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5 Signs You’re Emotionally Smothering Your Boyfriend (and How to Stop!)

If your boyfriend says you’re smothering him emotionally – or if you suspect you are – these tips will help you see your relationship more clearly. You’ll learn how dangerous emotional suffocation can be and how to stop smothering your boyfriend.

If you haven’t heard of healthy relationship boundaries, you’re in the right place. Learning about healthy boundaries will help you stop emotionally smothering your boyfriend. This is an important concept for women who tend to be a little needy and thus get over-involved in their relationships (which leads to emotional smothering).

Boundaries are healthy, and offer space to move and grow. If you haven’t read any of the “Boundaries” books by Cloud and Townsend, start with Boundaries in Marriage — even if you’re not married! This book offers excellent advice for being healthy in all types of relationships. The healthier you are, the better your relationship will be and the less you’ll need to emotionally smother your boyfriend.


Of course, connection is important in a love and relationship – but there’s a difference between connection and smothering. Emotional suffocation smothers and kills relationships, and can destroy the love you’re trying so hard to protect. Focusing too much on your boyfriend can destroy your relationship, which is ironic because your goal is to be closer! This is why healthy boundaries are so important; too much togetherness and emotional meshing can make your boyfriend feel smothered. This is as unhealthy as emotional disconnection because it smothers your boyfriend. Ultimately, this will ruin your relationship.

What is Intimacy Overload?

Intimacy overload isn’t discussed as much as lack of intimacy or fear of intimacy. After all, we know that talking about your feelings, thoughts, and past experiences is part of a healthy relationship. You don’t need psychologists, counselors, or doctors to tell you that strong relationships are founded on communication and trust.

However, there is a limit to how much intimacy your boyfriend can tolerate before he feels smothered.If you depend on him for constant affirmation, unconditional love, and total protection – then you may be expecting too much from him. This is intimacy overload, and it’s one of the warning signs of a bad relationship. If you rely on your boyfriend to increase your self-esteem, fulfill your needs, and discuss every emotion you feel, then you’re flirting with intimacy overload. This will drive your boyfriend away. He’ll feel emotionally smothered.

Stop Emotionally Smothering Your Boyfriend
Stop Emotionally Smothering Your Boyfriend

If you have excessive expectations in your relationship — such as unreasonable or unrealistic demands for your boyfriend’s time, affection, or energy — then you run the risk of overwhelming him with your needs. You’ll smother your boyfriend because he can’t meet your emotional demands.

Intimacy overload often involves blurred boundaries (which is why it’s good to read books about healthy boundaries in relationships). Sometimes there is no line between two people — and this is unhealthy and smothering. Blurred boundaries mean there are too many emotional demands, too much togetherness, and too much criticism in a relationship. Your boyfriend’s feelings of suffocation and your emotional control becomes impossible to ignore, and neither you nor your boyfriend are happy.

5 Signs You’re Smothering Your Boyfriend

  1. You feel like your boyfriend is withdrawing from you, emotionally or physically.
  2. Friends and family tell you that you may be smothering your boyfriend.
  3. You don’t feel comfortable going to events or doing activities on your own.
  4. You never feel like you can get close enough to your boyfriend.
  5. Your boyfriend tells you he feels smothered (the biggest, strongest sign of emotional suffocation in a relationship!).

How to stop suffocating your boyfriend

If you’re searching for information on emotional suffocation in a relationship, then you’re probably smothering your boyfriend. Maybe he told you that you’re crowding or smothering him, or you have a feeling you’re unhealthy emotionally. Deep down, you know you feel insecure, anxious and worried in your relationship.

Your boyfriend may react to emotional smothering by retreating and withdrawing. Men pull away when they feel emotionally suffocated in their relationships. Some therapists and counselors (and regular people) call it going into his “man cave.” Your boyfriend will tune out when he feels like you’re smothering him. Perhaps he’ll withdraw into his work, hobbies, or friends.

An extreme reaction to emotional smothering in a relationship is having an affair. Read Why Your Boyfriend Cheated: A Relationship Style That “Allows” Affairs to learn more.

8 Ways to Stop Smothering Your Boyfriend

Good news — you can stop emotionally smothering your boyfriend! Especially now that you know what you’re doing and how destructive it can be. Here are several ways to allow spaces in the togetherness of your relationship.

  1. Take time for yourself.
  2. Give your boyfriend time, space, and room to breathe – both literally and metaphorically.
  3. Balance your need for intimacy with your boyfriend’s need for space.
  4. Enjoy your own hobbies and interests. Stay in touch with yourself.
  5. Take time away from one another – “Let there be spaces in your togetherness,” said Rumi.
  6. Cultivate your own friendships, apart from your boyfriend.
  7. Know who you are as a person, separate from him.
  8. Develop your own spiritual, personal, social, and professional self. Not knowing who you are can lead to insecurity and boredom, which in turn can lead you to smother your boyfriend because you have nothing more interesting to do.

The best way to stop smothering your boyfriend is to get as emotionally healthy as possible. How spiritually whole and centered are you? What’s your relationship with God like? How do you see yourself? Where do you get your identity and self-image?

Another important way to give your boyfriend space is to mix autonomy and independence with interdependence and togetherness. When a healthy balance of connectedness and separateness exists, both you and your boyfriend will feel happy in your relationship. You’ll have realistic expectations and mutual respect. You won’t struggle with “intimacy overload” and you won’t rely on your boyfriend for your self-esteem.

A great way to give your boyfriend healthy emotional space is to let him go. I don’t mean leave or divorce him! Rather, I mean creating spaces in your togetherness. Give him time and room to move and grow. 


Sometimes girlfriends smother the men they love because they feel disconnected. If you feel disconnected from your boyfriend, learn how to deal with emotional distance in a love relationship.

Your comments — big and little — are welcome below! What do you think about these signs of emotional smothering, and my tips for giving your boyfriend room to breathe?


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2 thoughts on “5 Signs You’re Emotionally Smothering Your Boyfriend (and How to Stop!)”

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