Why Do Women Worry About Being Clingy Way (Way) More Than Men Do?

Originally posted on Bellesa Collective

“No, I’ll just wait,” my friend said for the third day in a row. She was desperately waiting for a text from someone she’d been seeing- but was refusing to text them first. Why? Because even though they’d been seeing each other twice a week for the past two months, she was still worried about looking clingy.

It’s way too common — and makes me so frustrated that I’m ready to scream. Women are so terrified of looking clingy that they don’t engage in totally normal behaviors. Another friend wasn’t sure if she was meeting a date at the restaurant or at the subway station, but didn’t want to text and ask. Another refused to ask someone to define the relationship— even after four months of seeing each other. And one of the biggest culprits is women leaving first thing in the morning because, whether it was a date or just a hookup, they’re terrified of being the kind of woman who stays beyond their welcome. They don’t want to look needy or demanding, even if that means leaving in a stupor at 6 am without even brushing your teeth.

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It. Is. Bullshit. There’s no problem with leaving early or not texting someone because it’s what you want to do, but not doing something you want to do because you’re scared of looking clingy?

That’s a problem. Here’s why.

It’s a social issue

The truth is, we’re socialized into it. Nobody wants to be “that girl” — and that’s a terrible, destructive motif that’s haunted us for far too long. First of all, where did “that girl” come from? We all know basically what it means, but it’s total crap. Yet in movies, in TV shows, in songs, we see women portrayed as desperate and clingy while men are portrayed as strong and independent.

Not only that, we’re taught to believe that men fear and disdain those qualities in women. A woman has to be the “cool girl” who drinks beer and eats pizza but is also a size zero and fucks all night and never calls. Oh and, also, her breath never smells in the morning. And if you’re anything other than that, you better not let them know.

It’s nonsense. First of all, because it’s reductive and insulting. Sure, some women want to stay in the morning, but some women don’t. Just like some men want to stay in the morning, some men don’t. My friends and I have hooked up with guys who just would not get the eff out the next morning. Or afternoon. We’ve also hooked up with guys who text too much, demand too much time and are oversensitive. There is no “that girl,” because clingy behaviors can belong to men or women. So we need to accept that we’re socialized to believe it’s true, rather than it being based on any facts.

Communicate what you’re feeling

And even if you are a bit needy, who cares? On the most basic level, you shouldn’t ever do things you’re not comfortable with because of fear. That’s just not OK. So if you don’t feel like calling an Uber in your PJs when it’s still dark outside, then just don’t do it. You’re allowed to want what you want — and you don’t have to apologize or pretend.

But it’s also important for a larger reason. If ultimately you do want to get into a relationship (which isn’t the case for everyone and that’s cool, too), you at some point are going to have to admit that you have these feelings. That you like spending time with that person, that it isn’t just about sex. You’re entitled to those wants and emotions and, at some point, you’re going to have to be open about them.

Hell, even if it is about sex, then you still might like spending time with that person. I had a fuck buddy who I used to watch 30 Rock with at night and have a coffee with in the morning. It wasn’t because I was clingy, it was because we were friends, too. You don’t need to stop doing normal things that you want to do because of how you’re scared it will look.

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Finally, communication and clarity are always better than silence and confusion. Always. Whether this is a person you have feelings for or someone you just love getting naked and sweaty with, it doesn’t matter. Rather than leaving in silence and leaving everyone wondering what it means, why not just put it out there. Say you had a great time, figure out where you both stand on it, and go from there. It doesn’t have to be that hard.

Women deal with so many stereotypes — and fears that come from those stereotypes — that we can feel pressured to behave in ways that aren’t good for us. But you don’t have to listen to those pressure. Do you what you want and approach situations with maturity and clarity. Oh — and fuck the haters.