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travelbabe24's avatar

Why do I attract obsessive/clingy men?

Asked by travelbabe24 (262points) December 24th, 2015 from iPhone

So, I’ve only had 3 boyfriends. I’m 20. The first guy was a bad boy (never making that mistake again), and the last 2 guys were really nice, but they got a little out of hand. They would guilt me into seeing them everyday or else they would “commit suicide”. One guy got jealous if I hung out with family instead of him. Both ended up stalking me after I broke it off. So you get the idea.

I’m not interested in dating right now, but it got me wondering. Why do I attract clingy guys? It makes me really uneasy when men even compliment me now because that’s how my exes started out. Just nice guys complimenting me a lot.

A little about me. I’m introverted. But I’ve been told that I’m always smiling and laughing. Strangers have told my family and friends upon first meeting me that they like me and I’m really sweet. I’m independent mostly. Hobbies include running, hiking, choir, volunteer work, and studying. (I study a lot, trying to get into med school someday). I’m very family oriented. Not trying to sound conceited, but I have been told and I think I’m beautiful. But not your Megan fox sexy beautiful, more of a romance novel sweet beautiful.

But like I said, I’m introverted. I’m very quiet at first. I’ll talk a bit but I’m mostly smiling the whole time. I can be a people pleaser- really trying to work on that. Don’t have much friends because I Can’t really relate to people my age (I’m not into the party scene, most people my age don’t want to go on a hike.)

I’ve noticed the traits in clingy men so I know who to avoid, but how can I attract a strong independent man? With his own thoughts, own goals, own character etc.? I don’t want another guy doing everything just to please me.

Thanks all:)

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8 Answers

marinelife's avatar

Well, what I would do is get to know the men as friends first. See how they react in different situations. Take any relationships slowly.

One things that I think you should do is join a Meetup walking or hiking group. That way you will meet lots of people who share your interests.

Have you met any strong, nice guys doing your volunteer work or at choir? Go ahead and live your life pursuing your interests (but with other people around).

LuckyGuy's avatar

Get a free Geocaching account and start going outside looking for some in your area. Write nice comments since others can see what you write and conversely, you can see what they write and what caches they are willing to attempt.
If you really do enjoy hiking you will find people here who feel te same way. No matter the age, you won’t find a couch potato in the group.. Many regions have ad hoc sub groups where they meet for breakfast and head out to find a few. It is fun.
Hint: If you want independent look for people who have attempted and found caches with level 4 or 5 terrain scores. Those take some guts and a relatively high level of physical capabilities.

ARE_you_kidding_me's avatar

This is the typical dating paradox. You’re not going to find those traits in a 20 year old boy. Your biology pulls you to a “bad boy” and they treat you…badly so you go to the other end where they have no confidence and you find them uninteresting. Sounds like at least one of them needed meds too. I agree with some of the others, join some social clubs doing things you enjoy. I know this is hard for an introvert (I’m one too) but that’s a good way to find someone with common ground.

rojo's avatar

When my wife and I met, she was dating a couple of guys. I was not interested in a relationship with her but a group of us ran around as friends. She says she thought I was aloof but in reality I was just being me and I knew she had boyfriends, one of whom was also a friend, and was certainly not interested fomenting trouble and grief by coming between friends. But we had a good time as part of the group, spending several months getting to know each other. We learned each others habits, good and bad, without the emotional entanglement dating as individuals sometimes brings and eventually the friendship evolved into love and a permanent relationship.

She says that part of the attraction was that I didn’t always give in to what she wanted but fought for my own needs as well. She says that we had a relationship of two individuals, not an individual relationship. As such compromise was always a big part of our being. And, importantly, she felt,we were intellectual equals with own thoughts, ideas, wants and needs. She never felt that with the other guys she went out with, she always thought that either they were too willing to do things her way or were not smart enough to know their own minds.

That was over 42 years ago and we are still together. Our greatest joy is traveling in each others company.

Haleth's avatar

the last 2 guys were really nice, but they got a little out of hand. They would guilt me into seeing them everyday or else they would “commit suicide”. One guy got jealous if I hung out with family instead of him. Both ended up stalking me after I broke it off.”

“because that’s how my exes started out. Just nice guys complimenting me a lot.”

“I’m very quiet at first. I’ll talk a bit but I’m mostly smiling the whole time. I can be a people pleaser- really trying to work on that. Don’t have much friends because I Can’t really relate to people my age”

“I’ve noticed the traits in clingy men so I know who to avoid”

I’m sorry if this seems alarmist, but you should read up on emotional abuse. A few of the things you described could have come straight from my past. I was shy and not very confident, with a sweet disposition and only a few friends. Both of my terrible relationships started with guys being nice to me. They met me at a vulnerable time in my life (not having many friends or much confidence will do that.) At the time, it seemed like they were the only people who were being nice to me.

One of the earliest warning signs of abuse is a new date who flatters you excessively or gets serious very quickly. They may say things like you’re the only one who understands, you’re not like all the other girls (who are bitchy or slutty). My first ex latched onto our difficult family lives, and kept saying how amazingly kind and special I was to understand his issues. The second ex made a huge deal of how cool, “chill”, and “nice” I was, and how I “never bitched about anything.” He was literally complimenting me for not standing up for myself. 5–10 years ago, it seems like the “cool girl” ideal was everywhere. Being laid back, drinking beer, watching football, and being effortlessly hot but casual became a new feminine ideal for a while, because our culture values masculine stuff more. It’s basically this generation’s 1950s housewife in new packaging. Like, instead of an apron, you’re wearing a girl-cut football jersey for his favorite team.

This same guy later pushed all my friends out of my life, gradually and subtly. He would pick out individual body parts for “constructive criticism,” belittle my career goals, give me angry and impatient phone calls several times an hour, “jokingly” call me slow or criticize my life skills, pressure me into sex I didn’t want, and at the end he was pushing me to spend less time with my family, quit my job, and move in with him. It started with compliments, and the next step was a rushed emotional commitment. This dude referred to me as his “girlfriend” on date number three, without asking me first. This was also around the time I met his friends and family.

The first guy was more on the jealous, possessive, stalker side of things. He vandalized my apartment and later spent a whole night pounding on the door, keeping me up until dawn. When I called the cops I was disheveled and exhausted. He smooth talked them and said I was on drugs and that he lived there and I wouldn’t let him in. The cops believed him, let him in, and spoke to me in a sneery, dismissive tone.

Basically, any of the early relationship stuff that happens in Twilight or Fifty Shades of Grey is no bueno. Those two books/ movies are literally a handbook of red flags to avoid. If the early stage has a very rushed, dreamy, Romeo-and-Juliet feel to it, keep your eyes peeled.

Another big abusive red flag is threatening to kill himself if you leave. This is a HUGE manipulation tactic. By doing this, the person is attempting to make their feelings your responsibility. And they are twisting your arm to keep you in a terrible relationship.

Weirdly enough, it was a youtube series that made me realize what was going on. The Lizzie Bennett Diaries is a modern adaptation of Pride and Prejudice in the form of a video diary. The premise sounds cliched, but it’s actually funny, dramatic, and awesome. They use the format in a clever way. In the novel, the younger sister Lydia elopes with Wickham, the seemingly nice suitor who turns out to be a huge ahole. In the adaptation, Lizzie is so wrapped up in her own issues that what happens to Lydia is a shocking family crisis. But Lydia has actually been making her own diary all along, which they all see too late. She starts as a fun, vibrant young woman who is feeling a little cut off from her friends and family. By the end, Wickham has eroded her independence, and she’s a ghost of her former self. The Lydia series is posted on youtube alongside the main series, so viewers may notice or miss it. It’s one of the most accurate depictions of emotional abuse I’ve ever seen. The nested format is a clever meta-commentary on how easy it is to miss the signs. Watching it was kind of a wake-up call that made me finally understand what was happening and why I’d been feeling so bad.

Haleth's avatar

Sorry this is getting so long- it’s a subject close to my heart.

The fix for this is to build up your confidence and independence in life. That is a long, gradual, ongoing process. I’m 28 and haven’t dated in over two years for this very reason. The key is to understand what made you vulnerable to these relationships, and then work on those issues. If you are not very confident, find ways to build yourself up. It’s great that you have interesting hobbies and skills, because these are wonderful confidence builders! Throw yourself into the things you love, and branch out and try new things that seem kind of scary.

And if you are feeling lonely, find ways to deal with that too. The answer to that is different for everyone. For me, the key was first strengthening relationships with my friends and family. I worked on being a closer, better friend to the people already in my life- listening instead of always talking, being there for them, showing up for events, parties, etc. even if I didn’t feel like going, and getting in touch with them more often. I also started purposely spending time with my family- having lunch with my granny, talking about life with my sister, actually asking my dad for advice and taking it, etc. All that stuff finally gave me a foundation for making new friends- which is very possible, even if you’re introverted. You just have to go places where you can meet kindred spirits, and then actually ask them to hang out. That was the hugest sticking point for me but it’s actually surprisingly easy and people say yes all the time. Then you just hang out and talk a bunch more times and bam! New friend.

And once you’re feeling happy, confident, with a strong network of close friends and family and plenty of interests of your own, you’ll be able to spot the assholes a mile away. One hopes. I haven’t tried to date yet and it’s a long road. But being single and doing this stuff is so much better than dating some abusive, possessive jerk. Maybe you’ll know when the time is right to try again.

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

Well, not that you will be happy to hear it, but IMO you gravitate to those types or notice those types more because they are in part, you. You say you are introvert, so it is easier for you to spot them. I have no idea of introverts or extroverts, so I cannot detect them. I can detect arrogant and prideful people because I was prideful until the Lord dealt with me on that. I was never to the point of arrogance, but it is not that far of a stone’s throw. In part, your attractiveness is for them as well, after having seen a douche bag badboy is not as cool and exciting as movies and TV and those skeezers in real life make them out to be. To attract the men you feel suits you better, find out where they congregate and how to get on their radar.

CWOTUS's avatar

I usually respond to questions such as this with an answer such as this, but most other readers here are already too used to that – and it takes too long to keep saying, over and over, so there it is for reference if you want it. That response still applies.

However, I do have a couple of very pointed observations to make here:
1. Why are you wondering “who you attract”? Who is attractive to you? Go, make your move and become the stalker (in terms of predator / prey, hunter / hunted, aggressor / target). (Please note that I am not suggesting that you become “a stalker” in the modern and colloquial use of that word, merely that you become the one to focus your sights and “go after” the one who attracts you. You don’t have to wait for the beta males to come looking for you if the alphas aren’t present or interested enough.)

2. Where are you meeting these guys? I used to laugh (and cry) at the stories I used to hear from women when I was younger (and happily married, so not doing anything to resolve their issues myself) with similar-sounding complaints. They would forever rail about how “the guys they met at the club” were shallow, insubstantial, phony, etc. I used to try to remind them – sometimes this explicitly – “You’re meeting guys in a bar! What do you expect? You can find the guys you would prefer, but they’re not drinking in bars. They’re at work, at school, in the Armed Forces or doing something worthwhile somewhere else – or maybe just at home relaxing for another day of doing something worthwhile and not in a bar.”

3. I would suggest – without knowing you, and only from a casual reading of your question, so there is no criticism implied here – that “introversion” is one thing, but don’t become introverted and inward-looking. That’s too close to narcissism for comfort. Take this from another introvert. I’m introverted to the point of being a near hermit, but I am always outward-focused. That is, I hardly think of myself at all, except when a question like this makes me do so (I’m not at all uncomfortable with the thought or the process of introspection, I just don’t feel the need to indulge in it very often); I much prefer to read, to observe and to learn about other people, places, things, and ideas. So my suggestion in this regard would be to “stop thinking about yourself” as much as you sort of kind of seem to. (I realize that the self-descriptors in the original post were meant to give us guidance in responding, but at the same time I’m also wondering why you thought it would be necessary to offer that guidance.)

So my advice boils down into four points:
A. Ask a better question that will lead you in a direction that you want to advance;
B. Become more at cause over your dating environment, instead of the effect of someone else’s interest;
C. Get out of your routine and go to places where the kinds of men you seek spend their time, and
D. Get out of your own head.

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