How much intensity can you handle?

My partner doesn’t spend enough time with me.

How often have you said that? Or, how about, My partner suffocates me.

I think we tend to jump into relationships based on our personal list of things we think we should have. We look at chemistry, we are attracted to their looks. We need to “click.” We have a history together. We share common interests. These things are all wonderful, but we cannot make a decision based solely on those traits. One of the most important traits we tend to overlook is DEGREE OF CLOSENESS or level of intensity.

What is a Degree of Closeness? It’s the degree, rate and intensity at which you like to communicate with someone you love. It is the degree, rate and intensity at which you like to be in the presence of someone you love. And, it is the degree, rate and intensity at which you prefer to have sex. For example, some people prefer to text once a week, other never, others still prefer to text you 20x a day. Some people want to see you every day, or make an attempt to see you every day. Others, prefer once a week. Some want to have sex three times a day, others are perfectly satisfied with three times a month. Some people prefer to snuggle closely when watching a movie on the sofa. Others need their space. Knowing what you want and what you can handle and what your partner wants/can handle is a pretty big factor in getting along with a partner. And, for love addicts, it could be one of the most important factors in a successful relationship because we tend to be attracted to and triggered by avoidant partners. Knowing your degree of closeness can help you avoid the avoidant!

But, there’s two things to recognize first. A partner’s constant desire to see you or be with you the second he’s met you is NOT NORMAL. Most early (healthy) dating is guarded, not intense immediately and there is usually a time of healthy distance between the two of you while you get to know each other. Anyone who wants to go from zero to 360 within days…this is a red flag! A bit later, once the relationship has gotten more intense (after a few months), a desire to constantly be together is normal, but even this doesn’t last! Therefore, for starters, it’s important to realize that it’s very difficult in the beginning to gauge a person’s Degree of Closeness, including your own, because of the instability and newness of a new relationship.

The longer you stay together, however, the more apparent your degrees of closeness will be. This can be gauged by face to face time, and communication time when you’re not face to face. Is he still wanting to spend as much time with you? How often do we still make love? These are clues to your partner’s Degree of Closeness. But, what about yours? How does a love addict figure out her true degree of closeness when all she wants to do is be with her partner?

To figure it out, don’t look to old romantic partners. In love addicts, this tends to be skewed because of the chaos of our past relationships. Look way back to your high school friends and family WHO YOU GOT ALONG WITH WELL. How much time could you spend with your best friend back in the day? In person? Through text? On the phone? Try to remember those times where you spent an entire summer with your bestie or your family on vacation. How much could you handle? Did you spend all day and night together and then need a break? How long did you need a break? An hour? A day? A week? Could you only spend a couple hours with your best friend and then need a break?

This pattern of yours from youth is an important clue into how much time you need with someone. Also the timing of that closeness is important! I quickly learned about myself that I loved spending time throughout the day with people, but at night I need to be alone, in my room, isolated and quiet. It was almost as if I needed to recharge my batteries for the next day. I was not/am not able to handle INTENSE relationships because my degree of closeness is minimal. This got me into trouble in that it always drove me to date AVOIDANTS. And, if there’s one thing an avoidant does well, it’s give you space! They just give it to you ALL THE TIME. Lol. Not good. When I first met D he wanted to be with me all the time, late into the night (he worked long hours and really only had evenings available). But I quickly got burnt out and told him I needed a break, a night to myself. This hurt him. He immediately thought I was pushing away. What he didn’t realize was that I simply could not handle that level of intensity or closeness. He backed off, gave me my space and it worked (because in the end, he needed space too!). Others, couldn’t control their level of intensity and it drove me away.

Learn what your degree of closeness is, and start to gauge your partner’s. The more similar you both are in this area the better. The farther apart you are the more difficult the relationship. Sadly, people often don’t work out if their degree of closeness differs excessively. Avoidants need way too much space for a love addict. And while people can bend and compromise to a point, their personal desire to be close or need space is inherent. It is a driving force behind much of their behavior. Yours too. So, remember, closeness and intensity are not one of those things you can change or ask someone to change.  This is like being born with a brown eyes versus blue. It’s a part of you (and your partner) that cannot easily be changed.

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