New love is exhilarating. Those early days and weeks are pure magic. You find you smile more, there’s more spring in your step, and the world is a happy place. You see everything around you through the fresh lens of new beginnings.
It is completely normal for your new love to be on your mind constantly. You feel as if you are under a spell, and in a way you are. The hormones flooding your brain all but guarantee that you feel physically, mentally, and emotionally in thrall. Is it normal to want to be with your new love as much as you can? Sure. But be careful. Are you madly in love or have you crossed the line into the clingy zone?
Remember that friend who disappeared last year because he was on the phone 4 hours a day with his new heart throb? If they weren’t together, she wasn’t happy unless she not only knew where he was but had him in her ear, or at least texting every ten minutes. You saw all the warning signs for what they were. She was a grade A Cling-on, and your friend was enabling her behavior. Then there was that guy at work who became so obsessed with his new girlfriend that he came into your office ten times a day positive he was about to get dumped because she hadn’t called. Or hadn’t confirmed their date. Or had said she had other plans tonight. You realized that she was being a normal person and that he was deep into the Cling Zone. But could you tell him that? Maybe. But did he hear what you were saying?
It’s not as easy to recognize the signs in ourselves. Use these handy guidelines to help you. Recognizing clingy behavior and creating the necessary changes can make the difference between a budding healthy relationship and a smothering, intrusive, and overwhelming one that will drive your partner away.
Signs you might be a clinger.
- You need to be together all the time. Remember before you met? You were both separate individuals with lives of your own. If you are losing sight of that version of yourself, ask yourself if this is the rosiness of new love or a desperate need to become one person. It is vital that you both maintain your sense of self and continue your normal activities. Get together with your friends, and touch base with your family. Having some space will keep you from obsessing about your new love and allow you to maintain the necessary perspective as you move deeper into the relationship.
- You need constant attention and reassurance. Be honest: do you fill up with self-doubt the minute you are not either with your new love, or on the phone with him or her? Is the only time you feel comfortable and secure when you are receiving direct reassurance and attention? To be successful in this relationship, you need to know yourself. Take stock of who you are – your great qualities, and all the things that draw your new love to you. If you can truly accept how awesome you are – with or without someone in your life to validate you – you will manage to avoid the urge and in fact desperate need for constant assurance (a need that seeks to fill a hole you should be filling from within yourself). Continue to work on yourself, and your sense of worth, by developing your own life vision and striving for goals defined by your core values.
- You must know your new love’s whereabouts 24/7. Trust – or distrust – can completely foreshadow the success – or failure – of any relationship. Do some internal research. Is it hard for you to trust? Have you been burned in the past? Could you be projecting your feelings into your new relationship in such a way that you are uneasy unless you know exactly where your new love is, and what he or she is doing? Understanding why you cling in this way is important. But just as important is that you resist the urge to check up constantly. Nothing will undermine a new relationship faster than constant surveillance and other obsessive behaviors borne of lack of trust.
- Your life revolves around your new love. What are your plans for tomorrow? Or next weekend? If you don’t know because you refuse to set any plans until you know what your new relationship is doing… be wary. You may be in stage five. Putting your life on hold is no way to forge an equal relationship. Remember, being independent and self-sufficient is sexy. You, being you, and living your life, is what drew this person to you in the first place. Don’t self-sabotage by putting that “you” on hold. Doing so would not only devalue yourself, but it would devalue the judgment of the person who wanted you. Cling less; be you more.
If you recognized yourself in any of the above scenarios, it is possible you are a stage 5 clinger. First off, identify what emotions are driving your behavior. See if you can work through any past hurt, inner doubts, or current fears that are sabotaging your confidence and trust in this new relationship. Then, shift your perspective to work toward an equal and balanced relationship based on 50/50 give and take. An experienced dating coach can help you navigate the uncertain terrain of those early weeks of a relationship when the pitfalls of clinging can do their worst. But whatever you decide to do to create a healthy, balanced relationship, remember that you cannot lay your happiness at the feet of someone else.