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He Is Being Needy And Smothering. Should I Break Up?

I wish I had time to send personal answers to all of the questions I receive from readers about their relationships. However, with two little kids at home and work commitments, that’s just not possible. Instead, I’m writing a Q&A series–answering some readers questions on the blog.  

Here is this week’s original letter from “Uncertain”…

Hi Lisa

I’m in an LDR. I have been for nine months, although things have really gone downhill in the last two weeks.

We met online. I Iive in England and he’s in the US. So far I’ve visited him twice, he’s visited me once, and I’m going to go see him again in two weeks.

There are many things I really like about this man, and one thing I really don’t like… All the way through this relationship he has struggled to some extent with jealousy and trust issues. He’s been hurt badly in the past (as I have, too) and he is a single father with young children that he co-parents. He has a lot to take care of, and I understand that he’s under a lot of pressure.

I have no children, and I work full time in a very male dominated field and I have lots of male friends who I often spend time with outside of work. My boyfriend doesn’t seem to understand that my male friends aren’t a threat to our relationship. I just want to be with him, and make a life with him. We are already talking about how I could move to the US so we can be together.

However… my boyfriend has become quite needy. He’s always been this way to some extent, but in the last couple of months it’s started to smother me. He wants to know where I am all the time. He gets upset when I don’t reply to his calls or texts immediately. We’ve had many arguments over what I was doing, who I was with and where, etc. He would prefer I never spend time with male friends outside of work. When I confront him about being controlling he says he’ll change, but he doesn’t.

So, do I continue the relationship? Is it too early to tell if he’ll always be this way? Do I give him another chance to sort himself out and hope that things change, or is the writing on the wall now?

I want to be with him and move to the USA but not at any price (his happiness or my own). Struggling to decide what to do for the best!

Any advice?


Dear Unsure,

It sounds like you’re very serious about this man, and you are also aware that the insecurities and jealous behavior you describe are very serious, too.

There is no “obviously right” answer to your question about whether you should continue the relationship.

Chances are, if you move to the US you’ll (consciously or unconsciously) reshape your life with fewer “triggers” around his uncertainties and insecurities. You will probably make fewer or no independent male friends, for example. And you might find that his insecurities don’t cause nearly so many issues when you’re close by and there are fewer triggers.


That’s not really fixing the core issue. It’s sidestepping it.

The core issue appears to be the fact that he is insecure and jealous. He is finding it hard to trust you, and he is acting controlling in some ways that concern you. You have some evidence that this sort of behavior may not change (or, at least, won’t change quickly and easily).

So I have some questions for you to ponder as you try to decide whether to stay in this relationship.

How far do you want to go to reshape your life to make your boyfriend feel more secure? Some compromise and changing always happens in real relationships, but how much is too much?

And how deep and wide do you think his insecurities run? Do you think that same sort of needy, smothering behavior is likely to continue up close and personal and show up in other ways if you move? Have you seen any signs of it when you’ve been together in person during your visits?

These questions are impossible for me to answer. They are possibly difficult or impossible for you answer, too. However, if you’re serious enough about him to consider moving countries and building your future with him (which is a huge decision) can I suggest you find a good counselor who will do skype sessions with the two of you?

Many counselors nowadays will do Skype counseling via a three-way video call. If you can do at least 4-6 sessions around this sort of stuff (fears, hopes, common arguments, and more) that will help. It would give you a clearer idea of the fear that is driving his behavior, and help him understand more where you’re coming from, too.

It should help you answer the questions you need answered before you decide to move for the relationship, or end it.

All the best,


P.S. Oh, and your story is very similar to one of our recent guest posters. It would be worth your time to read her post: 7 Signs You Should Probably End Your Long Distance Relationship.

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