Emotionally sensitive people often struggle with trusting their internal experience. They have been told so often, “You’re too sensitive,” or “You are such a drama queen, ” or “You always over-react,” that they believe there is something wrong with them.

Others frequently don’t understand the intense emotions that the emotionally sensitive experience. In my experience, this leads many emotionally sensitive people to look to others for how they are supposed to feel, think, and act.

They are sometimes fearful they can’t manage their intense emotions on their own, so they look to others for help. This can lead to clinging or holding on too tightly to others.

If you find that you cling to others, you probably know how scary it is to need someone desperately. You don’t want that person to be away too long or have strong relationships with others. You need that individual. Other relationships that s/he has and outside interests that you don’t share can seem threatening. You need the reassurance of having the other person’s time and attention.

Being dependent on someone can be controlling of the other person. Because you need the other person, you are likely to also want to know where the other person is at all times and what s/he is doing, who s/he is talking with. You may need repeated reassurance of your importance to him or her. This can lead to the other person pushing away and perhaps ending the relationship.

What can you do to stop holding on too tightly? Here are few ideas.

  1. Recognize how you cling. Do you repeatedly seek reassurance of your value? Do you attempt to share all interests so you are not apart? Do you become helpless without the other person? You may have different ways of holding on and knowing what they are will help you begin to change them.
  2. Stop idealizing. People who hold on too tightly often do so based on the belief that the other person is the only one who can understand them or the only one they would ever want in their lives. There may be a belief that all will be okay if this person is in their life and it will be a catastrophe if they lose this relationship. The truth is that no one is perfect and no one person defines your happiness.
  3. Remember no one else can manage your feelings and happiness but you. You may be looking for someone to take care of your emotions and make you happy. You seek happiness outside of yourself. This leads to trying to change the other person so they know what to say and what to do that makes you happy. No one can always say the right words or save you from pain. Learning to manage your own emotions will help you find safety and peace. Looking to others to manage your emotions will bring anxiety and fearfulness.
  4. Recognize that you can learn. You can learn to do tasks that others have been doing for you. You can learn to manage your bills, buy your groceries, and make friends. Accept being a beginner and that you will make mistakes. It can seem overwhelming if someone else has been doing tasks for you, but take it one step at a time.
  5. Work toward enjoying time alone. Consider looking at time alone as an opportunity to learn how to enjoy time alone. Brainstorm ideas for what you can do. Throw yourself into hobbies or projects that you enjoy or think you might enjoy. You are developing your sense of identity.
  6. Make more choices on your own. What is your favorite restaurant? Where would you most like to go on vacation? What is your favorite movie? How would you like to spend weekends? Take time to know your own opinions and when given choices, make them.
  7. Stop trying to get more. When you are clingy, you may try to change the other person to be “perfect.” You may wish the other person was with you more often or didn’t spend so much time at work. You may focus on what you don’t have and try to get more. Practice focusing on the time you do have and how the other person is supportive of you instead of the time you don’t have and ways the other person isn’t there for you.
  8. Check the facts.When you hold on too tightly to someone, you may have fears of losing the person that aren’t based on reality. This can lead you to hold more tightly and to seek reassurance in either positive or negative ways. Remember to check the facts. Is there any evidence, true evidence, that what you are thinking is factual? If not, use skills to calm your anxieties.

These are a few steps that could be helpful. If you’ve had difficulty with holding on too tightly, what worked for you?