13 Things That Possessive Boyfriends And Girlfriends Do (+ How To Deal With Them)

Possessiveness is not an attractive trait.

If your boyfriend or girlfriend is possessive or controlling, it can cause a lot of problems in your relationship…

…and be extremely damaging for you.

When allowed to develop and left unresolved, possessiveness on the part of your partner can lead you to feel deeply anxious, unhappy, and angry.

Possessiveness and a desire to control a romantic partner can even cross over into physical or emotional abuse.

So, it’s not something to be taken lightly… even if, at the beginning, it can feel wonderful that this person is seemingly head over heels in love with you.

But how can you tell if someone you’re in a relationship with is acting possessive toward you?

Where’s the line between protectiveness and possessiveness?

How can you tell when a possessive partner is starting to have a negative impact on you?

And what can you do to deal with this possessive behavior?

Listed below are a set of behaviors that are typical of possessive partners for you to watch out for.

Following this are some ways in which you can handle a possessive partner to try to ensure that your romantic relationships are always healthy and bring you joy…

…rather than holding you back and weighing you down.

It can be hard to admit that you’re in a relationship with someone who is possessive, but being honest with yourself is incredibly important in these situations.

If any of the following behaviors sound familiar, read on for advice on how to handle the situation.

13 Signs Of A Possessive Partner

Remember, a partner doesn’t have to tick all of these boxes for you to be concerned about the health of the relationship.

If a few or even one of these describes the way your partner acts toward you, take time to reflect on your relationship, as honestly as possible.

1. They need to know where you are at all times.

They’re not happy unless they know exactly where you are, who you’re with, and what you’re doing, at all times.

If you go off the radar for a few hours, they’re not happy about it.

They might claim that it’s all down to worry and concern for your well-being, but they take it too far for that to be true.

They can’t stand you having a life of your own and want to be involved in absolutely everything you do.

They’d rather have you where they can see you and might try to manipulate you so that you’re ‘safe’ at home with them, rather than out and about in the great unknown.

2. They don’t respond well to the word no.

If you don’t agree to the things they ask of you, they have ways of making you pay for it, subtly or overtly.

They might emotionally blackmail you or they might continue to demand things of you until they eventually get their way.

3. They’re critical of you.

They criticize you openly for small character flaws, chipping away at your self-esteem.

And they’ll try to convince you that they’re only doing it for your own good, wanting to help you ‘improve’ yourself.

4. They try to distance you from other important people in your life.

They don’t like how close you are with your best friend, your mother, or, for that matter, anyone who isn’t them.

They’re weirdly jealous of them, and you can’t quite figure out why.

They’re always ready to criticize them and might even try to find ways to turn you against them. They do this in order to isolate you from your support network.

5. They don’t have many other important relationships in their life.

You’re the center of their world, and they can’t understand why they aren’t the sole center of yours.

6. They violate your privacy.

They can’t trust you, and so feel the need to violate your privacy in order to check up on you.

They’ll happily go through your browser history, your messages, or your emails.

They might do it secretly, but they might feel entitled to do it with your full knowledge, convinced that they have the right to spy on you.

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7. They turn up unexpectedly.

They might turn up at events that they weren’t invited to, perhaps under the pretext of bringing you something…

…but you have a sneaking suspicion that they’re there to make sure you’re with who you said you were with and doing what you said you were doing.

8. They’re in constant contact when you’re out.

They might not physically turn up when you’re out and about, but they will message you constantly, and find reasons to call you.

9. They make comments about that red lipstick.

Or that shirt, or that haircut. This can apply to both genders.

They try to control the way you dress and don’t like it if you dress up for anyone but them. Or maybe even if you dress up at all.

10. They’re excessively jealous.

On a similar note, they take jealousy to another level.

It’s normal to feel small pangs of jealousy now and again toward our partners, but they are constantly questioning you about your interactions with other members of the sex that floats your boat, and can’t ever just trust you.

11. They’re manipulative.

Whether it’s emotional or psychological, they know how to push your buttons and keep your self-confidence low so they can keep you where they want you.

12. They make you believe that you’re lucky to have them.

In some cases, possessive partners will try to make the person they’re with believe that they’re lucky that they “put up with them.”

Like you are hard work and nobody else would have you.

13. They put it all down to how much they love you.

If you try to address their behavior with them, they’ll assure you that they only act in the ways they do because they’re so in love with you.

How To Deal With A Possessive Partner

If you’re in a relationship with someone displaying possessive tendencies, there’s plenty of things you can do about it, both to rebuild your self-esteem and to help your partner stop feeling so insecure in the relationship.

After all, controlling behavior normally comes from a fear of rejection or abandonment.

A person may believe that if they can keep tabs on you at all times and have you to themselves, they won’t be at risk of losing you.

Mild cases of this in a relationship can be worked on and the relationship can sometimes be saved and taken forward positively.

But if their possessiveness has tipped over into emotional or physical abuse, then it’s important to acknowledge that and seek out the help you need to leave the relationship behind you.

1. Give your self-confidence a boost.

The way that you go about this is completely up to you, but you need to start getting your self-confidence and respect back.

Practice self-care in its myriad forms. Things like an acting class might help you to rediscover your confidence.

2. Open up to loved ones about the situation.

If you have a friend that has been through a similar situation before, speak to them about it.

Choose your confidante carefully, making sure you speak to someone who will look at the situation calmly and objectively, rather than just getting angry that your partner could be behaving this way.

3. Get clear on what the problems are, and where you think they stem from.

If you’re in a position to, you might also want to consider going to a therapist to help you verbalize the situation before you address it with your partner.

You’ll need to let your partner know exactly what it is about their behavior that needs to change for this relationship to work, and a therapist can help you get that clear in your head beforehand.

4. Sit down with your boyfriend or girlfriend.

Pick a good time to sit down and have an honest, unhurried discussion about the way they’ve been behaving.

Make sure you’re in the right headspace to not get emotional if they react badly, which they probably will, at least to begin with.

5. Don’t expect things to change tomorrow, but don’t wait around forever.

If they agree to work on things, expect slip-ups and a transition period as they make an effort to change their behaviors.

If you love them and believe the relationship could have a healthy future, you’ll need to be patient with them.

But, don’t give them unlimited chances.

There has to come a time when you accept that the relationship doesn’t have a future.

In that case, make sure you have a strong support network around you, and don’t be shy about asking the ones you love for help.

Whether things work out between you or they don’t, it won’t be easy.

But much as you might love this person, you should never compromise your emotional well-being for anyone.

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About Author

Katie is a writer and translator with a focus on travel, self-care and sustainability. She's based between a cave house in Granada, Spain, and the coast of beautiful Cornwall, England. She spends her free time hiking, exploring, eating vegan tapas and volunteering for a local dog shelter.