Being needy or clingy is believed to be one of the biggest relationship killers.
The root cause for feeling needy can be low self-esteem or the fear of abandonment or rejection. If you’ve ever been clingy in a relationship or your partner has exhibited this behavior before, you would know how damaging clinginess can be to a healthy and long-lasting relationship.
If you feel that you are being clingy in your relationship and your partner is feeling frustrated by your behavior, you may still have time to change your behavior and save your relationship. The most important step to stop being needy in a relationship is by becoming aware of the neediness.
This article discusses some of the best tried and tested self-awareness strategies to stop being clingy and shake off this nasty behavior from your mental space. Here you will find 5 helpful ways to end neediness permanently to help you build strong and healthy relationships.
Let’s begin by understanding what it means to be clingy or needy.
What constitutes clingy behavior?
When a person feels the need to stay close or dependent on another person for security and emotional support, it is termed needy behavior. Clingy person finds it hard to manage their life on their own and feel stranded when left alone. They need to hold tightly onto someone they care about like their partner or a friend. They depend on them for all their needs.
The definition of needy or clingy may differ across the world as often this is based on societal norms and values. This means the signs of being needed are not the same for everyone. Despite these differences, certain behavioral patterns are universally accepted as clingy.
Here are the common signs of a needy person.
- Feel insecure
- Fear of loneliness
- Seek reassurance
- Constant worry about being disliked and rejected
- Idolize others
- Feel jealous when their partner shows interest in others
- Transform themselves for new acquaintances
- Stalk people on social media
- Call/text someone too frequently
- Constantly checking for missed calls or text messages
- Panic when the other person doesn’t answer calls or reply immediately
- Keep tabs on others and demand to know their whereabouts
What is the cause of clingy behavior?
Insecurity is believed to be at the root of needy behavior. Together with a lack of self-esteem and fear of abandonment and being alone, such people act clingy to feel more safe and secure. A needy person may try to keep the people they care about as close to themselves as possible to bring down the chance of cheating and abandonment.
Often, the seeds of needy behavior are sown in childhood. These are some of the reasons that stem from childhood for a person to act clingy.
- Fear of being abandoned
- Fear of loneliness
- Traumatic childhood
- Lack of role models in healthy relationships with a secure attachment style
- Absent caregivers of avoidant personality type
Even after turning adults, a person can acquire clingy behavior. Here are some causes for it.
- Yearn for love and attention
- Crave intimacy
- Low self-confidence
- Lack of social skills
- Ineptitude in understanding others
- Absence of self-esteem
- Lack of purpose in life
- Fear of abandonment and rejection
- Search for someone to make them feel whole
5 Helpful Ways to End Neediness
A person may act needy to help them feel secure, loved, complete, and in control. So, to stop being needy in a relationship, they have to find other ways of satisfying these needs. There are always other ways to help a person feel secure, loved, complete, and in control without clinging to another person.
The idea here is to eliminate the need for high levels of intimacy and dependency. Here are a few suggestions on how to stop being needy in a relationship.
1. Are you really clingy?
The levels of intimacy may differ from person to person based on their culture, upbringing, and attachment style. Just because one person in your life calls you needy doesn’t mean you are. You can ask others in your life for their opinion. You can also look out for their reaction to you on various occasions.
One way of handling this is to take a person in your life into confidence. Choose one whom you trust the most. You may ask them questions to figure out what they think of you.
- “I care a lot about people and things. Do I come across as a needy person?”
- “I know I love attention and seek it out actively. I’m not sure how others feel about it. Am I being too intense? Is that what others are trying to tell me?”
- “Am I being overly aggressive in our relationship? Am I overstepping boundaries? Will you tell me if I do that? Somehow I don’t seem to get it right.”
- “I’m aware that you’re busy and don’t have too much time to spare for me. Am I taking up too much of your time or space? Do you think I’m doing it right?”
If you aren’t comfortable with the direct approach, you can try taking the observation path instead. This means looking out for signs in others of your clingy behavior.
- They avoid you.
- They often cancel dates and plans.
- They are frustrated with your need for constant and repetitive validation.
- They avoid mentioning their other relationships.
- They ask for space.
- When you ask them for advice about your other relationships, they ask you not to always consider the worst-case scenario. Or else, they avoid you by saying that they’re busy.
- They try to avoid being with you alone.
- They try to put more distance in the relationship.
If you recognize clingy behavior in you in one way or another, there is no need to feel ashamed or nervous. You have already taken the first step to free yourself of this liability. A few more steps and you’ll be home safe.
2. Make yourself likable the right way
A part of clingy behavior is your intense desire to be liked and loved by others. Just check if you’re doing it the right way. Probably not.
When you try to promote yourself and make yourself more loved by others forcefully, you are in fact, driving people away from you further. Wanting people to like you is a natural desire in everyone. There is nothing wrong with that. The trouble is with how you are approaching it.
A little bit of honest self-reflection will help you to be less needy in relationships. Try to go over your interactions with others. What are you doing to make yourself more likable to them and how are they reacting? Do you think they are getting further away from you after your efforts? If so, you are going about it the wrong way. Figure out where you are going wrong and how you can make it right.
3. Understand the real reason
Clinginess can be annoying but not a problem on its own. It is a call to attention to something wrong that needs to be fixed. It can be the lack of feeling safe and secure or the need for validation.
Among all the causes of clingy behavior, the feeling of insecurity is the hardest to get over. When you feel insecure, you approach your friends for help, support, validation, and security. However, the way you ask for help will make them avoid you or pull away. That will worsen the situation for you further, throwing you into a downward spiral.
Blaming others for your worsening situation is not going to help. You need to take things into your hands and pull yourself out of the hole you find yourself in. Don’t expect others to rescue or fix you.
4. Figure out your attachment style
Your attachment style decides how you will interact with others. Each person develops their own attachment style based on their upbringing and early relationships. Knowing your attachment style will help you understand why you behave in certain ways.
Of the 4 main attachment styles – secure, anxious, avoidant, and fearful-avoidant or disorganized) – the last three have more probability of exhibiting needy behavior, especially people with an anxious attachment style. While it is possible to change your attachment styles to more secure ones through therapy, it is a time-consuming process.
Meanwhile, you can work around your liability by learning to communicate better. Making the best use of your support system and learning to practice detachment through spirituality may help. Steer clear of situations that trigger anxiety in you. Find ways to feel more secure. This will help you overcome your anxious attachment and stop being needy in a relationship.
5. Set your own boundaries and respect others’
When you display clingy behavior, you are violating boundaries – your own and that of others. Boundaries are essential to stop being clingy and build a healthy relationship.
If you’re unaware of the boundaries in your relationship, it is high time you figured this out. In fact, not knowing the boundaries, you may not understand whether you’re clingy or not.
If you have no clue about personal boundaries in relationships, this will help you get started.
- How do you interact?
- How and how often do you communicate?
- How frequently do you meet up?
- Do you have a list of topics to avoid?
- Have you accounted for me-time in the relationship?
Final thoughts on how to stop being needy in a relationship
Avoid trapping or smothering your partner. Give them the freedom to be themselves. Stop ranking your friends. Avoid placing your partner on a pedestal and worshiping them. Get out of your comfort zone and develop new interests. Lead an active and inspiring life. Get more involved in the betterment of society.
Set clear boundaries for communication. Learn to express your desires and needs openly. Live an independent life and have your own interests and hobbies. Work on improving your confidence and self-esteem.
Once you know how to love yourself and be whole on your own, you won’t feel the need to cling to others.
Related: How to Deal with Someone Who Needs Constant Validation?