3 Ways To Handle A Suffocating Boyfriend

Women's Dating

3 Ways to Handle a Suffocating Boyfriend

Rachel Dack

Written by: Rachel Dack

Rachel Dack

Rachel Dack is a licensed clinical professional counselor (LCPC) and relationship coach specializing in individual and couples psychotherapy. Rachel's areas of expertise include relationships, dating, mindfulness, anxiety, depression and self-esteem.

See full bio »

Edited by: Lillian Castro

Lillian Castro

Lillian Guevara-Castro brings more than 30 years of journalism experience to ensure DatingAdvice articles have been edited for overall clarity, accuracy, and reader engagement. She has worked at The Atlanta Journal and Constitution, The Gwinnett Daily News, and The Gainesville Sun covering lifestyle topics.

Discuss This! Discuss This!
Advertiser Disclosure

Smothering and suffocation easily destroy love, whereas healthy boundaries and a balance of individuality and togetherness expand love.

Happy relationships require both partners to have adequate breathing room, time apart, autonomy and separate interests with the understanding that being glued to each other does not equal a lasting and fulfilling relationship.

In fact, couples in which each partner has a solid sense of self and independence tend to rate their relationship as happier and more satisfying.

Your smothering boyfriend naturally leaves you feeling annoyed, trapped, on edge and frustrated. Whether he wants constant contact and affirmation of your love, is overly affectionate or assumes you are there to meet all of his needs, you are bound to feel drained and overwhelmed. In response, you withdraw, avoid him and take space.

As you seek distance and pull away, it is likely he will smoother you more, viewing his smothering as an expression of his love for you. This is a common vicious cycle — you withdraw and he pursues, you withdraw more and he pursues more, and so on and so forth.

Another problematic dynamic might also emerge. If you snap at him about needing space in a non-loving way, he might overly withdraw in an attempt to deal with his crushed emotions and insecurities. He might believe he is giving you the space you need. However, you both will end up withdrawing with growing tension.

So how can you stop unhealthy patterns associated with smothering behavior and get your relationship back on track?

Here are three tips for handling your suffocating boyfriend:

1. Communicate directly about your concerns

Choose your words and timing wisely, and avoid critical language. Your goal is to increase understanding between you and your boyfriend without him becoming overly defensive or taking your needs personally.

Begin the conversation by reaffirming your love and desire to be in your relationship. Then discuss your need for increased space and separateness or lower levels of affection while normalizing that it is OK that you have different desires and needs (this is normal, in fact!).

It is essential that you communicate that this is something you need for yourself in order to be a happy and healthy girlfriend. Therefore, it is best to use “I” statements (versus “you” statements) and talk about your own needs (versus what your boyfriend is doing wrong).

Be sure to repeat your commitment to him throughout the conversation to decrease the potential of him feeling rejected.

2. Set healthy relationship boundaries

And negotiate time together and apart.

Carve in separate time while reassuring your boyfriend that this is healthy and not personal to him. It is useful to add time apart into your routine so it is expected and he won’t feel neglected. The hope is you will both use your time to develop your own interests and passions, participate in self-care and meet your own needs (emotionally, mentally, socially, spiritually and physically).

During time together, be sure to give your boyfriend your undivided attention and stay present in the moment.

3. Remember your boyfriend isn’t trying to hurt or irritate you

Smothering generally comes from insecurity or an over-expression of love (love has been called a drug many times!) and is not an intentional invasion or control tactic. It can also be the result of differences in needs for affection and space that are still unresolved.

While suffocating initially creates conflict, if addressed properly, a healthy equilibrium of separateness and togetherness will form, and your relationship will become one that is rewarding and enjoyable.

Advertiser Disclosure

DatingAdvice.com is a free online resource that offers valuable content and comparison services to users. To keep this resource 100% free, we receive compensation from many of the offers listed on the site. Along with key review factors, this compensation may impact how and where products appear across the site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). DatingAdvice.com does not include the entire universe of available offers. Editorial opinions expressed on the site are strictly our own and are not provided, endorsed, or approved by advertisers.

Our Editorial Review Policy

Our site is committed to publishing independent, accurate content guided by strict editorial guidelines. Before articles and reviews are published on our site, they undergo a thorough review process performed by a team of independent editors and subject-matter experts to ensure the content’s accuracy, timeliness, and impartiality. Our editorial team is separate and independent of our site’s advertisers, and the opinions they express on our site are their own. To read more about our team members and their editorial backgrounds, please visit our site’s About page.