I recently hosted a Q&A on my instagram story, and I was so impressed with the thoughtful questions I received this time around! Someone asked “how do you hold on to your love without suffocating it?”, a question that has come up a number of times within my own relationship. My response received a lot of positive feedback and requests that I save the response for people to look back to, so I decided to type it up and expand on it in a blog post!
Please note that this advice may not be applicable to everyone. I write from my own perspective and draw from my own experience, so not everything will apply perfectly to all situations.
Answering this question is going to vary from one relationship to another, and it’s 100% about learning your partner’s needs and boundaries. What feels suffocating to one person might feel loving and reassuring to another, and that’s okay. There’s no one-size-fits-all approach to relationships, and especially not when it comes to how we give and receive love.
It’s also important to actively communicate with your partner if you think you might be “suffocating” them. Oftentimes, this thought process is rooted in insecurity and fear of being overbearing. Checking in with your partner sooner rather than later is the best thing, because thoughts like that can build up and create anxiety and stress within a relationship. One of my favorite ways to practice open communication is to create a routine around regular check-ins, so that if you have any fears about discussing issues with your partner, there’s already a comfortable dedicated time to do so.
My partner and I regularly have conversations around how we express our love for one another, as well as healthy boundaries we maintain in our relationship. This is especially important for us now that we are together all the time in isolation, but it has been an important topic in our relationship since the beginning. Here are some conversation starters and guiding questions we use when we check in that have helped us in our relationship, and hopefully help you, too!
1. What things do I do that make you feel the most loved and cared for?
This question is my favorite way to open up these conversations about love and boundaries. It’s a gentle question – it prompts your partner to think about the ways you already make them feel loved, and it starts things off on a sweet and affirming note. When you share your own answers to the same question, it sets the tone of the conversation as one of gratitude for one another.
2. What things can I do to make you feel more loved?
This question might elicit many different types of responses. Your partner might name a specific action they would like to see from you, such as reading with them before bed, or they may share a certain feeling they want more, like that they want to be comforted more often when they’re upset. They might also share boundaries that they need you to meet – for example, they might need a little more quiet time in the morning before they get out of bed instead of chatting with you right away.
Whatever their response might be, remember that this conversation is meant to be constructive and helpful; see if you can work together as a team to make sure both of your wants are being met!
3. Have you been feeling connected to yourself lately?
This has been such an important question for me and my partner. We find that when we are more connected to ourselves, we are able to show up for each other more. For me personally, when I have enough alone time to recharge, I come back to my partner in a more patient, loving, and calm mindset.
4. Is there anything we can work on in our relationship to help you feel more connected to yourself?
For example, making space for more alone time, creating a journaling habit that you stick to together, or an exercise routine. Anything that you can do to support them can help strengthen your relationship overall!
5. Are there any boundaries you’d like to set with me?
Having boundaries within a relationship can feel foreign or unfamiliar, especially for people who grew up in a cultural environment where there was no sense of boundaries. However, boundaries are an important part of any relationship dynamic to protect it and ensure that each partner can grow.
Setting aside time to discuss boundaries regularly can make these conversations feel easier and more familiar, even if the topic is more serious. Boundaries can be as simple as your partner not wanting you to bring up certain parts of their life in front of other people, or more detailed, like emotional boundaries to avoid certain triggers. However they might look, your partner’s boundaries (and yours!) are important and deserve to be respected.
I want to add that learning to set and respect boundaries might be new to some people, and that they deserve patience and grace as they learn; however, be mindful of if you can see them making a concerted effort to practice and grow with you!
6. How am I doing at respecting the boundaries we already have?
I add this question in because I firmly believe in the power of showing appreciation and positive reinforcement. I learned early on in my relationship that celebrating the things my partner does right, rather than pointing out what she does that upsets me, makes us both feel much more confident in our bond.
Taking the time to ask this question will allow your partner to reflect with you on things that are going well, and how you’ve both grown as you continue to learn and explore your relationship with mutual respect. Better yet, get into the practice of complimenting your partner in the moment when you notice them going out of their way to be mindful of your boundaries!
If you try these conversation starters out, or if you have your own that you like to use, let me know in the comments below how they work for you!
I’m considering turning this into a column format, where I answer short or open-ended questions from you guys with articles. If that’s something you’re interested in, drop a comment below to let me know. If you have a question you’d like me to answer, please shoot me an email with the subject line “Relationship Advice Column” at [email protected] Share your question, name, and city (or “anonymous”, if that’s how you’d like to be identified) in the body of the email.
Thank you soooo much for writing this up. I have actually lost someone I love because I didn’t respect their boundaries and ending up invading their private space which I shouldn’t have. After they left, I have been trying to learn and understand things on my own and stil figuring but this article of yours seems like somebody just put a manual infront of me. Thank you so much! You really help people in so many ways, you don’t even know!
Keep writing, love from India! ❤️
Wow, it makes me so happy to hear that this was helpful to you. It can be hard to learn to assert and respect boundaries when you don’t grow up seeing people doing so. I’m glad you’re making an effort to learn and I hope you’re kind to yourself along the way. Sending you lots of love!
Exactly! Desi households are always bothered about when are you going to get married ever since you are born, but never bother to teach you to respect boundaries/larger aspects of life that actually matter. We do most of the learning when we actually step out into the real world. And initial real world experiences are mostly failures and heartbreak and eventually you are a whole new person when you learn from it.
You guys are fabulous.. The vlog inspired me in all ways and i love you both❤️
Forgot to mention in the previous comment, but yes, please answer questions with articles! We will definitely be interested in reading it! 🙂
Thank you! I appreciate you so much for your words of encouragement ♥️
Well written 👍💜
Totally interested in the column format!
Amazing! I’ll definitely do more!
this is so good. i discovered you on instagram and this is my first read to your blog because the question was so relatable at so many levels. Thanks for good insightful questions and giving me the perspective what i should look into a person and how can i make people/ partner more comfortable while discovering myself alongwith it.
Thank you so much! I was definitely drawn to answer the question because I felt like it was so relatable, too! Thanks for reading ♥️
I love this! you were the second person within a week in my surrounding bubble to bring up the idea of having check ins with your partner (or friendships even), so I took a screenshot of your story and sent it to my partner. we’re thinking we will have our first official “one on one” this week. 🙂
a friend of mine also asks the question “have you been seeing enough of me? would you like to see me less? more?” which I will add to the list when I do it, especially being in long distance. sometimes it takes weeks for one of us to bring up the fact that we feel we haven’t spent enough time together, so having the space knowing we will definitely check in will hopefully relieve some of that anxiety and internalized annoyances or hurting, because we have the space to talk about it before it is a ‘problem.’
thank you for sharing this! your blog posts are always so thoughtful, and I really love to read them.
I’d love to hear more about how you feel check-ins go in your relationship once you implement them! I also love the question your friend asks, I think that’s great for long distance and also local relationships. I can totally relate to what you said about the anxiety around internalizing annoyances. I appreciate your thoughtful comment and I’m so happy that you enjoy reading my posts! Lots of love, Anjali ♥️
I’ve never shown interest in reading blogs but you’re changing me🥺 and i love this so much just making me more and more mature enough as i grow. Sending bundles of love to you❤️
I’m so grateful for you, thank you for reading!! Sending you lots of love in return!
Anj! This is the best thing I’ve read in so long, it’s been truly eye-opening and given me so much inspiration and confidence, thank you for this piece!!! <3
Thank you so much for reading! I’m so happy you enjoyed it!
You know what you r the most interesting person you inspired me a lot in many ways i have watched your video so many times and just now i read your blog it’s very practical yar!!!!! I never thought about the boundaries but now i understand that a person space is very important in every relation either it is a romantic relation or it would be a friendship!!!!! Thank you ❤️ so much for this @anjali Allah!!! Bless you always sending a lots of love form india
You are so sweet and I’m so happy that you found the article helpful! Thank you so much for your comment, sending you so much love!