There is a fine line between being a clingy girlfriend and an affectionate one. All guys want someone who cares for them like no other. What they don’t like is someone who stalks their everyday life and does not even give them the space to breathe. Men loathe smothering girlfriends. In fact, it’s not gender-specific at all. Clinginess in a relationship is a turn-off for just about anyone, right?
The question is, where does one draw the line? After all, it can be difficult to ascertain the difference between healthy interdependence and clinginess. The truth is that the definition of clingy can vary from person to person and relationship to relationship. What could be too clingy for one boyfriend could seem like lots of love and care to the other.
That being said, there are some unhealthy behaviors that are so far out in the clingy territory that they can be clearly labeled as signs of a needy girlfriend and those are the ones most men get put off by. We’re here to help you decode these signs and learn how not to be clingy, in consultation with life coach Joie Bose, who specializes in counseling people dealing with abusive marriages, breakups, and extramarital affairs.
Needy Person Psychology
“What is a clingy person? Well, the meaning of clingy is subjective and differs in definition from person to person. The moment you start saying that your partner is clingy, it means that there is something about this relationship that you don’t like and want to change. It’s often an indicator that one partner who finds the other clingy is not happy. It is also at times an indicator that the clingy partner is perhaps suspecting the other and has trust issues,” says Joie.
So, if your partner thinks you’re a clingy lover, it’s a good idea to reflect on your behavior patterns:
- An example of being clingy in a relationship could be that you’re an extremely jealous girlfriend
- Not leaving any room in your boyfriend’s life for his friends, family, coworkers, interests, hobbies, and passions is another tell-tale sign of a nagging girlfriend
Most emotionally needy women are not even aware of the negative effects of their actions and probably do not think they are doing anything wrong. It’s as if their judgment and self-awareness are clouded with an influx of emotions and love hormones. They constantly feel the urge to either talk to their partner or meet up with them. Staying apart even for a few hours makes them insecure about the relationship, causing them to act out. These are all signs of clingy behavior.
Related Reading: Are You In A Clingy Relationship? Here Is How You Must Deal With It…
But what causes clinginess? If you keep wondering, “Why am I so clingy to my boyfriend?”, here are some possible underlying reasons:
- Obsessive girlfriend signs could either be due to the initial excitement of a relationship or the fear of a potential heartbreak
- Emotionally needy people characteristics are a manifestation of latent insecurities, fears, and abandonment issues
- It could be a result of anxious attachment style or trauma of being betrayed in past relationships
15 Clingy Girlfriend Signs
Do you possess toxic girlfriend traits? Is being extra a bad thing? Most of all, how to stop being clingy and needy? If you’re feeling overwhelmed with such questions, don’t worry, this article will help you become the girlfriend who loves her alone time and doesn’t need constant reassurance. Here are some characteristics of a pushy person, followed by tips on how to ask for attention without being needy:
1. You do not give him space
Even though it feels uncomfortable to accept your flaws, being self-aware is the first step to effecting change. To that end, see if you can relate to the following warning signs of a desperate woman:
- You’re an overly attached girlfriend who wants to become the air he breathes
- You constantly ask him whether he thinks about you
- You need an update of his whereabouts every 5 minutes
- You spiral into obsession/overthinking if he stops replying to your texts for a while
“To assess if you’re being an overbearing girlfriend, pay attention to how your boyfriend reacts to your advances, plans, and suggestions. For instance, when you make a plan, does he half-heartedly accept it for he fears your reactions and then spends all his time on his phone instead of focusing on you? It could be one of the signs you’re clingy and he is feeling stifled in the relationship,” says Joie.
Your connection with your boyfriend can improve markedly if you understand the importance of space in a relationship. He will gradually let you enter that personal space he holds so sacred. Be patient enough to let it happen on its own. Don’t push it.
2. Wanting to talk to him all the time
You reminisce about the honeymoon phase of your relationship where he couldn’t keep his hands off you. You would talk day and night and eagerly wait for the next time you meet. But now, you end up hugging your boyfriend while playing video games and he gives you a cold shoulder. Can you relate? Well, you’re coming off way too pushy.
“When there is constant pressure from your end to communicate and be in touch, he may switch off his phone and not be reachable sometimes. He will, of course, say it happened because his phone ran out of battery but there is a pattern to this. This is a sign that he needs his me time but can’t tell you,” says Joie.
Related Reading: Why Is Space So Crucial In A Relationship?
3. You want his entire life to revolve around you
After getting into a relationship, many people forget that they still have separate lives. For a clingy girlfriend, this need for enmeshment is even more pronounced. Here are some patterns that suggest you fit that bill:
- You want him to do everything solely with you
- You want to be his first priority all the time
- You force him to make plans according to your wishes
- Wherever he goes, you follow
4. You are over-dependent on him
“If you feel you are unable to do things without your partner and constantly need him around, it is definitely a sign that you depend on him too much. Even if he doesn’t say it, you are being an overly attached girlfriend,” says Joie, and adds that some of the top insecure girlfriend signs include:
- Your entire existence revolves around your boyfriend and you expect the same from him
- You have forgotten what your life was like before him
- Doing anything without him makes you feel nervous
- You call him to solve every minor issue in your life
If you’re still not sure whether you fit the characteristics of an emotionally needy person, perhaps pay attention to how much of this relationship revolves around your needs, wants, and desires. If you lean on your boyfriend for all your needs – no matter how big or trivial – and he has no option but to comply, you definitely need to figure out how not to be clingy.
5. All his attention should be on you
Initially, your boyfriend might find your jealousy cute. He might even think it’s a sign of love. But constant attention-seeking will eventually frustrate him and he will want an out in the long run. Here are some classic signs of a possessive girlfriend:
- You want him to give you his undivided attention
- Even him talking about another girl makes you furious and suspicious
- You feel like you should always be on his mind like he is on yours
“When your happiness and sadness depend on how much time he is giving you, it is a clingy girlfriend sign and that is not good for either of you. If you get irritated and sad when he chooses to spend time with others and begin to wonder about your importance in his life, then your relationship is not solid and constantly asking him about it will make him bitter about you! This is NOT healthy,” says Joie.
Related Reading: How Being Clingy Can Kill Your Relationship
6. You become suspicious
My friend Sarah confided in me one day and asked, “Is being clingy a bad thing? I am constantly living in fear that he’s going to leave me. Why am I so clingy in the first place?” When she told me this, I realized that feeling needy in a relationship can take a huge toll on one’s mental health. Despite this, it can be hard to figure out how to break this pattern and stop exhibiting signs of a woman with trust issues, which include:
- Not knowing your partner’s whereabouts makes you suspicious
- All sorts of weird thoughts and ideas cross your mind
- The fear of him cheating on you makes you paranoid
- You start interrogating him rigorously
- You don’t believe him even if he is telling the truth and constantly demand proof
Even if deep down you know that his actions are not signs of a cheating partner, you still cannot shake off your feelings of insecurity and the fear that your boyfriend will hurt you and break your heart. Constant suspicion is a big turn-off. It will only distance him even more as he begins to notice these clingy girlfriend signs in you and may even consider ending the relationship.
7. You are constantly thinking about him
It’s a good thing to be crazy about your partner. But by focusing all your energies on him and your relationship, you are constricting the space for your personal growth and may have no life outside the relationship. But, it’s very important to have a life that doesn’t revolve around your boyfriend. In fact, healthy relationships are built by maintaining a balance between your life as an individual and your shared life as a couple. So, make sure you don’t ignore your friends and family while you are in a relationship.
Are you still looking for the meaning of clingy? Here’s an example: Even when you are out shopping with your friends, you keep texting and calling your boyfriend and are never fully present in the moment. If that sounds familiar, you need to figure out how to stop being a clingy girlfriend.
The first step in that direction is to make a conscious effort to be there for your friends and family and also invest more time in your career, hobbies, and passions. Focus on exuding signs of a confident woman instead of being an overbearing girlfriend, it’s the former that will make you more attractive to a man.
Related Reading: 5 Things Men Do To Make A Woman Feel Insecure
8. Insecurity creeps in
If he has chosen to be with you, it’s obvious that you matter. When you keep seeking validation to this effect, it can chip away at the very foundation of the connection you share with your boyfriend. But for a person who displays clingy behavior, this need for validation can be unreasonably high. You may find it hard to cope with the fact that your boyfriend will have things in his life that are as important to him as you are and sometimes, work, friends, and family will take precedence over you. To stop these insecurities from becoming triggers for conflict, it’s vital to understand where these stem from.
- A clingy lover is often someone with an insecure attachment style
- Even if it were any other guy in his place, in all likelihood, you’d still behave the same way in your relationship
- You have to be committed to looking inward and set healthy boundaries
- You must do the necessary work to break these unhealthy patterns that for no fault of yours have taken hold in your mind
9. You are jealous that he has a life without you
If you’re a clingy girlfriend, chances are that you get jealous of your boyfriend’s friends and social life, leading to ugly spats, arguments, and full-blown fights. This may, in turn, start affecting the way people in his inner circle perceive you. “Notice the way his friends behave around you. If his group of boys stop talking and begin acting all formal the moment you come in, it indicates that he behaves in a certain manner in front of you and differently with them. As you’re a clingy girl and will perhaps enquire too much, he prefers to hide certain sides of his personality from you,” says Joie.
Jealousy can trigger a need to always hover over your boyfriend and keep track of his every movement. As a result, you may start displaying these controlling girlfriend signs:
- You pick a fight if he makes plans without you
- You are jealous of him enjoying life without you
- You make him choose between you and his friends
- You even try to sabotage his plans and forcefully include yourself in them
So, you see how the signs you are begging for attention can be counterproductive. You cling to your boyfriend in the hopes of getting closer to him and making sure that he doesn’t leave you, but in the process, you’re only driving him away. You may not even know who he really is. How can you then hope to build a long, fulfilling relationship with him?
Related Reading: How To Deal With Jealousy In Relationships?
10. You are possessive
Every girlfriend is a bit possessive about her man but too much of it can spell doom for a relationship. But how do you know how much possessiveness is too much? How to know if you’re clingy and possessive to an unhealthy level? See if you find the following scenarios relatable:
- A casual conversation between your boyfriend and a female friend makes you want to scratch the girl’s eyes out
- You don’t just constantly double or triple text your partner, but send them a barrage of clingy texts such as “Why are you ignoring me?!”, “You there???????”, “How come you’re not replying?!”
- You get upset if your partner shares a laugh with a coworker
- You dictate who your partner can and cannot hang out with, in the name of being protective
If you are overly possessive, you need to learn to rein in your impulses and reactions. Stop being obsessed with your partner by constantly reminding yourself that he is a part of your life and not your life itself. To set boundaries, you must be able to trust your partner and understand that at times he will interact with the opposite sex and even have close friends who are women. Irrational jealousy and possessiveness have no place in a healthy relationship.
11. You are too available
If your boyfriend has become the central and sole focus of your life, you’re displaying one of the most telling signs of a toxic girlfriend. When that happens, your friends, family, and even your career become secondary. So, if you’re the kind who’d ditch a friend at the last minute just because your boyfriend has time for a coffee date or blow off a work presentation because he suggested ‘Netflix and chill’, you’ve blurred the lines between clingy vs affection.
Always being available for him will make him take you for granted. He will know that you will always make time for him and thus he will only make plans at his convenience and not be afraid to cancel on you at the last minute. Here’s how you can set healthy boundaries and stop being clingy in a relationship:
- Know your self-worth and make him realize it too
- Do not put him above everyone and everything
- Don’t put your life on hold for him
- Don’t change your plans as per his convenience and availability
12. A clingy girlfriend needs constant reassurance
My friend Paul confessed, “My girlfriend wants to talk all the time. And if I’m not available, I’m met with a barrage of clingy girlfriend texts, which always lead to bickering and fighting. Is there any solution to girlfriend always complaining?” So, are you an understanding girlfriend or an insecure one? Ponder on the following questions:
- Do you repeatedly ask your boyfriend whether he loves you?
- Do you keep gifting him things and expect him to reciprocate as a way of showing his love?
- Do you find whatever validation he provides you with falling short?
There is constant doubt in your mind about his ‘true’ feelings. If you constantly feel this way and there have been instances to suggest that he pretends to love you, it’s time for open communication. However, if your paranoia is at the root of your toxic traits, you need to delve deeper into those suspicions and insecurities.
13. Low self-esteem
“What did I do to get someone as amazing as you?” Is this something you say to your boyfriend often? Do you think that you don’t deserve him? Do you think that he is too good for you? This perception could be rooted in your sense of self-worth. Low self-esteem and insecurity usually go hand-in-hand. And therein also lies the answer to: what is a clingy person like? It’s someone who struggles with constant self-doubt and self-deprecatory talk.
When you’re that person, you cling to every possible thing that you think can make the relationship work because you fear that he will find someone better and leave you. If you didn’t deserve him, then he wouldn’t have chosen to be with you. But he has. That in itself is reassurance enough that you needn’t worry about him abandoning you.
14. You stalk his social media
Social media accounts are a great way to gather really useful information about your boyfriend’s life. A picture is worth a thousand words and so are the comments on them. But what about stalking his friends, friends of friends, and friends of friends of friends? Have you reached the point where you stalk all possible accounts remotely related to your boyfriend just to know where each one stands in his life?
We’re all guilty of putting a sleepless night to good use by browsing through our partner’s social media or even their exes. But when this tendency spirals out of control, it’s a tell-tale case of you displaying signs of a controlling girlfriend. Even the slightest aberration from what you perceive to be acceptable social media activity for your boyfriend can set you off and send you into a tizzy of insecurity, hurt, and anger.
15. You keep wanting to meet his parents
Wanting to meet his parents when you are in a serious relationship isn’t surprising or uncommon. He is very important to you and it’s only natural that you’d want to get to know and build a rapport with his parents. But there is a time and place for it, and it’s wise to let the relationship evolve organically to the point where he wants you to meet his parents.
If you constantly coax him to take you to meet his parents at the early stages of a relationship when you haven’t even discussed the future, it’s not a good sign and it won’t be surprising if this makes him pull back. Meeting the parents is a big step that he might not be ready to take. So trust him when he tells you that he will do it when he is ready. Don’t give him a hard time and let the process take the time it needs.
How To Stop Being A Clingy Girlfriend?
You may not have noticed the troublesome behavior patterns until now but these signs may have helped you see the ways in which you’re acting like an annoying clingy girlfriend. You may have also realized that dealing with the kind of partner you are is not easy. Sooner or later, it will lead to relationship burnout, leaving your boyfriend with no choice but to reassess his future with you.
We’re sure if you found these signs of a desperate woman too relatable, you’re desperately looking for answers on how not to be a needy girlfriend. First things first, to avoid being emotionally clingy, you need to commit yourself to doing the necessary work to break your attachment patterns and resolve your underlying insecurities and self-esteem issues. To help you get started, here are some quick tips on how to not be pushy in a relationship:
- Maintain a distance: Let him call you first sometimes. It will make him miss you more and keep the spark alive
- Have some mystery: Keep some aspects of your life a surprise for him to explore. Don’t give everything away too soon. Men love women who have an air of mystery around them. Make him want to unravel your secrets. Make him crave you
- Boundaries: “Set boundaries and make sure you do not cross them. Commit to reinforcing your boundaries by clear communication and respecting your partner’s,” advises Joie
- Do things for yourself: “Are you spending time with your friends/family without your partner and enjoying it? If not, have a day every week when you do that, and no, do not text and update your partner during that time. Pursue a hobby or set free time which is exclusive of your partner and encourage your partner to do the same,” says Joie
- Give him space: Accept and reiterate to yourself that you cannot make him stay in your life against his wish simply by clinging to him. You need to trust him and give him more space to thrive as the individual you fell in love with
- Don’t involve him in everything: He cannot be a part of every aspect of your life, so don’t force it. “Stop telling your partner your friend’s secrets (if you are clingy, then you probably do this) because he doesn’t have the same relationship with them as you do. Trust me, chances are even he dislikes it,” says Joie
- Clinginess is often a personality trait rooted in insecure attachment style, low self-esteem, or past emotional traumas
- If you’re a clingy girlfriend, chances are you’ve made your boyfriend the sole focus of your life, and on some level, resent him for not doing the same – this can make him want to distance himself from you
- Neglecting your career, friends, family, and even your own needs, wants, desires, ambitions, and hopes for the sake of your partner is a defining trait of clinginess
- By developing some self-aware Developing self-awareness of your patterns and getting the necessary help to break them can enable you to move away from this unhealthy dynamic and toward healthier relationships
As we have reiterated over and over, the signs of a clingy girlfriend are rooted in an anxious-ambivalent attachment style. Since these patterns trace back to your formative years and childhood experiences, you may lack the know-how and necessary tools to break free of them. Seeking professional help is the healthiest way to break these problematic patterns and replace them with a more holistic approach toward life, relationships, and emotions. If you’re looking for help, skilled and licensed counselors on Bonoblogy’s panel of experts are here for you.
This article has been updated in July 2023