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Dealing with possessive partner

One of our readers picked our brains on something the other day. She’s in her early 30’s and has been in love with her boyfriend, with-whom she has a baby, for the past three years.

“He not only controls who I should hang out with amongst my friends who have been special in my life for many years, but he also wants to know the details of our conversations whenever we’re together. I’ve never been unfaithful to him”, said.

“He really believes he should be the centre of my life, even with our two year old child in our lives. It’s tiring and frustrating. I’m also worried for the abusive tendencies he sometimes displays on our baby”.

Dealing with a possessive boyfriend is a serious issue that we believe partners should address as quickly as possible. This is because the nature of this problem tends to escalate to uncontrollable levels. And we’re almost certain that there’s plenty going on in the relationship in reference. We have personally witnessed a number of relationships, even marriages, crumble as things usually get out of hand.

However, we will return to this point, and how to deal with your possessive partner in terms of the issue raised.

But first, let’s make it clear that possessiveness in its harmless form is in fact, a sign of a healthy relationship. A bit of possessiveness can help add an element of spice to a relationship. It indicates that your boyfriend truly cares about you, and you do need that in your relationship.

Furthermore, it is human nature for someone to be protective of his or her partner in a relationship. It is the way our brains are wired. In fact, lack of possessiveness may be a sign of a partner who is emotionally detached from the relationship.

However, when possessiveness turns from being an innocent display of love to seeking to control an adult single person on who you are supposed to or not hang around with, even in the absence of any sign of a threat to the relationship, then it is a cause for concern. His unchecked behaviour, when intertwined with the feeling of jealousy can result in a lethal combination in time to come.

We’ve witnessed some of the most adorable relationships break up because of controlling partners who dominate their relationships with emotional torture. Wanting you all to himself can be cute at first, but it can eventually have dire consequences. Possessiveness, insecurity and jealousy through a controlling behaviour are a deadly combination in a relationship. It involves manipulation, self-doubt on your part, low self-esteem on his part and possible lies for purposes of keeping the peace. But you’re not the one with the problem. You need not doubt or question your loyalty. A healthy relationship has to breathe; otherwise, you will smother yourselves and the relationship to death. That’s the cost of a lack of trust in these circumstances. Firstly, you need to help your boyfriend deal with his insecurities, which, as we said may have nothing to do with you in the first place. Possessiveness usually has deep roots, often in the unreliability of parental attention and affection early in life. It sometimes has its roots in later experiences of loss of or rejection by a loved one. Irrespective of the kind of experience
applicable to him, it can breed enduring insecurity in the relationship and undermine the capacity for trust.

It would not matter how many reassurances and affirmations you regurgitate in his direction, it may only help temporarily. Your affirmations and reassurances may indeed assist a process that seeks to deal with the root of the problem to build trust and security.

Secondly, he must clearly and specifically tell you what his problems really are with your “wayward” friends. It may very well be that there is substance to his resistance of your friends. In that case, you don’t want to live your life tip-toeing around what may be a real issue. If indeed there is an issue, you also don’t want to live under a cloud that you may be endorsing “wayward” behaviour, as his uncomfortability will have been justified.

Furthermore, insist on having him go out with you and your friends. This will help him see the genuiness and innocence of your relationship with them. You may also do well by incorporating yourself into his circle of friendship. If you’re attracted to each other as you are, you may very well be attracted to each other’s friends.

Lastly, you may need to put your foot down, and tell him the things that you are unwilling to compromise on. You guys are dating, and perhaps thank God for that. It allows you to self-determine.

The dating phase of a relationship is where you enable each other to relate interdependently to one another. You are a fully developed and complete individual who must be given space to make her own decisions. Once you have set the boundaries, the ball is really in his court. It is now up to him to let go of his controlling and overtly jealous behavior if he wants to save the relationship.

You want a guy who truly cares about you, has a genuine concern for you and is protective of you for a boyfriend. Not one that suffocates you with his insecurities. You need to help him find the underlying cause of his behaviour, so that you are not the scapegoat. You could enlist the services of a professional therapist, which we believe would provide the necessary help.

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