Question: Dear Luise: I recently reconnected with a guy I used to go with and it has fast become a meaningful relationship. We are both in our thirties and have had some tough times, individually, since we first knew each other. The problem is, he doesn’t give me any breathing room. I’m a very independent person and I feel smothered by him. We presently live in two different states but are thinking of remedying that by my moving to his state and then commuting. I’ve let him know how I feel and he’s made it clear that he knows he needs to work on his insecurity and is willing to do whatever it takes. What’s that? Kim
Answer: Dear Kim: Two good things are happening here…you both see the problem and you are talking about it. Often, but not always, clinging and being extremely independent are both evidence of insecurity. They’re just different ways of dealing with it…or more possibly, avoiding doing so.
Are you willing to do whatever it takes as well? You can’t fix this if only one person is ready to learn and grow and the other person feels OK, and sees no room for improvement. In some ways it seems like a “stacked deck” but most relationships are to some extent. You’re just seeing it clearly, sooner.
There are web sites that might help you across this minefield. I recently saw one where you email back and forth asking each other questions in a structured format. They are endless, like there are 1,000 or so. It gives you a lot of room to get to a deeper and deeper level of understanding. Married couples are doing it and finding it extremely valuable. The questions are set up so that you both answer the same ones at the same time and then exchange your answers. The URL is: www.theromantic.com/questions.htm
Beyond that, it feels to me like you would benefit from couples counseling. That is often done both separately and together so that healing and moving through your fears is a mutual experience. It’s never easy and would take a deep level of commitment. Not so much a “lets try and see how it goes” as a “we’re in this for the long haul no matter what” approach. If that’s where you are, go for it! Blessings, Luise