He's Too Clingy
Q: My boyfriend stopped spending time with his friends when we began dating. He says he can't stand being away from me, but I like time to myself sometimes, to shop or go walking. He gets jealous of that time away from him. I try to encourage him to hang out with his friends at times but he said he'd rather be with me. He's smothering me! How can I convince him it's not healthy to not have time for yourself? -- Leanne, 35
Dr. Susan: There are situations where we simply cannot convince someone else to agree with our way of viewing things. But that doesn't have to mean we can't get our own needs met. You need time to yourself. He doesn't. Or he thinks he doesn't, at least not now. The most compatible couples have needs that are more or less complementary, where you like to spend approximately the same amount of time in one another's company. Sounds like the two of you are pretty far apart when it comes to privacy and alone time. Maybe if you tell him outright that you're feeling smothered, it will make him stop and think.
Consider putting aside the idea of spontaneity for now, and figure out the minimum alone time with which you think you could be satisfied. Something like every day between 5 and 6 or a half day each weekend, or whatever. He may get used to being on his own and eventually loosen the reins. If he won't see it your way, and refuses to compromise, don't let his pathetic pleas to hang all over you stop you from getting what you need. Your desire to walk or shop or just be alone is totally healthy - - for you. I can also understand his preference for being with you whenever possible, but if it's based on not trusting you and being jealous, that's not healthy for either of you. It's going to come down to whether your feeling of being smothered is more distressing than his reluctance to let you go for a few hours at a time. If he values you, he'll give you space.
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Advice for Her
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Susan K. Perry, Ph.D.
Susan K. Perry, Ph.D., is a social psychologist, relationship expert, and bestselling and award-winning author. Her books include Loving in Flow: How the Happiest Couples Get and Stay That Way, and Kylie's Heel, a novel for adults.
Pamela G. Chollet, Ph.D.
Dr. Pamela Chollet has a Ph.D. in clinical psychology and Master degrees in educational psychology and fine arts. Her passion has been helping people face and get through those times when they feel trapped and unable to move forward.
Anna Charbonneau, Ph.D.
Anna Charbonneau, Ph.D., is a clinical psychologist, stress management expert, and author. If you're feeling overwhelmed, stressed out, or struggling to make changes in your life, Anna can help.