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9 Ways To Be Less Clingy In Your Relationship

9 Ways To Be Less Clingy In Your Relationship

It’s no secret that relationships are tricky. Even if you feel like you’ve found the right person for you, it can be hard to find the right balance between closeness and personal space. While that fine line is different for everyone, if you find yourself tending towards the clingy side, here are nine ways to reel in that clinginess and give your partner some room.

1. Work on any trust issues you have

It can sound like a no-brainer, but it’s incredibly important to trust your partner. If you don’t trust him or her, then it will be impossible to let your partner have the space to be who he or she really is. Not having trust in your significant other can make him or her feel less secure about the relationship and lead to feelings of resentment. Trust is key to maintaining a good, long-term relationship that will make both of you happy. Placing trust in your partner can mean anything from not constantly asking where he or she is during the day, to reminding yourself that even getting frustrated with this new step is good for your relationship, even when it doesn’t seem like it is.

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2. Let people have their space

Love does not mean you and your partner need to be attached at the hip. For many couples, too much closeness can put a strain on the relationship. While sharing — thoughts, feelings, space, whatever — is definitely good in any relationship, too much sharing can make your significant other feel trapped. No one wants to suffocate in a relationship. It’s best to give your partner the space he or she needs. That way, your partner is less likely to associate your relationship with negative feelings, which makes the relationship stronger in the long run.

3. Focus on yourself

Take some time to really center your thoughts on yourself. It’s amazing how much we can learn about ourselves and our feelings if we just take the time to think about things alone. Take some time to focus your thoughts inward. Time alone can really help you not only feel centered and rested, but it can also show your significant other that you’re not dependent on him or her for happiness. Dependency can lead to one partner feeling more responsible in the relationship than the other, which can lead to major problems in the future.

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4. Pursue what interests you

Clinginess can often become a problem for those whose lives center solely around their partner. It’s important to prioritize your own goals and interests. Not only do these give you something to focus your attention on, but they also provide a healthy outlet for your energy. Instead of focusing too much on your partner, try turning it more towards something constructive. This will give your significant other a little breathing room, while still maintaining a balanced relationship.

5. Manage your anxiety

If you’re prone to anxiety or nerves, it can be easy to turn to your partner as a way to ease that discomfort. However, this can make your partner feel too responsible for your happiness, and can be an inconstant way to manage your feelings. Instead, try turning that anxiety into something positive and consistent, such as a daily ritual or activity. Simply doing habitual tasks can ease anxious feelings and leave you with more positive energy to put into the relationship. If you find yourself chronically anxious or with feelings that cannot be managed easily, speak to a doctor.

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6. Keep your body language in check

We often use body language to communicate affection, such as holding hands or adopting an open posture around those we care about. However, body language can also be a warning sign. Clinginess can be physical, just as much as it can be emotional and psychological. If you find yourself constantly needing to touch your partner, even as a reassurance that they’re still there, it can be problematic. Some people may feel physically held back or reserved if they are touched too much, so make sure you’re respecting your partner’s boundaries.

7. Build up confidence in yourself

Self-confidence can go a long way in ensuring that you feel good in a relationship. People with more self-confidence are less likely to cling to others as a way of validating themselves. Consider practicing positive thinking and self-love. If you respect and love yourself, it makes it that much easier for others to do the same.

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8. Develop your social networking

Often, clinginess can derive from too much of one thing. If you feel like your significant other is the only person you see anymore, it might be a sign that you need to diversify your social scene. Whether it’s going out with friends, joining a book club, or just paying your parents a visit, getting out there and talking to other people can help steer you away from clingy behavior.

9. Talk about it

While it’s always good to talk things over with your partner, working through your clinginess might help you arrive at a solution that you’re both comfortable with. Maybe your partner has a problem with one specific aspect of your behavior, or feels uncomfortable about something. Letting him or her know that you’re willing to work on the problem together lets your partner know that you care about them and their comfort in the relationship. If you work on things together, it’s more likely that you’ll be able to solve the problem at hand and become less clingy in a way that ends up strengthening your relationship.

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Maggie Heath

Maggie is a passionate writer who blogs about communication and lifestyle on Lifehack.

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Published on April 7, 2021

6 Signs Of A Controlling Person To Be Aware Of

6 Signs Of A Controlling Person To Be Aware Of

Some of the most manipulative people are so good at what they do that their words and actions can convince you into thinking they truly care about what’s best for you when in reality, it’s quite the opposite. The most common signs of a controlling person are rarely obvious to outside observers. And for someone enmeshed in a controlling relationship or friendship, it can be incredibly challenging to stay away from this toxic person, even if you’re aware of their emotionally abusive tendencies.

While it’s ultimately up to you to decide whether to preserve or leave a lopsided, unfulfilling relationship, it’s nevertheless critical to understand the following six signs of controlling people so you can better advocate for yourself and mitigate the influence of their manipulative tendencies in your own life.

1. They Push Their Own Personal Agenda

Do you know someone who always tries to micromanage the words, behaviors, and attitudes of people around them? Does this person act like they have the right to know anything they want about you, including your location, what you’re doing in a given moment, who you’re talking to online, or any other private information about you? And when planning events and special occasions, does this person dominate conversations, steer plans in their own preferred directions, disparage others’ suggestions, and refuse to collaborate with anyone who might disagree with them?

If you answered “yes” to some of the above questions, then those are clear signs of a controlling person whom you absolutely need to be cautious around. Controlling people are reluctant to even consider alternative ideas, let alone enthusiastically work with people who have differing views. They prefer to be the captain of every ship—regardless of how much or how little an issue personally impacts them—and they have an arsenal of manipulative tactics to deploy if someone stands in the way of them achieving their own personal agendas.

In long-term relationships with controlling people, you may feel constantly pressured to meet their demands, follow their schedule, and focus on whatever they feel is most important. It’s not an exaggeration to say that these people act like the universe revolves around them, which can be exhausting to deal with for their family members, friends, and colleagues.

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2. They Make Everything Transactional

Controlling people aren’t always self-centered, but they’re not too empathetic either. Empathy for them tends to appear in the form of strategic concessions they use as a means to get what they want. They typically view interpersonal relationships as transactional opportunities to extract more value from people surrounding them, which can have a draining effect on those they interact with.

For example, one sign of a controlling person may be their insistence on “keeping score.” This can involve doing nice things for you with the ulterior motive of demanding something from you at a later date in exchange for what you thought was just an act of kindness or a friendly support.

Perhaps they shower you in praise (also known as “love-bombing”) or gifts then blow up at you if you don’t intuitively know they’re expecting something back from you. None of us are mind-readers, but controlling people behave as though everyone else should think and act like they want others to and those who fall out of line are punished for failing to meet their impossible expectations.

A controlling person may also threaten to withhold support if you don’t adhere to their demands, but they do so in such subtle ways that the guilt they impose blinds you from the unreasonable nature of their behaviors.

Some statements to be wary of include:

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  • “I did ___________ for you. What do you mean you can’t do ___________ for me?”
  • “Remember how I helped you with ___________? That took a lot of time and energy from me, but I guess you didn’t appreciate my help.”
  • “I always give you ___________. Don’t you care about my needs too?”
  • “You’re so selfish!” or “You don’t care about me at all!” (gaslighting if you respond with hesitation or politely decline their request for help for perfectly valid reasons, such as not having enough time or resources to assist them)

3. They Criticize Everything

One of the most common telltale signs of a controlling person is their capacity to criticize anything and everything, even small things that seemingly don’t matter. As with many toxic traits in relationships, these problems typically start out so small that you may not even notice. At first, you may even agree with their criticism or at least be able to understand their perspective when they bring up an issue.

However, the criticism tends to get more intense, more constant, and more perplexing for people who maintain relationships with controlling people. You’ll likely notice how they rarely seem to criticize something they do. It’s almost always other-oriented and these types of people are so manipulative that any rationale they offer can seem plausibly legitimate.

Some warning signs of a controlling person who’s overly critical to the point of abusiveness include:

  • Criticizing things about you that you have little to no control over (e.g., appearance, disability, family)
  • Criticizing your personal choices and interests, such as educational pursuits, career, clothing, favorite music, time spent on your hobbies, etc.
  • Punishing you for expressing vulnerability by invalidating thoughts and feelings you share with them
  • Attacking you whenever you express an opinion counter to theirs

4. They Balk When Someone Criticizes Them

We all know the adage, “what goes around, comes around.” But this statement doesn’t apply as much to toxic, controlling people. They’d much prefer to dish out criticism without ever having to take it in return.

For instance, if your friend constantly talks about your appearance with little regard for your emotions but flips out if you make just a single comment about their appearance, there’s a possibility that they could have some hidden controlling tendencies left unchecked. Remember, these people aren’t just controlling in their behaviors towards others. They’re also actively trying to stay in complete control over every aspect of their lives, which includes how others view them.

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This seemingly insatiable desire for control can prompt them to lash out against even the smallest bits of criticism, leaving people around them too weary or scared to speak up again in the future. While it’s possible they may suffer from something called rejection sensitivity dysphoria, this does not excuse them from the consequences of their words and actions. They should seek professional help to better manage their reactions to criticism.

5. They Socially Isolate You

Not all controlling people do this, but for manipulative narcissists, socially isolating victims is a go-to strategy for maintaining control because it’s effective at preventing people from truly understanding how toxic their partner, family member, or friend is treating them. Think of it this way—if you don’t talk to many other people in your life, there’s less of a risk that you’ll damage their reputation by revealing their abusive tendencies.

Socially isolating others also gives the person more control over you and your life as it becomes more difficult to break away from them if you don’t have other healthier channels of communication and interpersonal support to turn to.

This process doesn’t happen overnight, nor is it something you can readily recognize as abusive. At first, it may seem reasonable, such as asking you to stop engaging so often with family members with whom both of you disagree on major social or political issues. As the social isolation progresses, they may suggest cutting people out of your life—especially if they don’t like that person, regardless of how you personally feel—or even conjure up high-stakes problems like “it’s me or them” under the guise of saving you from people in your life whom they don’t like for whatever reason.

In a controlling person’s life narrative, they’re always the protagonist who’s incapable of any wrongdoing. The blame is always redirected at someone else, whether that’s you or other people in your life. The more they isolate you from other supportive people in your life, the more susceptible you’ll be to falsely believing that they’re right and you “don’t need” your other friends and family when you have someone as perfect as this person.

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6. They’re Emotionally Abusive

It’s hard enough to be in control of your own emotions but when someone else is constantly belittling you and your interests or leveraging guilt and shame to manipulate you into saying or doing what they want, this can make it even more challenging to stay in control of your own life and emotional well-being.

Emotional abuse is another sign of a controlling person that is often overlooked in relationships. After all, human personalities vary widely in terms of passivity, and it’s not uncommon for one person in a relationship to be significantly more passive than the other. This becomes an issue when the controlling partner or friend exudes signs of emotional abuse, which can start subtly and become much more pronounced over time.

Concerning signs of emotionally abusive language or behavior to watch out for include:

  • Dismissing your needs and/or belittling your interests in counterproductive ways
  • Privately or publicly shaming or humiliating you
  • Making you feel as though you can never live up to their expectations or do anything right (according to their own vague, subjective standards)
  • Gaslighting you into thinking they said or did something that never actually happened (making you question your own reality)

Final Thoughts

It’s sometimes hard to see the negative things about someone with whom we have a relationship. We may sometimes unconsciously overlook the signs of a controlling person, especially if that person is someone we have known for a long time or are close to us. However, cutting them off your life is the best thing you can do for yourself. Just watch out for these six signs of a controlling person and take immediate action when you spot them.

More Tips on How To Deal With a Controlling Person

Featured photo credit: Külli Kittus via unsplash.com

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