When you truly value something, you'll want to do all that you can to keep it. That may work for a lot of things. But when it comes to relationships, there is a such thing as holding on too tightly. According to experts, being too hands-on in your relationship can push your partner further and further away from you.
As Samantha Daniels, Dating Expert and Founder of Samantha’s Table Matchmaking tells Bustle, if you're being too hands-on you may be constantly texting or calling them when you're not together. You may give your partner a ton of advice, without them asking for it. You may even try to take matters into your own hands and assume you know how to fix the problems your partner is going through.
To be fair, doing any of these things doesn't necessarily mean that you're "needy" or have attachment issues. It may not even come from a place of insecurity. You may just really love your partner and naturally want what's best for them.
But in doing so, Daniels says this can cause your partner to feel as though they don't have any space to be themselves. "Not allowing your partner space and independence to be themselves in the relationship may cause them to want to run away from the relationship and/or end it," she says.
So, do you think you're a little too hands-on in your relationship? If this is something that concerns you, here are some signs that being more hands off can make your relationship last, according to experts.
1. You've Always Given Your All To Every Relationship You've Been In
There's nothing wrong with putting your whole heart into your relationship. But if one person does the bulk of the work, it obviously creates an imbalance that may or may not sit right with you as your relationship progresses. It's important to ask yourself if this is a pattern with you. "If you notice you have a tendency to be the pursuer in relationships or the one doing the most of the social organizing, housekeeping, communicating then it’s time to take a step back," marriage therapist, Laura Petiford PMHNP, tells Bustle. If you're unable to correct the imbalance through communication, you may be dealing with a partner who isn't able to participate in the relationship at a level that you need. In that case, she says the relationship isn’t likely going to be satisfying in the long-run. "If you find that you are consistently the more hands-on person in all of your relationships, it’s time to seek out a therapist and find out what’s driving the search for these sorts of out of balance connections and correct them so you can have the relationship you deserve," Petiford says.
2. You Feel Like Your Partner Is Withdrawing From You Physically
If you feel like your partner is pulling away too quickly when you go in for the hug or they try to avoid any of your affectionate gestures, Daniels says trust your instincts. For some, having a partner be physically too hands-on, even in a loving way, can be too much. So it's important to take a step back and do what you can to "fix" the issue. "If that means spending more time away from your partner, do it," she says. "If that means calling up old friends or being less expressive, do it. You will have time to get back to the way you want it to be AFTER you fix this immediate problem."
3. Your Partner Starts To Ignore You Or Gives You Short Responses
If your partner starts to ignore you or gives you brief responses when you ask about their day, David Bennett, certified counselor and relationship expert, tells Bustle, this is a sign your partner may be feeling smothered. "This lack of engagement shows you are being way too hands-on," he says. If they do this, it doesn't necessarily mean they don't love you anymore. A number of things can be going on with them and it doesn't hurt to ask once or twice. If they're still short with you, then the best thing for you to do again is to just give them space.
4. You Never Give Your Partner The Opportunity To Vent
"Most of my patients who are too hands-on truly believe they are helping or doing something good," psychotherapist and relationship experts Laura F. Dabney, MD, tells Bustle. "But too hands-on can feel controlling, critical or manipulative to the other." The most common example of this she sees is when one partner just wants to vent and the other interrupts with ideas or suggestions on how to fix it. If this is happening in your relationship Dr. Dabney recommends for the person venting to start with a "phrase of intent." For example, "I've had something come up and I just need to vent for a few minutes. Is that OK?" Or if they forget to set their intention, the partner who typically likes offering advice can ask their partner if their advice is actually wanted. That way, everyone is on the same page and no one ends up feeling annoyed or hurt.
5. You Feel The Need To Check In With Your Partner All The Time
Wanting to know how your partner is doing is totally fine. But if you're constantly checking in and seeing what they're up to or where they are, Anna Morgenstern, Dating and Relationship Coach, tells Bustle, it can come off as controlling or overbearing. "This usually happens if that person feels insecure about the relationship and maybe feels the other person is slipping away," she says. Or sometimes you may not even realize that you're doing it so often until your partner stops responding or they explicitly tell you to stop. "The best thing to do is to give that person space and let them come back to you once they are ready," Morgenstern says. "Putting too much pressure on the relationship will cause it to crash and burn."
6. You Constantly "Surprise" Your Partner With Plans You've Made For The Two Of You
Another common thing Dr. Dabney sees really hands-on partners do is make arrangements for things to do together without asking their partner if it's OK first. Although you may think you're doing a great thing for your relationship by making all these plans for the two of you, it can cause resentment in your partner if it's a constant thing. "I recommend for the couple to decide together on what things are OK to arrange without consulting one another," she says. For instance, you may both agree that making dinner plans and gym dates are fine but vacations are not. It's all about communicating and finding that middle ground that satisfies both of you.
7. Your Partner Tells You They're Feeling Suffocated By The Relationship
Sometimes things can get a little too much. "If your partner actually verbalizes this to you, you need to listen," Daniels says. "Even if you don't feel like you are suffocating your partner at all, if this is your partner's perception then you need to respect what [they are] saying." It may take you by surprise and it will be hurtful at first. But once you get over those initial feelings, think of how you can do things differently. As Daniels says, change is necessary if you want to preserve your relationship.
"If you are too hands-on in a relationship, you can lose sight of who you are because you may have allowed yourself to mold into the other person," Daniels says. It's super understandable to want to make someone your entire world when you're really into them. But doing this can make it hard for you to take a step back and give your partner what they truly need in this situation — space. That's why it's important to always keep yourself in check. "Know who you are as a person, separate from your partner," she says. If you need to figure it out again, take the time to do it.
It never feels good to feel your partner pull away or have them tell you that you're being too much when all you really want to do is show that you care. But at the end of the day, you can't force closeness. It's something that should develop organically because you're both willing to put in the effort. So give your partner room to show up in your relationship. If you do, you may have a well-balanced partnership for many years to come.