Slight possessiveness is natural and desired in every relationship.But when this slight possessiveness turns into over-possessiveness, the relationship starts to decay. In such relationships, there is one partner (over-possessive) who is always watching his/her partner and the other person feels bound, trapped and even sucked out of her personality. Generally, the over-possessive partner wants to ‘own’ the other person and this makes him/her controlling in nature.
There is a clear distinction between caring and over-possessive behaviour. It largely depends on the person being controlled whether she has a problem with her partner being overbearing or she thinks it’s okay. Some might have a problem if their partner (or boyfriend or husband) asks for their whereabouts a little frequently, while some get bothered only if they get more than 10 calls in a day from their partner. However, whatever the case is, the fact is – no one wants to be tracked down for every moment they spend away from their partner.
How To Identify Over-Possessiveness?
Like I said earlier, it largely depends on you. Are you okay with his behaviour or does it bother you?
I am of the firm opinion that in a relationship, any third person – parents, friends, relatives or even a marriage counsellor – can’t and shouldn’t decide things for you. It is your relationship (or marriage). He is your partner. You know him the best. It is your life. You know what you want from it. So, whether your partner or boyffriend is over-possessive or he is just a tad bit more caring is for you to decide.
However, there are few behavioural traits that can be comfortably categorised into abnormal and hence can be termed as over-possessive and controlling in nature.
- Calls Up Every Hour or Acts Like A GPS
You step outside your house without your partner. He calls you once to know if you have reached the destination. After few hours, he calls you again to ask if you have started from there to come home. He calls you once more to know your exact location or precisely to know how much more time you will take to reach home. This is normal, in cases when you are going to a faraway place or to an unfamiliar place or if it is a one-time situation.
It becomes abnormal if he calls you right after you step out of the house. Then he calls you minutes later to know if you have reached. Then he calls you several times to know if, and when, you started from there. And then again to know your location on way back home. Basically, it is abnormal if he is tracking you down like a real-time GPS application.
- Doesn’t Let You Be Friends With Anyone of Opposite Sex
Each one of us has some boundaries regarding our, and our partner’s, interactions with opposite sex. Sometimes we have problems with someone in particular. But not letting your partner be friends with any member of opposite sex is plain stupidity.
Your partner doesn’t encourage your interactions with opposite sex is different from restricting you from making any kind of interaction, let alone friendship. Maybe he doesn’t trust you or maybe he thinks you are too naive and others can take advantage of you. But if he has problems with any kind of interaction with anybody of opposite gender, then it calls for scrutiny and correction. Does he get suspicious at the very mention of the name of anyone from opposite sex?
- Doesn’t Let You Spend Time With Your Same-Sex Friends
Not letting you be friends with people of opposite gender can mean a lot of things. For starters, it means he comes from a conservative background or he doesn’t trust you. But this can be corrected as it only requires a shift in perspective.
But if he doesn’t let you be friends with same-sex people or if he restricts you from meeting your school or college friends, this means he is simply trying to control you.
- Asks For Your Email, Facebook Passwords
Does he want to know your passwords? All of them? Does he already know the passwords and checks your emails and/or FB account without your knowledge? If yes, I am sorry to say it is a sad state of affairs.
Knowing your online banking password is still understandable, particularly if he manages your password or if you have shared it with him. Same is with emails etc. If he knows the passwords because you told him, it is okay. But he shouldn’t be checking them without your knowledge. Logging into your account without your knowledge, to snoop into your mailbox to see who do you talk to etc is a breach of privacy.
- Dictates His Terms On Your Clothes, Travel Etc
Marriage works when the partners act in harmony. It is natural to pick clothes for each other, to tell your partner that you like him in some particular kind of clothes or to give your honest opinion on his clothes. But if you dictate your terms on him or if he dictates his terms on your clothes, it is suffocating.
I know men (and some women too!) who don’t let their partners wear clothes of their choice. In India, many men restrict their wives from wearing sleeveless tops or jeans or anything that they think is ‘inappropriate’ from their point of view. I was in a relationship once when my ex-boyfriend had problems if he found me travelling after 7 pm! He also didn’t approve of sleeveless tops. Well, that’s why the relationship couldn’t continue but I mean to say that I know there are men who dictate terms.
Every Relationship is Different
My husband is a civil servant. He likes me in Indian traditional clothes. He thinks I look prettier in Indian wear. So, of course, he wasn’t encouraging me to wear pants or jeans or sleeveless but he never stopped me from wearing them. Although he had laid out his terms – if I was attending an official gathering, I would wear Indian clothes. If I was travelling without him, I was free to wear whatever I wanted to. With time, things changed. Today, eight years later, I mostly wear western clothes whenever we go out together though I still wear Indian ethnic in official gatherings.
On the other hand, I am ashamed to admit that for many years, I would snoop into his mobile to check who he was talking to! I can be crazy, I tell ya! But this was in the initial years when we didn’t know each other too well. Moreover, every couple struggles with the challenges of marriage in their own ways.
It is difficult to view relationships objectively. There are so many soft factors involved – care, mutual understanding, affection, families, society, peer pressure, jealousy, a difference of opinion etc – that it is not easy to put things clearly in black and white. c
It all depends on how you feel about things. If you feel he controls you, then maybe he does. If you feel he isn’t over possessive even though he puts restrictions on several things including your everyday functioning, good for you!
For example – my husband was clear on clothing but he never asked me to touch feet of any of his family member. He never expected it either but I did it out of my own free will. Similarly, he didn’t want to accompany me to any social gathering but he never stopped me from attending any of them.
So, every relationship is different and you need it figure it out for yourself if your partner is over possessive and controlling or not.
Why Is Your Partner or Boyfriend Over-Possessive?
It is difficult to answer specifically but there can be a number of reasons.
In most cases, the urge to exert power and control over your partner arises from the deep-rooted feelings of insecurity, low self-esteem, inferiority complex, fear of rejection and lack of trust. The person who deals with these issues projects these feelings onto his partner in the form of control and over-possessiveness.
He does so to feel powerful because deep inside he feels powerless.
Troubled childhood is mostly the cause of such behaviours in adults. Children who grew up in an emotionally insecure, distant and abusive family are more likely to show such behavioural traits.
How To Deal With An Over-Possessive Partner or Boyfriend?
Over possessiveness is a sickening behaviour. It can kill a relationship and it usually does. In a relationship where one partner is not only dominating and controlling but also extremely over-possessive, there is no space for breathing and the other partner feels suffocated.
However, the cause of this trait of trying to control things goes much deeper than we can imagine. In some cases, it can be a result of plain incompatibility but in most cases, it is a personality problem and results from a combination of an insecure personality and inferiority complexes.
Insecurities and inferiority complexes are part of troubled childhood. And we will discuss this later.
For now, let us see the first, basic step to dealing with an over-possessive partner.
- Acknowledge That Your Partner Is Over-Possessiveness and Make Him Aware Of His Controlling Behaviour
We all have some degree of jealousy, possessiveness and insecurity in our close relationships. And a bit of these is actually healthy as it helps in keeping a spark alive and makes the other person feel desired. However, problems begin to surface when it becomes over-possessiveness.
So, the first step is to acknowledge that there is a problem. That your partner is over-possessive. If you do not acknowledge it and keep it under the cover of normal and caring attitude, you would only keep bearing a pain that could be resolved and something that you don’t deserve. None of us deserves to be possessed and controlled by another human being. It is against our fundamental right.
Now that you are aware of your partner’s over-possessive nature, it is time to make him aware of it. Of course, he wouldn’t believe you and might even accuse you of over-reacting but it is important to make him realize that you have a problem with his overbearing attitude.
Have an honest and open conversation with him where you use the ‘I’ language. Instead of saying – you do this, you do that. Say – ‘I am uncomfortable when you do this. Can you please stop doing it because it bothers me.’
- Talk Him Out Of His Insecurities and Inferiority Complex
What if your partner truly loves you but he is grappling with some serious issues like inferiority complex about his appearance or money or social standing? What if he only needs an extra dose of love and affection from you?
As a young girl, I dealt with a huge inferiority complex about my physical appearance. Today, as a 36 years old woman, I feel highly confident about my good looks. You can read my story of how I overcame my inferiority complex and learn how your partner can make you feel so good about yourself.
If you want to help your partner, and in return help your marriage, then try your best to talk him out of his insecurities and inferiorities. Does he feel insecure about his physical attributes like height or skin colour? Tell him that you find him irresistibly attractive.
He feels he doesn’t earn much? Tell him you are proud of his honest earnings, how small or big they are.
He thinks you are more qualified than him? Make him understand that even though you are more educated and qualified than him but you still chose to marry and love him because you regard him higher than yourself because of his wisdom, maturity and solid character.
In simple words, make him feel respected and valued.
However, do not fan his false ego as it will only harm the relationship in the long run but pay him the compliments if you think he deserves them.
- Make Him Feel Loved and Enhance His Sense of Self
Believe me, love has the power to change this world. And if love can revolutionize the world, it can change your partner and your marriage too!
It is the feeling of not being loved or desired by our partner that hurts us in some way and then we project these feelings upon our partner in the form of anger, jealousy, over-possessiveness and control.
Find genuine ways to express love to him. Every man wants to be hugged, gently kissed and appreciated. It is a highly misunderstood statement that men only want sex. Men want sex as much as they want to be loved.
Discover his love language. You can read about the concept of Five Love Languages by reading the book of the same name by Gary Chapman. It is a marvellous book and is a must-read for every couple. It has helped me immensely in my own marriage! I highly recommend it.
Work on building his confidence. Encourage him to do things he enjoys doing and he is good at. Invest in his personal and professional growth.
- Work On His Past
There are chances that these feelings of insecurity, jealousy and inferiority have their roots in his upbringing. Maybe he was always criticised by his parents. Maybe his parents expected a lot from him and he couldn’t fulfil those. Maybe his parents often compared him with other kids and in the process demeaned him.
If you believe he doesn’t hold fond memories of his past (and you can easily find that out if he often talks about critical childhood or a seeing himself as a failure while he grew up), try to tend his earlier memories.
Soothe his heart by making him understand that most parents only want the best for their kids and his parents too did the same. So, when they criticised him they didn’t necessarily mean to belittle him but instead, they wanted to show that they believed in him and thought he could do better. Moreover, tell him that a difficult childhood doesn’t mean you can’t have a beautiful future. Make him realize that by lingering onto his past and not letting it go, he is only making his present and future difficult for everyone around him.
I know these suggestions might sound a little stupid but we need to understand that things are different, and difficult, in India. Indian parents work very hard for their children and the society is built in a way that more often than not, it acts against its own people.
When a person is hurt by his parents or by how they treated him in his childhood, the best way is not to turn him against them but to rather make him understand that let bygones be bygones and that a brighter future awaits him and he can make the most of it only if he forgets and forgives the past.
- Show Him A Brighter And A More Beautiful Future
Tell him clearly that if he becomes a little more understanding and accepting of your nature, you will build a beautiful future with him that will be full of love and respect for him.
Nurture this thought in his brain and make him believe that you will love and desire him more if he changes his ways. Ask him to trust you without any suspicion and while he does that, you shower him with genuine affection, words of affirmation, quality time and warm hugs.
- Do Not Respond With Anger
I understand it is easier said than done. If your partner is unnecessarily suspicious of you, it is natural for you to get mad. But here is the problem. If he acts stupid and you act stupid too, it only becomes a cycle which is difficult to break.
Find out what makes him upset and slowly stop doing those things. Find out what makes him happy and slowly start with those. Give time to your relationship. Every relationship needs time to grow.
Sometimes, it is important and wise for us to take a moment, breathe and let the moment pass, instead of reacting to it immediately.
I will repeat, yet again, that every relationship, every marriage is different. You know best about your marriage than anyone else.
No one – man or woman – should live in an abusive relationship. If you feel suffocated and you have tried everything possible to help the situation but to no avail, then you need to look out.
Get him on a therapy. Consult a counsellor.