What to do with a smothering partner

Remember that time when you were a teenager and your parents wanted to know everything; who you were with, where you were going, if parents were going to be there, how long you would be gone, what you ate, how many words you type a minute? They had good intentions, but the questions were non-stop. You survived that, barely. Well, it can feel similar to that now but you’re not 16 and it’s not your parents being overly concerned, it’s your partner. And it’s 1000x worse.

First, distinguish if it is a matter or control or if it’s grounded in good intentions that are a lot too much? It may even be difficult to tell. If you’ve ever seen The Hangover (I hope so!), Stu’s girlfriend, Melissa, is classic control example. She breaths down his neck and he has to lie about anything that might rock the boat. If you fall into that camp, it’s not just smothering it’s power and control and you want no part of that. If you’re still not sure, the best gauge is if your friends have made comments about it…or if you don’t really have your own friends anymore. Move on.

So, it’s not Stu’s girlfriend bad, but it’s pretty irritating and you can tell they have good intentions but it’s a little much and it’s driving you away. TALK ABOUT IT. Not an easy conversation to bring up, but it is easier than a break up conversation. They won’t know something is wrong unless you tell them. How do you tell them? That’s a million dollar question. I can’t really tell you what to say but I can give you some tips:

  • Be direct: Sugar coating it might make it more sensitive, but it also makes it more confusing.
  • Be concise: No need to be verbose. Shorter the better and, again, less confusion.
  • Give examples: If you don’t cite anything they won’t know what it is they are doing and what you are asking for them to change.
  • Provide some alternatives: The other person may feel attacked and get defensive and be sure they know you know it’s coming from a good place by providing some solutions that would please both of you.

It’s not an easy convo to initiate, but I encourage you to do it if the person is someone you care about and value.



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