How to Not Be Clingy In the Early Stages of a Relationship

A woman wondering how to not be clingy hugging her boyfriend in the sun.

Clinginess is a two-fold problem. You’re either around too much or you’re acting out your insecurities. It’s natural to want to be around someone you like, and everyone has insecurities, but in the early stages of a relationship you’ll want to tread a little more lightly. Think of the early stages as an extended first impression. Nobody’s perfect, but you want to start with your best foot forward. So if you’re worried you might be a tad too enthusiastic with your new parter, this guide is for you.

Jealousy is a big no-no.
Jealous is probably the biggest reason that someone will get labeled a clinger early on in a relationship. At its heart, jealousy stems from an insecurity that you’re not enough for your partner. It often arises when your partner hangs out or talks to someone of the sex they’re attracted to. Unfortunately, when you’re in a relationship, other people still exist. Later in the relationship, when the foundation is stronger you can express these concerns to your partner, but earlier on it might put too much strain on this stage of the relationship when things are still delicate.

Don’t dig into their romantic history.
Another thing jealous lovers often do is repeatedly ask about their partner’s past relationships. In an attempt to quell the insecurity, they try to measure themselves up against other people their partner was attracted to. This is bad for a few reasons: it signals insecurity; and you may feel like you don’t measure up and exacerbate your insecurity. The key to this one is simply not asking about it. Pretty simple.

Let them have their free time.
Before you and your partner were dating, you both lived fulfilled lives with friends, families, a job, and hobbies. None of that should stop because you’re now in a relationship. It’s natural to want to see your partner often and be in communication, but that has to be agreed upon, and you both still need to live your lives outside of the relationship. Make sure that you don’t try to schedule every free moment they have with a hangout. Give them space to be their own person.

Maintain your social life.
Don’t let your friendships suffer, because you have a partner. Ditching your friends for your partner is not only not nice but also a strong signal of clinginess. It tells your partner that you’re willing to drop meaningful long-standing relationships at any opportunity to give them more attention. That’s not what a healthy relationship looks like. Making plans to hang out with your friends not only maintains those friendships but also gives both people in the relationship space to breathe.

Have separate plans.
Personal time is an important part of a well-balanced life. You shouldn’t forego it just because of your new relationship. Make a point to run errands alone. See your family without your partner. Practice your hobbies and plan your next career steps in your scheduled personal time. These are ways to give the relationship breathing room and to get your mind off of being separated from your partner.

Set expectations.
It’s important to let your partner know what you’re looking for in a relationship within reason. If you like to be in touch each day, let them know that but also allow for them to be slow to respond when they’re working, with friends, or just need some alone time. If two people aren’t aligned on what’s expected in a relationship, there will be some hiccups.

Communicate.
Communication is the key to any relationship. We’ve heard it so many times it’s plastered onto our brain. That’s because it’s true. Conversations about trust and time and energy investment aren’t easy ones to have, but they’re important. These boundaries and rules when respected will help you and your partner build trust and maybe assuage some insecurities. But, as I said before, the early stages of a relationship are a delicate time, so you’ll have to wait for the right moment. Don’t force the conversation, and when it is time you’ll need to be upfront about your wants and needs, which means you’ll need to be vulnerable about what your needs are and where they come from.

When dealing with clinginess, there are fair asks and unreasonable wants. Fair asks are the things that you can ask of your partner to make you more comfortable. Unreasonable wants are things you wish your partner would do that stem from insecurity and are, well, unreasonable. Managing clinginess is about working with your partner on the fair asks and coming to terms with the insecurities that fuel your unreasonable wants. It’s a lot of emotional work, but it’s part of the price of admission for any successful relationship. If you do the work, you beat the clinginess.

 

Alex Bocknek

Alex Bocknek is the senior editor of The Date Mix and works at Zoosk, the online dating service. He’s also a recovering music critic and an aspiring fiction writer (probably lost) on the way to an independent bookstore near you. He can be found occasionally musing about politics, philosophy, and love in the modern world.

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