How do I stop being clingy to people?
April 21, 2014 10:37 AM   Subscribe

I'm wondering how to stop being clingy or needy to people. I find that it gets in the way of me meeting people especially when it comes to dating. I tend to text more than I should or come on too strong on occasion. And I overthink things more than I should. What should I do? I do maintain a busy life but I still make these bad judgments more than I should. I'm very picky if that helps.
posted by antgly to Human Relations (15 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
For the too-frequent texting and other needy behavior, would it help to remind yourself that those actions are irritating to other people and therefore limiting your chances of forming a strong connection with them? Speaking frankly, I am immediately turned off by clinginess (especially too-frequent texting) and that behavior will kill any attraction I had to that person. Try to reframe that behavior from "bad judgment" to "seriously annoying." Would that help?

Can't help you on the overthinking, as I myself do that constantly, sorry.
posted by schroedingersgirl at 10:47 AM on April 21, 2014 [2 favorites]

Some tactics that work well for me:

* Try to remember that We Just Met. Would I tell this to someone standing next to me in an elevator? Would I behave this way with a new coworker I'd known for two weeks? Would I have these expectations of a platonic friend I was just getting to know?

* Don't think further in the future than the amount of time we've known each other. If I've been seeing someone for a week or two, I don't pencil them into my travel plans for next summer.

* Keep an eye on how often they initiate contact vs. how often you do it. Sometimes I will even take a look at their response rate for texts vs. mine. If I just texted them twice and they didn't respond, I will hold off on texting until they initiate some type of contact with me. This is like that scene in the movie Swingers where the desperate guy leaves like 20 messages on his ex's voicemail. If your attempts to reach out are not being reciprocated, or are being reciprocated less than 50% of the time, slow down!

* Take turns making plans or setting up dates/hangouts/whatever. If you invited them to go to a party with you last weekend, hold back and give your partner a chance to initiate something with you. If you never hear from them again, well that sends a message, right?

This is all stuff that fades in importance as you settle into a relationship, though I think that in general it can be a helpful yardstick for whether you're smothering the other person.
posted by Sara C. at 10:54 AM on April 21, 2014 [14 favorites]

@shroedingersgirl But I've gotten accused of the whole texting thing after seriously texting someone like once a couple days apart. Is it me or do some people just like to have an excuse for not texting back and want to push it back in my face?
posted by antgly at 10:56 AM on April 21, 2014

If someone brings up the fact that you're texting "too much" and you literally texted them twice in the space of several days, they probably aren't into you at all.
posted by Sara C. at 10:58 AM on April 21, 2014 [15 favorites]

I'd say, be into people who are into you.

I only text people with important information. I got the movie time wrong, it's 5:15, not 5:30. Call if you want to talk. Meet in person when you can.

Don't be afraid to tell people, "I'm really into you," but leave room for them to find their feelings for you in their own time. Wait until you really know someone before you jump into a relationship. Don't demand more than what is appropriate.

You already know that you text too often, so lay back. Be more relaxed. For every 6 times you feel like you have to text someone: thinking of you ;-) Go for a walk around the block or something.

You're probably needy because you perceive this person as someone who can do something more for you than you can do for yourself. So don't rely on your romantic partners for entertainment or finances or to be your hope of the future. Concentrate on getting to know people, then decide if they're right for you.

Being obsessed with the idea of a person is a big turn off and you'll be perpetually disappointed.

You say you're picky, I'll challenge that. If by picky you mean:

1. Is attractive

2. Has a good job/money

3. Drives a nice car

4. Has a nice place

I submit that this isn't picky, it's shallow. Learn about the people you date, before deciding that you like them.

As for texting, again, just don't text people.

There isn't that simple?
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 10:58 AM on April 21, 2014 [11 favorites]

@shroedingersgirl But I've gotten accused of the whole texting thing after seriously texting someone like once a couple days apart. Is it me or do some people just like to have an excuse for not texting back and want to push it back in my face?

Has this happened more than once? Is it a pattern? If yes, see below. If no, sounds like you encountered an asshole.

Sometimes it's not just the frequency of texts that matters but also the content. I personally do not like getting (for example) "Tell me about your day" texts or texts with any cutesy nicknames, especially when I haven't know someone for long. So even the "once a couple of days apart" timeframe would bug me if the texts themselves seemed to be pushing for intimacy that I wasn't feeling.

That said, grain of salt, because I'm the rare millenial that believes texting should be reserved for plan-making until romance or close friendship have been established.
posted by schroedingersgirl at 11:00 AM on April 21, 2014 [6 favorites]

I cannot recommend the book Attached nearly enough.

You are not "clingy", this is just your attachment style. There is nothing wrong with it, or you. More to the point, you can't just have some other kind of attachment style through sheer force of will.

You just need to be with someone who can handle it, and gives you the reassurance that you need, so that you can be more confident in your relationships.

This is who you are. Own it. It will go a long way toward reducing your already existing anxiety around it.
posted by gsh at 11:07 AM on April 21, 2014 [12 favorites]

posted by Melismata at 11:15 AM on April 21, 2014

I;d just like to say I'm a guy and I love it when someone I'm starting on dating texts me lots. Different strokes for different folks. It might help to explicitly ask up front "Do you mind if I text you lots?" if things are starting to look like they're going well, just so you worry less about whether you're annoying them or not.
posted by Zalzidrax at 11:17 AM on April 21, 2014 [2 favorites]

Some people have phone plans where they get charged extra for every text. So any amount of random chatty texts might be annoying to them.
posted by steinwald at 11:27 AM on April 21, 2014 [1 favorite]

Just make an easy rule for yourself- one for one. You text, then you respond ONLY if/when they text back. That's it. If they don't...maybe you could give yourself an out, like text once again, one week later, then that's it, period. How can you annoy someone when you are texting an equal amount? And gauge your responses to theirs. If there's is short, make yours short too, etc.

It's a little unnatural, but if you need a rule, there's a rule for you.

Also, never call someone out like "you don't text me enough" or anything like that when you first meet- no one likes that sort of negativity/"you owe me" sort of feeling in the beginning...

Ideally, you'll meet someone who is a match for you and you can get form a relationship where no one is clinging to or annoying the other one...but you have to start out on the right foot first.
posted by bquarters at 11:28 AM on April 21, 2014 [4 favorites]

I loved an analogy I heard in a nonviolent communication class. The idea is that everyone needs food, and there is enough food in the world to feed everyone, but there are problems of distribution that need solving. Similarly, everyone needs some level of communication and connection, etc. (list of needs), and there is enough communication and connection available somewhere in the world for everyone, but there are problems of distribution. Clinginess comes in when someone says (metaphorically) "no soup for you," and you feel like if you don't get some of their soup, you will starve. You won't starve. There are other ways to get food.

I suggest pausing to think before you text, and consider what need(s) you're trying to meet by sending that particular text. What are the odds that sending that text will meet those needs? Might there be a more effective way to get those needs met? (Maybe the text really is the best way; I don't know).

When someone shuts you down by not answering your text, or by saying you text too much or are too needy, please know that your needs are real and valid, and there are still other ways to get your needs met. It's just that particular person is unwilling or unable to meet your needs. It's case-by-case whether it might work to approach that person in a different way (get more of your needs met outside the relationship so that you rely less on that particular person, especially early on) or whether you need to find a different person.
posted by Bentobox Humperdinck at 11:45 AM on April 21, 2014 [30 favorites]

Before you send a text, imagine that texting is not an option and just ask yourself:

Would I call to say this?

If the answer is "No.", don't text.

Then again, I'm a person that hates phones -- both texting and talking on them -- so take that advice at your own peril.
posted by LuckySeven~ at 1:59 PM on April 21, 2014 [2 favorites]

Only text someone when you have something to say. Don't just "text to say hi." Text if it's "Hey, want to go to the movie?" and after a brief bit of "yes/no" chitchat, stop texting. Don't text for longer than maybe a 5 minute conversation stint at the max.

Oh yeah, and find something ELSE to do or focus on instead.
posted by jenfullmoon at 2:33 PM on April 21, 2014

Do you have friends? Text them more if you are feeling needy.

Never send more than 2 in a row without a response. And if you want them to text back, ask a non-shallow-but-not-too-invasive, non-inane, non-open-ended question that also gives them an obvious choice in question to ask back:
"Just saying hi!" ; Bad!
"I enjoyed our last date with Chinese food. What other kinds of food do you like?" ; Good!

Most of the time, wait at least an hour or two before responding unless it's time-sensitive.

I wouldn't text more than a few times before scheduling and going on a date. You don't even know the person until a few dates.
posted by flimflam at 5:03 PM on April 21, 2014

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