How To Be Less Clingy: Finding Your Personal Power

Medically reviewed by April Brewer , DBH, LPC
Updated December 9, 2023by BetterHelp Editorial Team

When you look only to others, and not within, to meet your emotional needs, you may find that you’ve given away your sense of control over your life. Perhaps you often feel like others hold the key to your safety, satisfaction, or overall happiness.

You may feel that you’ve become clingy or dependent, experiencing panic or upset when you’re away from the person you rely on. Or you might feel sad or conflicted because another person's mood, thoughts, or behavior affects you more than you’d like. Whatever the case, situations like this may make it challenging to consider your feelings independent of theirs. 

If you often feel like others determine whether you feel content, happy, or safe, know that you don’t have to continue living this way. It can be challenging, but prioritizing your opinion of yourself (rather than others’ opinion of you) can bring you one step closer to feeling in control and independent. 

Finding greater contentment within yourself can be one way to learn how to stop being needy. This approach may help you feel less dependent on others for your happiness. You may feel less at the whim of others and find your relationships improve because of it.

Remember That You Know Yourself Best

No one else knows you the way you know yourself. Relying on someone else to fulfill your needs often leads to feelings of discontentment or disappointment. It could also put undue strain on your relationship with that person.

If you feel that perhaps you don't know yourself as well as you should, there are some things you can do to improve this situation. Getting to know yourself may require time alone with your thoughts and feelings. For some people, a counselor can also guide them to discover and recognize who they are and treat themselves with compassion and understanding. Often, this can lead them to the next step of learning what truly makes them feel fulfilled and safe in the long run. 

If you feel like you don’t know who you are, it’s not a reason to panic. Who we are can change constantly, whether or not we are aware of it. A therapist might be able to help you explore the reasons you feel this way and provide tools to help you get better connected with yourself. 

A counselor can also help identify and challenge some potentially limiting beliefs you may hold about yourself. By helping you determine your values and goals, a mental health professional may be able to aid you in recognizing and managing your needs and desires.

Realize That Happiness Comes From Within

You can claim your fulfillment and sense of peace for yourself, no matter how others treat you. This doesn’t necessarily mean that someone else can’t be a source of your happiness. Knowing that your sense of worth and purpose comes from within can give you the power to feel whole, even when something or someone else isn’t perfect. Your significant other, friends, and family can potentially enrich your life more when you become more self-reliant and independent. 

Sometimes, this concept is referred to as self-care. When you take the time to learn how to be good to yourself, you can practice self-care effectively. Self-care may also teach you how you want to be treated by others and improve your relationships. 

Take Chances

If you feel or have been told you’re “clingy,” it can often feel scary to take risks, big or small. You may feel unsure if they will be difficult or harmful or if the person you love and look toward will disapprove. You may find yourself sticking to a routine out of fear or uncertainty about your ability to cope with new experiences.

As a child, maybe you often hung onto your parent or were hesitant about new spaces or people. As an adult, you may still feel that impulse to run to the person who has been a comfort to you in the past. To change this behavioral pattern, consider this suggestion: When you find yourself needing or wanting comfort or reassurance from someone else, think of what you can do to provide it for yourself. Perhaps you can fulfill your own needs and desires. 

Relying on yourself by taking action to meet your needs can be uncomfortable if you aren't used to it or don’t like doing things alone. By encouraging yourself to explore and test your limits in safe circumstances, you may find that you can take responsibility for yourself. That sense of responsibility may return control to you and bring great emotional rewards. You might soon find yourself feeling stronger and more capable in other areas of your life as well.

Examine Past Relationships

It’s common to develop unhealthy interpersonal relationship patterns based on past relationships. Think back on those significant connections in your life and their positive and negative impact. Perhaps someone said you aren’t good enough or encouraged you to put their needs above yours. Or maybe you’re used to people telling you what to do. 

It can be helpful to examine your past’s effects on your present. Your understanding of who you are and the choices you’ve made can serve to make you feel more in control.

Learn How To Enjoy Time Alone

Learning how to enjoy your own company can be a lovely thing. If this makes you uncomfortable, consider that you don’t have to go out in public immediately to spend time with yourself. For example, you can read, journal, cook, or exercise at home. Alternatively, you might consider making a date with yourself to go to a movie, read in a park, go hiking, have a shopping trip, or do something else you enjoy. The more you tune into yourself, the more comfortable you may feel in your own company. The idea here is that you’ll earn your approval instead of someone else’s.

Speak Up

Consider that you don't have to be the one who goes along with every plan. Voicing your opinion should not upset your friends, family, or partner. If it does, mutual respect may be a deeper issue to discuss with them. It may feel like going along with other people’s opinions makes you likable, but contributing your thoughts and interests is often beneficial. Supportive friends, family, and partners can enjoy who you are and welcome your voice. 

Speaking up can also look like suggesting an activity or plan with someone instead of waiting for the other person to make a suggestion.

Affirm Yourself

You possess strengths, good qualities, and abilities. You don't have to wait for another person to tell you that. Instead, you can remind yourself of this regularly.

It could be helpful to recognize the things you genuinely like about yourself, no matter how simple, and take time to appreciate them. You may have a talent or skill you want to focus more on. In practicing this type of affirmation regularly, you may start to feel less reliant on others’ assessment of your worth. As a result, other people’s opinions may negatively affect your emotions less and less. 

It can feel tricky when it comes to developing a true sense of self. For example, social media can make it challenging to do things just because you like them instead of doing what will earn approval from others. However, by being more and more yourself, you may attract people you genuinely relate to because they connect to the real you.

Help With Learning How To Be Less “Clingy”

If you feel your reliance on someone else is new, finding out what caused this change may be helpful. It could be that you have been in a relationship with someone who has affected your behavior, or you could have been through something else that has made it more comfortable to take your cues from others.

You may have a tough time coming to terms with what has happened and making your way back to your independent self. However, long-term or even lifetime overreliance on others is possible to overcome. A professional therapist can assist you in this journey to your independent self. They can help you discover the strong person you are and enable you to move more quickly towards that goal.

Suppose you’ve been told you’re too clingy or feel like you’ve become overly reliant on another person. In that case, discussing this situation with a stranger may be difficult, especially in a clinical environment like a therapist’s office. You may be embarrassed or ashamed of these feelings. Online therapy can make talking about your emotions and personal life easier because you’ll be in the comfort of your home. Online therapy is an easy-to-use option that’s available when you need it. You won’t have to wait months for your local therapist’s office to take new patients.

Online therapy is also an effective tool. Research has shown that online therapy is just as helpful for users as in-person therapy. One study of almost 10,000 people found that online therapy had virtually the same effect as in-person treatment.

You can read reviews from some BetterHelp users below.

“I’ve only been working with Dr. Clarke a few weeks but I’ve really been enjoying the process. She is very encouraging during each section and I know she’s actually listening to what I’m saying. I would very much recommend Dr. Clarke especially if you’re dealing with anxiety, self-esteem/-confidence issues and/or depression.”

“Dr. Parker has made counseling a painless experience. I was very nervous starting this process and very much felt like a failure for turning to counseling. Dr. Parker has helped me overcome that silly hang up and has really provided me the tools I need to deal with the issues I'm experiencing in my life. She provides a variety of options and talks me through them. She tries to really dig deep into the root of my issue to fully understand me. I feel like I've been heard and that she genuinely wants to help me and cares about the outcome. She's given me a level of confidence that I didn't think was possible. I'm forever grateful for being matched with her.”


Learning to rely on yourself for emotional wellness and stability can be challenging. This may be particularly true if you have a long history of dependence on others. The licensed therapists at BetterHelp are trained to help individuals regain independence and learn self-care. If you’re ready to begin your journey, reach out to be connected with a licensed professional – most people are matched in less than 48 hours.

Learn to strengthen your mental health

The information on this page is not intended to be a substitution for diagnosis, treatment, or informed professional advice. You should not take any action or avoid taking any action without consulting with a qualified mental health professional. For more information, please read our terms of use.
Get the support you need from one of our therapistsGet Started