No one ever said dating was easy. The complex yet unspoken rules of texting are enough to make your head spin. What’s worse, everybody seems to expect different unspoken rules.
One person might expect this:
Don’t text back right away, or you’ll seem desperate.
Don’t call and expect him to pick up on the first ring.
While the other expects this:
Leaving a “. . .” but never sending the text is the worst.
Always leave a voicemail, and if he doesn’t call back within two hours call again.
Once a relationship develops into something more committed, the rules don’t always clear up. One partner may feel it’s appropriate to check in more often than the other or spend more time together.
The “dating rules” never seem to be concrete, especially because each individual has different expectations. So how can you tell the difference between “emotionally invested” and “clingy?” We looked at three behaviors that psychologists say are reasonable responses as well as three scenarios where you might want some space.
Reasonable: You just want him to talk about his feelings
Social psychologists categorize people with different adult attachment styles, says Susan Krauss Whitbourne, PhD for Psychology Today. People who practice attachment avoidance may bottle up their feelings and be hesitant to commit. Asking them to open up means you value their emotional bonds.
Too much: You’re constantly terrified of a breakup or infidelity
Another attachment style is anxious attachment, meaning you’re overly sensitive to any hint you’ll be abandoned. This can lead to overreactions about a missed phone call or a forgotten date night.
Reasonable: You just want some alone time
You might be with your partner, but he’s always surrounded by friends, coworkers, or family. He says he spent all week with you yet you feel like you haven’t had any quality time. And you don’t call it “quality time” if all you do is watch a show and go to bed.
You might be right, according to a therapist’s post from the Just Mind Mental Health Blog, a mental health clinic based in Austin, Texas. Taking time to connect emotionally, enjoy each other’s company, and develop shared experiences are all important to the relationship.
Too much: You cry when you’re not with him
Tasha Rube, a Licensed Master Social Worker, says you might be clingy if you don’t feel whole without your partner. If you spend a long, happy day with your partner and feel upset when he has plans with his friends the next day, this could be a sign you’re overly attached.
Reasonable: You’re going through a tough time and you need extra support
If you’re struggling with periods of grief, poor health, depression, anxiety, and other mental health issues, reaching out to your loved ones for support can be part of the recovery process. However, a therapist, counselor, or other mental health professional has the training to offer treatment that your partner may not. As much as your partner may care for you, a professional may be better equipped to help you through your rough patches.
Too much: You rely on your partner for your self-esteem
If you define yourself only by your partner’s interests – or even just be being a girlfriend or wife – you’re not setting healthy boundaries. If your partner wasn’t in your life, would you have hobbies or interests that don’t depend on him? Do you have friends that would hang out with you alone? Take time to recognize what your goals are that don’t involve your partner.