My boyfriend is super clingy, and needy. I’m extremely independent and just need space! How do I tell him to back off without being rude?
—Desparate for Space
Thank you for writing in. I understand your concern that you do not want to come off rude when talking about needing space to your boyfriend, but you need to tell him what you want. To explain why he might be acting this way, he is probably insecure about your relationship and feels that he needs to be with you all the time. If you have never said anything to him about how this bugs you, it comes off that you are fine with him being around you all the time. If you feel suffocated, just tell him to go hang out with his other friends and maybe set up a couple nights a week where you guys hang out with other people. If you talk to him and get him on the same page in your relationship, you both will be able to work through it and become a stronger couple.
We have a stage 5 clinger here. Let me tell you I had to put a lot of thought into this question. This is a very tricky situation and I am sorry you are finding yourself placed in it.
My first piece of advice would be to try and nicely explain you need to do some things alone and encourage him to do the same with friends and other people. For example: “Oh, honey, I would love to go to the library with you, but I just think it’s best if I go alone to get some work done” or “I’m just in a bad mood and want some alone time.”
You can also explain how absence makes the heart grow fonder and a couple hours or days apart from each other won’t kill him or your relationship, it will actually enhance it.
Honestly, if he doesn’t get the memo after you trying to explain nicely, you may need to be rude. I know that’s not the answer you were hoping for; however, a small tiff or fight about this now could prevent a huge blow up down the road. Be firm and stand your ground and say, “Listen man, I need my alone time!”
Being an independent woman myself, I know how difficult it can be to find someone to let you run wild and alone sometimes. However, if this problem continues after giving Michael’s and my advice a shot, you may need to cut ties, if only for a little bit, to make him realize how important your space is and how much you pride yourself on being independent.
The reason he is probably so clingy is that I am guessing you’re a pretty cool person, considering you wrote in to us, and he may only be doing this now because he is afraid to lose you. Calm his fears and let him know he is important to you, and if he cares enough about you, in return he will give you space.
Always remember you deserve the best and don’t settle for anything less.
If you would like Jen and Michael to answer your questions, email firstname.lastname@example.org