Secure Friend: After I read Attached, I reached out to a friend who I knew was secure and started spending time with her. When I texted, called, or requested something she was responsive, direct, and clear about what she could and couldn’t do. I could tell she valued our relationship and me.
Over time I internalized these experiences and was able to replicate these secure thoughts and behaviors in other relationships.
“If you are insecure, guess what? The rest of the world is, too. Do not overestimate the competition and underestimate yourself. You are better than you think.” – Timothy Ferriss
3. Turn Insecurity into a Superpower.
Clingy lovers have a hypersensitive attachment alarm and are often aware of subtle threats that others are not. The problem is this alarm can also be a false alarm and can lead to a person misjudging a situation or a partner which leads to hurt feelings and relationship problems. (14)
The research has discovered that if the clingy partner waited a little longer to react and gained more information about the situation or their partner’s intent, they then had an advantage of noticing when something is wrong and could constructively use that awareness to reconnect in a relationship. (15)
4. Know Your Go-To Clingy Thoughts and Protest Behaviors.
By becoming aware of your clingy thoughts and protest behavior, you can then pause, and ask yourself what would be a better way to respond to this situation to get what I need?
5. Ask What Would Super Secure (Wo)Man Do?
Attachment research highlights that all of us have experiences of people who are secure. Whether that is a friend, a distant relative, etc. When I’m working with insecure clients, I often ask them, “How would your super-secure [aunt]16 respond to this?”
Doing this flips the internal script on how to think and behave. 17 at any given moment that determines how people are likely to think about relationships or be motivated to act.” Source: Gillath, O., Mikulincer, M., Fitzsimons, G. M., Shaver, P. R., Schachner, D. A., & Bargh, J. A. (2016). Automatic activation of attachment-related goals. The more times you ask this and act on it, the more you strengthen secure thoughts and behaviors, including those related to expressing feelings, asking for what you need, and being vulnerable about your fears.
5. Honor and Express Your Clingy Insecurity in a Positive, Actionable Way.
Clingy lovers often neglect their needs in relationships because they don’t believe they deserve to have them met. As Brene Brown puts it “if we want to fully experience love and belonging, we must believe that we are worthy of love and belonging.” Learning to accept what I deserved, putting up boundaries, and asking for what I needed in my romantic relationship was hard initially, but now it feels authentic and has actually improved my relationships.
The first step is to recognize your needs as valid. The next is learning how to transform them into a positive, actionable tool.
For example, if I fear my partner is going to abandon me, instead of trying to manipulate my partner, I might say “Hey babe, I’m feeling disconnected from you and would like to grab some ice cream with you later tonight and just talk. You in?”
I’m making a clear request and taking ownership of what I need in the relationship to be happy. If you notice, I’m also putting a plan in place so I can make that happen, making it much easier for my partner to say yes. For a framework on how to do this in your relationship, read this article.
6. Enhance Your Emotional Intelligence.
As Justin Bariso states, “Emotional intelligence is the ability to make emotions work for you, instead of against you.” While clingy lovers tend to be aware of their emotions, they often struggle to manage their emotions in a way that achieves their goal of closeness and emotional connection. Not to mention clingy lovers struggling to manage their relationship in a way to get the most out of their connection.