I fully acknowledge that I can be needy myself. I get excited about new relationships, romantic or friendly, and I want to talk all the time, and see them all the time, and I obsess and obsess and can’t get people out of my head. It’s something I hate about myself, and work on moderating pretty much all the time. So I try to cut people slack who are similar, and who have trouble moderating that neediness in themselves. I don’t like the word needy. It’s what my therapist would call a “judgment word.”

So, if I’m calling someone needy (or clingy, like Saran wrap, get it?!?), shit’s gotta be pretty intense.

Segway into “pretty intense.”

In the spring, I met a friend of a friend of a friend at the bar. He was cute, and clearly into me. We had a pretty nice conversation, although he was very drunk, and I gave him my number at the end of the night (after the bartender cut him off).

The next day, a Friday, we went out for lunch. We had a great time – he was very sweet, and very into me. We wound up spending the whole day together, and he wound up sleeping over. No sex or anything. Just make outs and cuddles. We wound up hanging out the next evening, with another sleepover. The next day (Sunday) we saw each other again, although he went home when I went to karaoke. He told me he really wanted me to come to trivia with him and his friends on Monday night. As in, the next night. I can’t stand trivia, so I didn’t want to, but he told me it would really mean a lot to him. I said okay.

At trivia, I met all of his best friends, including his identical twin brother. It was, as I expected, boring. But he came outside with me when I took smoke breaks and we made out. So I was cool with that. Even though it was kinda weird that I was already meeting his family. Whatever, I thought. Here’s a guy who doesn’t play games. He’s not afraid to tell me he likes me. This is what I’ve been wanting, right? And if we both feel like giving in to that fun, beginning urge to hang out all the time, hey, why not? It felt good to have someone be so into me, so immediately.

The next day (a Tuesday), he asked to hang out again. I had wanted to take some time to myself – after all, I need a lot of alone time, and I also know that I tend to rush into things when I’m excited about them. I tried to avoid that. I told him that I wanted some space that night, but he insisted, and came over with a few bottles of wine. As usual, we had a great time talking, and, as it got later, he asked if he could sleep over.

“No,” I said. “I have class tomorrow, and I want to get some sleep. Plus, I really don’t want to overdo it. I need my alone time.”

He threw a fit, begging to stay over. I said no one more time, but, eventually, I gave in – resentful and anxious, because I had had so little time to myself.

The next day, I spoke to a friend about how overwhelmed I felt. I hadn’t had any time to myself. This guy hadn’t respected me when I told him I wanted him to go home. It was one thing, I said, to ask twice, because you really want something. But then you drop it. I wanted to cut him slack, though. Because I get it. I get clingy, too.

So, I explained to Saran that I didn’t appreciate the guilt trip.

“I told you I need a lot of time to myself,” I said. “I can’t even see my best friend this often. I start to hate him, too.”

He said that he totally understood; he apologized, he wouldn’t do it again. We dated for another week, seeing each other slightly less. But, although he said he’d change, he really didn’t. He still wanted to hang out all the time. I was setting more boundaries, but it was exhausting. And all the work I put into drawing lines meant we hung out, like, three times a week, instead of five. Which was still definitely too much for me. Ultimately, I just couldn’t take it. I ended things over text. Gently, kindly, but still over text. Like an adult.

A couple of months later, I texted him when I was drunk.

“Hey, it’s Eliza,” I said. “How have you been?”

We started talking again. We agreed that we would hang out, but not rushing anything, fully starting over, building a relationship as friends. He came over a few nights later, to drink wine at my apartment. As I do.

Of course, chemistry doesn’t just go away because you decide you want to take things slow. And we all know I struggle with impulse control. So, we wound up making out, and he wound up sleeping over.

This time, though, I did insist on taking more space. We saw each other once a week for the next week or two. It was pretty nice. And then, one late night, he asked to sleep over again.

“I don’t think so,” I said. “I need some quiet time.”

In a jarringly familiar turn of events, he begged, and then threw a temper tantrum. This time, however, I stood firm. I insisted he leave. He stormed out of my apartment, angry.

I ain’t stupid. I wasn’t gonna fall for that shit again. Fool me twice, blah blah. So I sent him a text.

“Listen,” I said. “This just isn’t going to work out. I don’t think we’re compatible. But you’re lovely, and I wish you all the best.”

He did not respond.

Saran wrap has its uses – covering a bowl of tuna salad, for example, when you want to save it for the next day. Wrapping a brick of fresh parmigiano-reggiano. But I’m not a hard cheese. I’m a person. So back the fuck off.

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