And yes, men have this trait too.
When someone is labeled “clingy,” the image projected is often female. But why is this? Regardless of what studies reveal (which – based on the multitude of varied results as to who does it and why – is inconclusive), I instead turned to a professional for the answer.
“Women’s behaviour is more likely to be mislabeled and construed negatively if it’s being interpreted as weak,” relationship expert, Jessica O’Reilly (Sexologist PHD) and bestselling author of The New Sex Bible details. “When stereotypes exist, we tend to emphasize the extremes to suit our preconceptions.“ Therefore, since men are considered the “stronger” gender, it’s women who are most often branded the weakling.
Fair? Not at all.
The truth is men can be just as clingy as their more beautiful counterparts. We just happen to express ourselves differently. And while women are societally encouraged to be verbal when addressing concerns (which is more effective), men, more often than not, express themselves through actions – most of which ends terribly in this scenario.
“This isn’t necessarily an innate difference, but a cultural one rooted in socialization.” O’Reilly adds. “However, if you’re more needy than your partner, it can result in tension or conflict.”
You see, when the scale is too heavy on one side, arguments arise, and these arguments lead to breakups. So in case you’re unclear what qualifies as clingy, we’ve provided some examples:
- Checking in when your partner is busy (it’s especially bad when they’ve already told you they’re busy – take a hint, dude!)
- Calling in the middle of the work day
- Tagging along to social events uninvited (don’t be the boyfriend who shows up at girls’ night. Her lady-friends will hate you for it, and the last thing you want are your partner’s friends vying against you. They’ll win)
- Planning things to do as a couple without verifying whether or not your partner is available and interested
To ensure you’re not a stage-five clinger (or stage-one for that matter) O’Reilly and I (but mostly O’Reilly, since she’s the expert) have put together a checklist to assist you. By applying our five rules below and avoiding the four bullet points above, you should be golden (yup, this is relationship science).
It’s important to note that these rules apply to everyone and shouldn’t be divided by gender. So if your partner gets a little, let’s say, “magnetic,” perhaps you should send the link to this article in an innocent and unassuming way.
- Make your own plans. You can’t depend on a partner to set up “play dates” for you.
- Encourage your partner to hang out with friends without you by their side. It's always encouraged to think up fun date ideas and surprise each other with special one-on-one time once in a while, but designate a girls’ or guys’ night out once a week or every few weeks.
- Have a conversation about how much time you want to spend together. You don’t have to agree on everything, but offering an explanation can help to avoid assumptions and hurt feelings.
- Spend time apart when you’re socializing as a couple. You don’t have to remain shoulder-to-shoulder at parties and events just because you’re dating.
- Take your cues from your partner. How often do they call when you’re out with your friends? Follow their lead.
You may be saying: “Thanks, this is great, but unfortunately it’s too late. I’ve already shown my partner that I’m a total clinger – is there anything I can do to remedy this?”
Well, reader, we’re glad you asked.
“Just because you have acted one way in the past does not mean that you will repeat yourself in the future,” O’Reilly asserts. “If your partner has expressed that you’re a bit clingy, acknowledge their feelings and offer to adjust your behaviour.”
To aid in making said adjustment, O’Reilly suggests offering a truthful (but not creepy) explanation, something like “I feel more confident with you by my side,” to open the lines of communication. Just don’t say something that you’d hear in a poorly written romantic comedy, be sincere.
If you’re coming on a little too strong, take a look at the checklist above, and put forth a plan based on these guidelines. Have a chat, see where it takes you, and work toward being the best partner you can be.
Or, you know, end things. It’s up to you.
This article was originally published at AskMen. Reprinted with permission from the author.