just sees you as an option.
- Don't be his or her go-to girl, just because he or she cannot find anything else to do.
- If staying out late with his or her friends is about more than just getting in some guy/girl time—remember: you can’t force love. If what you have isn’t meant to be, no amount of angry outbursts over his or her guy/girl-time will make your relationship work.
- Don't make excuses to be with him or her. If you know where he or she is at and you're with friends, don't say "Oh let's go over there". It will seem like you're clingy and want to eavesdrop or want him or her to notice you.
- Setting a curfew of when your partner is supposed to be home or is supposed to check in is extremely controlling behavior. As you probably know, when you're out with your friends, time flies and the last thing on your mind is the time. You are not his or her mother, and asking him or her to keep checking on the time all night while trying to have fun just makes you something to resent. Instead, encourage him or her to have fun, to recharge his or her batteries and look forward to seeing you again.
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