Managing Relationships: Understanding Emotional Suffocation


Managing relationships can be a challenging task. Emotional suffocation is a state of imbalance in a relationship that arises because one person in a relationship feels overwhelmed, crowded, or trapped by the other person’s constant need for attention, affection, or validation.
In a relationship set up, it is possible that one person is more invested than the other, or for one partner to feel as if they have too much contact with the other, and not enough space in which to be themselves. When this happens, a person may describe themselves as feeling suffocated, overwhelmed, or covered in the heavy affection of their partner, who simply don’t know when to stop. Another cause of emotional suffocation is a lack of boundaries in the relationship, with one partner feeling like they cannot say no or set boundaries and are trapped and overwhelmed by the other person’s constant demands. This can create a cycle of emotional suffocation where the person feels like they are constantly giving and never receiving anything in return.
Either situation can lead to feelings of resentment, frustration, and even anger, which can damage the relationship. Therefore, it is essential to understand emotional suffocation and how to manage it in relationships, as it is manageable.

Signs of emotional suffocation
• Withdrawal of one partner – If one partner feels they need personal space at times but are not getting it, they may put up emotional barriers to draw the lines and keep the other partner out. This is the most common sign of a challenge in a relationship.
• Being unreasonably jealous – A partner may be unreasonably jealous with every single person their spouse/ partner interacts with. This can heighten a feeling of being trapped or suffocated for the spouse/ partner.
• Dominant and controlling – Partners may be overbearing and want explanation for every plan or action or every detail that happens during the day.

Guidance for navigating through an emotionally suffocating relationship.

Communicate empathetically.
• It is essential to communicate openly and honestly with your partner about how you feel and what you need from the relationship – your partner may not be aware that you are feeling suffocated or claustrophobic in your relationship. Honest and empathetic communication can help to create boundaries and establish a more balanced relationship where both partners feel heard and respected. It is important to remember that often the people who feel most in need of affection drive others away by making them feel suffocated. Demonstrate empathy and take the time to understand your partner’s perspective and how they feel.
• Reinforce to your partner that you trust them and that you have faith that the relationship can work out. Both partners can do this by acknowledging any trust issues from the past, agreeing to work on them, and agreeing boundaries that feel comfortable to both.

Work on emotional intelligence.
• Emotional intelligence is considered an antidote for emotional suffocation. When you understand how you feel, it allows you to manage relationships more effectively. Emotional Intelligence gives us a vocabulary to express our emotions, moods, and feelings, all of which affect our actions, interactions, and connections.
Lead by example
• Encourage your partner to spend time with friends or family and engage in hobbies or activities alone or with others whose company they enjoy. Demonstrate trust and support can help your partner to see they can also trust you to do activities without them and that it is beneficial for your mental health and your relationship’s health.

Claim back your privacy.
• Let your partner know that during a specific period of the day you’ll need time for yourself, in your space, to do with as you choose. It is not always necessary to discuss and agree on every tiny detail of your life with your partner, and claiming some independence for your time and decisions can be important.

Consider counselling and therapy.
• Conversations like these may be challenging and daunting one-on-one, particularly with a suffocating partner. If you want a little bit more guidance, then see a relationship therapist to talk about what’s happening in your relationship in a safe space with an expert to guide the discussion. A professional counsellor may be able to get to the bottom of issues where the partners are only coming up against roadblocks.

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Relationships and friendships
Relationships and friendships
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