There are certain behaviors that are going to cause problems in a relationship and could even sabotage one from taking place. One of those behaviors is when someone has an insecure attachment. This can develop at the start of a relationship or it can develop as a relationship matures.
For the person on the receiving end of this behavior, it can feel smothering and overwhelming. At first, it may be bearable, but over time it could become unbearable. This could be something that causes them to end the relationship as soon as this type of behavior surfaces.
It will often depend on how tolerant someone is and whether they speak openly and honestly to the other person about what is taking place. Some people will open a dialogue about how they feel, and some people will just walk away.
However, just because someone is clingy, it doesn’t necessarily mean that they are aware of their behavior and how destructive it can be. At the beginning of a relationship, they generally find themselves becoming extremely attached to the other person.
And while it may only be the start of the relationship, to them it can feel as though it has been going on for a lot longer. It is not a case of merely wanting to feel connected to the other person; it is a feeling of wanting to completely merge into them.
Just being with them is not enough; they have to feel a part of their lives in every way possible. Boundaries are not something they want to exercise or put up with, what they often want merge with the other person. And this is rarely something that is consciously thought about, with it often being an unconscious compulsion.
Becoming aware of this can vary from person to person and depends on what the context is. And yet there are often common patterns which occur when someone is clingy.
This person can be needy, intrusive, overbearing or overwhelming. They may have the need for constant attention and reassurance; with regular and consistent contact being required.
In the extreme, this could relate to them wanting to see the other person every possible moment and to know what they are doing. Jealousy can be another challenge; clingy people have extreme difficulty with trust.
Thoughts that the other person is cheating or doing things without them can be everyday occurrences. If the other person stops speaking or they don’t hear from them for a while, fear and anxiety can arise.
If they could trust the other person, then there would not be the need for this behavior. One of the thoughts they consistently have about the other person is ‘if I don’t remind them that I am here, I might be ignored or forgotten about’.
And while this is one of the beliefs that undergird these behaviors, if the other person is not interested, acting in this way won’t cause them to stay. In fact, acting in this way will most likely push them away.
When this happens, the person is likely to feel abandoned. And this is the very feeling that they are trying to avoid by being clingy.
The feeling of abandonment cannot be ignored or pushed out of one’s awareness. This can be a feeling that is extremely overpowering and overwhelming. And due to the intensity, a clinger needs constant reassurance from another to keep this feeling from surfacing.
This is a feeling that could have built up over the person’s adult life and the original cause can be traced back to childhood. At that time, it was not just a feeling; it would have been the actual experience.
Ideally one would have had a caregiver that was emotionally available in most cases. But when that doesn’t happen, there is going to be a greater possibility that one the person was physically and emotionally abandoned on a consistent basis.
Caregivers are not perfect and so there is going to be moments when a child feels abandoned. At this age, it is going to be a feeling that is overwhelming.
And as the caregiver is not available, the person will have pushed these feelings out of their awareness and become numb to them.
Now, although this all happened years ago, as the feelings of abandonment are still trapped in one’s body, they are defining how that person feels and behaves. Physically they may be an adult, but emotionally they are as a child.
The challenge is that while they possess these tendencies, the person they want to be in a relationship with or are in a relationship with is an individual and not their caregiver. And while the caregiver may have been unconditional in their love and attention; another person may express love based on conditions.
To expect a caregiver to be there in most cases is normal and yet an individual has the same expectation from an adult, it can cause them to pull away. Here, those feelings of abandonment will resurface, and the person can come to the conclusion that what they feel is being caused by the other person.
On The Other Side
But even though this person may have a fear of abandonment, the other person in the relationship may have a deeper fear of being smothered or engulfed by that person.
And as this fear exists, they could possibly wind up being attracted to people who are unavailable. So their fear of being abandoned is going to be reproduced often.
These feelings will need to be released before experiencing a healthy relationship. And this can be accomplished with the assistance of a therapist or psychologist.
As healing takes place, the ‘clingy’ person will no longer be attracted to people who are either distant or overwhelming. And then real relational intimacy can take place.