10 Ways You Suffocate Your Partner (Without Even Realizing It)

If you hold on too tight, you risk losing everything.

man and woman standing together in moody weather Velimir Zeland / Shutterstock

The Tibetan Book Of Living and Dying contains a wonderful experiment that demonstrates attachment in relationships.

You're asked to pick up a coin and imagine that it represents an object you're trying to hold on to. Tightly clutch it in your fist and extend your palm down. The coin is safely tucked inside your fist.

The moment, however, that you relax your grip, the coin will start to slip out. You then, of course, feel the need to tighten your fist to ensure the coin is safe inside.


Yet, there is another option: You can let go and still have the coin. All you have to do is turn your arm over with your palm facing up. You can easily release your hand and the coin will stay put resting on top of it.

Why am I retelling a silly parable? Well, because all too often in my job as a dating coach, I hear "the coins" complain. They are being unduly gripped and feel they'll suffocate unless they get out.

Thus, the harder we try to hold onto the object of our desire, the more likely we are to lose that very same thing.

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Why holding on loosely is the way to go 

Why do we often suffocate our partners when (we think) all we want to do is love them? There are as many reasons (read: excuses) as there are relationships.

  • "My ex cheated on me with all my girlfriends. So now I need to hold tightly to you."
  • "I am over forty and on my third wife. This woman is the last chance at love that I get."
  • "My father taught me that women cannot be trusted. So watch them closely."
  • "When he came home from work on Tuesday, I believe I smelled Chanel No. 5 on him. He denied it, of course, but I don't believe him."
  • "All men will cheat given a chance."

This list goes on indefinitely. The truth is that many people don't even have a list because they don't realize they have a problem. Sadly, they don't understand or won't admit to understanding that what they call a "show of affection" is a miserable display of their own insecurity.


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Is it love or something else?

Too often, we don't even realize we "love" someone until we think we're losing them. Once we do, however, we feel compelled (read: needy) to hold on.

But why? Is it really love, then, or the idea of love that we want so desperately to keep? Or, is it the sense of attachment we've developed from which we can't break free? What is it about human beings that makes them work extra hard to hold on to people who want freedom from them?

On the other hand, why would you want to hold onto a partner that wants nothing more than a clean getaway from you? Do you not deserve someone who loves you the way you love them?


To make matters worse, it is often this need to smother and suffocate your partner that drives them away in the first place. You could be having a very loving and affectionate relationship, but the day you decide you need to "hold on" to your partner is the day your romantic paradise comes crashing down. I guarantee it. 

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Here are 10 ways to tell if your insecurities and possessiveness are strangling your relationship

1. Do you follow his social media interactions to see if any of them are flirtatious?

This is considered low-key stalking behavior and you might want to back down.

2. Do you have a panic attack each time your partner talks to a good-looking member of the opposite sex?

Check your own reflection to remind yourself that you are gorgeous, too.


3. Do you check your partner's call logs and voicemail messages?

OK, more stalking behavior. Trust is vital, and if you don't have it, there's an issue.

4. If your partner does not return your call/text within a few minutes, do you keep calling/texting until he does?

This is considered desperate and comes off as extremely needy. Just keep calm and carry on. Enjoy your own company for a while.

5. Do you accuse your partner of not spending enough time with you?

If this is true, come up with ideas for things you can do together. Make sure they'll be enjoyable for both of you.

6. Do you resent the time your partner spends with his friends without you?

Think of it like this: Absence makes his heart grow fonder. He can't miss you if he's always with you.


7. Have you ever faked an illness/depression/miscellaneous ailment just to keep your partner from leaving you?

This is ... not good. Don't do this, ever.

8. Are you suspicious when your partner tells you he/she is having drinks with colleagues or simply working late?

If you really believe he's cheating on you, the issue is bigger than a casual after-work drink.

9. Do you hate the thought of being without him/her even for a few hours?

Again, learn to enjoy your own company. Binge-watch Bridgerton on Netflix or something. Better yet, read the novels.


10. Do you need constant reassurance that he/she loves you?

Do you need to hear "I love you" at least a few times a day for certainty? It's still true an hour after he said it the last time.

Any of the above signs indicate that you're fighting to keep the coin captured tightly with your hand down. You may wish to loosen your grip and examine your tactic before that coin slips away. 

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Marina Margulis is a writer and matchmaker who believes dating should be easy and natural.