3 Reasons You Might be Smothering Your Partner

couple Relationships and Gender Roles“Leave me alone. You’re smothering me!”

Have you ever wondered just how your desire to be close to your partner could possibly be interpreted as smothering? Most relationships operate with one person desiring closeness and the other, distance. In the early stages of a relationship, a couple (or at least one person) will accommodate for this, willingly tolerating the difference due to the ‘heady’ dose of the pleasure chemical dopamine that is being produced in mega amounts in the brain. However, as ‘being together’, becomes less of a novelty and more your daily experience, less dopamine is produced in the brain and the things you once were able to tolerate, you find you are no longer able to do so. In practice, this means that a couple begin to function less in a symbiotic (being as one) fashion and more as two people who identify as a couple but are also able to function as individuals with their own identities. It can be quite tricky for a couple to navigate this particular transition in a relationship. If you desire closeness, then you will feel that your partner is pushing you away, distancing themselves, becoming more private and less open. You may even feel rejected. How do you manage that feeling?

1. I become scared

Feeling ‘pushed away’ by your partner may feel scary. If you are being accused of ‘smothering’ your partner, it is probable that your anxiety has been aroused by the feeling of distance. This is a normal reaction that happens because we are biologically wired with an ‘inbuilt’ alarm system that lets us know when our personal safety and/or security, is under threat. Having your partner close alleviates the anxiety you experience because their presence soothes and calms a place within you. For your partner, your need for closeness is matched and balanced by their need for distance. Having you too close will activate their internal alarm, warning them that their safety and security is under threat. Your lesson then is to understand and accept that your partner’s distancing behaviour is less likely to be a rejection of you, but more likely a biological need that allows your partner to feel relaxed and safe.

2. I become distrustful

Before jumping to the conclusion that your partner is not being honest about their behaviour with you, check out what your distrust is about for you personally. If you are feeling scared, anxiety can become highly persuasive, suggesting any number of scenarios that invite you to collude with. The best ‘medication’ for this type of anxiety is to ensure that you remain calm and grounded: exercise, meditation, creative pursuits are all examples are pursuits that have that affect. I cannot stress enough how important it is for you to pay attention to self-care strategies like these, as they will serve to give you clarity of mind and an inner peace. Learning to self-care and calm self has the additional advantage of increasing your own sense of security and self-effigy, so that you feel less needy and reliant upon your partner. There are times when distrust is warranted: your partner is behaving differently, secretively or deliberately avoiding you. Your partner may have a history that suggests the possibility of repeat behaviour. If this is the case, take steps sooner rather than later, in order to give your relationship the best chance of repairing.

3. I become nervous

Sometimes ‘suffocating’ behaviour is about the anxiety that my partner will not cope or will be unable to carry out certain tasks without my supervision. If you identify with that, I encourage you to reflect upon what you think will happen if your partner does not have your supervision. Will they do the task as well as you? Will they be able to do the task at all? If you are nervous about your partner’s ability to do certain tasks, deal with your own anxiety without making them responsible for it. Giving your partner respect by listening to their desire for space and allowing them to operate independent of you is necessary for their independence and self-confidence. You will also develop a healthier couple relationship.


Can you add your own answer to these 3 Reasons You Might be Smothering Your Partner? I would appreciate hearing your response in the comment section of this blog. Irrespective of the reason you are smothering your partner, I strongly urge you to talk to them about what you feel. This can be a challenging conversation to have if your couple communication style has not been developed sufficiently. Seeking professional help in the guise of a Professional Counsellor may be necessary for support at transitional times, giving support, understanding and learning how to communicate in ways more effective. Often couples ‘put off’ counselling in the belief that they can work out the issues alone or that going to a Counsellor is an admission of failure. The truth is that the chance of your relationship failing or at best only reaching a fraction of its’ best potential increases the longer you put Couple Counselling off. Think about it!

If you want to know how to improve your couple relationship and help it to reach its’ full potential, contact Colleen on 0434 337 245 for a free 10 minute consultation or go to www.watersedgecounselling.com and BOOK ONLINE NOW for an appointment.


  1. Debbie Caffrey says:

    I am being smothered because for about 13 yrs I have cried and spoke my hurts. Never was a guilty for not.. Yet nothing ever really changed.. Passion has been gone. I am smothered because he believe’s I can flip a switch and just feel passion again. Simply it is too late. It has been gone and tears and lonliness get old

    • Debbie, it sounds like you are very unhappy and have been for a long time. Do you have someone you trust that you can talk to? If not, may I encourage you to seek out a counsellor to talk about your experience. Talking allows us to release some of the tension we hold and can give us some clarity around what we need to do to move towards a degree of wellness and happiness again. Take care.

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