Dear 100 Hour Board,
In these strange pandemic times, I'm taking social distancing very seriously, and I'm only making an exception for one person -- my new (and first ever!) boyfriend. Even if it weren't for the pandemic, I'd probably want to spend all of my time with him, but having few other options has really exacerbated this feeling. Also, with him being the only person I'm having any physical contact with any more, I find myself wanting to cling to him like a limpet any time we're together (and most of the time when we're not, too).
One common piece of dating advice I've always heard is that you should give the man some space, keep up your own hobbies and social circles, and don't be clingy. I'm trying to do that. I'm making phone calls to friends and family, and I'm keeping up with my homework and with the hobbies that I can still do while social distancing. But I still feel much needier than normal, and I'm concerned about coming across that way.
Do you have any advice about how to handle this situation? Or advice in general about dating during a pandemic? Or advice in general about dating? I'm feeing adrift here, and I'd appreciate any advice you can give me.
- Miss Limpet
Dear Miss Limpet,
Friend, I feel ya. I've recently learned a very difficult lesson on communication, and the outcome of that is that I am now very insistent that more communication is more better-er, always and forever. I suggest you talk to your boyfriend about these feelings!
I'm clingy too, and I understand the insecurity that can come with that. But part of the point of a relationship is that you help fulfill each other's needs! I'm usually clingiest when I need more attention, either in the form of physical or emotional closeness. If your boyfriend is worth his salt, he'll respond positively when you communicate your needs, and he'll work with you to make sure they're met. At the same time, I suggest you ask your boyfriend to make sure that he's communicating his own needs. If he responds by expressing a need for space, it may be a good time to start up a dialogue about boundaries, so that you can figure something out that will work for both of you.
I've found that when both parties in a relationship are kind and open about expressing their needs, as well as dedicated to working together to fulfill those needs, that tends to result in a pretty healthy and secure relationship. Good luck!
I'd like to add that if because of the pandemic you would like to give physical space to someone, you can always try to do things together while not meeting together. I particularly like guppy of doom's advice about this. This has been relevant for me since I moved home and have needed to stay in contact with others.
Best of luck!
Dear lost Dickens character:
I think "clingy" is a term that is weaponized against women. I don't deny that people can have insecure attachment patterns (I sure have), but I would venture the vast majority of the time, that there's an underlying unmet need behind that behavior, and people being dismissive doesn't in fact solve the problem, but exacerbates it.
You haven't given me any information about your boyfriend, so I have no idea how he's reacting. Someone who is secure will be aware that we're in a bloody pandemic, so you aren't going out to brunch with your gal pals. If you end up spending more time with one of the few people you've chosen to share your six-foot bubble with, that seems like a logical outcome of an unusual situation.
You can always state your needs/fear calmly, without judgment or presumption. Something like, "as you know, Boyfriend, having a relationship is new territory for me. I'm excited to be with you, but I know that having our normal routines on indefinite hold can be a Lot. What does your ideal mix of alone time and together time look like ... I know I am in that stage where I can't get enough of you, but if you need a night of Overwatch at your own place, I get that."
If he treats your poorly, like, how dare this woman have needs, that says a lot about his character.
Relationship experts are saying that this situation is really amplifying dynamics that were there anyway. If you aren't cohabitating (which I'm going to assume not, but who knows), then that should give you both a lot of leeway into having time to yourselves.
Also, if either of you have roommates, I feel like they should be enthusiastically consenting to this arrangement. Don't be the thoughtless roommate exposing others and putting them in an awkward position. If you're in Utah, our curve ain't flat.
I've found the men who most activated my insecure feelings were, in fact, blowing me off. The ones who answer their phones, communicate clear plans, and make me feel like I matter to them even when we might go a few days apart, are the ones who actually want to be with me.
Best of luck!