By Tayi Sanusi
Usually, it’s safe to assume that dating someone who loves to spend time with you is pretty much always a good thing. That is, except for when they become a little too dependent and all of their eagerness starts to feel a bit too smothering. Early on, it can be tricky to separate “can’t get enough of you” from “can’t function without you” because the honeymoon phase is all about soaking in the fireworks and seeing if what you’ve got could last long term. The signs your partner could become clingy in the future will likely manifest themselves in subtle ways, even if you haven’t been together for very long. It can be tempting to brush off these observations, especially when you are really vibing with someone. Surely, wanting to be with you all the time isn’t a bad thing? While it may seem that way in the beginning, dating a stage-five clinger could leave you feeling totally trapped later down the line.
I spoke with NYC relationship expert Susan Winter and noted psychotherapist Dr. LeslieBeth Wish to figure out how to tell if the person you’re dating might come way too close for comfort. Because having an awesome partner to share your life with is one thing, but feeling like you are strapped to each other like a ball and chain just isn’t a good look.
1 Your partner always needs to know where you are.
Winter tells Elite Daily that “[if] you begin to feel like leaving your apartment requires a sign-out sheet,” your partner may be clingy. “Your partner’s incessant need to know where you are at all times is a sign of deep insecurity,” she says.
Relationships definitely require a certain level of transparency in order to help build trust, but if your SO is constantly asking for a detailed outline of every place you’re going, then this will probably get very tiresome, very fast.
And while it may seem like there are way more problematic traits to have in a partner, this could still turn into a much bigger issue than you think.
“This trait will ruin a relationship as it shows no trust and immense fear,” explains Winter.
2 They seem overly passive in other areas of their life.
According to Dr. Wish, if you’ve noticed that your partner is frequently lamenting their dissatisfaction in certain areas of their life but aren’t being proactive, then this could also be a red flag.
“They complain, avoid, and get anxious to rock the boat [because] they [need to] ‘cling’ to what is familiar and easy,” Wish tells Elite Daily.
To combat behavior that could develop into more stifling clinginess, Winter emphasizes the importance of “nipping the unhealthy behavior in the bud” to avoid hurt feelings or conflict later on.
3 Your partner needs to stay in constant contact.
Having someone to check in with throughout the day can feel great, but constantly having your phone bombarded with texts and notifications from your new bae can start to feel like a bit much.
“[If] It becomes obvious that anytime you take personal space for your self, your partner decomposes in an anxiety attack,” then this could mean that they are hiding some controlling tendencies, notes Winter.
Although their concern after not hearing from you might seem flattering, if it’s been a relatively short period of time since your last message exchange, this could be manipulation.
“This is to substantiate their position, making emotional manipulation look like affection,” warns Winter. “Don’t fall for it. It’s a ploy for control.”
4 They give you most of the power in the relationship.
“They defer most decisions to you [because] they are ‘clinging’ to your guidance,” explains Dr. Wish.
Even if you are totally comfortable being the dominant partner, good relationships are about team work. If it feels like your partner isn’t the captain of their own ship, then this is a dynamic that could get old sooner or later.
If you’ve noticed any of these tendencies from a new partner, then it’s important to start a conversation before things progress.
“Express the importance of trust and personal space” and “state your boundaries clearly,” urges Winter.
And if they still aren’t taking your concerns seriously, then Winter recommends being even more firm by making their understanding and acceptance of your personal boundaries a “condition” if the relationship is to continue. Putting your foot down can be hard, but breaching topics of potential conflict when they happen is the best way to keep your relationship moving in a positive direction.