Sorry to break it to you ladies, but the label “stage five clinger” tends to be applied to us. Admittedly, there are girls out there giving us a bad name: full-frontal text-a-holics who assault Facebook walls and don’t understand the meaning of a “casual hook-up.”
Everyone from the guys on the Jersey Shore to Vince Vaughn in Wedding Crashers has complained about a stage five clinger. On the Jersey Shore, a girl shows up in eerily coincidental places like Pauly D’s hang out spot on the boardwalk outside the t-shirt shop (and as any Jersey girl knows, there is plenty of boardwalk at Seaside to go around). In Wedding Crashers a “virgin” expects a magical romance to blossom to replace her old flower.
But I want to debunk this myth that only girls can be clingers. There are all kinds of clingy guys that we encounter every day, from the classroom to the frat house, and it’s time for guys to recognize their clingy behavior.
For example, there is the Dance Floor Clinger. The one where you turn around for a second at a party and poof! Suddenly it’s that guy who always happens to be on the dance floor with you, and he slides his arm around your waist and gives you that creepy half-smile that’s supposed to say, “I know you want to dance with me,” but really says, “I always try to hook up with you and I’m praying it will happen this time.”
Then there’s the Cyber Clinger, the guy who is on Facebook chat at seemingly odd hours of the day and always “likes” your comments on your friends’ walls or your status updates but you two have never actually spoken in person.
And don’t get me started on the Class Friend Clinger, the guy who sends you emails or Facebook messages about homework assignments he claims he misheard even though it’s clearly explained on the syllabus or on blackboard, and you even saw him writing down the assignment in class.
The Common Ground Clinger is always a laugh; the guy who says, “Aren’t you that girl who went to my rival high school?” or, “Aren’t you that girl from New Jersey?” and you nod yes even though he has said this to you a hundred times. And then he insists on chatting for an hour about this one diner and asking if you have ever been there, but you learned your lesson last time and remember not to bring up the cheese fries.
However, a Stage Five Clinger is when all the flags go up and you should immediately abandon ship. There are a few stages a guy needs to pass through in order to be classified as stage five, and we can start with the basics.
First, we need to define “clingy”. Clingy means acting more intense and attached than the other person expects. It is important to recognize that behavior is only considered clingy if it’s not reciprocated – if you are both clingy then it feels adorable. If it’s noticeably one-sided, track his progression through the stages and hope he never escalates into a stage five.
1. Stage One Clinger: You hook up once and he reveals he is recently out of a relationship. He throws around phrases like “I’m a relationship person” while he is driving you home and texts you later saying, “Hope I didn’t freak you out. But I hope this goes somewhere :)”.
Any use of emoticons is usually clinger territory. Those are reserved for girls trying to be flirty or guys trying to be ironic.
2. Stage Two Clinger: Pauly D had a few things right; if he repeatedly appears in any eerily coincidental places he might be a stage two clinger. Such as, when he asks you what you are doing and you text, “I’m studying in the library on the third floor by the vending machines,” and he texts you back, “How weird! Me too.” You turn around and see him leaning around a bookshelf waving. Hmmmm.
He also starts to call multiple times a day and texts you for no reason, e.g., “Thinking of you.”
3. Stage Three Clinger: He makes his profile picture a picture of the two of you. You wonder when that picture was even taken.
He also seems to rearrange his schedule or changes his routine so he can spend more time with you. For example, he cancels plans with friends to hang out with you and doesn’t mention he was supposed to hang out with his friends until later.
4. Stage Four Clinger: He gives you a hard time about wanting to hang out with your friends and says he would rather hang out with you than his friends, and wonders why you don’t feel the same way. You remind him that you don’t want to be “that couple” who doesn’t have any friends, and that you love hanging out with your girlfriends, but this is a futile argument. You are rapidly advancing to stage five.
5. Stage Five Clinger: He talks about your future as if you have already talked about it. Such as, “When we go to grad school together,” or “I was talking to my grandfather on the phone yesterday and I realized I want to name our child after him.”
When you go to the bathroom, you have two missed calls and three new text messages that all say: “Where are you?”
If you search “stalking” in Wikipedia it describes all his recent behavior.
Usually there are simple ways to handle these various kinds of clingers, like traveling in packs to shake off the Dance Floor Clinger and de-friending the Cyber Clinger, but you have to be careful when dealing with the Stage Five Clinger. Try to break it off before he advances past Stage Three – unless you really are considering naming your child after his grandfather.