How Can I Tell My Clingy Boyfriend He’s Driving Me Crazy Without Pushing Him Away?

I am 36, attractive, professional, successful, educated, and tons of fun (you know, the type of woman that seeks your advice), and I am in a bit of a relationship predicament. I am trying to casually date and not take anyone too seriously, and WHAM, a super amazing guy lands in my lap just a bit too soon for me to fully appreciate him. 

He is everything I have always wanted, kind, whip-smart (mechanical engineer), cute, fun, silly, well-traveled, successful, minimal baggage (no ex-wife and no kids, but wants them) and makes me feel like the most beautiful woman on the planet when we are together. I enjoy his company, and the physical relationship (behind closed doors) is GREAT (for me, anyway). 

Here’s the kicker….he is so nervous around me that he gets really (like super, duper) clingy and can’t quite “get there” many times in bed. He’s frustrated, and I feel bad for him but also understand that this situation is about what’s going on in his head and not about me…so I remain patient and understanding and open to any and every suggestion to…ahem, assist. I think that issue will pass in time, but it is making him increasingly insecure around me and resulting in him acting like a clingy partner even outside the bedroom.

Now, when I say clingy boyfriend, I don’t mean he wants to spend every waking moment with me (although he has said as much, he can keep his cool) it’s more that I can’t be within 5 feet of him without him trying to make out with me…even mid-blow-dry while getting ready for work. He is amazing and I don’t want to hurt him, but it’s just a bit overwhelming to have someone ‘tethered’ to you (and your face) anytime you are in the same room. 

Ready for Lasting Love?
Ready for Lasting Love?

It’s becoming a turn-off and I am not quite sure how to address it. If I try to “let it go” I can see myself getting fed up, pushing way back, and eventually walking. I also don’t want him any more nervous around me than he already is….he has already said things like “I’ve never felt this strongly for someone before”, “You make me nervous because there are so many things I love about you”, “I really want ‘us’ to work”…dream come true, right? But I feel like I’m being suffocated. What is my problem and how can I address it with him in a sensitive way?

Thanks, Evan, for helping us girls out!


What Can You Do?

A true dilemma if there ever was one, Jessica. Thanks for sharing. It sort of reminds me of this old post about guys who fall in love way too quickly.

In it, your dream man turns out to have one maybe-fatal flaw, and his fate rests entirely in your hands. That’s a lot to think about. And it’s one of the interesting things about being the CEO of your love life; you’re in complete control, you make rational decisions, and it’s not nearly as exciting as being a lovesick puppy like your boyfriend.

How Can I Tell My Clingy Boyfriend He’s Driving Me Crazy Without Pushing Him Away

The intense highs of blinding chemistry are like a drug, and we crave the drug — even when it brings out the worst in us. This brings us to your clingy boyfriend, who, truly, can’t help himself right now. I think we’ve all been in such situations where we are so intoxicated by another human being that we give away all semblance of control and self-respect — because that’s what we’re really feeling. I call it the Pedestal Principle: once you put someone up on a pedestal, he is immediately looking down at you.

The Pedestal Principle: once you put someone up on a pedestal, he is immediately looking down at you.



Therefore, the only way to turn this ship around is to play dating coach with him. Walk him through your logic. Hold up the mirror so he can see himself clearly – and then give him constant reassurance. Let him know that you love him, appreciate him, and have never been happier with a man — but that his nerves aren’t serving him well. You WANT to see him succeed. You’re on his team. There’s nothing to be nervous about. Point out that if he was with a woman who was similarly tethered to him, he might feel smothered, too.

The key is not to make him “wrong” for feeling what he’s feeling or doing what he’s doing during “alone time”. Just tap into the idea that he wants to please you and show him how to please you. You’re not telling him to cut off PDA entirely; you just want to chop vegetables in peace. You’re not telling him to stop saying he loves you; you just want him to relax and enjoy the safe space you’ve created together. 

The important part is that he feels SAFE; you’re not threatening to dump him or putting his head on the chopping block. You’re educating him about how he can be a better boyfriend and make you happier. He should want to do so — and if he can’t, then you have a much tougher decision to make down the road. Good luck.

~ Evan

Readers, have you ever been in the boyfriend’s shoes? Where you’re so in love that you can’t help but come across as weak and needy? Were you able to turn it around? Or did you get dumped because of the Pedestal Principle?