It’s natural to want to spend every second with your boyfriend, but that doesn’t mean you should. Dependency is totally normally – in the right amount – but if you need to constantly text or call him, you could be suffocating your love. It’s one thing to want your BF like you want to watch Girls every week, but if you can’t tear yourself away from him, even for one second, then it’s time to break the addiction. We’ve asked relationship expert Dr Matthew Bambling from the University of Queensland to help us navigate how much is too much.
Do any of these forms of over-dependence sound familiar?
“Some people like the sense of closeness that comes with dependency; it’s almost a fantasy of merging with the other and being as one. They expect to be looked after all the time, like when they were a child,” says Bambling.
They want to go back to being a safe little girl again. If their dude makes a plea for a little privacy or space, they take it as a personal insult. But if you want to be treated like a child, then you’re acting like a child. It’s time to grow up. You can appeal to the wrong type of guy who will enjoy controlling you, or playing the father role. Either way, you’ll eventually get sick of this.
“Nice normal guys will experience your dependency as neediness and feel burnt out by you,” says Bambling.
“Dependency can be uncomfortable because it’s a power issue. Dependency makes us feel powerless in the relationship,” Bambling points out.
But if you’re BF is the thoughtful (or masochistic) type, you can end up controlling him through your neediness. He’ll tip toe around you and change his behaviour so he doesn’t do anything that could risk upsetting you. In the end, he’ll compromise who he is in order to protect your fragile self-image. Doesn’t sound very nice, does it?
Spending your life waiting for an emotional time bomb to go off is exhausting and most guys will have a limit before they bail.
Plain old selfishness
Then there’s just being a self-centred brat. Of course he should fetch your dry-cleaning, buy you that dress and be your Sherpa, right? You’re special and he’s lucky to have you, according to you anyway. Don’t be so sure he feels as blessed - no one likes to feel like a slave.
Are you too dependent?
All relationships should aim for a standard level of sharing, but if you think you’re overdoing it, the first question is: why?
“Guys like a little bit of dependency as it makes them feel wanted and useful, but too much is like a boat anchor,” says Bambling.
If you think your need for dependency goes beyond the norm, then ask yourself:
- Do you feel anxious when he’s not around?
- Do you feel rejected if he wants solo time?
- Does the fact he doesn’t share your view or wants to do something else, surprise you and make you feel less connected with him?
If any of these sound familiar, you could be wearing your relationship down.
How to change
It’s time to be honest with yourself and what you want. Do you want the relationship to change and do you want more freedom? We’re hoping that you answer yes, because seriously do you want someone else to be the sole defining feature of your life?
Once you know what you want, you need to figure out what level of dependency suits you (and him) and what that looks like. Do you want to be able to give him more space? Or do you want to be treated like an equal instead of being babied?
Think carefully about what behaviour you’ll need to change. If you want to have more space, don’t call him a 1000 times a day. If you want to stop being treated like the subservient kid, take on more responsibility (like handling the bills).
Rather than letting your BF be confused and bewildered by your sudden change, discuss it with him so he knows what’s going on. If you’d like the change to stick, your dude will need to change his behaviour too - whether it’s not playing the parent or just not doing everything you say - so he needs to be in the loop.
Any change will cause a shift in the dynamics of your relationship, so you both need to be ready for an upheaval until you find a new equilibrium.
Relationships wouldn’t exist without a degree of dependency. But cling to your dude too much and you could be hurting yourself and your relationship.