30 second therapist

Help! Why am I so clingy in relationships?

Feb. 14, 2014 at 10:24 AM ET

This week, one reader struggles with being overly attached in relationships, and another reader feels hurt by her boyfriend's relationship with his ex-wife. Relationship expert Dr. Gilda Carle cuts through the fluff with her love advice in TODAY.com's "30-second therapist" series.

Q: Why do I have to be so clingy? Every time I have a boyfriend, I don't want it to end. Even when I was younger, I knew I wasn't going to marry whomever I was dating, but still, I did not want to end the relationship. As I got older, it got worse. My boyfriend was cheating on me, but I still could not tell him it was over. I wanted more of my boyfriend, more kisses, more cuddling and more affection. It's not a sex thing, because this has happened with guys I've dated and hadn’t had sex with. I want romance, but I know guys don't want that much love, cuddling, etc. I know the moment they feel I'm too needy, but I can't stop myself from clinging.

My dad passed away when I turned 15. Could this have anything to do with it? Please explain why I do this and what I can do about it. I don't want to want so much! —Stuck Like Glue

Dear Stuck,

It’s great that you recognize your problem and want to rectify it. The song by Heidi Newfield, “Can’t Let Go,” says, “It’s over, I know it, but I can’t let go.” She’s aware, but doesn’t know how to release herself. Sound familiar?

Similarly, you’re aware that your dad’s passing at 15 left you terrified that a man you love will leave. But as you’ve seen, pressuring a guy to stay won’t hold him.

Learn the “Bet-on-Yourself” guidelines in the book “Don’t Bet on the Prince!” The guidelines say that a man can die, leave or cheat, so your goal must be this Gilda-Gram™: “Make yourself a prize before you prize a partner.” Counseling will help you honor your needs rather than the neediness that attracts inappropriate men.—Dr. Gilda

Q: My boyfriend of a year and a half still shares holidays with his ex-wife. They have been divorced for 5 years. He says it's because he wants to keep his family together and he's doing it for his kids. However, his kids are 24 and 21 and also live with him. When she wants to see the kids, she comes to his house because she lives with a friend and doesn't have her own place. At Christmas, both his ex and I were at his house with his extended family. His ex still buys gifts for his family from both of them. I have told him how hurtful this is to me, but he keeps insisting it is for the kids. Should I give it more time, or stop wasting time with him?—Third Wheel

Dear Third Wheel,

Some amicable exes take vacations with their extended families, and their new partners not only don’t mind, but they even accompany them! However, you do mind—and that’s what matters. Your boyfriend is bonded to his kids, despite being divorced from their mom. That says a lot about his character. The children still live with him, so he wants their feeling of family to remain intact. Yet, he includes you, suggesting you’re part of his new life.

It’s unlikely this arrangement will change until boyfriend’s kids move out and establish separate lives. That may take years. Are you willing to wait that long? If not, you are wasting your time. Consider moving on and making room for a woman who would love this guy’s devotion.—Dr. Gilda   

Want Dr. Gilda to answer your relationship questions? Send them in!

Dr. Gilda Carle is the relationship expert to the stars. She is a professor emerita, has written 15 books, and her latest is “Don’t Bet on the Prince!”—Second Edition. She provides advice and coaching via Skype, email and phone.

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