What You Need To Know About Dating A Clinger

by Rachel Sanoff

Wedding Crashers popularized the phrase "Stage 5 Clinger" to describe the level of attachment one feels for the person to whom they lost their virginity. Now, before I continue into the very real issues that you should know about dating someone who's clingy, I think it is important to address the problematic nature of the term itself so that you know what I am not talking about.

It is so common for women to be referred to as clingy for merely wanting a communicative relationship, or demanding a relationship wherein they actually, you know, hang out with their partners. When used too freely, "clingy" completely plays into that exhausted trope of bitches be crazy. As Lara Rutherford-Morrison writes for Bustle, "...women are so often slapped with the 'clingy' label for doing nothing more than exhibiting the same kind of behavior that men just as often engage in without the threat of being subjected to a reductive, double standard-bearing label."Now, when we are the ones labeling our partners, male or female, as clingy, it is also important to remember that we make mistakes, too. Is your partner actually clingy, or are you just not used to being in a relationship so spending this much time with someone is freaking you out? Are you too guarded and unfairly distancing yourself from your partner? Do you just really fear commitment?That being said, there is many a problem that can arise when you are dating an actual clinger — someone who controls your every move, invades your privacy, guilt you for having independence, manipulates your feelings, etc. Here are some things to keep in mind in those kinds of toxic relationships:

1. Insecurity Is Often The Root Of It All

While there are clingers with straight up malicious intent (and honestly, those aren't clingers as much as stalkers and emotional abusers), it is important to remember that a lot of clinging habits are created by insecurity. A clinger may feel like they can't express their desires for you out of embarrassment and fear of rejection. A clinger may think you are too good for them and will desert them any second, so they keep controlling tabs on you. I'm not excusing clingy behavior or encouraging you to stay in a clingy relationship, but it's good to know what you are dealing with.

2. It's Hard To Break Up

If you come to the realization that the relationship isn't working, you may very well find feelings of guilt hindering your ability to break things off with a someone who's emotionally attached. It's hard to hold your ground when someone that you care about (despite your frustrations) is heartbroken and crying. Because you are this person's main focus, the thought of losing you is overwhelming — and breakups are already overwhelming for anybody, so imagine the theatrics that would accompany this one. But protect yourself and do what is best for you.

3. They Just "Happen" To Be In The Area... All The Time

Instead of telling you that they want to see you (possibly because there is a part of them that knows they want to see you too much), they may always happen to be in the neighborhood. For example, they will somehow — coincidentally, of course — end up walking by your job during your lunch break three times a week even though they have no reason to be in the area.

4. They Analyze Your Social Media To Death

We are all guilty of stalking our crushes on social media. The thing is that most of us prefer to keep that on the DL. We would be mortified to learn that anyone attractive knew that we were 72 weeks deep in their Instagram on a regular basis. A clinger, however, may get obsessed with their partner when they're stressed, says Psychology Today. And with social media, this is all too easy. They may study your social media like a GRE prep book and will then shamelessly confront you based on their findings. They'll say things like, "Who is that guy who liked that picture of your latte on Facebook 13 weeks ago?" or "Why haven't you texted me back when I know that you've commented on Joey's status?"

5. The Calls And Texts Do Not Quit

You will become even more attached to your phone than we all already are in order to avoid arguments with your clinger. The texts and phone calls "checking in" can be frequent, inconvenient, and disruptive, and if you choose not to respond in a "timely manner" because we are all adults with responsibilities other than texting, then it will become a thing that you have to discuss. You may get very used to hearing questions like "Why are you so distant?"

6. Somehow You're The One At Fault

This is where it can get dangerous. If you understandably cannot handle the dramatics and control issues that accompany dating a clinger, and you try to air your frustrations, then the clinger will somehow convince you that the problems stem from your inability to be in a mature relationship. The conversation becomes about how you are too distant or you are selfish, rather than you are a person who values honesty and independence. Don't let your partner gaslight you; if you feel that your privacy or space is being invaded, then you have the right to express the concerns without being convinced that "you're crazy."

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