There is a very fine line between having a protective lover and a possessive lover …
And yet many of us don’t know the difference. What separates innocent possessiveness (as seen in the first few insecure stages of love) with aggressive possessiveness? At what point do we say “enough is enough”?
When left unexplored and unresolved, possessive relationships can amount to feelings of profound unhappiness, anxiety, anger, and even physical or emotional abuse.
At first, it can seem adorable and even flattering to be on the receiving end of your partner’s intense love and devotion, but after a while it becomes smothering and even dangerous.
12 Major Signs You Have a Possessive Boyfriend / Girlfriend / Partner
Is your relationship healthy and supportive of your well-being, or unhealthy and destructive to your health and happiness? Although it can be hard to admit that you have a possessive boyfriend, girlfriend or partner, it is worth getting real about your relationship for your OWN peace of mind. After all, you have to live with your decisions for the rest of your life.
Here are some red flags that you should look out for:
1. You must appease their wishes all the time.
Essentially, if you don’t comply with, abide by, or fulfill what your partner asks of you, there is hell to pay in the form of nagging, demanding, threatening, and/or emotional blackmailing.
2. They control where you go, when, and why.
Whenever you want to go out, meet up with a friend or family member, or even do shopping, your partner breathes down your neck, wanting to micromanage every place you go to any person you see. Often they will discourage prolonged periods of going out and try to keep you confined to the house, typically in menacing or manipulative ways.
3. They stalk you.
Your partner keeps an eye on every little thing you do to the point of stalking you. This might include logging in to your social media accounts and checking your private messages, reading through your emails or text messages, checking your internet browser history, showing up unexpectedly while you’re out of the house, and so forth.
4. They are needy and clingy.
One key sign of a possessive boyfriend, girlfriend or partner is their tendency to remind you that “you are the center of their world” so much so that they need no other friends or social connections because they have you. While this is not always a sign of neediness or possessiveness, it is when they display anger or resentment towards your other friends, colleagues or family members.
5. They try to sabotage your friendships.
A deep and dark kind of jealousy seems to boil under the surface of your partner’s façade as they try to dissuade you from spending time with your friends, colleagues or family members. They might criticize, character-dissect, bring up old issues you’ve experienced, or even fabricate lies about those you want to spend time with, sometimes even turning you against those you care about.
6. They don’t respect your personal boundaries.
In a possessive relationship, personal space is rarely a concept that is valued. If you have a possessive boyfriend, girlfriend or partner, chances are they will impose themselves too much on your need to have time, space and objects that are exclusively “yours.”
7. They get extremely jealous and paranoid of “other women/men.”
If you talk to a man or woman, they want to know why. If you get a phone call from someone else, they want to know why. If you get a friend request from someone at work, they want to know why. If you get an email from-so-and-so, they want to know why. And god forbid that you honestly reveal any kind of attraction you have to another person! This might spell severe guilt-tripping, emotional punishment, or even violence.
8. They control what you wear.
Going out? Better make sure that you get approval from your partner! The possessive boyfriend, girlfriend or lover will always openly assess what you’re wearing to ensure that it is “appropriate” and to their standards.
9. They constantly message you when you’re out.
For some reason, your partner always seems to “check up” on you when you are out, sending you more texts and calls than usual.
10. They want to be involved in all of your decision-making.
Every decision you make – your partner wants to be there. Period. Often you will even feel pressured to do what they want to do, even if the decision has nothing to do with them.
11. They are emotionally or psychologically manipulative.
Your possessive boyfriend / girlfriend / partner has a way of diminishing your self-confidence. They might be emotionally abusive, gaslight you and make you feel as though you don’t truly know what is best for you.
12. They say that “it’s all just love.”
All of their jealousy, all of their paranoia, all of their controlling behavior … “it’s all just love.” Your partner justifies his/her toxic behavior by pulling the “love card” on you, thus paving an easy escape route to avoid responsibility and blame. In fact, you might have bought into the “love” excuse yourself, continuing to justify your partner’s destructive behavior because you are unconsciously too scared to face reality.
How to Handle Controlling Behavior
Possessiveness and any kind of controlling behavior in relationships is a clear sign of insecurity. And where does this insecurity come from? From the fear of abandonment, rejection and powerlessness. If your partner is possessive, it is very likely that they have a great lack of self-love and self-confidence, and this is because deep down, they feel that they “need you” in order to be happy, safe, secure, and successful.
Here is how I recommend dealing with possessiveness in relationships:
- Re-establish your self-confidence and self-respect which might have been crushed or depleted in your relationship. For instance, explore self-assertiveness, how to love and take care of yourself, and if you are quiet by nature, learn how to rediscover your voice.
- Set aside an appropriate (not busy) time to talk with your partner. Open the conversation by letting them know how and why you appreciate them, and then merge into the problems you are facing with their behavior. Always talk in terms of “their behavior” not “them” as this removes unnecessary finger-pointing negativity.
- Provide specific examples of what behavior is disturbing or upsetting you, and what you would like to change.
- Be aware that your partner might get very offended, angry, dismissive, or upset. Prepare yourself for this beforehand to ensure that you keep your cool. It is vital that you keep your cool at all costs.
- Be very clear about what you want to change in the relationship, e.g. you want more equality in decision making, you would like them to stop speaking harshly about your family, etc.
- Remember, if you emotionally react (with anger, tears, shouting) the conversation is over as all valuable communication ceases once egos get involved.
- If they agree to change, help them out by drawing attention to any possessive behavior in the future and setting “time out” periods where you sit together and talk about the progress being made.
- Be patient. Possessiveness can’t be cured overnight.
- Give an ultimatum (if necessary).
If you can’t carry out these recommendations (e.g. due to domestic abuse, cultural expectations, egotism, etc.) it is best to consider ending the relationship, and build a support network for yourself.
Is Your Lover Protective or Possessive?
Being in a smothering relationship can be really hard and stressful. Remove some of that stress and burden by sharing your problems and proposed solutions below. And if you have any advice … please feel free to lend a helping hand!