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When you're smitten, you crave your significant other's time and attention. In fact, it's naturally, biologically normal. "When human beings are in the passionate, early stages of falling in love, dramatic changes take place in our brains that most closely resemble that of a cocaine addict," says family and marriage therapist Alisa Ruby Bash. "Like a newborn baby with its mother, love is so overwhelming that any separation feels painful."
But believe it or not, you can become too close (or dependent) on your man. "The fear that these women feel when there is separation can be so intense that it literally feels like they could die," Bash says. "The bliss of being together and loving each other can feel like ecstasy. But with any separation, it could feel like he may never come back and your whole world will crumble. It can become difficult to go to work, maintain friendships, and relationships with family, or even go to the bathroom alone. At some point this level of closeness will most likely be too difficult for both parties to sustain."
If you fear this could be you and you're too close to your significant other, here are 10 specific signs to look for, according to Bash:
1. You cancel plans with friends, or avoid making the in the first place, in the hope that you'll get to spend the time with your man.
2. You shirk work and other responsibilities.
3. You drive by his house when you don't have plans.
4. You routinely snoop though his phone or emails.
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5. You text or call him when he is busy, has plans or has expressed he needs space.
6. You've stopped participating in your hobbies so that you can spend the extra time with him.
7. You're dressing how he likes, perhaps changing your hair or how you apply your makeup, in order to get his approval, even if you don't like the way these things make you look.
8. You don't give him alone time, even when he's in the bathroom.
9. You make him feel guilty for having other responsibilities, rather than spending the time with you.
10. You try and do things you don't like or believe in to make him happy.
"If you are worried about it, that is a good sign," says Bash. "That means that you realize that you need healthier boundaries, and that is the first step."
The second step, Bash says, is taking action to step back. "It's a good idea to start small with commitments to yourself, such as promising yourself that you will never shun any responsibilities such as work, school, family time, etc. for any guy," she says. "Then, it would be important to remind yourself that only you are responsible for your own happiness. Make sure to schedule activities that are empowering for you, even if your partner is not interested. For example, if you have always attended a church or yoga class, do not ever sacrifice these things. Set up dates with friends, and do not break them, even if your guy asks you to hang out last minute. Having your own life is a lot more attractive to any healthy guy, than neediness or clingyness."
Finally, if you continue to struggle to separate yourself from your significant other, seek outside help. "Definitely seek therapy," Bash says. "The struggle between closeness and independence is so common, and one that almost all women go through to some degree, especially early in their dating lives."