“It’s absolutely not your responsibility to fix the person to not be needy,” says Suh.
That said, there are ways for you to support your partner’s healing journey by going the extra mile to help them feel secure in the relationship, she says, such as by expressing to your partner often that you do love and cherish them, planning and having purposeful quality time, and making sure to consistently be honest and follow through on promises.
At the same time, Suh also recommends setting healthy boundaries in the relationship to make sure they’re not saddling you with too much responsibility for their sense of wholeness. “Communicate any feelings about clingy behaviors in ‘I’ messages without any blame,” she recommends. “Talk in clear language [about] what is acceptable and is not tolerated.”
“Clinginess” can sometimes become possessive if the behavior becomes excessive, habitual, and unrecognized, says Suh, adding that a possessive person can sometimes start to disrespect and even dehumanize their partner. “The best way to keep in check is to be very honest to yourself and accept that there may be an issue,” she says.
If it feels like you two are struggling to navigate these challenges on your own, don’t be afraid to reach out to a professional to get support, says Suh. Individual or couples’ therapy can help you both communicate better about your needs and boundaries and help your partner work through the attachment issues they may be dealing with.