Emotional intimacy, relationships; Smothering behavior implies too much of something; proximity, verbalization, touch, expectations.  The amount a man or woman desires of quality time, touch or verbal affirmation varies person to person. There is no one right answer that fits all. The goal is to be a safe person so your man can give honest feedback, and if he says he feels pressured or needs space, to listen and modify your behavior. Learning to embrace difference instead of changing the other person to be more like you promotes your personal growth.

Smothering behavior alienates the other person. When someone stands too close to us while speaking, we back up. If they move closer again, we consider how to end the conversation. The smothering relationship is a more complicated version of this example.

During Relationship Therapy with my clients, the three most common causes of smothering type behavior I encounter are; poor self-image, processing issues, abandonment/rejection issues. A poor self-image can undermine a relationship by creating strong feelings of inadequacy that compel a woman to create the “too much” dynamic. This can be calling too much, not allowing ample individual time, demanding, excessive talking or being possessive.

Emotional intimacy, relationships; By processing issue, I am referring to understanding how you are wired as a communicator, and how your man is wired. If the woman is an external processor and pressures her man to talk when he is not ready, share more and to share more quickly-he will withdraw or even shut down. If he is an internal processor, he will feel completely smothered by this. Again, both individuals need to embrace the difference and balance each other out.

My final point is that the fear of being alone, being left, single, or not wanted, may drive a woman to engage is some of the smothering behaviors mentioned earlier. If issues of abandonment or rejection are significant, there have been painful experiences in the past that may need to be addressed in therapy.

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