clingy boyfriend

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Being accommodating, compromising, and understanding are all important to having a healthy, happy relationship. But research out of Sage Journals Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin shows that one more thing is important: autonomy. You need to maintain a sense of self in a union in order to feel happy. Both relating to another person and holding onto your individual identity are important to a satisfying relationship. Often when a couple is unhappy, their issues boil down to someone struggling with one of those. Either someone is too independent, refusing to really fuse their lives with the other person, or they’re too dependent, letting go of their individuality almost entirely. What that feels like to their partner is clinginess.

Having a clingy partner can be incredibly stressful. It can feel as if you can’t enjoy time away from the person, because you realize they don’t enjoy a single moment until you return. For women, this can be very detrimental. Women need quality time with their female friends. Research out of UCLA shows that it’s critical to our stress management and sense of wellbeing. So having a clingy partner who makes you feel bad doing anything without him like girl time is a major problem. Why do women wind up with clingy men? Well, at first, the clinginess can come off as endearing. It can even masquerade as emotional vulnerability, which Psychology Today reports is another secret to a happy relationship. But vulnerability must be paired with confidence, or else you get clingy, which you don’t want. On that note, here are early signs a guy will be clingy.

Frequent and frivolous texting

Everyone has that friend or sibling with whom they text all day. You text nonsense, like funny YouTube videos, or stories about someone at the grocery store, or photos of your meals. You text each other random thoughts. That’s normal to do with a long-time friend or family member. But if a guy you’ve only been out with once or twice starts doing this, he will probably be clingy. Frequent texting is a form of forced and rapid intimacy. He’s making himself a big part of your day and your thoughts, when you barely know one another. A few check-in texts during the week with someone new is one thing; a few texts an hour is clingy.

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Strong preference for one-on-one time

After a few one-on-one dates in which you get to know each other, you suggest something a bit more social. Maybe you ask if he wants to go to a party or to a friend’s art exhibit. He clearly becomes frustrated when you try to move the date to a more social setting. He doesn’t want a whole bunch of other people around. Maybe he even says that, outright. He wants you to come over for dinner. He wants to sit alone with you in the corner of a nearly-empty restaurant. He wants to walk on the beach. If he doesn’t want to share you with others in a social setting this early on, he’ll probably be clingy.

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Stiffness/discomfort in a social setting

If you do convince him to go to a party with you or some social setting, he’s clearly uncomfortable. He may even seem upset. He makes no effort to mingle or chat with others. He takes a seat in a corner with a drink, waiting for you to finish socializing. Maybe he even keeps an eye on you. Clingy partners often struggle to enjoy being with you in a social setting. They just see others as a threat. Other people are competing for your attention, and clingy partners don’t like that. A clingy partner will make you feel guilty that you dragged him to a social setting.

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Pushing himself into your inner circle

After only a few dates, you have an event like a minor surgery. The date is there. He insists on driving you to check into the hospital at 6 a.m. and he waits in the lobby the entire time. He essentially takes over correspondence with your friends and family, getting regular updates from the doctor and relaying those to your friends and family. He becomes the ambassador for this experience. But you’ve only known him for a few weeks. This is the type of involvement that’s expected of a husband or live-in boyfriend. It’s not what’s expected of a guy you’ve been out with three times.

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Panic over a brief intermission

If you fail to text back for six hours, he begins to panic. He starts texting asking if you’re angry with him, or if he did something wrong. He texts things like, “If you’re not interested in me anymore, I understand.” If you don’t text for a day, he starts calling friends or family to make sure you’re alive. He already feels entitled to a certain frequency of communication that’s usually reserved for a long-term partner. He assumes intimacy, and so he assumes the worst if he doesn’t hear from you for a full afternoon. This behavior will only intensify if you keep dating.

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A new-found passion for your passions

Whatever you’re into, he’s into it now. You mention on a first date that you’re really into ancient Egyptian culture and now he’s bought and read several books on it and looked up every exhibit you two can attend on Egyptian culture over the next three months. He asked for a favor from a friend of a friend to get you early passes to a private art showing of ancient Egyptian paintings. He’s a chameleon, making your personality his own. He’s also doing you so many favors – it’s too much, too early. It can make you feel obligated to spend time with him…which may have been his plan.

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Bringing you into his inner circle

He wants to introduce you to his inner circle very quickly. After just a couple of dates, he invites you to a dinner party and it becomes very clear that his whole inner circle is there. His best friends. Maybe a cousin or a sibling. And they’ve already heard so much about you. They’ve even heard things about you that you didn’t tell your date (did he stalk you online?) He has many couple friends, and he starts talking to them, about you, as if you two are a long-term couple, discussing couples’ vacations you can all go on and double dates you can take.

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Asking for too many dates, too soon

He tries to see you a lot, quickly. After a first date he asks to see you the next day. If you can’t that day, then he asks about the next. He asks if you want to go on an all-day excursion on Saturday – 9am breakfast, 11am hike, then lunch, then beach, then drinks, then dinner. You’ve only been out once. He’s asking to claim a lot of your time early on. This is a way clingy people try to create an early feeling of intimacy. If someone doesn’t want to be alone, they’ll often rush a relationship so they can skip ahead to the part where you’re in a committed relationship.

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Lack of a social life

Maybe he doesn’t seem to have a social life. You ask what he’s doing on any given weekend and…he’s not doing anything. You never hear of him spending time with friends. Maybe he has one “best friend” who he sees…twice a year. Be wary of the man who has no social life. He might expect you to be his entire social life. Men are generally less skilled at cultivating close friendships than women are, but your date should at least have some friends he sees every month. If things get serious and he has no friends, you’ll always feel guilty going to do your own thing.

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