Getting the balance right with the amount of space you allow yourselves in a relationship is incredibly difficult. Too much spending time apart and it might seem like you don’t really care about your significant other, and you’re at risk of allowing the relationship to fade away. On the other hand, spend too much time together and you could be neglecting other parts of your emotional and psychological development as a couple.
One of the greatest risks to a relationship is when one half of a couple not only neglects their own personal space and time, but inflicts that neglect upon the other. Such an invasion of private territory can have only one result: separation.
Respecting your boyfriend’s space
A lot has been written about the differences between men and women in areas such as communications, spatial awareness, empathic awareness, etc., but one of the main differences focused upon has been that of the need for space.
That’s to say that we all need our private space, but to a man this space is a sacrosanct and imperishable right. There are myriad homes around the world that have its separate garage, gym, garden shed, basement or game room, where a man can disappear into his own thoughts for a while and charge his batteries. It’s the modern day equivalent of a caveman retreating to his cave.
What you ladies have to ensure is that this space, in the more metaphorical sense of the word, is respected. Fail to do so and he will display signs of aversion, and may even eventually come to despise you for it, if left unchecked.
Signs you’re smothering your boyfriend and he wants his space
The more your boyfriend feels smothered in the relationship, or believes his space is being invaded, the more signs there will be to indicate this, if you know what to look for. However, the signs won’t be coming from him alone, as your behavior can indicate whether you’re smothering him, as well. The following list of ways to know if your boyfriend feels smothered, is split into two categories – his behavior and your behavior.
#1 Body language. Body language is a fantastic interpreter of people’s innermost thoughts or feelings. The spoken word might be steady and measured, utterly convincing in everything it is trying to convey, but the truth is instantly given away by a raised eyebrow or clenched hands.
What you need to look for is his body’s reaction to feeling suffocated or repressed, and that will come across in his stance. If his feet are always turned away from you, if he hugs you with his upper body but with his hips and legs turned away as if anticipating the need to escape, then you can bet your bottom dollar that he feels he needs more space.
Likewise, people devote eye contact to someone whom they wish to spend time with. They use it to lure involvement, and to indicate that they are willing to continue. If he frequently avoids eye contact, then it could be a sign that he is trying to bring any conversation to a swift end, in order to make good his escape and find some space. [Read: 10 hints he gives when he wants more space]
#2 He always seems to be in a different room. Does he spend all his time at home involved in domestic chores, cooking, cleaning, gardening, doing DIY, and so on? Well, your friends might think you have found the perfect man, but the truth of the matter is that he could just be finding ways of getting away from you.
Be honest with yourself: if he goes off to another room to read a book or do a bit of web-surfing, do you go straight after him, pestering him to spend more time with you? Well, that’s why he’s suddenly started preparing a gourmet meal every evening – simply because he feels that is something he is allowed to do on his own, where you won’t bother him.
#3 He starts to ignore your phone calls. You need to be apart at one point, whether to work or go to school or do some errands. Even the most possessive of us can’t deny that particular liberty, but it might be tempting to pick up the phone just a little too often in order to check in with him and ensure that he hasn’t stopped thinking about you.
If all of a sudden the calls stop being taken or the texts are less and less frequently answered, then it might be because he feels you impose upon enough of his time, and that he needs his work hours to himself at least.
#4 He tries to encourage you to do more. “Why don’t you see if Barbara wants to go out for a drink, darling?” “You should take up running again.” “You should go on that office event, I don’t mind.”
If you’re hearing these encouraging words from your partner, then it might not actually be his caring and loving side coming out that you’re witnessing. It might instead be the case, given the fact that he’s given up trying to go anywhere on his own, that his only chance of getting a bit of space is through getting it at home – if he can convince you to leave him alone for the night. [Read: 13 things you need for a perfectly happy life]
#5 He starts to get irritable. Arguing becomes the order of the day. He snaps at you, gripes and groans at every request, responds cynically and sarcastically. It might be breaking your heart that the love of your life is treating you in this way, but it may actually be a self-inflicted situation.
Men need their space to psychologically heal. If they aren’t given it, then they start to react to their situation, and the fight or flight response is triggered. Although they have enough cognitive and social awareness to control this urge, it may be finding its release through biting remarks or in the need to escape, as discussed in point 1. [Read: 16 reasons he’s being mean to you]
Things you should do to quit smothering your man
Not quite sure if you can spot the signs mentioned above? Then perhaps you should be on the safe side and avoid doing the following things that make your man feel suffocated.
#6 You don’t like his friends. A dead giveaway, this. You don’t like his friends – don’t like how they walk, talk, compose themselves or even breathe! But is this really the case? Do a bit of soul searching. Do you have friends who display all the same traits as those of your boyfriend’s, but with whom you have no issue? If so, it may be the case that it’s not his friends you have a problem with, rather than the fact that he’s spending time with them instead of you.
#7 You’re always calling him. Are you ringing him every given moment that he’s at work, worrying yourself that he may have forgotten you for two sixteenths of a second or is talking to a female colleague who might actually be more interesting or, heavens preserve us, better looking than you. If he goes out for a rare drink with friends, are you having him dig for his phone with random texts and calls every second minute? Yes, yes, and yes? Put down the phone, because you’re smothering the poor guy! [Read: 13 clingy girlfriend signs and how to avoid it]
#8 You constantly check up on him. Similar to point 7, do you constantly find yourself worrying that you have left his thoughts? Does this lead you to stalk him around your own home, following him from room to room, as he desperately tries to find excuses to move elsewhere in his bid for space? Are you making him endless cups of coffee or tea as an excuse to invade his space yet again? If that’s the case, you can bet he’s feeling the strain. [Read: 5 reasons why loving him too much will kill the love]
#9 You’ve cut your friends off. When was the last time you went for a drink with friends? Do they keep inviting you out, telling you to put him down for a moment and relax? Maybe they’ve stopped inviting you out altogether, due to you never answering the call.
If this is the case and you’ve gotten rid of practically all your social connections, convinced that you need to dedicate every moment of your waking life to your significant other, then chances are you’re not giving him the space he needs, and things might be going swiftly wrong as a result.
#10 You get stressed when you’re not with him. Do you feel yourself getting tense and stressed out when he’s not constantly by your side? Do you feel that you can’t relax if he’s not tied to you like a baby kangaroo to its mother? Worst of all, do you go and show him this at every opportunity when he’s in the house, making him feel like you can’t stand not being around him for a couple of minutes?
Such suffocating behavior will completely negate any efforts he makes to charge his batteries and only harden him further to your attempts to be around him.
[Read: How to love someone without smothering them]
Don’t despair, ladies – things CAN be changed for the better. Just be aware that the ball is firmly in your court. Start giving your boyfriend his space, then stand back and watch your relationship flourish once again.
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