A possessive relationship can often be hard to see clearly, especially in the early stages. It can also be hard to define, which often allows some cases to fall through the gap.
What does a possessive relationship mean? It is one that goes beyond natural, occasional relationship insecurity and falls into the territory of unfounded jealousy and concern. At the root of this behaviour is a deep fear of losing their partner.
At first, this possessiveness can come across as loving, as if you’ve finally found someone who loves you so deeply. But it can quickly turn to frightening abuse.
There are some psychological reasons why a person may become possessive in a relationship, such as attachment troubles they developed as a child or past experiences that stuck very strongly in their mind.
A possessive partner might believe they aren’t worthy of love, or that everyone is better than them.
If they experienced cheating from a partner in the past or from watching their parents, they may be certain that everyone will cheat eventually, and that people aren’t to be trusted. This leads them to act in a way they think will keep your relationship safe.
Signs of a Possessive Relationship
1. Your Partner Is Trying to Move Fast Through Milestones
If you’re experiencing a possessive relationship, you might find that your partner is putting you under pressure to hit bigger and better milestones in your relationship.
This might mean saying “I love you” early on and pressuring you to say it back before you’re ready. They might also be suggesting you move in together or talk about marriage long before those milestones are reached naturally.
At first, this might come across as exciting, as if you’ve found someone who is so devoted to you that they’re already planning a future together.
Unfortunately, what is really happening is that your partner is finding ways to feel more secure and force a commitment so it’s harder for you to leave.
A possessive partner has a strong drive to lock you into a committed relationship because they believe that makes you less likely to leave them – something they fear is going to happen one day if they don’t stop you.
2. Your Partner Is Keeping Track of You
A possessive partner will often question where you are and where you’re going – usually with extreme detail. A sure sign of a possessive relationship is that your partner already has your full schedule mapped out and has an expectation of where you should be at what time of day.
They won’t like it at all if you change those plans even slightly. You will be expected to share every change or delay in your usual schedule, even as minor as traffic that is preventing you from being home at the exact time they expect.
3. Your Partner Is Invading Your Privacy
Just because you’re in a relationship, does not mean your partner should have automatic access to the innermost parts of your life. This could include access to your phone, emails, or social media accounts.
In extremely possessive relationships your partner might even demand to overhear phone calls. A possessive partner feels that they are entitled to your passwords and if you deny them access, you might be at the receiving end of an “if you have nothing to hide, why can’t I see” debate.
They will often blame you for not telling them enough as a way of excusing their behaviour. They will insist that they have to snoop because otherwise, they would never know what is going on with you.
4. Your Partner Insists on Having Constant Contact
Possessive partners need to know that they are always the centre of your attention and can’t accept that you might be too busy for them sometimes. In order to do this, they often insist that you are in constant contact with each other, usually through phone calls or text.
If you are in a possessive relationship, you might find that your partner does not respect that you have other, important, things to do that don’t involve them. This could stretch as far as including meetings at work where it’s not appropriate to use your phone.
To overcome this obsessive fear that you’ll lose interest in them if you aren’t constantly reminded of them, they will insist you text them and update them often.
This constant contact also allows them to keep track of your day even when you aren’t together. At its most extreme, a possessive partner might get angry and upset if you forget your phone or miss a call.
5. Your Partner Won’t Let You Share Your Time
In a possessive relationship, there is rarely any time for anyone else. A possessive partner will insist that all of your free time is spent with them.
Usually, they do this by guilting you, for example, becoming upset that they “barely see you anymore” when you suggest you want to go out with friends.
They will have little care for the needs of friends and family and even try to convince you that they aren’t good for you or worth your time. A possessive partner sees any time spent apart as abandonment, and they see your friends and family as a threat to their control of you.
6. Your Partner Sees Everyone As a Threat
As a result of their deep sense of inferiority, a possessive partner will be made jealous very easily. They see everyone that fits your sexual preference as a threat and will try to undermine them and limit the interactions you have.
A clear sign of a possessive relationship is if you feel fearful telling your partner stories that might involve someone, even co-workers and strangers, that they could be jealous of.
Possessive partners are competitive with everyone and will criticize everyone they see as competition for your affection.
7. Your Partner Controls How You Look
Possessive partners can’t stand the thought of other people looking at you as an object of desire. They feel that if others are attracted to you, you might end the relationship to be with someone else.
In a possessive relationship, you might feel forced to dress in a way that covers your body, particularly as a woman. A possessive partner sees “looking nice” as a sign that you’re trying to attract someone else. They certainly wouldn’t be okay with you going out without them without being covered up.
This paranoia could also extend to the photos you post on social media. They will accuse you of seeking attention from other people and disrespecting your relationship.
What is actually happening is that they feel entitled to your body and want to be the only person who sees you that way (even if you aren’t dressed provocatively at all).
Beware of Possessive People
Possessive relationships can be incredibly dangerous, and you should always be aware of the signs when entering a new relationship.
At first, your partner’s possessiveness could come across as romantic. It’s exciting to meet someone who wants you all to themselves, after all. But, as this progresses, you might find that your freedom is being limited.
If you ever begin to notice that your partner is easily angered by the mention of other people in your life, you should be on guard. If you feel your time with friends and family is being limited and you’re fearful of speaking up to your partner, you should seek outside help as soon as possible.
Remember, abuse is not limited to anger or shouting. If you are fearful of upsetting your partner, being guilted, or being emotionally harmed, you are likely experiencing abuse at the hands of a possessive partner.
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