When you take a bite of your partner’s food without asking, you are crossing a boundary. That kind of intimacy may seem romantic, but the underlying assumption of entitlement can kill passion and your relationship.
Often people think that sharing food without asking is a sign of intimacy and a perk of a loving relationship. Actually, the opposite is likely to transpire. If you don’t ask AND wait for your partner’s consent, you are crossing a boundary and showing disrespect.
You might think, “We’re so close that I don’t need to ask—what’s his or hers is mine.” Yet, if there’s not enough separation and respect for a partner’s space, including his or her food, he or she will eventually feel suffocated and show resentment.
It’s these small, hardly noticeable infractions of respect that build up into passive aggressive responses and a desire for freedom and space.
It is a basic instinct to be possessive over food and belongings. One of the first things a child learns to say is, “This is mine. Don’t touch it.”
So when someone reaches across the table to take your food, you will unconsciously have a protective reaction and take offense. The voice of the unconscious will say, “Enemy—get away from my food,” though the conscious mind tries to rationalize, “We’re close, it’s okay.”
If someone asks, “May I have a bite?” then we know the request is limited, and that we still have control over our food, which appeases our inner lion. We do not feel taken for granted and have the opportunity to feel generous by saying, “Yes, try a bite.”
Ironically, respecting others’ boundaries preserves the passion of a relationship, while excessive closeness and possessiveness are the sure way to kill it.
by Alison Poulsen, PhD