The Stage Five Clinger


In my experience, the Stage Five Clinger is an almost comical character who completely ignores the natural progression of a relationship and latches on at an alarmingly quick rate; a person with a need to be informed of every detail of their significant other’s life. While society focuses on the stereotype of crazy, clingy women, the truth is that we all have our experiences with clingy men that are swept under the rug.

This is the story of Paul; Paul and I met in a Panera. I remember getting his number and gushing to my roommate about his dimples, his British accent, and his worldly view on life. That soon ended once the endless texts and calls started; when I did not respond right away, Paul was quick to remind me that he was “quite the catch himself.” It only took about two days and half of a dinner date for me to realize that Paul saw himself as God’s gift to women. Besides the fact that he would text me nonstop and get angry when I would not respond right away, Paul also hit on one of my best friends in front of me, then tried to justify it. As the week progressed, his texts became more frequent and the FaceTime calls kept coming in at the weirdest hours.

Many of us can relate: Jalyn Cox, a freshman Journalism major, says, “One time, my boyfriend broke up with me for four days, just to see if I would talk to other guys.” This is an example of a stage five clinger habit; there is a need to test the other person in an effort to silence their own insecurities. The idea that women are insecure is a lot more prevalent in our society, to the point where it is offensive. Women can often be portrayed in the media as self-conscious, difficult beings looking for reassurance in their romantic relationships. However, we often overlook why men are clingy because of we do not associate clinginess with masculinity; we simply romanticize it as something endearing or as a way to show that they care.

This is the issue: regardless of gender roles in the relationship, it becomes toxic when one is more attached than the other. Sam Willinger, a freshman Visual Media Arts major, says, “He tried to make me feel bad for not trying. It kind of worked, but it also drove me away.” This is an example of how clingy men are often glorified to the point where it is okay in their mind to make the other person feel bad for not returning their feelings.

On the flip side, women can just double text and be labeled as psychotic or obsessed. In reference to the aforementioned relationship, Cox says, “He would stop talking to me for the night and go to parties and I would have to find out from my friends where he was. Then the next day he would finally answer me and say ‘calm down’ and that I needed to stop being so crazy. All I’m saying is that he would freak out if I had even tried to go to a party and not tell him about it.”

Why is there a double standard? Why do we make excuses for clingy behavior when it comes to men but not for women? When a man is wearing down your phone battery, it’s charming and attractive. When a woman is simply expecting a text back, she is psychotic or “just being emotional.”

It’s 2017 and the stereotype needs to end; regardless of gender, everyone experiences emotions but not everyone gets associated with the negative aspects of being an emotional person. It is oppressive to invalidate anyone’s feelings, and it all comes down to how society associates insecurity with gender, it is a lot easier to see women as insecure and emotional because those are traits we often associate with femininity and as downfalls to masculinity.

Needless to say, things between Paul and me did not work out. Paul’s parting words to me (over text) were: “Most girls I know show a real interest in me. They seem like they want to see me again and seem excited. You don’t. You don’t make time for me and you don’t reply to me. You never text me without me texting you first. I told you I’d love to see you again and I get nothing back. I have a feeling I liked you much more than you liked me. Goodbye.”

Photography by: Livia Lange