Everyone is emotionally needy and insecure sometimes, but when this insecurity manifests into clinginess, the relationship suffers. Clingy insecurity in a relationship stems from a lack of self-esteem, self-confidence, and self-worth. Self-doubt can often make us find faults even when there are none and sabotage our own relationships.
But how do we get rid of these negative thinkings and build stronger relationships? Moreover, how do overcome this clingy insecurity?
“A man’s spirit is free, but his pride binds him with chains of suffocation in a prison of his own insecurities.” – Jeremy Aldana
All superheroes have weaknesses that can cripple them. Like Superman’s kryptonite, my clingy insecurity in my relationship five years ago brought me to my knees.
When I met Crystal, I fell head over heels instantly. She gave me just enough to show she was interested, but not enough to show that she was as invested as I was in our relationship. The mixed signals drove me crazy.
As weeks turned into months, I found myself addicted to thoughts of her and ways to keep her interested in me. At work, I struggled to focus and would freak out if she didn’t respond to my text messages within a few hours. I would look up what to text her and buy “How to be Funny and Keep Her Interested” types of books and devour them because I was starving for love
I would hang out at places I knew she frequented in hopes of “accidentally” running into her. I was obsessed. I was crazy. I was starving for love.
The Kryptonite Of Security Is Inconsistency
Ken Page, the author of Deeper Dating, claims, “All of us are attracted to certain types that can knock us off balance: a physical type, an emotional type, and personality type. These ‘iconic’ attractions can make us weak in the knees, and they trigger our insecurities.”
These insecurities can stem from painful experiences from childhood caregiving relationships or prior adult relationships.
My prior experiences of unpredictable caregiving and being cheated on in prior relationships heightened my clingy insecurity and sensitivity to abandonment and rejection. I had internalized the feelings of frustration and at times unavailable parents and romantic partners, which led me to exhibit a clingy attachment style in my adult relationships.
This attachment style and the internal beliefs I had about myself as unlovable lead me to be attracted to someone who validated that belief system. Becker-Phelps, the author of Insecure in Love, proposes that people seek to validate their self-views, especially their unworthiness around love.
At the time, I was unaware of the “magnetic allure” of my partner’s inconsistency and how it reinforced my belief of being too needy to be loved. Research has discovered that clingy lovers are more likely to date distant lovers, which reinforces this insecurity.
Since I felt the drive to prove my worth to Crystal, I invested more in the relationship than she did and saw her emotional unavailability as a problem with me, rather than our opposing intimacy blocks colliding.
For more on intimacy blocks and how we sabotage intimacy, take a look at this.
Blame Your Ancestors
“Our feelings and behaviors in relationships today are not very different from those of our early ancestors.” – Levine and Heller, authors of Attached.
Our ancestors, cavemen Cee-Cee and Bam-Bam, survived in the shelter of one another. They fought off predators, famine, and natural disasters together. Remaining close to one another increased the chances of survival.
As a result, you and I inherited an attachment system that is designed to protect each of us from danger by maintaining proximity to caring and supporting others, such as parents during childhood or a romantic partner as an adult.
Clingy insecurity creates a compelling urge to seek out these important individuals. Essentially, insecurity is an advantageous survival tool.
When you become attached to someone, your attachment system constantly monitors their availability and the security of your connection with them. The moment you sense a threat in your personal life or in the relationship, real or imagined, your attachment alarm goes off and motivates you to seek out your romantic partner for safety and comfort.
When your partner is distant, unavailable, or hostile in response to your insecurity, the evolutionarily and neurologically hardwired attachment alarm fills your head, unconsciously, with the fear that you will be abandoned unless you reconnect. For our ancestors, abandonment meant death.