Being in a romantic relationship can be a wonderful experience, but it can also bring up vulnerabilities and insecurities that stem all the way back to childhood. Both men and women can suffer from emotional neediness, which can be a relationship and self-esteem killer. Dealing directly with this problem will not only help your current relationship, but can also help you bring to light and work through your own issues with attachment, self-worth, trust and communication.
Address Attachment Issues
Often neediness and insecurity come from unexamined attachment issues from childhood. Attachment refers to the quality of relationship between the primary caregiver (often the mother) and the child. The two basic types of attachment are secure and insecure. A securely attached person trusts that they are loved and will be taken care of. Children with insecure attachment, though, do not ultimately believe that their parents are dependable. This sense of fear and a lack of security can often lead to the belief that you need to constantly monitor your partner. To understand your adult relationships, think about your childhood attachment style. Working through attachment issues often requires the help of a sympathetic therapist.
Examine Your Self-Esteem
Low self-esteem can also be a problem with neediness. People become needy and clingy when they believe that their self-worth is tied to a relationship. When tensions or ambiguity occur in a relationship, a person with low self-esteem might respond by clinging because they associate being in a relationship as having worth. If you recognize feelings of low self-esteem in yourself, first work on your self-esteem outside of your relationship. Developing compassion for yourself is essential before you can fully trust and be secure in your relationships with others. Practicing affirmations of self-worth, developing self-care hobbies (such as exercise, art or meditation), and talking to a friend or therapist can all help with self-esteem problems.
Tackle Your Trust Issues
Clingy relationships can exhibit a lack of trust. Trust issues require a close examination of the reality of the relationship, as trust issues can often come from insecure attachment. Lisa Firestone, Ph.D., explains that individuals with insecure attachment often mistrust even neutral behaviors from their partners and see any independence from their partner as a threat. Trust issues can also occur if the non-clingy member of the couple is not being honest and open. As with all relationship issues, examining trust requires both self-reflection and a willingness to directly express your fears to your partner.
Sharpen Communication Skills
Couples can become clingy because they do not communicate clear boundaries and needs. When the status of a relationship, level of commitment or seriousness of a relationship is not clear, this can lead to clingy behavior. When you are feeling hurt, insecure or as though you need more time or attention from your partner, tell him directly what you are feeling and what your needs are. The point here is not to blame your partner for your emotions but to instead tell him what you are feeling and negotiate boundaries. Although it can be frightening to open up and admit your vulnerability to a partner, a willingness to express your real emotions can put an end to clinginess.
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