I am losing relationships because of being too clingy

Dear Gaone: Please keep my identity anonymous. I am a woman deeply in love but fear losing my current relationship. My previous relationships failed predominantly because my lovers bitterly complained that I was too clingy and emotionally over-reliant on them. Now with my current partner whom I have known love at another level, he is constantly decrying lack of breathing space in our romance. I want us to be together all the time if we are not at work. I do not like being alone. The deep fear of being dumped has always engulfed me from the first time I started dating. I have trust issues though I have never been cheated before and my current bae is entirely transparent with me. I know that it is nigh impossible for my partner to pick my calls all the time when I call. Yet whenever I call and he does not pick (it happens once in a while, he mostly picks my calls), I get anxious and feel out of control, which affects our relationship negatively. Sometimes it feels like I do not have a solid identity, I easily lose myself in relationships. Kindly advise.

Dear Anonymous

This article will touch on some of the rationales for clinginess in a romance and the solutions you can employ thereof.

For any relationship to thrive, there ought to be an air of togetherness between the partners. There ought to be activities the parties collectively partake in to solidify their union. Nonetheless, when there is too much closeness without breathing space for lovers to pursue activities they enjoy on their own or outside their romance, an average lover is most likely to feel smothered. Love thrives best when the proportions of togetherness and separateness are balanced in our relationship; this is an absolute reality in a secure attachment. Whlist interdependence is a vital ingredient for any healthy romance, a thin line ought to be drawn between interdependence and over-reliance in a relationship. Interdependence blossoms healthy love and over-dependence shrinks healthy love. The fear of being dumped in and of itself is not a bad thing. If processed constructively, it can help you to connect with your highest self; it only becomes cancerous if it is undealt with and left to perpetually entrap you.


Clinginess is sometimes referred to as anxious attachment in a relationship. Whilst secure attachment cements the bond of love, anxious attachment oftentimes weakens or even crushes the bond of love. The million-dollar question then is what triggers anxious attachment in a love story? Some psychologists propound that anxious attachment stems from emotional neglect during childhood. Kids who were emotionally neglected stand a greater chance of being clingy in adulthood. Minors who also had extremely emotionally inconsistent parents or caretakers are also at a higher risk of becoming clingy or over-reliant in their relationships.

Individuation speaks of having your own thoughts, belief systems and perspective of the world independently from your family and friends. An individuated adult does not necessarily forgo all the family values instilled in them. Rather, they have the autonomy and confidence to sieve belief systems they will sustain or forgo from their family of origin. Moreover, individuated people do not build impenetrable walls that make them immune from the influence of their friends or community at large. Their walls of influence are penetrable enough to let in what is good and let out or block what is bad. Non-individuated persons on the other hand do not have any mental sieve to determine what to let in and out of their lives. As a result, their identity is mostly fickle and changes with relationships. Lack of individuation is another aftermath of emotional neglect during childhood.

Societal beliefs from certain quarters of the society that encourage us to idolise marriage or romantic love sometimes bolster clinginess in relationships. True romantic love is indisputably a phenomenal experience. Nonetheless when romantic love is used as a yardstick to measure success or social acceptance, people are most likely to feel unworthy without it. Additionally, a gnawing sense of inadequacy; feeling perpetually flawed and unworthy of love proliferate the anxious attachment style in a relationship. At the heart of clinginess in a relationship is the fear of abandonment.

In order to fruitfully deal with anxious attachment style, the following will help you bear fruits of a secure attachment in love.

• Identify and unearth the root cause of your fear of abandonment and being alone. Chances are high that your fear of abandonment stems from childhood trauma. Moreover, that you cling in relationships in a subconscious effort to remedy the emotional neglect you encountered as a minor.

• After identifying where your clinginess stems from, reprogramme your mind through affirmations and meditation to accept that being alone at times is healthy for romance and that in as much as you gotta create time for your relationship, you also have to permit yourself and your partner to have leisure time beyond the parameters of your love.

• Define yourself outside the bounds of romance and self-individuate. Who are you? What do you stand for? Which colours can you change for love? Which colours won’t you change for love? What is it that you enjoy on your own, with your partner, friends and family? What hobbies can you take on when your partner wants a different air of interaction outside the bounds of romance? Self-individuation is an ongoing process; it is not static. You may therefore discover yourself anew as you traverse the journey of life.

• Given that it is only human to miss calls at times, deal with emotional surges constructively whenever your lover’s phone sporadically rings unanswered. Learn emotional techniques on how to calm yourself down on your own. Boundary containment bespeaks the ability to process our overwhelming emotions constructively and treat others respectfully. In the absence of perpetual boundary containment, we may become emotionally over-reliant on our partners with the expectation that they should soothe our emotions whenever we feel upset. Empathy helps us to relate to the emotional turmoil of others. Moreover, to some extent, our peace and joy is interrelated to how we relate with each other in relationships. Nevertheless, it is our highest responsibility to ensure that we control our internal emotional traffick. We may stumble at times, but the ball remains in our court.

• Remember that you are worthy; worthy of healthy love, worthy of great things, worthy of inner peace, worthy of loving and being loved, worthy of having boundaries, worthy of respecting your partner’s boundaries, worthy of liberating yourself to relish your time alone and not fear your own shadow, worthy of liberating your partner to delight in your absence without making him feel guilty, worthy of experiencing secure attachment in love, and worthy of letting your troublesome emotions to help you connect to your highest and grandest self.

Gaone Monau is an attorney and motivational speaker on the areas of confidence building, stress management, relationships, self-discovery and gender-based violence. For bookings, motivational talks, questions or comments on the aforesaid areas contact +26774542732 or [email protected] Her Facebook page is Be Motivated with Gaone.

Editor's Comment
What about employees in private sector?

How can this be achieved when there already is little care about the working conditions of those within the private sector employ?For a long time, private sector employees have been neglected by their employers, not because they cannot do better to care for them, but because they take advantage of government's laxity when it comes to protecting and advocating for public sector employees, giving the cue to employers within the private sector...

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