How to rid yourself of a Stage V Clinger

“Passion is a positive obsession. Obsession is a negative passion.” Paul Carvel, Belgian Writer & Editor


"I'm not telling you where I live, psycho! "



The world of dating is a challenge. In the beginning it’s like a game of cat and mouse – a game of systematic advance and retreat. You want to attract your intended’s attention but also play it cool, hoping the game will evolve into something more, even if that coupling ends up being merely horizontal.

Most people have a ‘type’ that they stick to which more often than not is the exact sort of person they should not be with. Think how many times you or someone you know has returned the same breed of person that brings no joy or goodness to them and actually makes them miserable without even realizing it.

Often, after numerous attempts to make that ‘type’ be the right fit, it finally dawns on them that perhaps they need to change it up and redefine what actually suits them in a significant other. I am sure I am not the only person to have arrived at the conclusion or been given the advice to broaden dating horizons by accepting dates who are outside the lines of your usual norm. This idea can seem like a cure for insanity: an elixir that lifts the dark cloak of  a disappointing dating life and opens your eyes to a fresh and untapped dating pool.

By choosing  differently you might be rewarded. But, beware! You may become so blinded by your brilliant epiphany to change your dating perspective by opening  yourself to a new species of partner that you unwittingly becoming the target of an obsessed individual who wants to consume the new you because they’ve sensed that you have your guard down.

This person is determined – a dating predator in nice sheep’s clothing who lays on the charm with a pointed interest in you that soon gives way to reveal a possessive and relentless personality. It is then that you have found yourself in the cross-hairs of a Stage V Clinger.

So how do know if you are faced with this new brand of dating nightmare? Some signs to look for include chronic calls followed by immediate text messages; premature discussions about your lack of availability to spend time with this person who you just met a week ago; immediate offers to change, fix or assume responsibility for any difficulties you might be facing, especially financial ones; forceful attempts to spend time with you while you attend to the more mundane chores of your life, like house-cleaning and laundry, and finally come the interrogations about whether there is someone else.

I recently met a guy who ascended the Clinger classification stages after I had known him for about ten days. At first I was intrigued by his interest, and he seemed to genuinely want to take me out and show me a good time. He even went so far as to express date ideas on a daily basis for us, and I’ll admit, I was flattered. Stage I.

Then he ended up being so pushy and whiny about seeing me that he made offers to drive over when I said I wasn’t available for a date. “Do you want me to just drive up there so you can see me?” When I declined again, he was unable to understand why there was no sense of urgency on my part to get together with him despite my honesty in disclosing the busy and pressing nature of my work and lack of available time. Advance to Stage III.

I sensed then that this guy was intense, so I found myself resisting getting together with him again. I met him with equally intense honesty to talk him down a little. I told him to ‘relax and let things unfold’ and  ‘if I don’t answer your call, there is a reason; I will call you back when I have time to talk.’  I even went so far as to say, ‘maybe you need someone who has more time. I am not that girl and will not become her any time soon’ . It seemed like he got it and I breathed a sigh of relief – a short sigh, as it turned out. The constant calling ceased for about a day and half.  Then it was right back, and this time, it was worse. Enter Stage IV.

When I answered his (um, fifteenth?) call with unmistakable annoyance in my tone, he was an interesting mix of sugar-coated flattery and hostile accusation.  Now the ‘is there someone else’ questions started to pop up. What? I reminded him we went on one date, I was not his girlfriend, and again, maybe he needs to look elsewhere for a girl who could fulfill the kind of time he requires.  His response?  “You need to just give me your address so when I can’t reach you, I can just come over and see you.” Full-blown Stage V.

Feeling panicked? I sure was. Stage V is serious, and it is not easy to detach a Clinger of this magnitude. So, when honesty fails to work, what options do you have?

Here are five steps to dislodge a Stage V Clinger from your life.

1. Invent a psycho ex who recently popped back into your life. State that you want to spare them any drama and warn them to please stop calling you. In this case, I invented a super-jealous BSO, gun-wielding ex who would possibly induce harm.

2.  Change your phone number. If you can’t because of business, as is my case, have a male friend answer the phone and make a threatening request to stop calling you.

3. Claim to have taken a job in another state that will prevent any possible future between the two of you.

4. Change teams and declare vehemently that you will not consider hetero relationships any longer.

5. Tell him you’re married, pregnant, or just found out that you got someone else pregnant or have an incurable disease.

When you sense that someone is trying to push into your life too quickly, don’t overlook or dismiss the signs. It’s best to nip it in the bud, and there is no way to know how quickly this stalker type will advance to full-on cling status. You should stay open-minded when it comes to dating, but keep your eyes open as well.

I believe that honesty is the best policy, but in the case of a Clinger its virtue falls flat and you must resort to other means.  If you are this relentless type of dater, now the masses have been warned, so ease up or you’re never getting laid. Remember, passion in pursuit of a relationship is sexy – obsession is not.  When faced with a Stage V Clinger, all is fair and it is war, but who cares what I think?


[As previously published in the South Florida Chronicle, June 24, 2010)

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