Now here’s an interesting question someone recently asked me at a seminar. It was actually quite the debate, since we were talking about traditional male and female roles, and someone posed a thought-provoking question.
A young woman said to me, “Why is it that ‘clingy women’ are such a negative stereotype?’ Why is it that men can be clingy and it’s somehow perceived as romantic…but if women do it, it’s their personality flaw?”
Well needless to say a bunch of other people chimed in and it made for a great conversation. No anger or argument, just a discussion.
It did get me to thinking, however, about the perception of clinginess and desperation and why it’s perceived as a turn-off.
First of all, we must understand there is no universal truth in conversations like this. While it’s true that the majority of men out there seem to despise clingy behavior, some men don’t mind it. Some men might actually be attracted to a woman who is clingy and possessive and wants to smother him with attention all the time. Good for them.
But in these dating classes, we are talking to the majority. So if we’re discussing clingy behavior from women, then we’re talking to the majority – we’re talking about what it is and why it seems to bother most men.
And yes, it’s true that there are some specific behaviors that one might describe as “clingy” but that actually ATTRACT men. I wouldn’t call them “positive clingy behaviors” because clingy has a negative connotation these days. Instead, I would call them intense behaviors, or maybe “sensual behaviors” – give it a more positive spin.
And believe it or not, the majority of guys out there would like these feminine ultra-behaviors – stuff that feels jealous or possessive, but is actually kind of sexy to a guy that’s into you. Let’s discuss five examples of clingy behaviors that actually tell a guy “This woman is good for me!”
1. You get upset whenever he takes you for granted.
While some women might punish him by becoming cooler or distant, it’s actually a smart strategy to SHOW him that you don’t appreciate being taken for granted. This is not just jealous complaining…this is standing up for yourself. And better yet, it’s showing him that you have boundaries and rules and that he ought to show proper respect. If anything, this “clingy” behavior is being kind to him. Rather than leaving him clues to figure out what’s going wrong in the relationship, you show him right away – “Hey bub, this is unacceptable!” And that’s okay. It shows you care.
2. You are forward when it comes to defining this relationship.
The idea that you should always “play it by ear” and never discuss commitment or the long-term future is an unspoken rule – meaning it’s not actually a rule. Some independent women do this by nature. But there is actually nothing off-putting from telling a guy, you know, “I want you to explain what this relationship is. Am I wasting my time? Are we eventually going to go our separate ways?”
In this case, you’re only being “clingy” in the sense that you’re telling him, “I like you and am wondering if I’m reading too much into this relationship.” It’s forward, it’s assertive, but it’s actually NOT off-putting to most guys. This will make a guy realize that he does want you to stay and that he probably would be unwilling to let you go and date someone else. You let him know that you’re on the market and will not wait for him if he has no serious intentions. That’s not clingy…that’s knowing your value. But the fact that you give him a chance to make this a serious relationship lets him know that you like him.
3. You want to spend time with him.
There is nothing wrong with spending time your beloved and enjoying the moments, the hours, the days, and years! What is important is making sure the guy also has enough time to be alone with his thoughts. But if he likes you, and is always in a good mood when you’re around, there is absolutely no reason to push him away – thinking that somehow that will win you points. Indulge him if you’re his favorite hobby. Let him know that the attention he gives you is always appreciated.
4. You touch him all the time – and you’re always ready for a makeout session!
I believe this is the area that most guys really don’t mind “clingy” behavior. In fact, most guys do wish women initiated sex more often. Most guys are OK with a woman who touches them freely, even throughout the day in a non-sexual manner. Men like soft grazes, hugs, kisses, and shoulder or back rubs. Just be sure he isn’t busy with another project before you touch him. He will be relieved to feel a human touch after a stressful day.
5. She is very, very interested in your life.
Hey, why is being head-over-heels in love with a guy and very curious about his life such a bad thing? A man who has never had a strong emotional connection with someone else, will never feel suffocated by a curious woman. It’s the art of conversation that’s important. Be curious and sincere but remember to give him some space and be patient. Don’t ask for too much too soon. Space it out generously, but never lose your enthusiasm. Chances are, no one has ever been this curious about him, at least emotionally and personally. With that knowledge, take your time. Follow his lead. He will never complain about having his #1 fan and soul mate!
As you can see, dating etiquette can be complicated at times, particularly when comparing different cultures or regions. What some see as clingy, others might see as just intense or exciting. The point is, you must always stop to consider the question: How is this making my partner feel? Is it making him feel nervous, frightened or uneasy? Then I have to stop!
Or is it making him laugh, blush and share more of his feelings? Then obviously, that behavior is working. All that really matters is that you:
- Understand the dynamics of male and female interaction
- Have the ability to read your partner and sense what he feels, whether it’s positive or negative
- Understand what behaviors convey love to men and what behaviors make them feel uncomfortable
- Change your strategy if you sense that your jealous or envious behaviors turn him off.
Figure out what he DOES enjoy and give him more of that! There’s nothing wrong with desiring intimacy and romance. Just be smart about it and focus on the positives of intense emotional connection, while avoiding the negative feelings of “clingy behavior.”