Managing Clinginess in Relationships: Effective Coping Strategies
Love can be a powerful force that drives us to seek deep connection and intimacy with our partner. However, sometimes this desire can turn into excessive neediness and a prioritization of the relationship above all else. This intense merging of selves in relationships can lead to what is often labeled as "clinginess." In this article, we will explore the concept of clinginess in relationships and provide coping strategies to manage it.
Understanding the Clingy Behavior in Relationships
Clinginess is a behavior that occurs when someone resists separation by holding on too tightly. In romantic relationships, this term is used to describe someone who seeks reassurance from their partner in a compulsive and sometimes overwhelming manner. This behavior often stems from the fear and anxiety of unmet needs, which causes a person to cling harder to prevent the risk of not having their needs met. According to couples' therapists, the term "anxious attachment" is a more helpful way to describe this behavior since it focuses on the fear of abandonment that overrides a person's ability to stay calm and collected. However, patterns of clingy behavior can manifest in several ways, such as incessant texting, excessive monitoring of social media accounts, and early, effusive declarations of love.
Clinging behavior often stems from a person's attachment style, which is developed in infancy between the parent and child. "How a parent responds to their child impacts attachment style," explains couples' therapist Aparna Sagaram. "If a child is unsure how a parent will react or the parent is inconsistent with responses, the child is likely going to develop an anxious attachment. Your attachment style to caregivers is most likely the same attachment style you will develop with a romantic partner."
If a person didn't have the opportunity to develop trust with a caregiver early on, it can be challenging to cultivate emotionally safe relationships later in life. As an adult, this can manifest as externalizing internal anxiety towards a partner and expecting them to fix one's insecurities.
"Attachment styles are a factor when understanding why some people are clingier than others," says couples' therapist Beverley Andre. "Someone with a secure attachment style will have healthier boundaries and most likely not see their partner's independence as threatening, as compared to someone with an anxious attachment style who leans more towards clingy behavior when it comes to separation. The need for independence would most likely be perceived as a lack of investment in the relationship, or this is an indicator the relationship is ending."
Tips to overcome clinginess in a relationship
According to Sagaram, it is possible to have a healthy relationship with an anxious attachment style by learning to manage the anxiety and working towards developing a more secure attachment style. Here are some ways to achieve this:
1. Manage your anxiety independently.
The first step is to acknowledge that you may be contributing to these patterns and to work on managing your anxiety independently. Sagaram recommends seeking the company of securely attached individuals and learning to ask for what you need in relationships. You should also practice self-reassurance.
2. Involve your partner in the process.
You can benefit from involving your partner in your efforts to overcome clinginess. You can get their perspective and work on rebuilding the relationship together. Your partner can also help provide observations about your behavior that you may not be aware of.
3. Build trust by taking small risks.
To overcome your attachment issues, you should take small risks to build trust. Start with low-risk situations and slowly work your way up. It is also essential to communicate your needs to your partner and express your concerns about their reaction. Vulnerability is crucial in building healthier relationships.
4. Seek therapy.
If your partner's reassurances are not enough to help you overcome your clinginess, you may need professional help. Therapy can help you understand the root of your fears, rebuild trust, and communicate more honestly with yourself and your partner.
What to do if your partner is too clingy
If you've found yourself in a situation where your partner is being clingy, it can be tough to navigate without losing yourself. During rocky periods in a relationship, it's important to focus on recalibrating and working on self-containment.
One way to develop interdependence in the relationship is by having a talk with your partner and establishing specific boundaries. It's important to approach this conversation with empathy towards your partner, as their clinginess doesn't define their entire being - they may just need help anchoring back to their sense of self.
According to Andre, it's best to bring up the issue to your partner in a loving manner, as the tone of the conversation can easily become accusatory. You can convey the behaviors you've noticed and ask if they've noticed them as well. By understanding the root causes of the clinginess, both of you can address any unresolved issues and work together to create healthier boundaries within the relationship.
Finally, managing clinginess in relationships is critical to maintaining a healthy and long-lasting relationship. Understanding the reasons behind clingy behavior, like attachment styles, can help people work on managing their anxiety on their own and build trust with their partner. Having a partner help and, if necessary, getting professional help can also be helpful. On the other hand, if a partner is too attached, it's important to be understanding and set clear boundaries together. By using these ways to deal with stress, people can build healthier relationships and stop their clingy behavior from hurting their relationships.
As a final note, if you're feeling overwhelmed with clinginess in your relationship, it can be helpful to use resources that can provide some peace of mind. One such tool is asocial media profile search by iFindCheatersthat can help you find any hidden online profiles that your partner may have. While this may not be the best option for everyone, for some, having this information can provide some reassurance and alleviate some of the anxiety that comes with being in a clingy relationship.