Whether or not it’s completely untrue, people seem to be pretty concerned about potentially being “too attached” to their partner. If you’re like most people, it doesn’t seem like a particularly attractive or admirable trait to be “clingy,” “needy,” or “dependent.” Not in the same society where gold stars are given out to those that are independent and self-sustaining. Perhaps it’s one gender in particular that may experience a super negative visceral reaction to being labeled any of these terms, but I’ll leave that up to you to decide. IS IT YOU OR YOUR MIND?
For some people, the idea of being “needy” is so appalling that the second they notice any remote signs of dependency in themselves, they cringe and wonder, “Am I being needy?” This snowballs into over-thinking about whether or not one is needy or not. This preoccupation can be more harmful than the actual preoccupation with another person. This is because there is such shame involved in “needing” another person.
Endings and beginnings are tough in life in general. In relationships, people can be super attuned to any time of transition on the spectrum of beginnings-endings. For example, if you normally spend every other day with your boyfriend and then he is out of town for a conference for a week. You have a feeling of loneliness in the pit of your stomach when he leaves and an existential sort of anxiety the first night he’s gone. It can be tough. But is it significant and does it matter? Sometimes people have a heightened sense of feeling needy just because there is some type of contrast.
A significant change of behavior (spending most days together to not spending time together) can trigger feelings of neediness. Now, to determine if this is significant or not, notice if this feeling goes away after a couple of days. After the contrast isn’t so strong. Thankfully humans adapt and you may adapt fairly well to your boyfriend’s absence (start hanging out with more friends, doing fun things, being “productive” …. hmmm….maybe a more balanced life in general!), if you would only consider your behavior and adjustment after a couple of hours or days from the contrast.
Time helps most people with transitions and one way to know if being super needy is of real concern is to track your behavior and feelings over time. Not just when things changed. Another indicator of being too attached is anticipatory endings. If you find that you are already anticipating your boyfriend leaving (temporarily or permanently) so much so that it is ruining your time with him, then this is a sign that you may need to throw yourself into other enjoyable aspects of life!
SO, WHAT’S NORMAL?
It’s normal to love being with someone you, well, love. If over the course of a month your mood is only positive when you’re with the other person, then you need to make finding joy in other ways a top priority. If for no other reason (and there are many!), then for the fact that you will convince yourself that that person is the only way to experience happiness, and an unhealthy dependence will likely result. Take this is as an exciting opportunity and challenge – to find all the different ways to experience joy. Chances are, your relationship will thrive even more.