In the beginning of the relationship, you might have found it flattering and a little cute that your partner calls you all the time, can’t get enough of you and wants to follow you everywhere. But as the months pass, these clingy behaviors can start to get frustrating and annoying. You feel like you can’t have any time to yourself and that your partner’s neediness and actions are crossing into unhealthy territory. Before you call it quits on the relationship, there are other ways to deal with the situation you can explore.

Try to understand the source of their neediness.

Needy behaviors don’t come out of nowhere, so try to be empathetic with your partner. Do a little digging to understand why they’re behaving the way they are. Maybe they had a terrible childhood or a bad relationship that makes them feel like they have to hold on to you really tightly or they might lose you. Or, maybe there’s something you’re doing or not doing in the relationship that’s contributing to their clinginess. Knowing the root cause can give you a new perspective and help you cater to their needs better.

Lay down clear boundaries and hold them to it.

You need to explain to your partner how important it is for you to have time to yourself. Let them know exactly what you can tolerate in the relationship and where you draw the line. For example, if you don’t like them blowing up your phone every hour to find out where you are and what you’re doing, tell them it’s not okay. Setting boundaries can be tough, but you’re never going to have a healthy relationship without it.

Encourage them to be more independent.

If you care about your partner and you’re not prepared to say goodbye to them yet, what you need to do is help them become a more independent person. Build up their confidence, encourage them to make plans of their own. And when they do things alone or without you, praise them for it. Help them see that their opinions and choices are just as valid as yours. This way, they’ll come to realize that each of you spending time apart isn’t a threat to the relationship.

Constantly reassure them that you care.

A lot of the time, needy people have an externally focused sense of worth. This means that they need you to reassure them that they matter, that they’re important to you. Don’t just tell them how much they mean to you, show it too. Send them a text every now and then when you’re away to let them know you’re thinking of them. Keep them involved in your world. When you go out alone, share your stories. Don’t give them a reason to doubt that you love them if you can help it.

Have an honest conversation about how you feel.

Don’t be mean. Approach the conversation with kindness. Gently put forward your frustrations and concerns about their behavior and how it’s impacting you and the relationship. They might not even be aware that they’re being needy until you bring it up. Let them know they have no reason to feel the way they do and ask if there’s anything you can do to help them feel more secure. Talking about your feelings can help alleviate fears and frustrations on both ends and even help cultivate trust.

Be reliable and consistent.

If you’re the kind of person who makes promises and never keeps them, that might be contributing to your partner’s behavior. Needy people need stability, they need consistency. They need to know that they can let you go and that you’d still find your way back to them. Have date night at the same time every week. Send them a text during the day. Call when you get home at night. Let them know you’re there, that you’ve got them no matter what. Creating a routine and keeping to it can help prove to your partner that you’re invested in the relationship.

Suggest going to therapy.

If you have an overly insecure or needy partner, you may want to try suggesting that they talk to a professional about their issues. A therapist can help them figure out where their needs are coming from and help them work on moving past them. Aside from individual therapy, you can also try taking a few couple therapy sessions. This will help you figure out to create a healthy, mutually satisfying relationship with each other while maintaining your individual identity.

Have a little patience.

Your partner’s neediness isn’t going to disappear overnight. It’s going to take more than a couple of dates and “I love you” texts to make their symptoms go aware. It’ll take some time to work on making them more secure in the relationship, so you need to be patient. There will be moments when they relapse and go back to being their old clingy self, but that doesn’t mean they’re not making progress.

Put yourself and your happiness first.

Remember that you don’t need to be at your partner’s beck and call to prove that you care about them. Don’t let them rope you into feeling guilty for needing some time to yourself. If they can’t find a way to be happy without you, that’s on them. It’s not your fault. So keep choosing yourself. Keep doing what makes you feel good and living your life. Let your partner know that you love and adore them, but you’re not going to give up who you are to cater to their demands/needs. Your partner may take a cue from your page and become a little less dependent.

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