If My Girlfriend Thinks I'm Clingy, Can I Change That?

Awareness is the first key to changing your behavior.
... Hemera Technologies/AbleStock.com/Getty Images

Humans are hardwired to seek social attachments, but clinginess takes normal bonding to an unhealthy extreme. No matter how much you love each other, you and your girlfriend need space to live your separate lives. Clinging too hard could make her feel suffocated. Fortunately, you can take steps to become less clingy.

1 Learning Your Attachment Style

In an article for "Psychology Today," psychologist Leslie Becker notes that people form bonds in different ways. Some styles tend to push other people away, while others tend to latch on tightly. If you and your girlfriend have wildly different attachment styles, you might see her as aloof or uncaring while she sees you as clingy.

2 Taking a Look at Your Past

You might be clinging too tightly to your girlfriend because of past experiences that made it tough for you to trust people. Sometimes neediness shows up in young children, while other people develop it after a painful breakup or other traumatizing event. In rare circumstances, these trust issues are symptomatic of a dependent personality disorder. If you have serious trouble with trust, an unusual fear of abandonment, or difficulty making your own decisions, consider talking to a mental health therapist. Your past doesn’t need to define your future.

3 Changing Your Behavior

Awareness is the first key to changing your behavior. Pay attention to the times that your girlfriend accuses you of clinginess. Note your thoughts and feelings in the moment you acted clingy. Keeping a written log can help you learn to connect your thoughts, feelings and behaviors into a cohesive pattern. On your own or with the help of a therapist, work on responding to your thoughts and feelings in a healthier way. For example, if you feel lonely or afraid, try distracting yourself with a funny movie or calling a friend instead of automatically texting your girlfriend. Consciously changing your actions can gradually change your feelings.

4 Finding a Middle Ground

It is not fair for your girlfriend to expect you to change your basic style, nor is it fair for you to expect her to change hers. If your attachment styles are far apart, you might need to find a middle ground. Set an appointment to talk to your girlfriend about this issue. Ask her to explain exactly which behaviors she finds clingy, and calmly let her know what she does that makes you feel abandoned or distrustful. Work toward a compromise in which you both give a little and get a little. For example, she might promise to tell you her upcoming plans, while you might promise not to text her when she is out with friends.

Lisa Fritscher is a freelance writer specializing in disabled adventure travel. She spent 15 years working for Central Florida theme parks and frequently travels with her disabled father. Fritscher's work can be found in both print and online mediums, including VisualTravelTours.com. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in psychology from the University of South Florida.