An excerpt from Strong Women, Strong Love:

In a relationship, it is important to have some capacity for flexibility.  There are times when you and your partner need to lean on each other, like when you are ill.  Other times, you are distant from one another because you are simply busy or need space.  The level of closeness can also fall somewhere between the two.

When each person in a relationship has a strong sense of self, they can move into different stances based on their needs.  Movement away is not viewed as a threat, and movement toward is not considered suffocating because each person is emotionally secure, generally self-reliant, and trusting.

The two most problematic stances in a relationship are Excessively Close and Emotionally Distant.  If you have a weaker sense of self, you are probably driven by fear, which makes you prone to being too close or too distant.  It is difficult for you to accept the fluid nature of a relationship, so you may not allow your relationship the breathing room and intimacy necessary to grow in a healthy manner.  These two stances may manifest in the ways listed below:

Excessively Close (Needy/Clingy)

  • Needing constant reassurance
  • Feeling intense jealousy
  • Being intrusive
  • Making your partner the center of your universe
  • Nurturing your spouse excessively, relating more like a mom than a partner
  • Acting like a victim, doormat, or helpless person
  • Refusing to do anything independently of your partner
  • Not knowing what you need or want
  • Ignoring all other relationships

Emotionally Distant (Emotional Strangers)

  • Hiding your true thoughts and feelings from your partner
  • Being so independent your partner feels unnecessary in your life
  • Avoiding deep connection
  • Ignoring your partner’s needs
  • Showing little interest in the details of your partner’s life
  • Spending all your time with other people or other activities, including work
  • Avoiding relationship problems that need to be addressed

If you are regularly relating to your partner in any of these ways, it is important to ask yourself what unfulfilled needs or wishes are driving you.

Although women are encouraged to make men the center of their world, men usually find this too intense and withdraw.  What works better is having a life of your own that you gladly share with one another. A strong sense of self gives you the flexibility essential to a healthy relationship.