“My problem is that I love him too much!”
“What do you mean?”
“He’s taking my love for granted because I’m always there. May be I should play hard to get. Give him space to miss me”.
This mindset is based on the notion that if two people love each other, they should want to spend every breathing moment with each other. If one person does not desire that kind of “closeness”, then the other should make him or her experience what’s like to have “love” taken away.
What this mindset creates is a kind of pseudo-intimacy which opens the door to manipulation by one partner, and defensive reactions by the other.
If this remotely resembles something happening in your relationship, let me clear things for you. Your problem is not that “you love him or her too much” or that “you’re always there.” Your problem is that you are not honouring each other’s personal boundaries and/or need for independence.
What is a personal boundary violator?
It’s someone you give an inch, and they take a mile.
- You smile at them, and you’re their new best friend.
- You send one text saying “hi”, and they send you 3 texts back.
- You share an intimate personal detail, and they instantly feel an emotional connection with you.
- You ask them to hang out, and they think you are “in a relationship”/or want to get back together.
Most personal boundary violators don’t even know they have this problem. They don’t understand why someone rejects them when all they did was “love” that person.
For there to be a more meaningful togetherness (intimacy, security and closeness) in a relationship, each partner needs clear boundaries that define his or her own independence/”space”, and breathing room to exercise that independence.
How much space each individual and each couple needs varies from person to person, and relationship to relationship.
Couples that arrive at a natural rhythm of autonomy and togetherness do so not through some manipulate game of give and withdraw, hot and cold, pull and push, love and reject.
Couples that arrive at a natural rhythm of autonomy and closeness do so through continued learning, growing, negotiating, adapting, modifying behaviour and more importantly, communication.
They spend just as much time planning how to spend more quality time together as they do inspiring and supporting each other’s independence. By doing so, they bring out the best in each other, and for each other.
In this kind of relationship, there is a clear boundary where “I” ends and “YOU” begins. There is also a strong “WE”: an ongoing mutual commitment; something both partners regard as worthy of self -investment, and is cherished throughout the duration of the partnership.
Because there is enough “you,” “I,” and “we”, both people are fulfilled when apart and when with each other. Couples in these kinds of relationships usually have fewer relationship problems, and are more likely to stay lovingly connected.
In relationships where two people come together with no clear definition of individual identity and where there is no enough room to exercise a “you” and an “I”, the “we” never develops.
One partner will express the need for togetherness and the other will express the need for independence. Occasionally there can and will be brief moments of intense closeness, but these tend to be more of an activity than a meeting of minds, hearts and souls (doing versus being interactions). The brief moments of intense closeness quite often are followed by periods of distancing as one (and sometimes both people) tries to reestablish a sense of individual independence.
The overpowering need for togetherness can feel like a burden to the person who needs more independence. The overpowering need for more independence on the other hand, can feel like rejection for the person who needs more togetherness. In some cases, if the two people stay together they develop “hostile-dependency” (resenting the other yet fearful of separation).
Your relationship doesn’t have to end because of failure to balance each other’s need for space and need for closeness.