A quick sweep across the internet on the topic of love, and it swiftly becomes apparent that conventional wisdom on the subject would have us believe that you simply can’t have enough of it. Whilst the truth of that matter is open to debate, what certainly is true is that love doesn’t necessarily always manifest itself in the healthiest of ways.
What one person perceives as a loving and heartfelt gesture, another might see as creepy. What one person sees as committed and undying devotion, another might see as stalking. What one half of a relationship might see as giving their all to make it work, the other might see as suffocation.
What is emotional suffocation?
Emotional suffocation, put in the simplest of terms, is when there exists a state of imbalance in a relationship. Usually this equates to differences in each individual’s needs regarding time spent together and apart. Some wish to spend every single waking moment with the love of their lives, whereas others need a lot of personal space as well.
This doesn’t mean that the latter’s love is any less, just that they have different emotional needs. However, if you keep on insisting on being together all the time or being part of every activity your partner does, your partner might start to resent your ever-looming presence in their life.
Signs that you’re suffocating your partner
If you’re not sure if your presence in your partner’s life is starting to stifle the life out of your relationship, you can check for these telltale signs that you’re relentlessly suffocating your partner.
#1 Your partner is becoming withdrawn. This is the most common sign that something is wrong with your relationship. There are many reasons why it could be happening, but working out exactly what that might be comes with being honest with yourself and asking the question: am I suffocating my partner?
If your partner is the kind of person who needs their personal space, but just isn’t getting it because you insist on being with them around the clock, they will find the strangest ways to draw up lines to keep you out.
They start finding excuses to be apart from you – even within the home. They start spending more time in the bathroom, or visiting the bathroom more frequently. They start cooking more, spending time alone in the kitchen on more elaborate and time consuming recipes. Any household task provides a similar level of independence, control and pseudo-solitude, three aspects of their lives that they are desperately struggling to regain.
#2 You don’t spend quality time together. Time and quality time spent together are two very different things. Time is a qualitative, not just a quantitative, entity. Spending all your time together is not particularly a good thing, and it can just make things seem tense and claustrophobic.
Quality time, on the other hand, is about putting aside any distractions and committing to a period of conversational, spiritual and physical exploration – re-aligning your relationship so to speak. However, spending quality time together is almost impossible when one of you is insisting on spending too much time together, which can then reduce the quality of said time.
#3 It shows in their body language. Although not always a failsafe indication, body language will often reflect someone’s need to escape, which is a prime indicator that one half of a couple is feeling stifled. Some signs of suffocation to look out for are the following:
– When hugging or kissing you, the upper body is pressed firmly against yours but their hips and feet are turned away, ready to take themselves elsewhere as soon as they have finished.
– When talking to you, their body is turned aside and their eye contact is only fleeting, indicating they are trying not to commit to a conversation, which might lead to further one-on-one time.
– Conversations often take place in doorways, with your other half subliminally trying to show you that they have other things to attend to and don’t have time for a lengthy conversation.
– In bed, hugs no longer consist of full on body contact. Instead, it’s a draped arm or hand half-heartedly fulfilling the constant contact that your partner feels they must dutifully attend to.
None of these things mean that your partner has fallen out of love with you, but choosing to engage in only fleeting conversations and bodily contact may mean that they’re trying to get away.
#4 You’ve become a Checkpoint Charlie. Even the most suffocated of individuals will find an opportunity to temporarily obtain freedom from his or her clingier half. This may sometimes work, but can also backfire to epic proportions. In such situations like this, it’s fine to send a text message or two with a ‘how’s it going’ or ‘I love you’. That’s kind of what being a couple is all about, and if the other half objects to that then it is they who have the problem.
However, being on the phone every five minutes to them just because is definitely not okay. Not only does it make you look like an utter loon, it also negates any refreshing or revitalizing effect that their absence from you may have had. Here are some of the other things that you may be doing whenever your partner is getting some alone time:
– Requiring that your partner checks in with you at regular intervals. This is fine for a teenage daughter going on her first date, but not for a fully grown adult. Such behaviour is downright smothering, and putting the onus on them to make the contact is highly controlling and manipulative.
– Listening for background noises. If you’re doing this, then it’s gone beyond suffocation and travelled into the realms of mistrust. If levels of trust decay much beyond this, then your relationship will become irreparable.
– Making things up. This includes making up illnesses or family issues to stop your partner from having fun without you or as an effort to persuade them to return home early. This is emotional blackmail of the worst kind!
#5 Your partner is hesitant to be around you. There used to be a time when your other half would finish work as soon as the clock struck 5pm so they can run home to you. Now they’re finishing off their work first before they leave the office, and they’re less eager to catch the quickest ride home. This can show that any activity that isn’t as smothering as spending time with you is way more preferable in your partner’s book.
Even if it means clocking in some overtime work or volunteering in causes that your partner isn’t all that into, he or she will take it as long as it means time away from being smothered. It’s as if they’d take any excuse, no matter how mundane, just to get away from you.