There are certain behaviours that are going to cause problems in a relationship and could even sabotage one from taking place, and one of those behaviours is when someone is clingy. This can appear at the start of a relationship or it can appear as a relationship develops.
For the person on the receiving end of this behaviour, it can feel smothering and overwhelming. At first it may be bearable, but over time it could become unbearable. And for others, it could be something that causes them to end the relationship as soon as this type of behaviour takes place.
It will often depend on how tolerant someone is and whether they talk to the other person about what is going on. Some people will open a dialogue about how they feel and some people will just walk away.
However, just because someone is clingy, it doesn’t necessary mean that they are aware of their behaviour and how destructive it can be. At the beginning of a relationship they can find themselves becoming extremely attached to the other person.
And while it may only be the start of the relationship, to them it can feel as though it has been going on for a lot longer. It is not case of merely wanting to feel connected to the other person; it is a feeling of wanting to completely merge with them.
Just being with them is not enough; one has to feel a part of their lives in every way that is possible. Boundaries are not something they want to exercise or put up with, what they often want is to enmesh with the other person. And this is rarely something that is consciously thought about, with it often being an unconscious compulsion.
How this is known can vary from person to person and depend on what the context is. And yet there will often be common patterns that take place when someone is clingy.
This person can be: needy, intrusive, overbearing and overwhelming. They can have the need for constant attention and reassurance; with regular and consistent contact being required.
At the most extreme, this could relate to them wanting to see the other person at every moment possible and to know what they are and are not doing. Jealousy can be another challenge here, as one thing clingy people have difficulty with is trust.
So thoughts that the other person is cheating or doing things without them can be everyday occurrences. If they stop speaking to the other person or don’t hear from them for a while, all kinds of fear and anxiety can arise.
If they could trust the other person, then there would not be the need for these behaviours. One of the ideas they will have about the other person is ‘if I don’t remind them that I am here, I might be ignored or forgotten about’.
And while this is one of the beliefs that underpin these behaviours, if the other person is not interested, acting in these ways won’t cause them to stay. In fact, acting in these ways will more than likely push them away.
When this happens, one is likely to feel abandoned. And this is the very feeling that they are trying to avoid by being clingy.
It is unlikely to be a feeling that can be ignored and pushed out of ones awareness. It can be a feeling that is extremely overpowering and overwhelming. And due to the intensity, a clinger needs constant reassurance from another to stop this feeling from surfacing.
This is a feeling that could have built up over ones adult life and the original cause can go back to when one was a child. At this time, it was not just a feeling that one had; it would have been an experience that felt like death.
Ideally one would have had a caregiver that was emotionally available and in tune in most cases. But when this doesn’t happen, there is going to be a greater possibility that one was physically and emotionally abandoned on a continual basis.
Caregivers are not perfect and so there is going to be moments when a child feels abandoned. At this age, it is going to be a feeling that is overwhelming and one that feels like the end of the world.
And as the caregiver is not around, one will have had to have pushed these feelings out of their awareness and they would then end up being trapped in one’s body.
The Present Day
Now, although this all happened many years ago, as the feelings of abandonment are still trapped in one’s body, they are defining how one feels and behaves. Physically one may be an adult, but emotionally one can feel just like they did as a child.
The challenge is that while they have the same feelings, the person they want to be in a relationship with or are in a relationship with, is an individual and not their caregiver. And while ones caregiver should have been unconditional in their love and attention; another person can only be conditional.
To expect a caregiver to be there in most cases is normal and yet when one has the same expectation form an adult, it can cause them to pull away. Here, the trapped feelings will be retriggered and one can come to conclude that they are being caused by the other person.
The Other Side
But even though this person can have a fear of abandonment, as they were abandoned so much as a child, they can have a deeper fear of being smothered or engulfed by another person.
And as this fear exists at a deeper level, they can end up being attracted to people who are unavailable. So there fear of being abandoned is going to be constantly retriggered.
These feelings that are trapped in the body will need to be released. And this can be done with the assistance of a therapist or healer that allows one to face them.
As this takes place, one will move on from this dynamic and no longer be attracted to people who are distant or overwhelming. And then real intimacy can take place.
Oliver JR Cooper
Author of 26 books, Transformational Writer, Teacher & Consultant.
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That which is contained within these articles is based on my own empirical understanding and is true for me at the time they were written. However, as I continue to grow, what I perceive as the truth will inevitably change and as a result of this - parts of these articles may not reflect my current outlook.