5 Signs The Man You Love Is High Maintenance — And Not In A Good Way

Photo: Amilao / 
fancy young white man on boat wearing tie and sunglasses

You've probably heard — and been warned — about relationships with high maintenance women.

The implications are often sexist — after all, if you say "high maintenance", most people assume you're talking about a woman. That's likely why very little attention is paid to relationships with high-maintenance men.

But, yes, they do exist. 

High-maintenance men can make the lives of women who love them very challenging.

Interestingly, signs of high maintenance women are very different from signs of high maintenance men.

Knowing what to look out for will help you decide if you want to stay with them or move on.

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Here are 5 signs you’re in a relationship with a high-maintenance man.

1. He always wants you around.

Does your guy want to spend all of your time together? Does he ask you to stay home instead of going out with your friends? Does he insist that you go with him to visit his mother? Do you find that he is very needy during the time you spend together?

Does the idea of having even one moment without him fill you with joy?

He wants to be with you morning, noon, and night. He doesn’t like to share you with your friends. He insists that you be there when he spends time with his family. His presence is starting to drive you nuts.

Everyone loves to spend time with their partner — they're your partner! But it's also important to spend time apart for your own enjoyment and sanity.

A man who insists on being in your presence 24/7 is a guy who will need more than you're most likely willing to give because doing so might suck you dry.

So, keep your eye out for a guy who wants to be with you a lot, maybe annoyingly so, at the beginning of the relationship. 

2. He needs constant reassurance.

Does your guy say disparaging things about himself, hoping that you will correct him? Does he seek compliments from everyone about everything? Is he insecure about how he looks or whether people like him or if he is smart enough or popular enough?

And does he do all of those things even though he's a good-looking, smart, and popular guy?

A person who needs constant reassurance is exhausting.

I have a client whose boyfriend was always searching for compliments. She fell in love with him because he was handsome, an artist, and he thought she was amazing. And she thought he was too.

But he was constantly looking for reassurance and validation from her — reassurance that he was the one she wanted (he was), that his paintings were impressive (they were), and that she would never leave him (she didn’t plan to).

And guess what happened? He drove her nuts with his constant need to be assured that he was all that.

While she didn’t stop believing that he was a wonderful man, constantly having to reassure him frustrated her and, eventually, she walked away because she just couldn’t do it anymore.

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3. He's super sensitive.

Is your man very sensitive to physical pain? Does a small ache or cramp lead to time on the couch with an ice pack, needing to be waiting on?

If his stomach hurts, is he sure that he's dying and that an emergency room visit might be necessary? 

Years ago, I had been seeing this very nice man for a few weeks when he came down with a cold. You would have thought the world was ending, like no one had ever been sick before. He moaned and groaned and constantly needed me to take care of him.

What I remember most was him showing me his Kleenex after he blew his nose, in awe of how much mucus he was producing. Sexy, eh?

The idea of a man being a baby when he's sick is as old as time and, at this point, almost a trope. If your guy regresses to his childhood self when he's achy or sick, he could very well be a high-maintenance man.

While we love a sensitive man, if he acts ilke this, it likely means you'll be waiting on him, hand and foot, cooking his favorite meals, buying his favorite tissue, rubbing his aches away, keeping his phone charged, and making sure his favorite TV shows are lined up.

Is that something you want in a relationship?

4. He's eccentric.

Does he like to do things differently from other people? Does he choose to wear jeans when the invite says black tie? Does he wear shorts when it’s snowing? Does he pride himself on being counter-culture and making decisions that other people might not agree with?

If your man is like this, he has a need to be so different from everyone else, which means a lot of effort and focus on himself.

I had a boyfriend in college who was very eccentric. At first, I loved it. He was handsome and funny and I loved that he pushed back against the norms.

When he insisted on riding his skateboard all around campus (it was weird back in the 80s), I celebrated finding someone who was different, in spite of the fact that we often had to go out of our way to get where we were going.

As time went on, however, I learned that being counter-culture involved a lot of effort.

We would have to go the long way to class. He would only buy clothing at thrift stores. He insisted on hugging my dad when we saw him (not OK). He didn’t eat eggs and made sure that everyone knew it.

And I spent a lot of time angry, frustrated, embarrassed, and impatient with his behaviors and the effect that it was having on my life and my relationships.

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5. He always wants things just so.

I've had many boyfriends but, for me, this one took the cake.

He was an amazing man. A Buddhist and a college professor who taught mindfulness classes and was kind and nurturing. He was also a total control freak.

I didn’t see it at first. He bought me a cell phone holder for my car, which was sweet, but when I didn’t use it, he got angry with me.

He bought me a new duvet for my bed. When I went to put it on, he insisted that I get rid of the top sheet so we were lying only under the duvet.

When I had chicken in my fridge, he was deeply offended because he was a vegetarian.

This good, kind, loving man had proven to be totally high maintenance because everything had to be done his way or it was the highway. That was a lot of work for me, work that I didn’t ask for.

Instead of being able to be my own person in the relationship, I had to be like him. And it took a lot of effort for him to control our environment, effort that interfered with our personal and social lives.

He even wanted to control sex which, for me, was the final straw.

Being in a relationship with a high-maintenance man can be very exhausting.

While high-maintenance people might not seem that way in the beginning, you'll learn that their possessiveness, sensitivity, insecurities, and need to be different could interfere with the life you want.

The time you spend reassuring and accommodating is time that you could spend on yourself or in a relationship with someone who's not high maintenance, instead of putting energy into someone who only wants more.

That being said, there are people who enjoy being in a relationship with a high-maintenance man for many reasons. Perhaps, they enjoy the caretaking or don’t mind the extra efforts.

But if you find that your high-maintenance man is sucking the blood out of you, it’s time to move on!

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Mitzi Bockmann is an NYC-based, certified life and love coach. Let her help you find, and keep, love in this crazy world in which we live. Email her at and get started!