Why am I acting so clingy?

I am usually single and am comfortable being alone, but when I am in a relationship, I tend to be very clingy. For example, with my last boyfriend, whenever he broke away from an embrace or cuddle, I felt the urge to follow him. When he would leave, I would feel a sense of loneliness. I thought I conquered the feeling when the relationship ended, but I find myself doing the same thing with my new man. I want to practically chase after him when he leaves me. Can you explain this strange feeling and how I can become a less clingy person? --iVillager essense93

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ABOUT THE EXPERT

Sherry Amatenstein

Sherry is the author of The Q&A Dating Book and Love Lessons from Bad Breakups. She has taught dating seminars, appeared as an expert... Read more

Dear essense:

Your feelings are really not so strange; lots of people feel clingy when they're "in love." These feelings of loneliness, longing, fear (of losing the person), imagined need and dependency are not actually about the current object of your affection; rather, they are about your lack of comfort with yourself.

If you're as okay as you say you are when you're a solo act, you wouldn't feel so clingy when you morph into "duetdom." Did your last boyfriend behave in a way that would make you insecure? For instance, did he flirt with other women in your presence, or criticize you for real or imagined faults? And how did the relationship end? Did you wind up feeling betrayed or abandoned? Perhaps this type of behavior by him or an even more distant past love is the root of your clingy ways. Or maybe such treatment has triggered a childhood memory of pain and pathos.

Amateur shrinking aside, there's a great saying I urge you to keep in mind: "Men are the dessert." If you attack life with gusto, have a great appetite for everything you do and enjoy everyone you meet along the way, then you won't get as hung up on analyzing the secret meaning behind every broken embrace or eyebrow furrow by a boyfriend. And you won't spend your time wondering: Does he love me? Is he getting tired of me?

From now on, when a love leaves to go grab a soda or go back to his apartment, get caught up in an activity. Read a few pages of a book, go out for a walk, write a letter to a friend. The point is to immediately throw yourself back into your own life. If you know you can look forward to doing something for you every time a boyfriend drops out of sight, whether he's gone for five minutes or five days, you won't miss him so much or feel the need to chase after him. Plus you'll remind yourself that you have a life whether your current boyfriend is in it or not. In closing, I recommend that if you need to cling to something, cling to the knowledge that you're a lovable soul whether you are in a love relationship or not.

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