Do you feel like you have no room to breathe in your relationship?
Maybe your partner calls it love, but it seems a lot more like possessive behavior.
The truth is, we all get a bit possessive in relationships. It’s normal to feel a bit irritated when someone flirts with your partner or to want to spend most of your free time with your significant other.
Possessive behavior takes these things to a whole new level though, and it’s very unhealthy for the relationship. It can sometimes even turn to abuse, so it’s best to put a stop to it as soon as you notice it.
You’re about to learn how to recognize this type of behavior and how to deal with it, but we’ll also see the reasons behind it and how it could damage your relationship.
17 Signs Of Possessiveness
Does your partner think that you somehow belong to them just because you’re in a relationship? This should worry you. While it might sound romantic, it’s unhealthy.
Wondering what red flags matter most? Possessive people tend to show the following signs.
1. They have jealous outbursts.
Sure, a small dose of jealousy is normal in romantic relationships, but your partner is irrationally jealous.
It bothers them when you talk to other people of your preferred gender, even if you’re not flirting with them.
They are jealous of the attention that you give to others, even to your friends and family. This is because they want you all to themselves and crave all your attention.
They will freak out when you go out with your friends or when an attractive coworker sends you a work-related message.
The tiniest things you do will make them think that you’ll cheat on them or that you already are cheating. Even when you’re just being friendly and polite, they’ll accuse you of flirting.
Your partner might also forbid you from having friends of the opposite (or preferred) gender. Even if they don’t forbid you from seeing these people, it will bother them that you’re friends with them.
In their head, everyone wants to sleep with you, and they have to keep you away from the world to have you all to themselves.
2. They move too fast in a relationship.
Did they use the L word on the third date and start talking about living together after only a week of dating? Possessive people tend to move too fast in a relationship.
So, they’ll very quickly say they love you and get comfortable in the relationship.
They might also love bomb you by making grand romantic gestures while you still don’t know each other that well. Sounds romantic, but are they really in love after only knowing you for a little while?
Your partner probably thinks that their possessive behavior is just an act of love, but what they’re feeling is not love. It’s the fear of losing you.
They rush to get a commitment so that they won’t lose you. They’re thirsty for your attention, and they would do anything to get it, but out of possessiveness, not out of love.
3. They constantly check up on you.
It’s like your partner has to know what you’re doing every second of every day. They frequently check up on you through messages, but they also show up unannounced to see what you’re up to.
They will pop up on your doorstep, at your workplace, or at your favorite coffee shop. To them, these unannounced visits seem romantic, but they’re actually just making sure that you are honest and faithful.
They might come carrying excuses. So, they’ll come to your office to bring you coffee when what they really want is to check out your new assistant.
Similarly, they will show up at your place to make sure that you’re home alone like you said, but they’ll bring a bottle of wine as an excuse.
4. They don’t give you enough space.
Be honest, is your partner smothering you? Do you feel like you need some room to breathe and crave alone time?
A possessive partner will never give you enough space. They’ll want to spend all their free time with you and text you constantly when you’re not together.
They will be jealous of your friends when you choose to spend time with them instead. When you just need to be alone to relax, they will ask why you can’t do that with them.
They’ll want to be with you when you’re chilling out, hanging out with friends, or even working.
Most importantly, they won’t understand why that’s a problem. According to them, it’s just a sign of love, but really it’s just possessive behavior.
5. They must know your whereabouts.
Where are you, and who are you with? You’re asked this question on a daily basis.
Your partner even keeps track of your schedule to know what you’re doing every second of every day.
When you don’t want to share these details with them, they will accuse you of hiding something from them or cheating.
They’ll keep texting you to know who you’re with when you go out with friends, and they will freak out if you don’t respond.
Will there be other women/men there? You get this question asked a lot too. Your partner is constantly scared that someone might steal you away from them.
6. They don’t give you enough freedom.
When you want to go out with your friends, your partner will guilt you into staying home with them instead or convince you to bring them along with you.
They restrict your freedom in many other ways too. For instance, they make you unfollow certain people on social media because these people commented on your photos.
Your partner might even think they have the right to dictate who you can and can’t be friends with in real life too, not just on social media. They’ll insist they be included in all of your decision-making.
Basically, they will try to dictate what you can and can’t do and who you can and can’t see.
7. They text you too much.
Do they constantly text you when you’re not together? Possessive people will need your attention 24/7, and when they can’t get it in person, they will seek it through texting.
Your partner probably freaks out if you don’t respond right away or don’t answer their call as soon as your phone rings. They are paranoid and constantly afraid that you’re betraying them in some way.
In addition, they need your attention all the time, and they are jealous of anyone else who gets that attention instead of them. They will constantly text you when you’re out with friends, and you won’t even be able to enjoy your time out.
8. They stalk your social media.
Is your partner all over your social media?
Maybe they like every post and comment on every picture. Perhaps their social media profile is full of photos of you together and posts about you.
They will also keep track of your online activity and freak out if you comment on someone else’s post.
Your partner wants the whole world to know that you are with them, and social media is often their favored tool to achieve this.
However, they could also stalk your social media without leaving a trace of it. They won’t like or comment, but they will mention things that they’ve seen on your profiles when you talk in person.
9. They don’t have a lot of loved ones.
Possessive people usually don’t have a lot of friends. Your partner’s whole world revolves around you, partly because there’s no one else in your partner’s life.
They don’t have a life outside of the relationship, so they’re entirely focused on you and don’t want you to have one either.
Instead of finding friends, they’ll want to give all their attention to you, and they’ll ask for the same in return.
This is very unhealthy as you both need to have a life outside of the relationship for your relationship to work. However, possessive people see this as a form of micro cheating because you’re giving your attention to others and not just to your partner.
10. They try to isolate you from your friends.
If your partner is possessive, they will probably try to sabotage your other relationships. So, they’ll try to isolate you from your friends, starting with those they don’t approve of.
These will likely be friends of the opposite (or preferred) gender, but they’ll slowly make you distance yourself from other people in your life too.
A possessive person wants you all to themselves, and they’re jealous of the attention you give to others. Your partner might even try to isolate you from your family members for the same reason.
They probably don’t get along with your friends and family anyway, and your loved ones probably don’t support your relationship.
There is a reason for that.
11. They tell you what you can’t wear.
No one should dictate what you can and cannot wear, but your partner thinks they have a right to do this.
They will disapprove of clothes that might attract the attention of other people. This is because they are jealous and deeply insecure.
They fear that someone might steal you away from them just because you look hot. So, they don’t want you to show off your best features. They will want you to look great for their eyes only.
When you’re going out without them, they’ll want you to hide everything that would make others think that you’re attractive.
This is all because of their self-esteem issues, and while it’s okay to ask your partner about your outfit, they shouldn’t dictate what you wear.
12. They prevent you from reaching your goals.
A healthy relationship inspires growth. Possessive partners sabotage your growth instead.
They will stand in your way when you want to achieve some of your goals such as traveling to another country or changing a career path.
Instead of supporting you and motivating you to become a better version of yourself, your partner will do the opposite. They will prevent you from working on yourself and achieving any kind of success. Again, this is because of their fear of losing you and the fear of change.
Your partner wants the two of you to stay the same as you are now and always stay just the two of you. It’s basically like you’re stranded on a desert island with them with no hope of ever leaving that place.
13. They accuse you of betraying them.
Do you constantly get accused of cheating on your partner or betraying them in another way even though you did nothing to deserve it?
That is basically what being in a relationship with a possessive partner looks like. They have trust issues, and they’ll constantly doubt your loyalty, no matter how hard you try to prove your devotion.
Maybe you sometimes forget to mention something, like that you have a new coworker. When they find out about this, they accuse you of keeping it a secret from them on purpose.
Are you cheating on them with this new coworker? This will be the first thing that will cross their mind even if you’ve barely met this new coworker and they don’t even work on your floor.
14. They have unrealistic expectations.
A possessive partner will have unrealistic expectations. For instance, they’ll want you to be available 24/7 and as soon as they need you. They’ll freak out if you don’t respond to their message right away or can’t see them in the moment.
They could also expect you to give all your attention to them and them only. Your partner might even think that’s what loyalty means. It’s just the two of you against the world. While this sounds romantic, it’s not the kind of situation that you want to find yourself in.
So, don’t try to live up to impossible standards and your partner’s definition of devotion.
15. They are offended when you ask for alone time.
What happens when you ask for some time away from them? They can’t understand your need for alone time.
To them, asking for alone time means that you’re either upset with them or thinking about breaking up. They don’t understand that you just need some time to relax on your own.
Your partner thinks that you could relax just the same if they were with you, so they can’t relate to the need for alone time. They get offended when you ask for alone time because to them it just means that you don’t want to spend time with them.
Your partner gets upset when you don’t devote all of your free time to them.
16. They always need to know what you’re thinking.
What’s on your mind? Are you thinking about ending the relationship?
A possessive partner is always afraid of losing you. So, they’re constantly worried that you might be thinking about ending the relationship.
This is one of the reasons they always want to know what you’re thinking. Are you thinking about someone else? This is also what worries them.
They want to be completely involved in your inner world to be able to control you better. Their irrational fears and jealousy cause them to always ask you what’s on your mind.
17. They blackmail you.
Ultimately, your possessive partner will blackmail you to get what they want.
If you loved me, you would/wouldn’t do that. This is just one example of emotional blackmail that your partner could use.
However, your partner could also blackmail you by threatening to reveal your secrets. If you told them something in confidence, they could use it against you in a fight or to get what they want.
A possessive person is usually also very manipulative and controlling. So, they will use blackmail and other manipulation techniques to keep you and get you to do what they want.
Why Possessiveness Is Unhealthy In A Relationship
There are lots of reasons why your partner’s possessive behavior is damaging to your relationship and generally unhealthy for both of you. The following are just some of the biggest reasons that your partner needs to stop this toxic behavior.
1. Lack of space.
You deserve to have room to breathe when you’re in a romantic relationship. It’s not just about the two of you, and you need a life outside of the relationship too.
The lack of space is very damaging to a relationship and can cause it to end. A possessive partner often can’t understand the need for alone time and having a social life.
This leads to an unhealthy relationship where you feel suffocated and trapped. A lot of people eventually end the relationship with a possessive person because of this.
2. Lack of trust.
How can you be with someone who can’t trust you? Even if you did nothing to deserve the lack of trust, your possessive partner will always doubt your loyalty.
This leads to a lot of additional problems, such as being accused of cheating when you’re just talking to a new friend.
Your partner could also try to isolate you from your other loved ones because of this lack of trust.
They will always think that you’re hiding something from them and accuse you of betrayal when they find out something you forgot to mention.
3. Relying too much on you.
You are the only person your partner needs and wants in their life, and this is alarming, not romantic.
They will rely too much on you, and their entire world will revolve around you and your relationship.
Your partner will be obsessive and laser-focused only on you. They’ll want to be a part of all your decisions and will stand in the way of your goals.
They will rely on you to always answer their messages and calls and show up when they want to see you.
While you should be there when they need you, in this case, they’ll need you 24/7, and that’s not healthy.
4. Irrational jealousy.
Jealousy can doom a relationship, especially when it’s irrational and uncalled for.
Your partner will have jealous outbursts and make a scene over nothing. They will be jealous of other people in your life who you give attention to because they want all of your attention on them.
This is very unhealthy and can ruin your relationship. Your partner could even become violent because of a jealous rage or try to isolate you from your loved ones in a controlling way.
Possessive behavior is not innocent and can even turn into abuse for reasons such as irrational jealousy.
5. Unrealistic expectations.
You can’t live up to your partner’s unrealistic expectations, and this will be a problem in your relationship if you try to. The problem is in them having these expectations, not you living up to them.
We’ve already mentioned many of these expectations, including wanting you to instantly reply to messages or calls.
Your partner could also expect you to ditch some of your friends for good because they don’t like them or because they want you to devote all your free time to them.
Where are you? Who is there?
These questions that you frequently hear from your partner often come from paranoia. They are afraid that you’re cheating on them or doing something else that they wouldn’t approve of whenever you’re away from them.
Your partner could get it in their head that you’re having an affair with your neighbor just because you waved to them and gave them a friendly smile.
A possessive person could also think that you’re hiding something from them or that you’re lying to them. Even if you gave them no reason to doubt you, they’ll often be paranoid and assume the worst.
You should have a partner, not a stalker, but a possessive partner might literally stalk you.
They could show up at the places you frequently visit and “accidentally” bump into you.
Clearly, this is not healthy behavior. Their unannounced visits will just be their way of checking up on you and making sure that you’re not cheating.
They will also stalk you on social media and generally want to be updated about your every movement all the time.
Stalking leads to a restraining order, not a healthy relationship.
Unfortunately, possessive behavior can in some cases lead to downright abusive behavior. Abuse is a very valid reason to immediately end an unhealthy relationship.
When your partner is manipulative, controlling, jealous, and irrationally possessive, it can lead to even bigger problems.
Don’t tolerate psychological, emotional, or physical abuse by your possessive partner, and put an end to the relationship immediately.
What Causes It? The Psychology Of Possessive Behavior
Why is your partner being territorial and possessive? Here are some of the possible explanations for their behavior.
Your partner could be possessive for one, several, or all of these reasons.
1. Attachment style.
The reason behind possessive behavior often lies in the person’s attachment style. People with an anxious attachment style are more likely to become possessive in romantic relationships.
Your partner developed their attachment style in childhood, and learning about your attachment styles could help you understand each other.
Maybe they have abandonment issues because of trauma from their childhood that causes them to have an anxious attachment style in their relationships now.
Most possessive people suffer from low self-esteem and struggle with their insecurities. These insecurities often cause them to act jealous, possessive, or controlling.
Your partner probably doesn’t believe that you love them because they don’t think that they’re worthy of your love. They doubt your honesty and loyalty because they are insecure.
3. Hidden fears.
Your partner is probably possessive because of hidden fears. Their biggest fears are likely the fear of rejection and the fear of losing you. They constantly think that you are going to leave them for someone else or simply leave them even if there’s no one else.
These fears cause them to act in a controlling way. They are trying to isolate you from people who could possibly steal you from them.
4. Trust issues.
If your partner has trust issues, this probably has something to do with their past. The problem could date back to their childhood, but it could be about a bad experience in a former romantic relationship.
For instance, your partner could constantly accuse you of cheating because their ex cheated on them.
Their trust issues will apply to more than cheating, and they might doubt your honesty even if you tell them that you love them.
5. Mental health issues.
Some mental health issues, such as borderline personality disorder, cause possessive behavior.
Despite the mental health issues, they can work on changing their bad behavior and developing healthier relationships, though it will probably need the assistance of a therapist.
Your relationship has a chance as long as your partner is willing to work on the problem, whether they have mental health issues or not.
How To Deal With A Possessive Partner
Now that you know all about possessive behavior, how do you deal with it when it’s a part of your relationship? Here are some things that you can try to help improve your relationship with a possessive partner.
1. Calmly discuss the issue with your partner.
Talk to your partner about this problem when it’s convenient for both of you and there are no distractions.
Make sure that you can discuss this calmly without it turning into a fight. Avoid pointing fingers or using words like “always” and “never.” Use more “I” statements and talk about the way you feel instead of accusing them or blaming them.
Tell them that there is an issue in your relationship that you need to address in order to have a healthy relationship.
Reassure them of your love for them, but let them know that you both must be willing to work on this for your relationship to work.
2. Give them specific examples of possessive behavior.
What exactly are they doing that is possessive? This is the first question that you’ll need to answer when you talk to them, so prepare your answers.
Think of specific situations when your partner portrayed possessive behavior and consider the signs that you’ve read about above. Are they expecting you to be available 24/7? Do they show up unexpectedly to check up on you?
Read the signs of possessive behavior listed above and consider which apply to your situation.
Add anything else that might be missing here but indicates possessive behavior by your partner. Get as specific as possible when listing these examples because you’ll need to give your partner the details.
3. Be prepared for a negative reaction.
Think about how your partner is going to react and be ready for their reaction. They are probably going to get upset, dismissive, defensive, or even angry.
Hey, nobody likes to be criticized! Especially a possessive person who is afraid of losing you. They will see this as a sign that your relationship might be ending, so they might freak out.
Be prepared for this and consider how you could keep this discussion calm and rational.
Reassure them of your feelings for them and let them know that you are willing to work on things too but that things need to change.
4. Give them specific examples of changes you want.
What exactly do you want them to change? Again, think of examples and get as specific as possible.
Prepare these examples before talking to your partner so that you can give them the right answers right away.
Do you need more space or time to yourself? Spending a little less time together is an example of a healthy boundary.
You could also ask your partner not to blow up your phone with messages during work hours or to always check with you first before showing up.
5. Point out possessive behavior when it happens again.
Even if things are going to change, they aren’t going to change right away. Rest assured that you will notice possessive behavior again.
Only this time, when it happens, point it out right away.
Stick to your boundaries by pointing out the negative behavior and reminding your partner of your previous conversation.
Do this whenever it happens without letting anything slide. Be clear about what you won’t tolerate anymore and stick to it.
6. Help them change.
Have they agreed to work on this with you? Ask your partner what you could do to help them work on this issue.
Be willing to make compromises, but stick to your boundaries.
Point out possessive behavior, but also make sure to acknowledge and appreciate any sign of progress. Encourage your partner to be less possessive by appreciating their attempts to change.
Help them change, but be patient and know that the change is not going to happen overnight. In fact, your partner might need additional help to work this out.
7. Try therapy.
The reasons behind possessive behavior often lie in the past and even date back to childhood. With problems like these, a therapist can help you find ways to deal with the issue and even overcome trauma.
Help your partner change by encouraging them to talk to a therapist about their trust issues, fear of abandonment, or anything else that comes with their possessive behavior.
You could also try counseling as a couple, but encourage your partner to talk to someone on their own too.
A therapist can learn more about your situation and give you tailored advice.
8. Give them an ultimatum.
If your partner doesn’t want to change, you can give them an ultimatum.
Let them know that you’ll end the relationship unless the possessive behavior stops. However, make sure that you’re willing to go through with it if the possessive behavior keeps happening.
Don’t make threats that you can’t follow through with. If you intend to end this relationship unless it improves, make that clear to your partner.
End the relationship if your partner refuses to work on the issue or goes back to old behavior after changing for only a short while.