Is it just me that finds relationships suffocating?

I’ll keep it brief because I know these personal stories are not interesting, but just trying to get some advice:

My relationships all end the same way: gradually the time we spend together creeps up and up until I resent being in a couple.
I don’t know how other people do it – how can you be in a serious relationship and still learn new skills, change career etc…when do you do it?

My girlfriend just sent me a message that the whole weekend is planned out; essentially from the time I leave work on Friday afternoon to returning again on Monday morning I won’t have any time to myself. My heart sinks when I see a message like this. Several weeks can go by without a single evening doing my own thing.

Have I told her how I feel? Yep…I told her as softly as I could that I need some time to myself sometimes and she cried and got angry and all that, but nothing actually changed.
And, as I say, all my relationships have ended up like this.

Am I a weirdo? And/or what am I doing wrong?

Man, that is not an unreasonable request on your part.

Perhaps laying out your requirement for personal time in a relationship before you become exclusive with someone?
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This may seem like a quibble, but it doesn’t sound like it’s the relationship that is suffocating you, it is your girlfriend. From your description, she is not having rational expectations of what a relationship is about, even a committed relationship. Even marriage should not be like that.

If this keeps happening to you over and over, then maybe you need to look at yourself. Are you by any chance drawn to insecure and clingy women? Or however you might describe this one, is she similar to the other women you have been serious with? Because her behavior isn’t normal.

Other than these kinds of observations, I don’t see how you could get meaningful advice from anyone who doesn’t know at least one of you personally. But setting ground rules up front, as tingbudong suggests, and then sticking to them even if it means breaking up, might work, once you find someone who can respect your boundaries.

There are people who enter every relationship with the same set of rules and expectations in mind. Those people are objectively wrong. Every good relationship has its own expectations and its own rules that actually suit those involved.

It’s possible that you needing time to yourself, at the exact time that it happened, was a symptom of a relationship problem, and not just of an introvert needing to be alone enough of the time. It’s not really possible to tell from what you’ve said.


But to answer your thread title question, if you feel suffocated, and everyone has communicated their feelings, then you are with the wrong person.

I’m different from most people but I don’t think I’m weird.
I am probably wrong but you sound to me like a person who values personal development more than a relationship. How many hours a week should your girlfriend spend with you so that you wouldn’t find it suffocating?

I’d say someone who wants to script an entire weekend is the weird person - I’ve never been in a relationship where there wasn’t free time. I was married 30 years and both my spouse and I had our own projects, time alone, etc.

You’re entering relationships with the wrong people.

I felt short of breath just reading that sentence.

Depends in part on what is meant by “planned”. Is it a series of events, one after the other, or more along the lines of “let’s get brunch and then go back to my place and hangout all afternoon, then catch dinner and a movie etc". That still might be too much for you, but it’s not unreasonable in a long term relationship.

Do you help plan your time together? If you don’t contribute to that, she might feel like she has to fill the vacuum on her own. On Monday, can you tell her that you’re not available on Sunday, but would love to spend Saturday together, rather than leaving it up to her to plan?

If this is something that happens every time you’re in a relationship, then either your type that you’re attracted to is a type that you don’t actually get along with or you’re just bad at enforcing your own rules.

Just set a rule that you get two weekday evenings and every other Sunday to yourself, or something. And if you can’t enforce that, then the issue might be more that you’re a pushover than that your partner is completely in the wrong.

Lol. Why gee, this doesn’t sound familiar to me at all…

Yeah, this. You need to find someone who understands you better. Although, to be fair, the earlier stages of a relationship tend to be much more up in each other’s business (heh) and that settles down some later on but you two are obviously working on different levels. So maybe that’ll get better resolved with time or maybe it’s something you’ll need to actively work at if the relationship will succeed. In a perfect world, you’ll have someone who appreciates their own “lone” time or has other ways of filling it (other friends, hobbies, etc) while you recharge on your lonesome.

If you are an introverted person you probably need time all alone just to reconstitute yourself, on a regular basis.

For example, I am very introverted, and my optimal social to alone time ratio is about 1:2 if I am with congenial friends. Acquaintances, and relatives, the recovery period goes up and up. My spouse is very undemanding to be with so more like the optimal time. Luckily he is somewhat the same, so is understanding. We also have very different interests so our activities do not often coincide at this point, 40 years into the marriage, unless we make a date for it.

Not the extraverted norm, but that degree of introversion is not fantastically rare either.

Finding someone who is like you in that regard would be a good start.

I know the feeling the OP speaks of and I don’ think it’s weird; some people just need more space. I call it being independent and I generally think of the girlfriend’s behavior as needy.

I think to be truly happy in a relationship, the OP needs to be with someone equally as independent.

I have ADHD. The kind of weekend plans you described, scare me. Not because I don’t get time to myself, but because rightly or wrongly I feel like there’s pressure on me to do stuff I have a lot of difficulty with; I don’t know for sure, but maybe it’s like being dyslexic and finding out I’m about to be handed a book I’ve never seen before and I have to read it to an audience. Planning freaks me out. Being expected to remember the list of what we’re going to do this weekend is overwhelming.

My wife understands that I’m not lazy and I’m not messing with her, that this is the way things are for me. She has difficulty with some other things - luckily, most of what’s difficult for her is not difficult for me, and vice versa. We “fill in the blanks” for each other. Every day.

My ex was “When will all this be fixed, so we can be normal”. It meant “When are you going to stop being you, and be the someone I’m imagining instead?”

That wasn’t a relationship; that was one person, and one slave to a projection.

I fear I may have slid way off topic. Honestly, I sort of hope that I have, and hope that your situation has nothing in common with what I described.

Thanks everyone – I guess I just wanted to check I wasn’t being a jerk for even having these thoughts.

I’ll try to have the talk with her again and hopefully we can work something out.

In my own relationship we have a similar dynamic. My spouse is more of a planner, whereas I am more of a “follow my nose” type.

This results in dis-function in that I am never given the opportunity to take the lead with my “follow my nose” style, because it is not valued by my spouse as a valid alternative.

Personally, I do not use the term suffocating, but I could see how others would.

While some people are just fine with others controlling their social schedule, others aren’t. I’m one of the people who would be very unhappy with someone planning things as the OP describes. I need to be part of the planning process if my time and energy are up for grabs.

There’s a mantra in the disability activist community that I think is applicable here: Nothing about me without me.

I think most relationships are asymmetrical. I have a girlfriend (an Episcopal Priest no less) that I adore but she comes from a dysfunctional family and loves to throw in random insults to me that are out of place during conversations. I asked her very politely to stop doing that and that released a shitstorm of emotions that I still haven’t gotten worked through with her.

I pay for everything including trips to Savannah and Vermont in just the past couple of months and I have two daughters that need equal support. I sometimes feel like I am running a charity for rich girls. I make decent money and have a good job but it is mainly just for pass-through payments to the women in my life.