A clingy boyfriend hugging his girlfriend tight while they both smile and lean in for a kiss.

New relationships are the best. Every little moment is exciting and each of your new boyfriend’s traits and quirks makes you like them even more. You can’t help it; you want to spend all of your time together. Until, that is, you don’t.

Wanting space in a relationship is perfectly normal. Spending time apart, even just a few hours or an evening here and there, makes the time you do get to see each other feel extra special. Wanting space from your special someone isn’t necessarily a bad omen for your relationship; it means that a little bit of alone time will make the time you spend together even better. If you’re starting to feel like your have a clingy boyfriend, it’s okay to speak up.

Here’s how to deal with a clingy boyfriend without hurting his feelings or making him think you aren’t interested:

1. Consider the ways he’s being clingy.
There are different types of clingy boyfriends. Is yours texting you too much during the day and does he want to spend all of his free time with you? Or is it a bit more intense, like he gets jealous really easily and he depends on you for a great deal of emotional support? Consider the ways he’s being clingy before proceeding. You don’t want to come off as insensitive to your partner, especially if their behavior is more of latter.

2. Be honest with yourself about your feelings for him.
Is your boyfriend being clingy, or are you just not that into him? If you’re losing interest, there’s a chance you might think everything he does is annoying. So be totally honest with yourself about your feelings for him. If you’re just not into the relationship anymore, it could be time to break up.

3. Introduce the phrase “me time” into your relationship vocabulary.
It’s not unreasonable to want a night to yourself. If your boyfriend understands your need for some “me time” here and there, it means he likely won’t overreact to a conversation about his clinginess.

4. Encourage your boyfriend to pick up an old hobby or meet up with an old friend.
Who knows? Maybe he’ll benefit from a little “me time” as much as you will.

5. If you decide to say something, don’t be coy about it.
If you still want to be in a relationship but just need a little space, be honest and tell your boyfriend just that. If you don’t, or if you beat around the bush because you’re afraid of hurting his feelings, the problem will remain unaddressed. If you’ve never objected to or resisted your boyfriend’s clingy tendencies, chances are, he might not even realize that hisbehavior bothers you. But what should you say?

6. Explain your feelings without being mean.
The last thing you want to happen is to say, “I need some space” but have your partner hear, “I want to see you less.” You can tell him you need a little space without being mean. How? By using “I” statements. Try saying, “I love spending time with you, but I need a little bit more independence in our relationship” or “I appreciate everything you do for me, but I need a little bit of ‘me time’ this week.”

7. Don’t actually use the word “clingy” with them.
Or “needy” or “suffocated.” If you’re still genuinely interested in being in a relationship with them, it will come off as rude.

Remember, just because you want to spend a little bit more time without your boyfriend doesn’t mean you’re not a good fit. Having your own life and interests and social calendar will actually make your relationship stronger.

Elizabeth Entenman

Freelance Writer

Elizabeth is a freelance writer, editor, and advertising copywriter in Brooklyn. Right now, she’s probably somewhere Instagramming her dogs.