How Not to Be Needy In A Long Distance Relationship

Question: I’m currently in a long distance relationship. We live in different countries and met on a dating site.  We met in person for the first time last month and it was instant fireworks. Since meeting in person, our relationship has changed a lot; some of it is for the better but most of it for the worse. We tell each other “I love you” in every conversation but for me emails, phone calls, etc– aren’t enough anymore. It hurts when I tell him I miss him and he tells me to live in the moment and enjoy what we have.

My question to you is how do I slow down, stop acting emotionally and physically needy?  I’m afraid I’m freaking him out. I sense him pulling away and I don’t want to push him away further. If it ends, it will be because of me being needy.

Yangki’s Answer: It’s perfectly natural to want to be with someone you’re in love with. What is unnatural and unhealthy is wanting to spend every spare moment with that special person or feeling and acting like life is not worth living without him/her. No one – unless they have serious issues of their own – likes a clingy girlfriend/boyfriend.

And if you already have clingy tendencies, long distance relationships can be a lot more trying because distance can trigger anxiety-induced neediness.

1. Make a commitment to yourself

The fact that you realize that what you’re doing isn’t good for your relationship is already a positive step. This is a problem from within that can only be solved by you and/or with the help of a self help book or professional. Commit yourself to becoming aware of when you start running negative messages in your head over and over and tell yourself to stop it. Tell yourself that whatever happens, you’ll be just fine.

The best cure for neediness and clingy behaviour however, is working on what’s causing you to behave that way in the first place.

2. Re-examine your expectations

Neediness and pushy behaviour in many cases is a sign that you’re somehow afraid that you will not get what you want – it’s that fear that drives your behaviour. You may be expecting him to reject you, let you down or hurt you because it’s happened before and are reacting out of past experiences. Do an inventory of your expectations of 1) what love is, 2) what is realistic for the stage your relationship is at now 3) if it’s worth your time, effort and love etc.

3. Talk to him about it

I don’t mean just tell him how you feel, beyond that, tell him you’re aware of how your behaviour in the last x-weeks isn’t helping the relationship and want to learn how to enjoy what you have. Then suggest and agree on a balance that’ll satisfy both of you. Don’t just stop communicating or “emotionally shut down” with the hope that’ll he’ll figure out on his own what’s going on and act. Most people are not good at mind-reading, he may assume something worse and completely pull back or break-up with you.

Relationships take two. If the two of you can’t openly talk about how you really feel, or if he can’t support your efforts to be a better person, lover and partner, then there is a lot more for you to worry about than pushing him way.

4. Start a ritual

Rituals or routine patterns of interaction give you something to look forward to, and reduce anxiety levels during times of stress and transition. For example you can pick a time once or twice a week when both of you stop whatever you’re doing and commit quality time talking to each other about anything and everything.

5. Diversify your social network

In addition to doing the things that distract you from thinking about him and missing him, do things that make you truly happy. Do something that make you feel you have great qualities that you can share with the rest of the world. Volunteer, get involved for a cause etc.  When you’re more focused on meeting the needs of others or making others happy, the neediness and unhappiness within becomes secondary.

6. Take it one day at a time

Train yourself to relax and learn how to receive love instead of always trying to give more to get some. This means not trying to dictate how everything should be done/said and letting him run the show sometimes.

You have come this far, don’t mess up a good thing!

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  1. says: Josam

    I’ve been reading your blog and website for over 3 months and it has made all the difference in my relating with women! I tried for years to learn the techniques advanced by PUAs and many other books but I found that that only made me the person I did not want to be. Reading your articles and using the information in my dating, I’ve found that what women really want is a man who can own his world and gently take her by the hand and bring her into his world.

    I just wanted you to know that “You are the best!”
    A lot of thanks.

  2. says: Dav

    I started seeing someone who is 11 years older than me (I’m 30) and she has 2 children. When we first started seeing each other she told me that she was worried about the age difference and that she had children and I didn’t. To show her that I was commited I have constantly shown her my commitement, and I think she has mistaken this for being needy. What can I do?

    1. Your situation is very similar to the original question. The same suggestions above will help keep you from wanting to be clingy or needy.

      Age may or may not play a role in what one considers your “neediness.” What’s important is that such behaviour is causing both of you not to enjoy the relationship. For both of your sakes, just stop whatever it is you’re doing that you think is constantly showing her your commitment. If she thinks it’s neediness, there is no use trying to convince her to see it differently. What that does is re-echo the age difference even more.

  3. says: Keyvanps2

    She told me I’m a great guy and she feels guilty. Why does she feel guilty? Is it a good thing or bad thing that she feels guilty?

    1. I’d have to say not a good thing. No person in his/her right mind should feel good about being in a relationship with someone only because that person feels some kind of guilt. That said, there are some needy/clingy people who use “guilt” to manipulate and control someone else. Someone always — always — ends up getting hurt really bad.

      Love is best when it is freely given and freely received. Only then does it feel right (for both people involved), it’s also more fulfilling and more likely to last.

  4. says: Dan

    OMG this is so great. I recently started seeing someone. We were in the same location until I moved to another continent for a month. It’s been hard for me as we’re on different times zones (5.5hrs). I’ve been a bit clingy, always texting and staying by my phone until I get the response. I realized today that I was being very clingy. We’re still not super together and that makes me nervous which is why I’ve been so clingy. We scheduled a call tomorrow so I’ll be able to talk about my fears and see where they we go from there.