Ask Nicci: How to stop smothering men

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From the January 5, 2012 edition

According to my girlfriends, I am a serial relationship saboteur. Guys like me in the beginning, and then inevitably I push them away by smothering them. At least that’s what my friends say. I don’t feel like I rush things or am pushy, but apparently I am. How do I stop smothering? —Allison

Great topic just in time to evaluate and change our bad dating habits for the new year. Whether you are the Innocent Smotherer who obsessively texts after your first date, or the full-blown Stalker Smotherer who friends her date’s relatives on Facebook, the result is always the same: You look desperate and have no self-control.

See if you can relate to a conversation I recently overheard at a German Village pub. The couple at the next table appeared to be in their mid-20s and not engaged or married. The girl was carrying on about their future, saying that, when they have kids, their parents will have to come to Columbus for the holidays. Then she started discussing names for their future children! While my date and I exchanged uncomfortable glances, the look on her boyfriend’s face was priceless. Clearly he was uncomfortable and feeling the pressure. Poor guy! The girl had no idea she was committing some serious smothering, and my prediction is that guy was waiting for his chance to run!

Smothering translates to desperation to your date. People have their guards up when first dating someone, so your expectation shouldn’t be anything other than light conversation from the beginning. Only when we get to know someone over time and begin feeling comfortable do we lower the walls and begin to trust. Rushing this process and pushing someone outside their comfort zone too soon will suffocate and ultimately push him away (or result in a restraining order being filed against you). Either way, you lose.

Make a resolution to reprogram your tendencies. Some of us naturally tend to overanalyze, speculate and obsess, so this year, be aware of your tendency to smother — and stop it. This is a quick fix. I admit love can make us do crazy things, but remember in the future to slow down, ease up on your choke-hold and enjoy exploring the relationship. Happy New Year!

Nicci Sprouse is the owner of a local dating service. Follow her on Twitter at @AskNicci. And send your questions about love and relationships to infoasknicci@gmail.com.