‘If you love someone set them free.’ that is how the quote goes, and how relationships should ideally be in real life.
But what happens when you have a boyfriend who really, really loves you – to the point where he tries to control your every move, who you hang out with, and threatens suicide if you leave him?
When does love become possessiveness, and when does jealousy translate into abusive behaviour?
Possessive behaviour has nothing to do with love. It stems from insecurity, low self-esteem and can sometimes be the sign of greater psychological illnesses such as narcissistic personality disorder, bipolar disorder or schizophrenia.
Possessive partners are great manipulators and can turn even the most black-and-white situations into something that is to their advantage. The key to finding out if your boyfriend is possessive is to take a long, hard look at your relationship and decide if you feel stifled, or if you’re afraid to do anything without your partner’s ‘permission’.
Possessiveness is Not Love
Many girls mistake a possessive boyfriend for a loving boyfriend. There is a big, thick black line between caring behaviour and stifling behaviour. The caring boyfriend is genuinely concerned for you and will be able to back this up with facts. For example, if you are regularly experimenting with drugs and he expresses to you that he thinks you have a problem, this is not possessiveness, it’s love. If he says you’ve been out with your friends too often lately, followed by sulkiness and general bad behaviour for days on end to punish you, this is possessiveness, not love.
Possessive boyfriends are great at devising little ways to ‘punish’ you for any perceived slights. Things as simple as forgetting to call or text once, or having friends of the opposite sex, can become a minefield of tears, recrimination and apologies. Punishment can vary from withholding sex or attention, to constantly breaking-up and getting back together. Other weird and wonderful ways he can think of to punish you may be signing up onto dating websites to make you jealous, or openly flirting with other girls to achieve the same result.
Romance vs Manipulation
It’s not romantic if your boyfriend calls you all the time ‘just to see how you are doing’. If he sends you texts in the middle of the night even after you’ve informed him that you’ve gone to sleep, or rings you constantly when you’re out with friends, that is not romantic. It is manipulative behaviour designed to control who you see, what you do and how much time you spend away from him. It is also not romantic if he claims to have no other friends apart from you and that’s why he needs to see you all the time. He’s trying to guilt you into making the relationship your entire life. Don’t fall for it.
How to Break-Up with One
The only sensible solution to an overly-possessive boyfriend is to break up with them. It can be hard to do so when you are deeply emotionally involved with someone, and especially with a possessive partner because they will seek to create an unbreakable (read scary clingy) bond with you. You need to make them see that their behaviour is not something you want in a long-term partner, and that you need your own space. However, you are most likely in this pickle in the first place because you couldn’t make him see that, so don’t feel too bad about breaking it off.
Remember: Possessiveness can easily be mistaken for love because it’s flattering to have someone who claims not to be able to live without you, but possessive behaviour is nothing more than manipulation, and that you can do without.