How Do I Avoid Clingy and Desperate Men?


This may not seem like a problem to some women, but for me it is. When I am dating, I like to really take my time and get to know someone before I put any “name” on what we’re doing. It’s just having fun with someone, getting to know him, and see where things go. (I believe it’s called dating.)

There were a few men in the past several months that I liked. They were nice and I could see an eventual relationship coming of our dating. Here is the problem I’ve had…we go out once (maybe twice) and have a good time. There’s some kissing involved (but no sex). We make plans to go out again. Over the next several days he calls me constantly, starts talking about wanting a commitment from me, about our future together, and basically freaks me out from wanting to even go out with him again. (And yes, this has happened at least three times recently.) I understand liking me and wanting to spend time with me, and hoping that things will go further.   What I don’t understand is why they get so obsessive.

I’m a divorced mother with two young children, but I am not looking for someone to “rescue” me. I do want to be in a relationship, with the right person, and I do want to be married again. However, I am not going to jump into something so quickly that I am blindsided. Are these men just so desperate that they don’t understand the fundamentals of dating? Any way I can avoid this in the future? It seems to be happening to me a lot recently.


Dear Leah,

Yeah, it’s a drag when a guy says he really likes you and makes a supreme effort to see you. I’m sure all the women who are waiting by the phone for their dates to call are feeling particularly bad for you.

I kid, Leah, because it’s about as ironic as any dating situation can be. We want people to be real, authentic, and emotionally available, yet we cringe and we flee when they are.

I wouldn’t say this is the height of hypocrisy, because I don’t know how you get when you really like a guy. Maybe you never get excited and let down your guard. But imagine you did. It would be a shame if a man distanced himself from you precisely BECAUSE you said you liked him.

What it really comes down to, Leah, is timing. You keep finding guys who are ready to take the plunge, you dazzle them on a date or two, and you listen to them start gabbing about rings and honeymoons. That has nothing to do with you, and everything to do with them. They want to be married soon. You do not. That’s perfectly fair. But imagine the shoe was on the other foot.

Let’s say that you were 39, single, and childless. You meet a great guy. It wouldn’t be too unreasonable for you to get excited about him being the future father of your children. Of course, if he’s already a father of two, and also recently divorced, he might not be ready to dive back into a committed relationship. That’s nobody’s fault. That’s simply two good people who may be compatible, but are not a good fit at the time.

I’m particularly glad you wrote this email because it’s useful to hear from a woman who just not that into HIM. It goes to show that, as abhorrent as we find the concept of “game-playing”, sometimes a little game playing is exactly what is necessary to keep the fire burning.

When someone makes himself too accessible, too willing to jump into a relationship, we question him. We wonder how anyone could like us this much this soon. We immediately devalue those people. But when we’re crazy about someone and show it, we want that person to reciprocate. Can’t we just be REAL with each other? Isn’t that what it’s all about?

Apparently, it’s not….

I remember a woman that I went on a date with about seven years ago. At the end of the night, she said to me, “I’m glad to have you in my life”. We’d had fun, but after three hours, I wasn’t yet “in her life”. So I did what most people would never do. I told her that I thought she was great, but that she might want to hold back on the big proclamations until we get to know each other better. I told her that because I liked her so much, I didn’t want to get scared off by her intensity. Class act that she was, she took it in stride, and we remained friends for years after dating.

Needless to say, that’s not going to work for everyone, but I think an authentic conversation is a lot better than dropping every guy like a hot potato the second he tells you he’s interested.

Let’s face it: It can be hard to keep your feelings below the surface when they’re just bursting to get out. But take it from readers like Leah: full disclosure is like polyamory. It may sound great in theory, but in doesn’t work in practice.


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  1. 121

    Or, she might want to try not kissing them until she’s ready to go beyond commitmentless dating…   Seriously – a kiss isn’t just a kiss to him, unless he’s socially inept.   He’s not reading her kisses wrong — she’s throwing them around like free cars at an Oprah taping…   She’s forgotten how special those can be, if treated properly.   And why is she kissing men she doesn’t really trust???   So what if they are hardly her first rodeo?   Maybe she ought to treat them like the were.   Problem: solved.

    Try reigning it in, honey!!!   Goodness…

  2. 122

    I am with Leah on this. I’m 44 single, no kids, divorced after 17 years of marriage. I would like to date and find someone, but I want to get to know you first. Don’t be clingy and texting all day while I’m working, telling me how much you miss me, and don’t dare say you love me after only one or two weeks. I’m I’m sick and say I’m not up to talking just respond my saying I hope you feel better soon we’ll talk more tomorrow you can even ask of Thera anything you can do, that’s perfectly acceptable but done keep texting or calling/talking.

  3. 123

    Compelled to say something because I recently met another guy who was incessantly  calling/texting even before our  1st date (last night) texted 5 x today, TOLD ME “Call me tonight” (I did not call) but he’s called and texted twice tonight.   Pushy…I did not reply.   Controlling/needy, anyone?   Sorry but too much too soon.   I feel pressure.   An “expert” article I came upon conveyed  “People who push  to rush you into a relationship and keep tabs on you  early on are dysfunctional, have major insecurity issues, etc. and want to “lock & load you” before you discover their issues!…”     Makes sense.Hey, I want to be PART of someone’s universe, not the CENTER of their universe.   At least, not for a couple months.   Takes time to get to know someone so why dive in immediately?     If a relationship starts out in full bloom, it’s not taking  steps of progression.   Those usually crash and  burn.     What’s the emergency?   True love will wait a couple months and if he is understanding, he will give her that time.

  4. 124

    Wow.   I see now that I am “that guy”.   Divorced after a 26 year marriage to my best friend, I have started dating an incredibly busy single mom and have apparently become that clingy person according to your description.   I really wish I had seen this blog before I started messing up so bad.   I thought I was a successful, confident person until I read this, but apparently my communication style is over the top.   I am amazed at the time frames referenced here.   If I had gone at the pace of many of the references, I would never have been in one place long enough to get in a relationship with my ex-wife.   This blog is quite painful to read, but helpful nonetheless.   I appreciate the honesty here.   All the other areas of my life are going well, but I see I am going to need some coaching in this area.

  5. 125

    I’m glad I’m not the only one who feels that men are always trying to “rescue” me from my life. With me its older men that I would never consider dating. When old men who are friends of my parents or relatives contact me online, I see them as casual superficial acquaintances. But they immediately behave as if we have a deep relationship and demand more time and intimacy than my closest and oldest friends would ever do.  These people seem blind to the fact that other people have busy lives and things to do. They email and text every day, often texting me to tell me to check my email. They also give me unwanted gifts and try to boss me around in a gross touchy feely “because I care so much” way. It just grosses me out but I hate being rude to them. I think there are a number of people who just can’t keep people in their lives becauase they are so clingy and unable to stick to social norms. It’s a dilemma because I hate being mean to older men but they have no right to intrude into my life and cause me so much stress.

    I feel that these men are acting on sterotypes from films that portray persistent suiters as desirable and they impose a fantasy heroine/damsel in distress image onto me that makes them believe they know me better than they actually do. I want to know from from other women if getting chased by one clingy old man after another is a regular part of adult life or do I have traits that make these things happen over and over again?

  6. 126
    Emily, to

    It’s a dilemma because I hate being mean to older men but they have no right to intrude into my life and cause me so much stress. … I want to know from from other women if getting chased by one clingy old man after another is a regular part of adult life or do I have traits that make these things happen over and over again?
    I think there exists a horrible myth in society that tells men if they just keep trying, they will eventually wear the woman down. But are you responding to these guys? If so, you’re giving them a glimmer of hope. Tell them not to contact you anymore. You have to be that blatant. And if they continue to contact you, stand firm and ignore them. Block their numbers. Filter their email addresses to go straight to delete. That way you won’t have to see their continued attempts at communication.

  7. 127

    There is such a thing as moving too quickly. Yes, there is. After two or three dates, you shouldn’t be asking me, “So, where is our relationship going?” or “Will you marry me?” Get a clue. Even if one feels this way, for God’s sake pace yourself and follow the cue of the person you are so ‘in love’ with-if that’s truly the case.

    I’ve been rushed into relationships many times during my younger years and found this to be true. If the person rushes you, they want something from you-a mommy, sex, a place to live, money, stability. They probably don’t have it together and see you like a step up or a meal ticket. Trust. It’s absolutely true. Even if you have chemistry, get to know a person first. It’s the smart thing to do. Watch out for the older individuals who rush you along, especially men. I found that they are often looking for caretakers as they get older, not necessarily companions.

  8. 128

    I completely and utterly disagree with Evan’s response to this. She rightly points out that this is not normal dating behaviour, and this isn’t addressed; talk about ignoring and invalidating a woman who has turned here for help about a common and troubling problem! This is not about a guy being “ready for marriage”. Ready or not, moving so fast is not healthy, and this woman’s response IS healthy. She is right to be freaked out by this behaviour. A guy can be available for a serious relationship, but deciding a woman is right for him after a few dates is unhealthy and clingy. It’s also desperate behaviour so anyone with an ounce of self esteem is bound to be turned off by it, and good thing too. Good relationships take time to grow, and something that moves slow is more likely to last. This is pushy behaviour. You shouldn’t only be turned off by this, you SHOULD run a million miles away. It’s weird. In my experiences when I’ve liked the guy in return and gone with it, he turns out to be controlling. Run.

  9. 129

    I find the person answering this readers post to be a bit passive aggressive. But I suppose it’s coming from a males perspective, so I could see why they wouldn’t understand how unsettling it can be for a women to end up with some one who’s very needy, clingy, obsessive, or possessive. Yes there are a lot of crazy women out there too, but women tend to end up in abusive relationships a lot more easily and often then men do. Not just physically but emotionally as well. We have to constantly be looking out for red flags and warning signs. For those of us who are divorced we can usually spot those warning signs easier then others. I have merely talked to 3 different men and on the first night of just texting they said they wanted us to be “monogamously only chatting with each other”. That is a huge red flag of someone being controlling. So to this readers point, and I think where she is coming from, is why are these men trying so hard to lock someone down that they know nothing about?

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