In this article we will talk about the signs of a clingy girlfriend, how to stop being like that, and how to deal with a partner who displays these behaviors.
The first flush of a relationship can be heady. The attraction, infatuation, and fascination with someone else can be a powerful, even overpowering, combination.
It’s natural to be a little obsessive at the start. Those churning hormones can be accompanied by obsessive thoughts as you become preoccupied with the object of your desires.
Relationships can’t stay in that heightened state forever. At least, they’re not supposed to.
In adult relationships, work still needs to be done, responsibilities need to be taken care of, the house needs to be cleaned, and the dog has to be walked. It can’t be a 24/7 deep dive into a love connection. Coming up for air is inevitable.
But sometimes, once that first chemical rush is over, you just might find yourself with a barnacle of a human being clinging to you at every moment of every day.
Suddenly, the cute early feelings start to choke the life out of you.
You might genuinely want to be with her — but when did she get so clingy, and what are you supposed to do about it?
Signs of a Clingy Girlfriend
1. She Texts You All Day Long
The signs were likely always there, but you didn’t notice at first. Does she text you every day all day? That’s not abnormal really. Touching base with each other throughout the day is nice.
It usually feels good to know someone we like is thinking about us periodically.
The problem comes when the messages are constant. The problem becomes even more apparent when you fail to answer one of these constant messages either in the time they expected or with the “correct” amount of enthusiasm.
Did you take a break to go to lunch? Did you have work that needed to be done?
There are a lot of reasons you might have had to put your phone down. Does she dismiss all of them and demand you respond constantly ALL DAY LONG?
2. She Doesn’t Give You Personal Space
Another pretty good sign that she’s a clinger is when she doesn’t give you any personal space.
She’s likely hanging all over you when you’re together, but even when you’re apart, she doesn’t give you any time or space to breathe. She’s constantly calling, messaging, or just showing up.
It’s not just that she’s wrapped herself around you like a python everywhere you go. She doesn’t think you need any solo time.
She’d follow you to the bathroom if you didn’t lock the door. Okay — maybe that’s extreme, but you start to feel like that’s the only time you get alone.
3. She Doesn’t Want You to Hang Out With Your Friends Without Her
The clingy girlfriend is not okay with you hanging out with your friends without her.
It’s not even that she doesn’t like your friends. She just expects every outing to become a couples’ outing.
She’s probably including you in all her plans and doesn’t understand why you would want to hang out with other people without her by your side.
Is every single guy’s night a battleground? Does she push for you to cancel your plans to hang out with her instead, or does she tag along to your plans even if she wasn’t invited?
You might notice that your friends start joking that you’re whipped and can’t go anywhere without her, but you get the sinking feeling that it’s not really a joke.
4. She Drops Everything to Spend Time with You
Is she completely willing to drop everything for the chance to spend time with you? It might be flattering at first, but this is full-clinger behavior.
If she’ll drop plans with her dying grandfather to go to a movie with you, she might not have a healthy amount of independence.
Is she absolutely always available no matter when you want to hang out?
This might not seem like a problem at first, but over time, you may notice that she’s not making plans because she’s sitting around waiting to spend time with you.
That’s a lot of pressure on the relationship, and it isn’t a healthy sign.
5. She Makes Her Social Media Accounts All About the Relationship
Has her social media account shifted to more of a joint one? Are most of her posts about you and your relationship with her?
Her profile picture becomes the two of you. And her cover photo. And the post she pinned. Her stories? All you two loved-up for the world to see.
This screams insecurity, but it may also be a hint that she doesn’t have a full identity outside of a relationship identity.
In the early stages of the relationship, this might be endearing, but later, it could seem like she’s putting all her happiness into the success of the relationship.
The littlest problem in paradise could become a social media nightmare for you.
6. She Doesn’t Seem to Have Her Own Interests
Is your girlfriend always up for doing what you want to do? It might seem like she doesn’t really have her own interests outside of being a girlfriend.
Is she quick to drop the things she likes to do in order to do the things you like as a couple?
At the start of a relationship, it’s natural to try new things and want to share interests. It’s clingy behavior, however, for anyone to give up all their interests for yours.
If she was into water aerobics until the two of you got together and now plays video games with you all day every day, you might suspect that you’ve got a clinger on your hands.
7. She Won’t Make Plans Without Checking with You
Her plans always seem to be dependent on you. If you can’t make it, she won’t just go ahead with the plans without you.
It seems so considerate at first, but then you realize that even if you don’t want to go, she’s going to wait to make the plan until you’ll give in and go with her. She wouldn’t dare make a plan that didn’t involve you as her plus-one.
This can get old fast. Can she choose a place for lunch without you being available? Will she go on a vacation if you can’t get away? This is pretty standard clingy girlfriend behavior.
8. She Requires Constant Reassurance
Do you have to do the I-love-you-no-I-love-you-more routine every single time you talk? Do you spend forever getting off the phone or leaving each other’s houses because you can’t bear to part?
This is cute for about thirty seconds in the relationship. After that, you kind of want to be able to go to sleep without 52 “I love yous”.
It’s not just the verbal affirmations either. She needs constant reassurance that you’re into her. She needs compliments, gifts, and photos on your social media to validate her feelings and your relationship.
If she doesn’t get what she wants, she’s likely to kick up a fuss about it.
9. She Shows Retroactive Jealousy
God forbid you ever bring up a past relationship! The green-eyed monster is sure to appear the second you mention having ever been committed to anyone in the past.
The clingy girlfriend is all about some retroactive jealousy. She doesn’t want to hear about the past, but she spends time obsessing about it and comparing herself to all your old girlfriends.
Her need to be better than all of them is huge.
She might even get completely pissed off if you dare mention an ex. Are old relationships out of bounds for discussion? Are you supposed to pretend like you never liked anyone until you met her? This isn’t healthy.
10. She’s Jealous of Anyone Who Pays the Slightest Attention to You
How’s the jealousy in the relationship? Does she get possessive the second anyone seems to pay the slightest attention to you?
It might even seem like some of her over-the-top behavior is for other people’s benefit, so they know to steer clear of her partner.
Jealousy might be a normal emotion, but it’s not healthy for relationships. If she gets mad any time anyone looks at you, you’re going to have problems.
It might indicate she’s really insecure, but she’s making it your problem when her jealous spills out.
11. She Insists on Meeting Friends and Family from the Start
You’ve just gotten together, and you’re really into each other. It’s natural that you’d think of introducing her to the important people in your life.
What’s not natural is her insisting on meeting everyone before you’re ready. Does it seem like she’s trying to fast track the relationship? You might want to tell her to slow up, but you know she’ll overreact if you do.
This is clingy girlfriend behavior. You’ll probably notice that when she does finally meet your people, she goes overboard trying to impress them.
She needs to be besties with your granny and have inside jokes with all your friends to feel secure in the relationship.
12. She Expects You to Prioritize Her Over Everyone and Everything Else
If you have a job, kids, or bills, you probably can’t prioritize your new partner over literally everything else. Yet, the clingy girlfriend expects you to.
She thinks she should come first, and everything else should be considered after her needs are met.
This isn’t a mature or realistic expectation. If you have kids and come across this, run. Your kids should actually come first, and any partner who suggests otherwise is toxic.
You also have a job and bills to pay, and a mature, reasonable partner will get that you can’t just bail on your responsibilities every time they get a whim to spend time with you.
13. She Gives Up Her Individual Identity for a Coupled One
When you met her, she had a whole identity. Who is she anymore? Did she give up everything she used to be in order to embrace a couples’ identity?
She might as well pre-order one of those Wifey shirts because she has surrendered her thoughts, ideas, and interest to the relationship collective.
It’s not just that she’s proud to be with you. She’s letting the relationship define her entire life. Her hobbies? You. Her interests? You. Her plans for the future? Probably you.
It can be pretty overwhelming to realize the fully functioning person you fell for has become one half of your relationship whole.
14. She’s Smothering You with Affection and Attention
What used to be cute becomes smothering with the clingy girlfriend. All the affection and attention you soaked up at first become a little much. She never tones it down.
Life’s ups and downs are still happening, but you have to peel her off you to deal with them because she wants to stay in the love bubble when you’ve got things to do.
Maybe you want to have lunch without the constant PDAs, or you just need a break from the constant texting as you deal with a stressful day.
In a normal, healthy relationship, you can say this without a problem. With the clingy girlfriend, expect some high drama from your attempts at creating healthy space.
15. She Never Disagrees with You
She never really disagrees with you. You might not notice at first. It becomes more apparent when she’s drinking a bottle of Benadryl after consuming your favorite peanut sauce that she knew she was allergic to and ate anyway.
That’s an extreme example, but you get the picture. She’s not doing what’s good for her because she doesn’t want to cause problems with you.
Agreeing and going along with what you want to do even if she doesn’t like it is a standard clinger behavior. She might sit through a horror marathon she hates to spend time with you.
She stops asserting herself because she’s trying to read the room and do what most appeals to you.
16. She’s Constantly Testing Your Loyalty and Devotion
Do you feel like you’re getting daily pop quizzes from your girlfriend? Is she constantly trying to test your loyalty and devotion no matter what you say or do? This one gets old fast.
Does she tell you about other people to make you jealous or try to figure out if you’re attracted to someone you work with?
Are you afraid every single conversation has a Pass/Fail standard you don’t know about? Welcome to clingy girlfriend territory where everything is a test, and she’s set you up to fail every single one.
17. She Takes Everything Personally
You fall asleep early after a really long, stressful day. In the morning, you wake up to panicked messages, voice mails, and a sad social media post.
She assumes you falling asleep says something about your feelings and intentions toward her rather than your sleep cycle, stress, or exhaustion.
The clingy girlfriend will absolutely take everything personally because she’s so wrapped up in coupledom that she can’t consider that some things have nothing to do with the two of you.
How to Stop Being Clingy
Enjoy a Full, Active Life
If any of these traits sound like you, it’s time to stop being clingy and start enjoying a full, active life. Find out who you are apart from the relationship.
Start exploring your own interests. Sign up for a book club or a pottery class. Start training for a marathon or begin learning a new language.
It’s time to build a life outside the relationship rather than basing your happiness on this one flawed human being.
Make Time for Friends and Family
While you might want to spend every free moment with the one you’re with, you need to start making regularly scheduled time for friends and family without feeling like you need to include your partner.
Plan lunch dates with friends. Go to the movies with a sibling. Take time to talk on the phone or catch up with someone who isn’t your significant other.
These relationships need your attention, too. Neglect them at your peril, and you may wake up one day with no relationship and no outside support system.
Create a Balance of Togetherness and Space
Does your relationship have together time and time alone? If not, it needs it. Start designating some alone time. Talk to your partner about when you’re taking this time.
If your partner needs some time and space, use that time to take a break of your own. Relationships needs to breathe — your partner does, too.
Discuss Love Languages and Relationship Needs Openly
Figure out your own love language and ask your partner about theirs. Start talking openly about what you need in a relationship. If you get stressed out when you don’t get a text back, talk it out.
Come to an understanding about what you both need to feel secure in the relationship without feeling smothered by it.
Communicate Clearly about Communication
It might seem awkward, but it’s a good rule of thumb to talk about how much you’re going to talk in the relationship. If you have a 4 am workday, you might want a 9 pm cutoff to talk and texts.
If you can’t keep in touch during work hours, be clear. And if you hate long texts and prefer phone calls, say that. Don’t expect the other person to read your mind.
Talk about what you like and don’t, and if you’re coming on too strong, create a safe enough space that they can tell you without it being the end of the world.
Allow the Relationship to Naturally Unfold
Sometimes, the clingy relationship behavior comes from anxiety and insecurity. You really, really like this person, right? Let it naturally unfold.
Rushing them into a more committed relationship is not a guarantee that things will work out. In fact, clingy behavior might sabotage the good thing you’re building.
Take a breath and be patient with the process. Learn to enjoy the journey and stop obsessing about the destination.
Address Your Own Insecurities, Triggers, and Trauma
Stop expecting your partner to soothe your insecurities, triggers, and trauma. They aren’t your personal therapist.
Your clinger behavior might be due to real trauma or low self-esteem, but you need to realize that this is a “you” problem, not their problem to solve for you.
No one will ever love you enough to make these problems go away. It’s on you to heal and deal with your baggage.
How to Deal with a Clingy Girlfriend
Set Expectations with Clear Communication
If you’re the one with a clingy partner, it’s time to be very clear about how you feel about this relationship. Set some expectations.
Let her know that you love the cute texts but can’t respond during certain hours because of work or parenting or some other responsibilities.
Let her know when attention becomes overwhelming. Don’t let it get bad before you speak up.
Clear expectations will also ease anxiety she might be experiencing.
If you’re open about how you feel and when you can communicate, she’s not going to assume you’ve had a change of heart just because you stopped responding during your two-hour work meeting with your boss.
Remind Her That Everything is Not About Her
This one takes kindness. Remind her that everything you do is not about her, but be nice about it.
You can tell her you’re having a bad day and don’t feel like talking as much so that she doesn’t interpret your silence as a relational problem.
She might not realize you’re stressed or had a bad experience if you don’t share this with her.
Let her know how she can support you but be open so that she doesn’t assume your changing behavior is a sign the relationship is falling apart.
Do a Self-Check for Avoidant Behavior
She might be a clingy girlfriend, but ask yourself this: Do I have avoidant tendencies?
Instead of clearly communicating when you’re having a bad day, do you switch to monosyllabic responses and the cold shoulder?
Do you expect her to magically know what you need and then resent her when she smothers you because you didn’t say you needed some space?
If you have avoidant behavior, you might be triggering her anxiety and causing the clingy behavior you hate.
She’s responsible for her managing her anxiety, but you’re responsible for managing your avoidant tendencies. Do a self-check.
If your actions are contributing to a misunderstanding, you might want to address your avoidance before pointing the finger at her clinging.
Create Clear Boundaries for the Relationship
Do you have clear boundaries in your relationships? No boundaries can indicate codependence.
Relationships need interdependence where both people have a separate identity but can depend on the relationship.
It’s a partnership, and it requires boundaries.
You should be able to say you need time with friends without her insisting on coming along, guilting you about your choice, or adding pressure to forego friend time for relationship time.
Clear boundaries will nip this pressure in the bud and remind her that space in the relationship is non-optional and there to benefit you both.
If you find yourself in a relationship with a clingy girlfriend, be patient. She’s probably not trying to drive you crazy.
She’s most likely really into you and afraid of messing things up — even as her clingy behavior does exactly that. Talk to her about it.
Before you assume she has no life and is annoying you, open up about how the clingy behavior makes you feel and what you’d like to see instead.
A conversation could clarify to her that you’re interested but need space. You’re not the same person so your needs for togetherness and space will differ. Talk through it before you throw away a potentially good relationship over a misunderstanding.
Seek Professional Help
If you really like each other but are having a hard time working through these issues, suggest talking to a counselor.
There’s a common idea that counseling is for when things go wrong, but it can also be used to help a relationship grow stronger. You’re not failing if you decide to discuss differences in counseling. You’re giving the relationship extra help to succeed.
Decide When It’s Time to Go
If you talk it out and she still insists on clingy behavior, you need to decide if this is something you can live with or if it’s a genuine deal breaker.
If she’s not allowing you any time or space without a full-scale drama happening, it might be time to end the relationship and move on. You can’t fix her issues. It’s not even your job to try.
A Word about Clingers
Of course, girlfriends aren’t the only clingers out there. I once had a boyfriend who would insist that I move my laptop so he could lay his head in my lap.
He wanted me to devote my attention to him during my workday. He was so sure that his need for attention was more important than my need to finish my work and pay the bills. This wasn’t an isolated incident.
There were times when he wanted to watch a television show I didn’t like. I wanted to read. He actually asked me to put the book down to watch him watch television so the attention was all on him.
Yes, this is crazy clinger behavior from a man. It defies gender. Anyone can engage in these behaviors.
Sometimes, clingers don’t realize what they’re doing.
They’re trying to shower us with love and attention and may not see that it’s overwhelming or uncomfortable. This is why communication is so important.
Talk it out.
You’ll either figure out a new way to navigate the relationship, or you’ll figure out you’re just not compatible in the first place.
The only thing you’ve got to lose is your space, your sanity, and your breathing room. Think about that.
Why listen to me? I was a master’s level licensed therapist. I worked with couples and families and specialized in trauma recovery and empowerment. I now write content about relationships and psychology. My work has been featured on Elite Daily, Your Tango, Positively Positive, Mamamia, and The Good Men Project.