Relationships: Why Would Someone Feel Smothered Whenever Their Partner Expresses Their Needs?

If someone is in a relationship, there are going to be needs that they will want their partner to meet and there will be needs that their partner will want them to meet. And while some of their needs will be different, a number of their needs will most likely be the same.

They will probably both have the need to be seen and heard, supported, encouraged, accepted, respected, appreciated, and to feel safe. There will then be there need for affection and the physical needs that they have, amongst other things.

Other Moments

At times, one or their partner may find that a certain need, or number of needs, is stronger than usual. As a result of this, they will expect far more from the other person that they would otherwise.

What this could show is that one of them is under a lot of pressure and therefore needs a lot of support. For example, one of them may have started a new job or they may have received some bad news.

Making It Clear

However, although one of them may realise when their partner needs more support, for instance, there may be times when it is not clear. During these moments, it will be essential for them to make it clear.

The reason why one of the might not notice is because they could be going through a tough time themselves, making it hard for them to notice that something isn’t right. The stress that they are under could mean that they are not as attuned to their partner as they usually are.

Part of Life

So by speaking out, there will be no need for one of them to blame the other and for unnecessary drama to arise. Due to the stress that they are already under, they are unlikely to want to create any more.

The level of understanding that one of them shows their partner during this time could the same as the level of understanding that their partner shows them during such moments. After all, they are both imperfect human beings doing the best that they can.

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Another Element

This is not to say that either of them will tolerate bad behaviour, but that they will make the effort to understand each other. Ultimately, they will be able to listen with their heart as well as their head.

When they listen with their heart, their will empathise with the other and put their judgmental mind, along with their need to be right, to one side. This will make it easier for them to actually hear what the other person is saying.

Another Reality

Now, while some people generally won’t have a problem whenever their partner expresses their needs, there are going to be others that have a different experience. For someone like this, this could be something that it is often hard for them to handle.

Their partner could then express a need and one could end up feeling frustrated and/or angry. Furthermore, they could tell their partner that they are needy and make out that they need to change their behaviour.

One Reaction

After hearing this, their partner could end up feeling rejected, and they could come to believe that they expect too much. If so, they may ignore certain needs or look towards someone else to fulfil them.

If they do ignore certain needs, they may find that their mental and emotional health starts to suffer. And, if they end up looking towards someone else to meet them, their existing relationship is likely to suffer.

What’s going on?

If one does feel frustrated and/or angry whenever their partner expresses certain needs, it may show that they feel overwhelmed and as though their boundaries have been crossed. This may mean that they feel smothered when their partner expresses a certain need.

One is then going to feel as though they have no control and that their partner is too much for them to handle. However, as one is an adult and they can make it clear if something is too much, it could be said that there is no reason of them to feel this way.

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Wide Open

Taking into account how they feel, it is as if they are a defenceless child who has no control over what happens to them. If they were able to take a step back from how they feel, they may find that this is exactly how they feel and that they see their partner as a parental figure.

What this may illustrate is that when their partner expresses a certain need, an old wound is triggered. Said another way, they will end up regressing to an earlier stage of their life.

Back In Time

When they were a powerless and dependent child or before this point in time, they may have had at least one caregiver who lacked boundaries and lacked the ability to attune to their needs. Consequently, this would have been a time when they felt smothered on a regular basis.

This caregiver may have looked towards them to fulfil a number of their own needs, instead of being there to meet their needs. Through having this experience, one would have come to associate getting close to others with being overwhelmed and losing themselves.


Many, many years will have passed since they were a small child, but what took place will still be having an impact on their life. This can be due to the beliefs that were formed and the trauma that they experienced.


If one can relate to this, and they are ready to change their life, they may need to reach out for external support. This is something that can be provided by the assistance of a therapist or a healer.


by Oliver JR Cooper