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.

  9. 39

    I’ve read most of the comments on here and find them so empowering. I’m 32 and single with an eleven year old daughter. Six years ago, I decided to split up with her dad as our relationship to me had reached its climax. Since then I have concentrated solely on raising my child and getting a degree. I have had the odd fling , as im a warm blooded woman with needs. However, I was always  conscious to act with integrity. Now that my daughter has started high school and I’ve finally completed my degree, resulting in finding a great job. I think I am ready for that missing link…a partner. Now, I’d like to think that I’m pretty clued up but found that I was so naive in thinking that being a great person meant that I’d be taken off the market by now. I am finding it so hard to find the right person. I recently met someone who on paper was the guy of my dreams (smart, ambitious, successful and gorgeous) he seemed caring enough too but he had a girlfriend living in another country. He stated  that they were only dating for nine months so therefore I thought I’d take the risk. We dated for about seven weeks he seemed to have been very much into me. When I mentioned guilt and how bad I felt for his girlfriend, he’d quickly changed the topic. He would shy away from every question I asked about his relationship and told me I should just focus on getting to know him. I tried not to get too emotionally attached to him and even though we slept together a couple of times, I tried to always remember that he was emotionally unavailable and that he wasn’t making me any promises. This was very contrary to what I was looking for and needed to let go and find someone who was available and ready to commit but I was very much attracted to him. As it happens he went to visit his girlfriend for a week within the seventh week of us dating. When he came back, I didn’t text or call him until he got in touch a few days later. I noticed that he didn’t seem the same with me, his messages were shorter and less frequent. Deep down I knew it was time to end this uncertainty but I waited patiently hoping that something magical would happen and I’d wake up one morning to a text stating he’s all mine. I went from a confident woman to someone needing validation, I was filled with anxiety and insucurities. I didn’t like the woman Id become and decided to end things.

    I am still single and I’ve learnt a vital lesson. Never settle for less. Confidence is knowing what you want and walking away from what doesn’t seem appealing.

  10. 40

    While it is true that some people have emotional issues that cause them to be clingy I think for most women if you find yourself feeling clingy or a guy calling you clingy then you are just with the wrong guy.  Clinginess for me usually comes about when the guy makes me feel insecure.  So you are dating for three months having sex everything is going great he calls he texts and then all the sudden he does not.  Or the guy that keeps you guessing from the start.  The man who is right for you won’t make you feel the need to cling and if he sees you are feeling insecure he will reassure you.   And oftentimes people that see you as clingy are people that just are not at the same level as you are at that point of the relationship and you need to decide if that’s okay.  Sometimes believe it or not two months in or two weeks in both people want to be exclusive or text daily it happens.   So if someone describes you as clingy maybe it’s the wrong relationship.

  11. 41

    I don’t like the answer “STOP BEING SO INTENSE”. I think you have to find someone who doesn’t stir up insecurities. I have found that if I guy gives me clear signals that he is interested, then I don’t become a neurotic mess. Guys who are mature, respectful, looking for a serious relationship, and genuinely interested in YOU, tend to give those signals. They have no game. If someone’s turning you into a clingy mess, the answer is not to be less you, but to move on and turn your focus elsewhere. Don’t try to mute yourself to win over someone who can’t be won over.

    1. 41.1

      If only more women thought that way, and more importantly, lived that way.  But game exists for a reason.  Because it works.  Because men learned that the direct approach, which is what you describe, rarely works…if it works at all.


      But how do you know if he is just gaming you because he really likes you and wants you to want him, or he is really just not that into you?  Well the truth is, and you might not like it, but there is a crude formula you can use.  The better looking his, the more likely it is genuine disinterest.  The more crazy for him you are, the more likely it is genuine disinterest.


      Another problem is that I hate game, and yet I can look back and clearly see that the more assured I made a woman feel, the more confident she was, the less she treated me the way I wanted to be treated.  You know, a wise man once told me that even the fat and ugly girls want to be treated like a Princess.  Well, by the same token, average guys want to be treated the same way you would treat (insert you favorite celebrity crush here).

  12. 42

    This is a fear of intimacy, specifically, abandonment.  Your fear of abandonment triggers you to switch, from a love avoidance to love addict.

  13. 43

    I’m struggling with all this right now, I’ve met a guy who is treating me well, makes an effort to see me (travels an hour through the dark, winding roads with of Lincolnshire to spend just a few hours with me) but although he oozes affection by text inbetween regular visits which include longer stays according to our work commitments, he’s not very expressive when we are together. He takes me it on lovely dates but doesn’t hold my hand unless I take his first, he’s close to his mum but hasn’t suggested I meet her yet but did try to arrange a night me staying at his (his lives with mum since father died) when she was away and talks about conversations they have which have included me ….I jumped the barrel and suggested we spend new year together ….he didn’t flinch just thought of an idea we could all go together….so that’s good?….but after 2 months says everything but ‘I love you’ ….he skirts around it saying but almost says it! Arrgghh I’m frustrated!!

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