Why Do I Go From Confident To Clingy In Relationships?

Hi Evan,

I just finished reading “Why He Disappeared.” It was extremely insightful. I didn’t really fit EXACTLY into the female examples you gave but still got a lot out of the material. I tend to constantly overlook men’s flaws (to a fault,) so that’s where I didn’t fit in. BUT, I could relate to the clinginess in relationships. I tend to be the confident, self-assured woman in the dating process, but once I begin the courtship/relationship phase, I become unconfident and clingy. In my head I see what I’m doing, but I have been unable to change this flaw of mine, even though I know it’s happening. It’s extremely frustrating. Do you have any advice on how to overcome this?


P.S. I love your wife’s blog from when she was your girlfriend. I constantly go back to it on your website, and I’m glad you included it in your book. It’s some of the best advice I’ve ever read! (In addition to yours, of course!)


Dear Kelly,

Thanks for your kind words about me and my wife, and for your honesty and vulnerability.

Obviously, the message in “Why He Disappeared” can’t apply in equal measure to every unique woman who’s read it, but I’m glad you saw enough universal truth that fits your situation.

First, let me share with you a personal story.

I was hired to create a magazine for JDate back in 2005. It was called JMag and it was to be patterned after Match.com’s Happen Magazine, where I was a contributor. JDate promised me that I was to be the editor-in-chief and advice columnist at JMag.

I was extremely excited.

I began working 3 days a week.

A few months later, I was working 2 days a week.

Finally, I was coming in 1 day a week to work on JMag.

I had no paid writers, no dedicated graphic designers. Just me, trying to wrangle something amazing out of piecemeal resources.

Never say anything negative – it all comes back to haunt you…

I complained to my boss. I complained to her boss. I complained to anyone who would listen that JMag was underfunded and underappreciated.

What I didn’t do was make my case effectively. I fought too many battles. I was too attached to my ideas. I didn’t know how to be a team player.

In the end, I burned most of my bridges at JDate – not because I was untalented – not because they’re a bad company – but because I failed to enroll my colleagues in the vision of greatness I had in my head.

It wasn’t JDate’s failure. It was mine. I was immature and headstrong, where it would have been wiser to be patient, positive, and enthusiastic.

The reason I’m sharing that off-track story with you is because, for a couple of years, I blamed JDate for my failures, just as I blamed other “bosses” for our failure to cooperate.

But ultimately, if you’re going to succeed in a corporate environment, you probably know that you should:

1)    Befriend important people – above you, below you, on your same level

2)    Never say anything negative – it all comes back to haunt you

3)    Give credit to others – instead of trying to take credit yourself

4)    Consider others’ points of view – just because it’s not your point of view doesn’t mean it’s not valid.

I may be able to get hired based on my resume, intelligence and work ethic, but if I were really to ascend in a corporate environment, I’d have to do a LOT better at those tasks. Less talented people who knew those things are already at the top of the totem pole.

Dating works the same exact way.

It is NOT a meritocracy.

You don’t succeed because you’re cute, smart, successful, and fun.

Dating is NOT a meritocracy. Getting the guy isn’t enough.

You succeed because you make a good choice in a partner AND because you know how to deal in relating to that partner.

Getting the guy isn’t enough.

Getting the RIGHT guy and making the RIGHT decisions is what determines whether you have a future.

Because you can be the PERFECT girlfriend to the WRONG guy and there’s NOTHING you can do to salvage the relationship.

And you can be an AWFUL girlfriend to another guy, and the relationship may persist.

You’ve seen this yourself.

The point is, Kelly, that there’s no magic formula to teach you exactly what to say and do in the context of a relationship to avoid being needy and clingy.

I think it’s a matter of seeing what works and what doesn’t, and doing more of what works and less of what doesn’t.

So while my IMPULSE might be to complain that my magazine was not getting the proper resources, my ACTION would be to remain appreciative and try to illustrate how content can better drive traffic and create revenue.

If you know that you scare guys off with your intensity, the only answer is to STOP BEING SO INTENSE.

And while your IMPULSE might be to have “the talk” about “where we’re going,” you will learn to bite your tongue and live in the moment. Why shouldn’t you say whatever’s on your mind? Because it’s ineffective to achieving your goal.

If you know that you scare guys off with your intensity, the only answer is to STOP BEING SO INTENSE. It ain’t easy, but it ain’t brain surgery either.

You may still be the intense questioner who wants to lock down her boyfriend for life the instant you feel a lapse in your connection… but hopefully, by being patient, being cool, and being positive, you’ll create a feeling in your boyfriend that he’s LUCKY to have found such a rare and amazing woman.

A woman who appreciates him, who gives him space, who TRUSTS that if he’s with you, then that’s exactly where he wants to be.

Much love,


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  1. 31

    boys have this tendency to become bore that is they reach a cycle where there intimacy level drops suddenly and they become inactive. But what girls think is that her boyfriend is not interested  in her at all and they start feeling clingy, but it is other way give some space to your boyfriend they will bounce back, their intimacy is like a rubber band you can stretch it up to a maximum point after that you have to leave it again so that you can again stretch it so give your boy friend some space he will bounce back again with full love and intimacy.

  2. 32

    I can thoroughly relate to this post.  I’ve suprised myself by doing it again recently, and scaring someone promising away.  Many people feel vulnerable as a relationship progresses, often this is when sex enters the equation. But for some of us the feelings are particularly intense and we feel compelled to seek more contact and reassurance and get upset when the other person doesn’t meet our needs.   Honey’s reference to insecure attachment styles earlier was spot on – there is nothing rational in these urges, even though we can be incredibly clever at creating rationalizations for them. 

    How to deal with it?  You have to accept that this happens to you and be ready to use some strategies to stop yourself reacting, and deal with the anxiety, until it eases.  It’s really hard.  Even with my awareness, I’ve still succumbed to it. 

    Evan, I’ve read your response to this three times now and I still for the life of me don’t get the JMag analogy for this situation…

  3. 33

    I love your advice thank you so much, you have made a real difference in my life.  I have learnt to lean back and respect the person I am with and treat him the way I wish to be treated.  Makes for a less stressful relationship all round x

  4. 34

    Guys play too many mind games which make the woman feel clingy.

  5. 35

    I find there is a world of difference between how I relate to different guys. With the ones who are a bit aloof, unaccepting or leave you wondering where on earth you stand, if I stay with them I can certainly come across as needy and I can drive myself crazy, trying to fill the emptiness that they seem to create. However, with the guys who are open and clear, straight-down-the-line and caring, I find I can be very relaxed and confident and just have fun in the moment. They make me feel comfortable.

  6. 36

    The problem I have with Karl’s story is that he’s a GUY.. for one thing.  lol.  Most men don’t have to be emotionally vested to have sex.  I give his girlfriend kudo’s for being able to do what she did. I’ve only been able to accomplish that a few times in my life.  Women aren’t wired that way.  We may be in a hook up society but I still have not shed how I was raised.  As a ministers daughter, I was raised to not have sex before marriage and to guard myself because all men are after just one thing.  After the first marriage where my husband had a sever sexual dysfunction that I would have found out about if I’d slept with him before marriage. lol.  After forgiving myself and discovering amazing sex..  I now have this desire to have sex with a man early to see if he even is capable of satisfying me.  The problem is that I become to attached if it’s good, yet I don’t want to waste months of dating.. and then want to throw it all away after the first sexual encounter.  ugh!  There appears to be no way to win. 

  7. 37

    Perfect. Wonderful. Thank you. 

  8. 38

    Needed this tonight. I think women are just clingy and needy by nature – we tend to *want* a relationship faster then most men. What I’m learning for myself is to a. trust the process, b. live in the moment, and c. let the guy take the lead. If he likes you, wants this thing to evolve, he will take the lead. I’m in a relationship now that I hope will progress to something more and I’m constantly reminding myself to let him lead. It’s amazing what he comes up with and how he creatively finds ways to make me a priority in spite of everything else he has going on in his life. SO I guess the answer is “don’t push” – and be OK with whatever happens.

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