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How To Stop Being Possessive of My Boyfriend – 10 Relationship Experts Reveal Amazingly Effective Strategies To Overcome Possessiveness

by Carri Nash – RN, MFT, Loral Lee Portenier – PhD, Daniel Beaver – MS, MFT , Karleen Nevery – MTC, RTC, CPA, Ebony Huckabee – LPC, CHLC, Laura Rinset – MS, LMFT, Sally LeBoy – MFT, Amanda Patterson – LMHC, Alisa Ruby Bash – LMFT, Brett McDonald – M.S., LMHC

How To Stop Being Possessive of My Boyfriend

“Do not become possessive. The purpose of a relationship is to complement each other, grow together, and achieve your common goals as a couple.”

~ Unknown

The Purpose of a Relationship is To Complement Each Other Quote
Carri Nash

How can you avoid the urge to control your partner? 

You love being with your partner and doing things with them, and when you are apart, it feels like everything might unravel. 

  • Do you have difficulty trusting that your new love will sustain itself? 
  • Do you complain, accuse, and manipulate your partner into stopping doing the things they enjoyed before they met you? 

If so, you are ensuring that your relationship will not thrive.

One of the quickest ways to kill romance is to try to control your partner’s decision-making. If you are both adults, you are both presumably capable of navigating life’s decisions independently. I see the destruction caused by over-controlling partners in my therapy practice every week. 

People leave relationships because they “feel smothered” or “lose themselves” or “don’t have time to be themselves” any more. 

If your partner has used any of these phrases with you, this is a warning siren. Pay attention, or risk losing everything.

If you don’t trust your partner, ask yourself if this is a pattern for you. 

Do you tend to smother people? Self awareness is not always easy. You may want to ask for feedback from your friends. 

If this is truly your issue, you need to check yourself when the urge to control is convincing you to nag, check up on, or simply demand your way. 

Manage your anxiety through healthy behaviors: exercise, hobbies, investing time in your friendships, etc. 

If you still feel the urge to control your partner’s decision-making, seek professional help. Even if your partner has given you reason to doubt their honesty, nagging and controlling will only bring an end to the relationship more quickly. 

“It is not a lack of love, but a lack of friendship that makes unhappy marriages.” – Friedrich Nietzsche

You can’t fix your anxiety about being separate from your partner by nagging or controlling them. Whatever the root cause of your anxiety is, you need to work on healing those issues. If you can’t do this on your own, seek professional help. 

Get healthy within yourself, so that you can offer your partner a healthy attitude. 

You can’t make anyone stay in a relationship by controlling them. Love is only love when there is freedom to choose.

“Darkness can not drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.” – Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Carri Nash, RN, MFT – www.cnashmft.com

Loral Lee Portenier
  • Are you too possessive? 
  • Do you find yourself wanting to control how much time your man spends with his family and friends? 
  • Do you resent the time he spends on his hobbies? His self-care (physical, psychological, etc.)? Even his work?

This happens with many women (and men). 

It can be difficult to know where to draw the line between being neglected in a relationship and being abusive to your partner, between being close and being controlling.

If you wonder if you have stepped over the line, stop and ask yourself what your response would be if he did the same things to you that you do to him. Would you feel loved and cherished, or controlled and demeaned?

One of the hallmarks of an abusive relationship is the desire of one person to control the other. 

One of the primary ways they choose to do this is to isolate the other person from his or her primary social support system, positioning themselves as the sole provider of support and punishing the other person for attempting to reach out to others. 

The abusive person demands to be number one in the other person’s life and begins to squeeze out everything and everyone else.

There are a couple of common reasons why this happens. 

The abuser enjoys the feeling of power he or she gets by controlling the other person. This power can become addictive and can grow to the point of stalking and even killing the other person.

Another reason why this happens is because the possessive partner lacks sufficient self-esteem and self-confidence to allow the other person to have a life that consists of outside interests, especially if these interests stem from the past.

If you wonder if you are being too possessive in your relationships, you should find a good therapist and explore that possibility, working to release your low self-esteem or any excessive need for power over someone else. 

You will never have a phenomenal relationship until you learn to embrace your own inner power, which is the healthiest and most fulfilling power of all.

Dr. Loral Lee Portenier – www.linkedin.com/in/loral-lee-portenier-phd-62897b17

Daniel Beaver

The need to be possessive of a partner regardless of the reason is related to the need for power and control within a relationship. 

At the root of the need to control a partner as it relates to their involvement with other people in their lives is the jealous partners fear of abandonment. 

This fear can date back to an individual’s childhood or may have had a previous partner as an adult that cheated and betrayed their trust, which led to the breakup of the relationship.

The fact that someone experiences the fear of abandonment is not abnormal; it’s a real emotion that most people who are emotionally vulnerable in a relationship will experience. 

The problem is what an individual does with their fear behaviorally. 

For people who have a possessive/jealousy problem they try to alleviate their fear with controlling actions. 

By telling their partner how they can basically spend their time with other people including the opposite sex, friends, family members or siblings. 

There is no issue with expressing what you would like or prefer, but you can’t tell another adult what they can or can’t do. 

Then your behavior goes from being assertive to aggressive, and that style of behavior is an intimacy killer.

When the jealous partner tries to control their partner they usually react with a great deal of resentment for that partner. What adult likes having someone trying to control them? 

As a result of this resentment and the attempt to control their partner causes them to withdraw from them emotionally and physically. 

This withdrawal in turn creates more fear and anxiety for the jealous partner and the cycle continues until their partner leaves the relationship. The jealous partner influenced the very event they feared, abandonment.

The best remedy in dealing with fear and the need to be possessive is to acknowledge that you have the fear and be vulnerable and communicate your fear to your partner. 

Let go of trying to control them. Hopefully they will reassure you that they aren’t going anywhere. This is more effective than trying to control them and acting out the fear.

The possibility of abandonment is given in any adult relationship. 

If you count on a relationship with another adult to give you emotional security you are setting yourself up for a great deal of fear and anxiety. 

The fact is that you can always be abandoned. 

It’s just one of those realities that we just don’t have control over, but some people like to pretend that we do have control and live in denial of this fact until reality of abandonment strikes.

The remedy to this fear of abandonment or being alone as an adult is that if your fear does become a reality that you will be able to take care of yourself emotionally. 

Then you will be able to live on your own emotionally. Not that you want this lifestyle, but you are able to be ok if you do end up on your own as a single adult.

Daniel Beaver, MS, MFT – www.danielbeaver.com

Karleen Nevery

You have fallen in love with a wonderful man and you want him all to yourself! 

Romantic love is one of the most powerful of all human experiences. And the fear of losing someone incredibly special and precious to us, is a natural emotion. The ability for emotion to suddenly take control of our thoughts and behavior has been reflected upon for centuries by many a poet. 

As it turns out, it is not unusual for feelings of jealousy to surface when we feel threatened. 

But when the resulting possessive behavior, in which a considerable amount of energy and attention is focused on controlling who he spends his time with, begins to trump the intentions of love, it is time to stop and identify why this is happening before it’s too late.

Often, fear is the answer. 

And this provokes a more powerful emotion than love. Suspicion becomes a blinding force, eradicating all that is true, sabotaging all that is good. But substituting your need to control, with your need to feel safe, secure and loved, is a process of learning to love yourself. You need to evaluate yourself in order to lead to self-awareness. 

Believing you do not measure up might be the first thought that challenges you. 

Not trusting his judgement might be the second thought. And desperately needing to feel that you are the one and only person he loves more than anyone or anything, just might be the source of all your embarrassing pain. 

While it’s not realistically possible to control his actions, it is possible to control yours. 

Instead of focusing on keeping your loved one all to yourself, focus on understanding that he is likeable and loveable because he is a good person and deserves to be shared by friends and family. After all, that is why you picked him!

Becoming introspective, and understanding what triggers your feelings of possessiveness will help you to change your behavior. 

Asking yourself how your behavior makes you feel, will allow you to empathize with feelings you might be triggering in him. Chances are he will tell you how sad and powerless he feels when challenged by your unreasonable requests.

When you own that you are feeling possessive, you no longer run the risk of blaming him for your emotions. 

Be authentic and communicate your fears and anxiety. Tell him your concerns, share your emotions. Describing your fears will strengthen your relationship. 

Open communication will help you to understand that controlling, possessive behavior, born of jealousy, insecurity and low self-worth, will lead to sabotage. 

And it is your first step to the empowerment you truly desire. So instead of perceiving yourself as “two people”, build yourself as the independent, powerful individual you aspire to be. 

Because in order to strengthen yourself and protect your vulnerability from hurt, it is imperative you map out a way to build a positive self-concept. 

A practical and simple approach is to pursue other objects and goals in your life. The results will be surprising!

Karleen Nevery, MTC, RTC, CPA – www.kitsilanolife.ca/karleen-nevery

Ebony Huckabee
  • Do you get upset when your partner wants to spend time with friends or family members? 
  • Do you check your partner’s phone or social media accounts to see who they communicate with? 
  • Do you call your partner repeatedly or constantly question their whereabouts? 

If so, you may be have a problem with possessiveness. 

Excessive jealousy or possessiveness often occurs when individuals feel threatened by their partner spending time with other people. They may fear that someone will take their partner’s affection from them. 

This fear may lead to overprotection and attempting to keep any outside influences away from the relationship. 

Trying to control your partner can be overwhelming and cause unnecessary problems.

So what can you do if you believe that you are exhibiting signs of possessive behavior?

1. Engage in self-reflection and explore what feelings, fears, and concerns are causing you to be possessive

You may also wish to consider whether you are actually ready for a relationship. Perhaps you are bringing unresolved “baggage” from past experiences into your current relationship. Speaking with a therapist may help you better understand your behavior.

2. Talk to your partner about your feelings and concerns regarding the relationship

This can be very effective in building intimacy and maintaining open communication. This gives your partner a chance to share how much they love and value you, as well as communicate their own fears and insecurities. Making false assumptions without sufficient evidence only causes further problems

3. An important aspect of being in a relationship is maintaining your own interests while pursuing a shared life together

Spend time engaging in activities that you enjoy and work on your personal goals. This will prevent you from obsessing over your relationship and shift the focus onto things that are within your control.

4. It is natural to want to spend time with your partner

However, healthy relationships are built on trust and a certain amount of freedom and space. It is not your responsibility to control your partner’s life. 

You must realize that your partner will not depend on you for everything, nor are you able to meet their every need. Your partner deserves to have friends whom they support, admire, and care about.

Ebony Huckabee, LPC, CHLC – www.raphaccs.com

Laura Rinset

Has your partner ever complained of you being jealous, needy or suffocating? 

Well, here are five practical tools to help alleviate that possessive part of you that may interfere with the flow of your relationship.

1. Have your own friends and supports

It can be easy to become possessive if your partner is the sole person you rely on for communication and support. Have other supports, so that when he is with his family or best-friend you’re not left feeling lonely and deprived.

2. Face your insecurities

What feelings are being triggered by your partner spending time or focusing one someone else? 

The more you know what your insecurities are about the better you can prevent them from taking over and causing you seem “unreasonable or suffocating”

3. Pause when triggered

It is impossible to take back conversations or behaviors. The imprint will last. Silence is easier to come back from then having said or done something that your partner experiences as hurtful or controlling.

4. Self-soothe

Sometimes you will have to share your partner’s attention or time. Learn how to manage your anxiety and coach yourself through your negative self-talk. 

Your anxiety is not telling you the whole story: your partner is choosing to be with you. 

Remind yourself of what’s actually happening instead of what you imagine might happen as he talks to another girl etc., remind yourself that if your partner breaks your trust or isn’t meeting your needs you get to respond, and find a way to entertain yourself while sharing his time or attention. 

Whatever you do, the main goal is to take care of yourself while your partner is focused on someone or something else.

5. Get to know your partner’s friends and family

If you’re with someone who finds these things important: remember, that’s part of what attracted you to them. They will no longer be the person you fell in love with or were attracted to if they don’t continue those relationships. They are part of who your partner is. 

So instead of harboring resentment and making up stories about how they won’t like you: find out so that in the future there can be more shared group time instead of your partner feeling the need to see their friends or family by themselves.

Laura Rinset, MS, LMFT – www.linkedin.com/in/laurarinset

Sally LeBoy

Possessiveness is the mask of insecurity. 

It’s the stance we take when we are afraid of losing someone. Possessiveness never works because good relationships are about trust and choice. Two people feel a connection and choose to be together. They also choose to trust each other. 

Possessiveness is about control and coercion. 

That is the opposite of choice. The insecure partner tries to control or eliminate anything or anyone that could interfere with their partner’s focus on them.

What to do when you feel possessive? 

First examine the relationship. 

Is there a problem that needs to be addressed? If so, address it and try to understand and resolve between you anything that is creating anxiety. This is a time when open and honest communication can be very helpful. Is your partner going through something that could be distracting him from the relationship? 

It’s normal for feelings of closeness to ebb and flow. 

We all have things that interfere occasionally with our ability to be present. Or you might be feeling possessive because your partner is actually pulling away. You may not be able to do anything about it, but it would be good to know what’s going on.

Examine yourself. 

Is there anything going on with you that might cause you to feel especially insecure? Have you lost a job, or been rejected by a friend? 

Relationships don’t exist in a vacuum; outside stressors can have an effect, sometimes a big one.

When it comes to the pressures of family, it’s the partner who needs to manage that boundary. 

All families must change when its members grow-up and begin the process of creating the next generation. This is harder for some families than others, and the process can look different depending on culture.

Lastly, examine your past relationships. 

If you’ve had a history of abandonment or cheating, you are probably going into your relationship already anxious. You have to work that history out in order to trust the person you are with. 

Sometimes we repeat patterns and it’s important to know if you are doing that in your current relationship. I really think this one needs a good therapist. If your past impedes your ability to trust, the relationship will fail no matter what he does.

Fear and anxiety make for a sorry relationship. 

Ultimately no matter how hard you try, you can’t control anyone other than yourself. Falling in love is always risky. You can get hurt. But most of us are willing to take the risk because a life without love is too empty. 

Don’t trust blindly; keep the lines of communication open. 

It’s not really about trusting your partner. It’s about trusting yourself. Trusting that you are loveable, can make good choices and that if you are fooled, you can take care of yourself and move forward.

Sally LeBoy, MFT – www.sallyleboymft.com

Amanda Patterson

Possessiveness is one of those behaviors that can get into the way of an authentic relationship. 

When someone is possessive, they view their significant other as “theirs”. It is a form of enmeshment; not knowing where one person ends and the other person begins. 

If you and your partner are fused together in an enmeshment and you have insecurities or very dominant wants, then you are more likely to engage in possessive behavior. 

Consciously, most people would deny wanting to be possessive and they would put that trait on the“negative relationship behaviors”; however it does occur in many relationships. Learning to be less possessive and more open takes some introspective work on where these feelings are coming from.

1. Are you feeling insecure in your relationship?

Possessive behavior has the potential to increase as the insecurities in your relationship are higher. Ask yourself, what am I insecure about? Is it something real or a holdover from somewhere else? 

If it is something real, then begin a journey of working on it with your significant other. If the insecurity is from somewhere else, like a past relationship, then it will require you to go back and clean up those hurts.

2. Is your family of origin enmeshment and if so, how does this show up in your relationship?

When people come from enmeshed families, they tend to find themselves in relationships where that pattern exists. When people are enmeshed, it is hard for the individuals to define themselves outside of the other person. 

Therefore, it would be easier to be possessive because you view the person as an extension of yourself. If you deal with issues of enmeshment, I recommend reading the bookCodependent No More by Melodie Beattie.

Being possessive might be a bigger red flag for your relationship, so listen to that voice that is telling you something. 

If you are being possessive when your boyfriend is talking to other women at a party all night or if there are other signs, the possessive behavior might be your subconscious way of sending a signal that something isn’t right.

Amanda Patterson, LMHC – www.amandapattersonlmhc.com

Alisa Ruby Bash

Finding love can feel like discovering a needle in a haystack. 

Once you have it, most people will do anything to preserve it, celebrate it, and even fight for it. There will always be obstacles and challenges in every relationship. 

But, what if the greatest obstacle is your own fear, jealousy, or possessiveness? 

Why does this occur? 

Most of us enter relationships with a long trail of baggage, unresolved issues, and painful memories. 

With over half of marriages ending in divorce, and other losses experienced in childhood, most adults have felt significant wounds by the time they get in their own relationships. 

When people live through any kind of trauma, it is only human nature to fear experiencing the same pain again. 

Also, for those of us who had perfect parental role models, sooner or later someone is going to betray our trust and our love. 

Whether it’s lying or cheating in a relationship, we all end up hurt and feeling victimized at some point in our romantic lives. Some of us also have done the cheating, and therefore fear others doing it to us.

This can show up later as being overly jealous, insecure, controlling, or possessive in relationships. 

You may find yourself constantly putting your current partner on trial for someone else’s mistakes. 

  • Do you look for evidence that proves your partner is guilty? 
  • Do you constantly scroll through your partner’s text messages, credit card statements, or emails? 

It’s one thing to be smart and to protect oneself. But, trust is such a sacred thing. 

Once it’s broken, it can be very had to repair. If your partner has never given you any reason to doubt his loyalty, you need to take a step back and realize this is your own issue. 

Many relationships have been pushed to the point where actual infidelity occurs at the hand of someone’s extreme insecurity. 

When people feel like they are constantly punished for a crime they didn’t commit, the resentment can drive them to retaliate and actually engage in the behavior they are being accused of.

We must find a balance between expressing our authentic feelings, and having the self-awareness to see when our irrational fears are spiraling out of control. 

No one wants to play the fool. But, after your partner has proven his loyalty, you must do some inner-work to get over your feelings of possessiveness before it destroys your relationship.

1. The first step is to acknowledge that your lack of trust is about you, not your partner

Many people have core beliefs that,” all men cheat”, or “all men will leave you for a younger woman if given the chance”. We need to make sure we are healthy enough to be in a healthy monogamous relationship from the get go. Life has a funny way of delivering what we believe to be true. 

To be in a healthy, happy, relationship, first change your core beliefs. You may want to practice affirmations everyday that you deserve true love, and that you are ready to love and be loved.

2. Make sure that your life remains very full, and that you always maintain your independence

Keep busy with friends, hobbies, and family. If you never let your relationship define who you are, you will have less to lose and less to fear if things ever change. We can’t predict the future, but we can make sure our own happiness is generated by more than our partner.

3. Definitely get a reality check

Talk to your close friends that know your partner for their insight on whether your fears seem unwarranted. If you cannot get a hold on your possessiveness, see a therapist to work through this issue. Many relationships have gone through this struggle and become even happier as a result of working through this issue together.

Alisa Ruby Bash, LMFT – www.alisarubybash.com

Brett McDonald

There is a difference between guarding the parameters of your relationship and being possessive. 

Sometimes that dividing line can be blurry or even invisible. Unfortunately, no one can tell you exactly what is ‘too possessive’ and what is normal enforcing of boundaries and solicitation of nurturing from your partner. 

Every relationship is different and has different rules, different expectations. 

So if you find yourself fighting with your partner about time spent with other people, it may be a good opportunity to sit down and honestly discuss needs and expectations from both sides.

Each relationship has to balance security and support with freedom and flexibility. 

If you find you are more rigid than your partner would like, adding flexibility requires you to clearly understand the interface between your expectations and your partner’s ability (or willingness) to meet them. 

Perhaps your partner’s need for freedom is higher than your need for support, in which case you either need to relinquish some of your control and neediness, or you need to relinquish your partner (unless your partner is willing to give up some of their freedom).

Sometimes people are possessive because they are clinging to a fairytale-like image of what a relationship ‘should be’ and are not embracing reality as much as they need to. 

Many of us want to be the only one in the hearts and minds of our partner. We want them to crave us and miss us and always want to be around us. That is usually not the reality, and often becoming more flexible requires you to check your ego at the door. 

Vanity dictates that we must be the one and only person who can fulfill our partner’s needs. 

It’s a hard pill to swallow realizing that your partner needs and is benefited by people other than you, but the alternative is not particularly healthy either. 

Relationships that have more pillars of support are more sturdy, and often this is worth relinquishing some exclusivity in the long run.

Brett McDonald, M.S., LMHC – www.psychologytoday.com/us/therapists/brett-rene-mcdonald

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