Get off my couch!

I need space — lots of space. How can I get my boyfriend to understand?

It’s time for honest and open communication, says our elder. Set some ground rules.

Dear EWC

I have been living with my boyfriend for about six months now. Living together has been a major struggle. We argue constantly because of our differences. I need some help with direction on how to get him to understand where I am coming from. I am the type of person who needs a lot of space. When I am angry, I try to talk through it, but I need to sit across the room. Constantly I lock myself in the bedroom or leave the house at all hours to get away from him. He’s the exact opposite. When he’s upset (or when I’m upset), he has to touch me, hug me, cuddle up, follow me around the house. He complains if I want to go to the bedroom while he’s in the living room. His idea is, if we are going to live together, we have to be around each other.

We have two couches and he complains when I move to another couch for more space. I need space, a lot of space. Small problems get blown up because I get frustrated that he suddenly touches me. I usually end up shouting at him to move away or trying to leave. I’ve told him not to touch me but about five minutes into a discussion, he reaches out. While we argue, he pulls me into a hug instead of talking through it. Sometimes he blocks my way out of the room because in his eyes, I’m just running away from our problems. He’s not violent or abusive, by the way. I care about him a lot, and would like to continue living with him because we get along most of the time. I just wish I could get through to him that I need a lot more space than a normal girlfriend.

Grandpa-Bill replies

Sit down with him when you are not arguing and say that you love him very much but need him to understand something about you. Say that you grew up differently from him and that you have a need to be on your own when you are upset, to have time to cool down. Say that you require lots of personal space and that is why you sometimes like to sit alone and that it is no reflection on your feelings for him. Say that he handles conflict differently than you do, cooling down and wanting to make up much faster than you need. Say that if he will let you have time to yourself to cool down, you will compromise with him by coming back once you are OK, to sit together to work on any issues.

Together list the issues that have caused problems and arguing in the relationship and give specific examples of each. Then both of you should come up with some solutions that you know you both could live with. You shouldn’t each push for your first choice as that would lead to a winner and a loser, and losers don’t feel good about the decision and won’t support it. It has to be a compromise solution that you both could live with. It might help to come up with some ground rules for your relationship, such as that once a week you two will take the temperature of your relationship by listing any thing not going well and proposing solutions. Another could be that once a week you will go out together on a surprise date planned by the other person and during that time you will enjoy quality time with one another and not discuss any problems. Another could be that when you are upset you will be granted a half hour time to walk off your anger or write down your feelings. Then you will shake hands and hug.

Open and honest communication will help you work through this as well as compromising on solutions to cut down the arguments.

Letter #: 405729
Category: Dating/Relationship

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