How to deal with a boyfriend who is "needy"?
October 5, 2012 8:07 PM Subscribe
How do I help my boyfriend, who I think has adult separation anxiety disorder? How do I deal with his neediness without feeling unhappy or guilty?
posted by DianaV to human relations (20 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
I posted a similar question a month ago and received great answers. At that time, I didn't know what was going on with my boyfriend-- I only knew that he seemed overly clingy. But some of his very specific behaviors, and some googling on my part, lead me to believe he has adult separation anxiety disorder, a condition in which an adult fixates on a loved one and becomes extremely anxious when that person is not around.
My boyfriend and I are in our 40s. We see each other every night after work and spend most of every weekend together. When I go out of town for work (1-2 days a month), he becomes miserable. He describes my time away from him as a "disaster" or a "catastrophe." He is totally serious, not exaggerating; it truly feels like a disaster to him. Whenever I tell him that I may not be available on a certain day, he becomes extremely depressed, and brings up all of his insecurities about our relationship. He will sort of "flood" me with negative statements, often for hours, the day before I'm going on a work trip. This wears me down and makes me upset. When I am out of town, or even when I'm in town but we're not spending the night together, he will often wake up with bad dreams and tell me later that he couldn't sleep and had nightmares because he missed me too much.
Even when I'm around on a normal day and just at work, he becomes irrationally upset if I don't text him frequently throughout the day. An ongoing bone of contention is that he is upset I don't send him emails. We see each other daily, and talk throughout the day; to me, sending emails in addition is over the top, and I wouldn't have time anyway, because my job is demanding.
All of this is a challenge for me, and is made harder by the fact that I am an extremely independent person. I would be happier seeing him just a few times a week and on weekends, but not seeing me every day would make him miserable, he has told me. I also love my job and love to travel for work, but he hates the fact that my job keeps me away from home until early evening and that I have to travel sometimes.
I feel like I'm losing myself in this relationship. He has so many wonderful qualities; aside from this issue, he is everything I would want in a partner, but his neediness is making me unhappy and, frankly, is making me less attracted to him and is driving me away from him. Has anyone else dealt with a situation like this successfully, where both partners ended up happy? Does my boyfriend need some kind of counseling? Do I?