Insecurity is one of the leading causes of relationship breakups among both high school and college students, according to a 2011 study by a consortium of Florida universities. Couples often get stuck in relationship loops, says that study. If one person is extremely insecure, he often believes that the other sees him as needy and insecure. This can make him doubt the acceptance that his partner shows, in turn, heightening the insecurity. It is not necessarily neediness and insecurity that cause breakups, but the behaviors that often surround these feelings.

What Causes Neediness

Although there is no single cause for all cases of neediness, it is often rooted in past experiences, notes psychiatrist Mark Banschick in the article, “Who Wants to Be Needy? Six Solutions,” for Psychology Today. Children who go through traumas such as bullying, parental favoritism or family dysfunction often tend toward anxious and clingy behaviors in relationships. In addition, some people just seem to be hardwired to worry, and the more they worry, the more they cling. You might even be overreacting to a normal shift in your relationship. As the infatuation phase wears off and you settle into a deeper bond, you might be afraid that the magic is gone.

When Insecurity Turns Dangerous

Most insecure people deal with their feelings by talking about them, but in some cases, insecurity can actually lead to violence, according to a 2012 study published in the Journal of Interpersonal Violence. Of course, relationship violence is highly complex, and insecurity is not a definite red flag. Nonetheless, fears of the partner turning violent could contribute to a desire to end the relationship.

Why Space Is Healthy

Relationships develop best when they have space and air, notes relationship author and women’s empowerment activist Megan Raphael in “Courage to Build Space in Your Relationship.” Allowing yourself and your partner room to develop as individuals shows that you honor and respect each other, demonstrates trust and faith in your relationship, and makes it easier to grow as a couple. While neediness and insecurity can be smothering, building space is affirming and nurturing.

Creating a New Dynamic

Breaking behavior patterns is never easy, but identifying the problem is an important first step. Instead of using clinginess to fight your fears, sit quietly with them and see what you can learn, suggests clinical psychologist Craig Malkin in “How to Overcome Neediness.” Learn your innermost needs and desires, and make purposeful requests to get them met, rather than blindly reacting to a vague sense of discomfort. For example, you might ask your date to call if she will be more than 15 minutes late rather than exploding with, “You’re always late when you hang out with your friends before our dates!” If you are in a committed relationship, ask your partner for help brainstorming and implementing solutions. Like any new skill, overcoming neediness will get easier as you practice new techniques.