Many of us want that feeling of comfort and safety (and love, and friendship, and so on) that comes with a committed relationship. After all, it's nice to feel loved and taken care of. But, for all the good things a significant other brings to life, it's still possible to feel totally overwhelmed by your relationship.
This can happen for a variety of reasons. Perhaps you're a total introvert who really values alone time, but you live with your SO. Maybe it's your first relationship, and it still feels strange to be part of a twosome. Or, it could be you've lost that sense of independence. It can be anything, really, that leads to an exhausting feeling of relationship overwhelm. And when it goes on for a while, it's normal to feel resentment and anger towards your partner.
When that's the case, your knee-jerk reaction may be to run for the hills, as things can start to look pretty bleak. But don't worry — this feeling doesn't mean you have to call your relationship quits, turn a cold shoulder, or push your SO away. It's simply a sign that things need to be adjusted.
With that in mind, here are some ways to deal with relationship overwhelm in a healthy way, so you can start enjoying each other's company once again.
1. Get Your Sweet, Sweet Alone Time
You know the old oxygen mask saying that you have to help others before you can help yourself? This is definitely the case when you're feeling overwhelmed by your relationship. Because if you are constantly feeling depleted, then it's really impossible to be a good partner.
That's why it's imperative that you find some time to yourself. According to Susie and Otto Collins on HuffingtonPost.com, "In order for a love relationship or marriage to survive and thrive, the couple needs to create and make the most of their quality time together. However, the connection-potential is erased when one person (or both) is yearning for some nourishing and soul-replenishing alone time instead." So be sure to make time to hang out with yourself, to go somewhere alone, or to dabble in solo hobbies. You'll be much happier, and more excited about your relationship when you return.
2. Know Your Triggers
Take a second and think about what's making you feel so overwhelmed. Is it the lack of alone time, your SO's constant phone calls, or the fact the relationship is moving too fast? Recognize the things that make you feel worn out, and then figure out healthy ways to deal with them.
For example, you can talk with your partner. (Novel idea, I know.) Be honest with them about your need for alone time, or tell them that the relationship needs to slow down a notch. A good partner will be willing to listen and make changes, so don't be afraid to ask.
3. Remember Why You Love Your SO
Relationships are a funny thing because they can blind us to what we love about our partners. This can happen when we start to take things for granted, get too comfy, or stop trying. When this happens, the whole thing can feel like a chore.
So take a second and remember that initial spark — the thing that struck you about your SO in the first place. After all, they used to be a mysterious, beautiful stranger who you pined away for endlessly. And they still are that person. Remind yourself of those first few dates, and those early excited feelings, and you may feel appreciation well back up again.
4. Talk Through Life Crises
Life isn't always easy, so if you haven't ridden out a rough patch with your SO, then you might find a life crisis to be overwhelming. Maybe her mom is dying, or he's flunking out of college, and you just don't know how to deal. It's normal to feel upset or tired in these situations, or to not have any idea what to do.
However, a healthy relationship will have a reservoir to draw from in tough times, according to Randi Gunther, Ph.D., on Psychology Today. This means you'll have plans of action and energy leftover for helping each other through. "[But] if a couple relies on unproductive patterns that have ceased to produce results, they put themselves in danger of depleting those resources," Gunther said. Take the time to discuss what role you'll play in each other's lives when sh*t hits the fan. That way, everyone knows what's expected of them, and no feelings will get hurt.
5. Take Things Slower
Not everyone moves at the same pace in relationships. Some people meet, date, and get married within a year. Others prefer to take things slow, and might have one of those ten-year engagements. So if you mix these two together? Well, it's obviously going to be overwhelming for one of them.
If your partner is speeding things along and it's freaking you out, go back to the old trustable solution and talk. Say that things need to slow down, and offer up your reasoning. They should respect your decision.
6. Don't Focus On Negatives
A total negative outlook could be another reason you're feeling overwhelmed. Because if you only focus on the bad things — bills, mortgages, etc.— then of course you'll feel like the relationship is all bad. Start looking at the positives, just like you did when reassessing what you love about your SO. A little change in perspective can make all the difference.
Because, let's be honest — it's normal to sometimes feel overwhelmed by a relationship. After all, you have another person to think about, and it can feel like a bit much some times. But if you're open about your feelings, and willing to make some changes, then it can feel all easy breezy once again.
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