Have a problem with love or life in general? Send Ogonna your questions at [email protected] and get them answered here in her column. You can also tweet her at @askogonna.
Reader: I recently moved in with my boyfriend and I feel smothered. He puts me on a pedestal and his constant attention wears me out. I know he just excited that we’re living together and any woman would love to be treated like this, but I just feel like I can’t breathe. Any thoughts on that?
Ogonna: While many of us dream of being put on a pedestal and treated like a princess, those who have experienced it may warn us to be careful what we wish for.
I personally think that moving in with your significant other at any age is a bigger deal than many of us would like to admit. We are so overjoyed to be closer together that we overlook the fact that the relationship itself might call for readjustment. Moving in together means going from a couple that goes home to your own separate spheres of independence to being a couple that shares that space you one knew as your own personal bubble. That can be both exciting and a little difficult to manage at first.
When two people in a romantic relationship share that overlap in space and time living together, it’s only natural for both sides to feel the need to overcompensate for the other person’s potential insecurities. I think that when one person offers nonstop affection and attention, it’s because that person is trying to make his or her partner feel the utmost comfort, even at the cost of that partner’s own personal space. But nobody wants to be in a true, honest relationship just to have all the attention on themselves — what would be the point of being together? There is an aspect of give and take.
Yes, relationships require respect and support of one another and showing affection in whatever ways you find best. But the way one person likes to be supported might differ from the way his or her significant is showing that affection. Sometimes, we need space. And this doesn’t necessarily mean a break up or a break (let’s be honest, do “breaks” even work?). This might just mean supporting at an arm’s length when you ask for it. Whether that’s both of you not eating every meal together, or not always watching the same shows together, or whatever it may be, I think it’s worth it to create some things you each are happy with claiming for yourselves.
I suggest maybe identifying ways in which you feel a bit smothered in your relationship, and think of practical solutions to the issue. Perhaps talking to your partner and letting him know that you don’t want to push him away or make him feel bad about showing his affection, but you just need him to realize that you function in a way that you need your own space and freedom at times. It’s nothing he has done wrong or badly, but it’s just what you need to do for yourself. You want to find little ways that he can support your growth as an individual so that you can be your best self when you are together. That might require a little less pampering and attention (as thoughtful as it is), and little more time for you to spend time with just you.