'Clingers' are self-made and can make themselves stop - FOX 26 News | MyFoxHouston

'Clingers' are self-made and can make themselves stop

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HOUSTON (FOX 26) -

Most of us have had times when we felt clingy or have encountered a friend who qualified as a clinger. Television and movies make clinging behavior appear desperate and mentally unstable, but those are extremes and not what real clingers look like.

People who cling appear "needy" and hence the word clinging means that when they warm up to you, they invade personal boundaries out of fear of being alone.

Clingers usually feel out of control with their incessant need for reassurance. They are terrified of being rejected, but their behavior is what forces another to reject them. People who cling are usually also depressed, but this is due to the fearful thoughts they continue to think about. Their craving for contact is their attempt to lessen their fear of being alone. Perhaps what is more important is that where most people will be able to say what they want in a relationship, clingers are not able to. Their passivity with what they want creates their desperation and acceptance for how others treat them. This is why many clingers cling to being used or mistreated rather than advocating for themselves to be treated with more respect or consideration.

Adults who grew up in families where there was a sense of abandonment or neglect often find themselves fearful of disconnection. Humans need to connect to survive, and it makes sense that if a child grew up feeling their only hope was in connecting with others for survival they would become panicked and desperate when they felt alone. The way to cope with the fear so you won't cling is to separate it from the need. The fear is not the problem; the problem is your need to cling for reassurance.

1. Get connected with others. Since fear of rejection and loneliness is at the heart of the matter, force yourself to make relationships with people who have a common goal. When you give in this way you can get reassurance and build confidence that you do matter. Many times our volunteer friends turn into lifelong friends. It's an opportunity to be in a healthy relationship so you can learn appropriate boundaries.

2. In any relationship you make, write down what you want. Force yourself to do this, and as the relationship begins to grow make your needs known.

3. Evaluate your current relationships. Needy people attract avoidant people which heighten their sense of need and reassurance. Your perception of being the clinger may be who you are surrounding yourself with rather than demonstrated behavior on your part.

4. Be open and honest about your sensitivity to connection and your fear of being rejected. When you feel it's something you have to hide it intensifies your fear and neediness.

Our past affects our present no matter how much we try to run from it. Respecting our sensitivities and fears to deal with them directly is always the best way to cope with managing them. Allowing our feelings to make us feel shamed or embarrassed keeps the fear locked in place. Practice being up front with what you need to feel good in a relationship, and don't apologize for needing reassurance. When others know what to expect in their relationship with you, they will feel freer to be themselves and own their own issues as well.

– Mary Jo Rapini

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