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17 ways to stop being needy and clingy in your relationship

Are you worried you might be too clingy or needy?

It’s easy to cross boundaries when you’re in a relationship. Especially if you’re really in love with someone.

So if you think you might be too clingy, don’t fret. It’s not the end of the world.

You can correct this behavior with a few simple tweaks.

But first, why do people become clingy?

how to stop being needy

How we react to negative emotions is largely influenced by our past psychological and emotional traumas.

Psychologists have discovered that something called “attachment style” is the main predictor of how we handle our adult relationships.

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Author and psychology professor, Susan Krauss Whitbourne Ph.D., explains:

“The way we interact with our adult romantic partners carries vestiges from our earliest relationships with our parents.”

Whitbourne says that people with a healthy upbringing are capable of “secure attachment.” They are able to value their relationships without being clingy.

On the contrary, if you grew up in an unstable environment, you might be insecurely attached.

Whitbourne says this type of attachment can manifest in two ways:

“If you are anxiously attached, you are overly sensitive to cues that your partner will abandon you. As a result, you become overly dependent on your romantic partners.

“In contrast, people who are high on attachment avoidance don’t want to establish emotional bonds with their partners.”

You might have insecure attachment if you need to constantly be with your partner. Being clingy is simply your response to your abandonment issues.

It actually doesn’t matter whether you are securely attached or insecurely attached. There are still several ways to build a healthy relationship with your partner.

17 things you can do to help you become less clingy and needy.

With work and determination, you can curb your clinginess and become a good and encouraging partner. Just follow these simple steps:

1. Recognize that you may have a problem

how to stop being clingy

You’re already starting to take responsibility for being clingy by recognizing that it can be unhealthy.

The first step is to accept that being clingy is a problem.

Psychiatrist Mark Banschick advises:

“There is no shame to admit that you are too clingy. And there are usually good reasons why you became that way; like anxieties in early childhood.

“Good relationships are worth a lot, so if you’ve got a tendency to be too needy, do something about it. Work on overcoming the wounds of the past, and make better relationships in the future.”

2. Learn how to cope with your anxiety

how to stop being clingy

Abandonment issues, insecure attachment, etc—all of these are a result of anxiety.

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You are anxious because you think something bad is going to happen every time you’re not with your partner.

So how do you cope?

Whitbourne suggests:

“Since stress plays such an important role in the equation, the only way to avoid the descent into clinginess and desperation is to learn ways to identify and cope with the situations that trigger your anxious attachment tendencies.”

She believes in building a “stable base of attachment” by imagining the best in your relationship, instead of thinking of the worst.

You can also manage your daily stress by doing “constructive coping methods.” 

Whitbourne adds:

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“When you’re feeling emotionally frazzled, you’re more likely to drill down into your own insecurities, which makes you more sensitive to possible rejection by a partner.

Bolster your resilience by developing coping strategies that both make you feel better and help you tackle the situations that are stressing you out.”

3. Work on yourself

how to stop being clingy

This happens all the time:

People find themselves in a relationship, and they suddenly neglect their personal growth and development.

Being clingy is a result of this lack of self-love.

According to psychologist Suzanne Lachmann:

“Losing yourself in a relationship can create anxiety, resentment, or even hopelessness, and can cause you to rebel, or express yourself in exaggerated or extreme ways that can threaten the connection.”

So work on yourself.

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Also, encourage your partner to do the same.

This will make you better individuals. But it will make you a stronger couple, too.

Lachmann adds:

“If each partner is willing to see change and the desire for an independent self within the relationship as an opportunity for growth, that in turn will promote a positive emotional environment.”

(If you want to stop being clingy and needy, you need to really claim ownership of your personal power. Check out our free masterclass: Embrace Your Inner Beast: Turning Your Anger into Your Ally.)

4. Develop trust in your relationship

how to stop being insecure

Let’s face it:

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You have trust issues. Otherwise, you wouldn’t be this clingy.

It’s challenging to trust your partner especially if you’re full of anxious “what if” thoughts.

But if you have no reason to suspect your partner, then why go through all that anxiety?

Psychologists Rob Pascale and Lou Primavera add:

“Partners who don’t trust can’t feel secure, so their relationship will cycle through frequent emotional highs and lows.

“That happens because a mistrusting partner spends much of their time scrutinizing their relationship and trying to understand their partner’s motives.”

Does it sound like you?

Then it’s time to cultivate trust in your partner.

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Free yourself of all those negative thoughts. If something bad happens, it will happen. But before then, save yourself the trouble.

5. Build your self-confidence

how to stop being clingy

One of the main reasons why we hold onto our partners so much is because we are afraid of losing them.

This is completely normal. We all crave security, especially in our relationships.

However, this tendency can manifest into extreme clinginess.

In a 2013 study, researchers found that self-esteem greatly influences you and your partner’s relationship satisfaction.

So if you want to be less clingy and more happily secure in your relationship, build your self-confidence.

Take care of yourself physically and mentally. Develop your own career. Pursue what gives you meaning. All of this can help build your confidence.

As they say, “confidence is sexy.” And your partner will certainly think the same.

6. Try to give your partner more space

how to stop being needy

It’s challenging to go against your natural state of clinginess. But try to give your partner more space.

According to psychologist Jeremy E Sherman, couples need to give each other space – and it’s nothing personal.

He explains:

“Loving deeply doesn’t mean wanting to be together every minute. Time together is certainly one gauge of how strong the love is. Still, it’s dangerous to put too much stock in time together as the indicator of relationship health.”

So allow your partner space to breathe.

If you’re in a long-distant relationship, it’s especially important to follow this tip.

7. Talk to your partner

how to stop being clingy

Don’t underestimate the power of a good talk.

You and your partner should have an open mind about the issues you’re dealing with. Communicate clearly and listen intently.

Whitbourne says:

“Calmly discussing your feelings, rather than acting on them, will not only reassure you that your partner really does care about you—it will also help your partner gain insight into what sets you off. “

Deal with the big elephant in the room. And more importantly, tell your partner that you’re willing to work on being less clingy.

8. Know your worth

Perhaps part of the problem is that you don’t feel like you’re being appreciated enough in the relationship.

You need to realize that you are worthy of love and attention.

It’s quite normal to struggle with your self-worth while in a relationship, especially if it’s new.

According to licensed mental and sexual health therapist Erika Miley:

“Our brain loves new love and we often isolate ourselves, not intentionally, from our lives before the relationship.”

If you feel like your partner’s attention isn’t enough, even when they are trying their best, then it’s likely because you’re struggling with self-worth.

However, if you feel like there’s a basis for your feelings, it’s best to talk to your partner about it.

But remember:

Love and affection should not be demanded.

It should be given freely.


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If you have to constantly ask for it, then it’s not real love.

9. Try not to be too physically clingy

how to stop being needy

Being clingy isn’t just emotional. It can also be physical.

Public displays of affection are healthy to some extent. Some people even depend on affection to feel loved and validated.

However, everyone needs to have their personal space. And if you don’t establish boundaries, it could be a big problem.

In fact, a recent study shows that couples who are overly affectionate at the start of their relationship tend to break up sooner than those who don’t engage in PDA.

Try to discuss boundaries when it comes to displays of affection.

It doesn’t mean you should stop, but maybe a little distance can help you be a little less needy.

10. Spend more time with your loved ones

how to stop being needy

Don’t be one of those people who forget their family and friends once they’re in relationships.

Yes, your partner is one significant part of your life, but they shouldn’t be your whole life.

Don’t neglect to spend time with the people who have been with you through everything. Your family and friends will be the one to pick you up in pieces should your relationship end.

They are also a healthy source of support when you’re going through relationship problems.

In fact, spending time with friends can help relieve your anxiety.

According to licensed psychologist Janna Koretz:

“Friends help you realistically look at things; they help you see things for what they really are. Having someone who can be an outside perspective to help you make good decisions will benefit your relationship.

“Also, romantic relationships create a lot of anxiety. If you talk to friends, then you probably have people saying ‘I’ve done that before’ or ‘This is how you solve that problem.’ Friendship provides a really good support network.”

Strong connections with other people will ease your proclivity to being clingy to your partner.

11. Meet new people

how to stop being clingy

Did you know that relationships are the number one promoter of happiness in life?

No—not only romantic relationships but friendships and family connections as well.

Studies show that when you’re surrounded by happy friends, their happiness rubs off on you, too. When friends become happier, the whole group gets happier, too.

Expanding your social circle shouldn’t stop just because you’ve found a new significant other.

According to Whitbourne:

“People experiencing similar life events can often provide the most valuable support to each other. Unfortunately, some couples withdraw from their friendships when their relationship turns serious. You can benefit both from maintaining your separate friendships, but also from sharing with the couples who are experiencing transitions such as becoming parents, raising teenagers, and helping older family members.”

If you and your partner want a healthy relationship, then both of you should be open to the other meeting new people.

New people in your lives will only add more meaning, more experienced, and it’s a healthy way of bringing balance in your relationship.

12. Empathize

how to stop being needy

It’s easy to get caught up in your own turmoil.

But remember that your partner is human too. How you act and what to do affects him mentally and emotionally, too.

Dating coach Lisa Shield says:

“If you feel like you don’t know what you’re doing, you can start to feel vulnerable and threatened. You have to understand that the other person has insecurities and fears just like you do. Then, you can start to meet them in the middle, rather than seeing them as a mystery.”

Compromise where you can. Talk about how you make each other feel.

Proper communication and empathy can go along way into making a relationship better.

13. Let go of your controlling tendencies

how to stop being clingy

Like it or not, you simply cannot control everything about your relationship and your partner’s life.

Marriage and family therapist Ann Smith says:

“The controller has self created stress of feeling responsible for preventing disasters by obsessively focusing on the possible problems or even tragedies that may occur if he/she neglects something.”

Her advice? Remember that you are both imperfect people.

She says:

“Remind yourself that the best way to love someone is to let them be who they are which includes mistakes, hurts and even losses. They and you will learn more from a mistake than from taking someone else’s advice or reminders to prevent anything bad from happening.”

If someone wants to be with you, they will be with you. And if they don’t, there’s nothing you can do otherwise. Again, what you can control are your reactions to the situation.

14. Stop snooping on their social media

how to stop being clingy

It’s difficult to establish solid boundaries when it comes to social media. After all, it’s basically chartered territory.

But snooping is still snooping. It’s a violation of privacy and clearly destroys the trust your partner has given you.

It also might be a sign of bigger problems in your relationship.

Sex and dating coach Jordan Gray explains:

“If you feel the need to snoop on your partner’s online behavior then there’s a bigger conversation that you need to have about your lack of trust in the relationship, or your feelings of internal security in general.

Besides, nothing can come from looking at likes and comments and who’s following who—it’s just torturing you.

15. Learn how to be okay with being alone

how to stop being needy

Are you in a relationship just because you are lonely?

A lot of people settle for mediocre or bad relationships because they’re downright scared of being alone.

Your fear of being alone could also be the cause of your neediness. You might not be comfortable when you don’t have someone with you.

But learning how to be okay with being alone is something you need to learn if you want to find complete happiness in life.

According to psychiatrist Dr. Abigail Brenner:

“There’s so much to be gained from learning to rely, and more importantly, to trust your own inner voice as the best source for your own guidance.

Being alone allows you to drop your “social guard”, thus giving you the freedom to be introspective, to think for yourself. You may be able to make better choices and decisions about who you are and what you want without outside influence.”

Make being alone something you actually look forward to. Allot some time for self-care and reflection.

If you learn how to be happy on your own, you won’t have to depend on someone else to make you happy.

16. Your partner may be a contributor

how to stop being needy

In a lot of cases, being clingy isn’t just a result of someone’s own insecurities. Sometimes, a partner is also a big contributor.

Betrayal may have occurred. Or the partner has solid reasons to doubt their partner’s love.

According to psychiatrist Dr. Mark Branschick:

“Most relationship issues are created by two people. Does he have narcissistic tendencies that make you feel second best? Or, perhaps, she’s simply not into you, and it is time to grieve this relationship. Facing hard facts is often better than feeling tortured day in and day out.”

You have to be the judge in this case. If the problem is mainly in your partner, then it might be time to choose your own mental health.

17. Learn to find the balance

how to stop being clingy

This is the most important step. And probably the hardest.

Either way, you need to find the balance between having your own security in yourself and in your partner.

Trust is hard to give. But if you trust yourself and your place in your relationship, letting go of control can be a whole lot easier.

According to relationship coach Lauren Irish:

“Know what balance looks like in your relationship: Every relationship is unique and will have different points of balance. Take time to figure out what’s important to you and where you’re willing to compromise. If you stay true to your values, you’ll find a balance that works for you.”

There is no greater joy than having someone to share your life with. But there is no greater accomplishment than being completely fine with yourself and who you are.

Seeking professional help

how to stop being clingy

There’s no shame in seeking professional help. You’re not crazy but you are acting like you are.

So talk to someone who knows how to fix that. Talk to someone who can help.

Believe it or not, you can get better. 

Don’t be scared or ashamed to seek help. If your partner is even willing, you might go to therapy together.

It will do your relationship a whole lot of good.

According to psychologist and couple’s therapist Debra Campbell:

“The therapist can pinpoint how to help the spouse interpret misunderstandings and identify where they’re most at odds.”

A therapist can help you get a better grasp of what you’re going through. But more importantly, it’s amazing how simply talking about it to someone who doesn’t judge you can help.

In short, try to love yourself first

People are often clingy because they lack a sense of self. Many of us have deep feelings of insecurity and not being “good enough”.

But it’s not too late to fix it.

Starting today, practice self-love.

Invest in yourself. Focus on your own needs. Discover who you are and learn to accept what you find.

You can’t love someone in the right way if you can’t even love yourself first.

Instead of convincing someone else to love you, try to find that love from yourself.

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Written by Genefe Navilon

Genefe Navilon is a writer, poet, and blogger. She graduated with a degree in Mass Communications at the University of San Jose Recoletos. Her poetry blog, Letters To The Sea, currently has 18,000 followers. Her work has been published in different websites and poetry book anthologies. She divides her time between traveling, writing, and working on her debut poetry book.

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