We’ve come at this topic once before, but since I live to serve (read: I’ve been asked again), I thought I’d revisit this topic from a different tack. People have different tolerance levels for behavior that could be construed as smothering. For some, smothering could be something as relatively light as a text message too many. For others, smothering attention could be at the level of needing a restraining order before it bothers them.

Sometimes “smothering” is a person’s love language, that is, they only know how to express themselves in terms of constant contact. It’s not something to be automatically condemned. Some folks like it, find in it the comfort of a thick blanket they can snuggle into. A reassurance. Others want to kick off the covers to those same attentions.

Sometimes smothering speaks to an insecurity in the relationship. Think of it as a relational OCD, as if they can control enough aspects of their partner’s behavior, a kind of loose leash, they can steer the relationship.

There’s a fine line between attentive and smothering, in fact, I think of it as being analogous to walking the line between being persistent vs. stalking: it can boil down to whether the attention is wanted. Constant texts, e-mails, IM chats, and/or check in phone calls has the specter of possessiveness or jealousy; a tactic to break up an evening or otherwise turn the target of their attentions’ thoughts back to them.

But we return to the same conclusion as the first time around. There might be some hurt and some awkwardness, but it’s always best to maintain clear lines of communications. Admit how you feel and above all, just talk. Let them know if you find their behavior particularly cloying. Don’t feel guilty that you and your friend aren’t at the same emotional or relational place.

Still, it’s something to keep in mind should you find your texts ignored, your phone calls ducked, or you hid from on chat. Folks will find the space they need one way or another.

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