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 even more clingy outside the bedroom.

Now, when I say clingy, 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. 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 all I feel is suffocated….what is my problem and how can I address it with him in a sensitive way?

Thanks, Evan, for helping us girls out!


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

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.

The intense highs of blinding chemistry are like a drug, and we crave the drug — even when it brings out the worst in us. Which brings us to your 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.

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

The key is not to make him “wrong” for feeling what he’s feeling or doing what he’s doing. 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.

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

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  1. 21

    Some people just can’t appriciate love.

  2. 22

    I’m a little late to this party but as I see it Evan’s blog is forever bringing people together to try to understand and relate better with each other.

    The dilemma is real. Great guy- Something isn’t quite right- Question yourself to death “What’s wrong with me?!”

    Sooner or later we make a decision but we all know that good people, whether they be men or women, are hard to come by.   A good person is not someone that is easily broken up with because, you know, they’re good!

    Being honest with them as you move forward for whatever the stickiness lies and being honest with yourself is the best you can do. And that’s what I am doing right now. I still could use some advice though.

    I have a great guy on my hands. We knew each other when we were kids and teens and have found each other after 20+ years absence. We’ve been dating for 4 months But he’s so head over heels for me so quickly I feel as if I’ll never catch up. Intense emotions are great if they’re mutual. Not so much if they are not.

    I’m feeling like my great guy could use a bit of Evan’s advice and mirror ME. I’ve learned so much from “Why He Disappeared” and now the shoe is on the other foot. Im not reciprocating these verbalized feelings yet he continues to let them fly. I’m the one being smothered by emotions. If he backed away a bit I would probably want him more.

    I have had a kind and honest discussion with him but I’m not quite sure he understands :/


  3. 23

    I don’t want to be that guy but, you are saying that you wanted to casually date and you where 36 at the time you had this issue.

    If this guy didn’t come along. And you started casually dating for let’s say 4-5 years and then you decide on marrying that one guy. When it comes down to children. Will you be in their life as much as they would want you to be? Not in the selfish aspect but the fact that the people before have met the same conclusive demise.

  4. 24

    I am dealing with this now. My SO moved across the country to be with me. Right away the problems started. Walking in on me in the bathroom, cornering while I cooking dinner, getting dressed (pretty much anytime I am busy) to tell me he loves me and grabbing me for a kiss. I feel like I have zero personal space. I can be walking into or out of a room and he will step in front of me to do the same thing. If I sidestep or don’t respond he keeps pushing the agenda. It often feels more controlling than clingy. After 4 years of being on my own, I have tried to explain to him that I need my space and cornering me to force affection on me is NOT ok. He will stop but anytime we are having a dissgreement, he starts behaving this way. I have suggested that therapy might be helpful and he said HE doesn’t need it. He wants to get married and I am really reluctant to marry a man who has impulse control issues and no respect for boundaries.

  5. 25

    I would be honest and claim your space. After all, no one is responsible for your happiness but you. You don’t need to be his mom and teach him how to be secure. You don’t need to teach him anything. His happiness and growth is not your responsibility nor within your power of control. But being honest is critical. If your relationship is to continue, it’ll always be evolving as he and you discover new needs of yours as individuals. So you will need constant communication as the norm. Oh, and not all women want constant mauling. If you wanted a child hanging off of you you could birth one. Not saying your partner is a child, just saying the constant mauling makes us feel like we’re mothers when some of us don’t want to be.

    Read 5 Love Languages if you like. Some people do not require physical touch as much as others so it’s interpreted as a bother and not a display of love. This is NOT abnormal. See if that can help. I highly recommend!

  6. 26

    Oh yeah and one more thing: CASUALLY DATE AS MUCH AS YOU WANT REGARDLESS OF WHAT PEOPLE THINK YOU “SHOULD ” DO AT “YOUR AGE”. Do you. There’s no tablet in stone saying when a ‘proper woman’ is past her prime and should settle or be afraid. For crying out loud!

  7. 27

    Hi OP,

    I can fully understand your situation because I’m in the same type of relationship. We are adults and it has become irritation to have my guy constantly trying to kiss and grab on me when we are alone. Funny thing though, he doesn’t dare touch me in public, and I mean nothing in public. He also constantly texts even if I say I can’t talk or I’m busy and now I’m turned off from him. I don’t even want to go to his place because I don’t feel like him constantly touching and kissing on me. I thought I was being “stuck up” and mean for feeling this way but after reading your letter, I feel at ease because I’m not crazy. Try talking to him and see what happens. I’ve tried to talk with the guy I’m seeing but he doesn’t listen, doesn’t understand, and ultimately doesn’t get it. Therefore, I’m pulling back big time.

    I hope things get better for you and your relationship.

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