Over-Closeness

Over-Closeness

Some couples have a sense of great closeness. Its good to know that someone else understands all your needs, sympathises and will be there in hard times. However, this closeness can sometimes be experienced as constricting and either one or both partners begin to feel trapped. Plus, over-closeness is often a turn-off for sex.

Examples:

  • A couple might fear that any expression of discontent or frustration will be seen as “You don’t love me.” Or “You’re spoiling this relationship.” – they get stifled by constantly having to be positive.
  • Mature long-term relationship – monotony is chosen rather than the risk of change or growth.
  • Some partners can get stuck in complimentary roles that are hard to relinquish, e.g. competent and incompetent– with one partner taking most of the responsibility for getting things done and the other letting that happen. Another example is vulnerable/ill with a rescuer/carer – one partner with frequent problems is frequently rescued by the other; long-term issues are avoided and resentment builds.

It is not surprising that these couples often get ambushed by their own suppressed needs busting out. Suddenly, there is conflict, withdrawal, an affair, an addiction etc. – difficult to deal with as the other partner might feel, “I have put you and our positive relationship first for so many years.”

Over-closeness is hard to break out of. People think “I cannot challenge anything; being even more positive is the only way out.” These couples often end up saying things like, “I love you but I am not in love with you.” Or “We love each other but…”

Here are some things couples have done in the past as a way out of over-closeness. Over a few weeks, diarize some important conversations addressing underlying feelings, losses or aspirations. Talk about sex, your daydreams or fantasies, and plan ways of doing it differently. Try some couple’s therapy or a weekend couple’s course. Read a book* about relationships and talk about it. Take turns to suggest routine-breaking events.

Above all, stop being constantly positive. Get realistic, GET CURIOUS about your partner’s underlying motivations at this time in his/her life; dare to speak your own.

 

*Suggested Books:
Mating in Captivity by E Perel,
Getting the Love You Want by H Hendrix
Men Are From Mars.. by J Gray,
Arousal by M Bader,
Imago Therapy

With thanks to:
Scripts People Live by C Steiner,
Staying Together by S Quillian,
The Making and Breaking of Affectional Bonds by J Bowlby.

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