Signs You're Too Possessive In Your Relationship (And How To Deal)

Love is a wonderful thing. It's intoxicating, exhilarating, and the hormones that pump through our bodies when we're in love are enough to drive anyone crazy — in a good way. But those love hormones can also make you crazy in a bad way, in the form of being possessive. According to a 2017 study published in Philosophy, Psychiatry, & Psychology, love addiction is real. Although there are healthy love addictions that make for equally healthy relationships, when the addiction gets carried away, it can result in irregular psychological responses like obsession, abnormal attachments, possessiveness, and even a complete loss of self-control. When this happens, the relationship becomes toxic. While one partner is trying to navigate the relationship in a healthy way, the other is acting out and creating turmoil for both of them.

While things like jealousy, wanting to be with your partner as often as possible, and even not wanting to share their attention with others are normal to a degree, when it becomes all-consuming, it's a problem. For the possessive partner, the relationship becomes an obsession and for the non-possessive partner, things start to feel like a prison. If you're the possessive one, then it's time to recognize those signs before you drive away the person you love.

You're constantly checking in on them

People need alone time. Full stop. Each partner in a relationship is also allowed to have privacy, their privacy respected, and know they can go out and not be texted every 15 minutes. This is the goal, after all: to have ultimate trust in each other so there's no need to constantly check-in. But a possessive partner doesn't think this way. As far as they're concerned, any free time their partner has should be spent with them. So when the partner spends time doing their own thing, doubts and insecurities rear their ugly head and the possessive partner becomes obsessed with tracking them down. Although texting your partner because you're concerned for their safety when they're not home when they said they would be is understandable and acceptable, doing so because you're keeping tabs on them is not.

If you're the possessive one, as much as it might be difficult to stop texting your partner, tracing their steps on social media, or even showing up to where they are, you need to quell the urge. People need space and when that space is taken away from them, they're likely to seek love and companionship elsewhere. If you know you struggle to maintain a level head when your partner isn't with you, then find something to occupy your time. Visit friends or family, go see a movie, or re-organize your sock drawer. Do whatever it takes for the health and happiness of the relationship.

You get irrationally jealous

Jealousy in a relationship is healthy in small doses. But when those small doses escalate and those jealous feelings can't be rationally linked to anything, then there's an issue that's big enough to cause both partners to suffer. It's one of the most toxic components to an unhealthy relationship.

"If you're feeling jealous all the time, your energy contracts and you are suddenly focused on the other person and what could go wrong [versus] what you appreciate about them and the relationship," intuitive dating coach Diana Dorell tells Elite Daily. "They may start to pull away without realizing why." Similar to not letting your partner have their own time and space, jealousy is also a relationship killer. Jealousy that has bubbled over results in accusations, irrational suspicions, lack of trust, anger, and can even lead to violence.

 Jealousy could be directly linked to low self-esteem. Because this is the case, as the possessive partner exhibiting jealousy, ask yourself why you feel this way. Has your partner ever given you cause to be jealous? Is there a history of infidelity that hasn't been resolved? If you can't come up with a reasonable, rational answer for your jealousy, then this is something you want to unpack. As much as you may be possessive, if there's no reason for you to be jealous, then you need to delve deep into those feelings for answers.

You feel the need to dictate how they live

There really isn't much of a difference between a possessive partner and a controlling partner. In fact, for the most part, they're pretty much the same and neither one is good. While wanting to control certain situations as a means to make a loved one's day easier (for example, taking over in the kitchen and making dinner), when you want to control everything about someone's life, that's when the line is crossed. You, nor anyone else, have the right to dictate how someone else should live.

"Controlling behaviors — such as controlling finances, how your partner spends their time and with whom, wanting them to behave in a certain way — will often start out more covertly, possibly by complaining and 'suggesting' that your partner behaves in a certain way and eventually turns more into demands and expectations," licensed professional counselor Elizabeth Fedrick tell HuffPost.

As long as what your partner does or says doesn't harm them, you, or anyone else, their actions and behavior aren't for you to comment on or try to suppress. We're all individuals. When you try to take that away from someone by "suggesting" they dress like this, or talk like that, or not go there, it's no different than clipping someone's wings and stripping them of their autonomy. Remind yourself why you fell in love with your partner, then ask yourself why you want to change that about them.

You want to hold them back

When we're deeply in love, the thought of losing our partner is terrifying. It's the type of thought that makes us sick to our stomach, unable to sleep, and shakes us to the very core of our being. But if your fear of losing them is linked to them evolving and pursuing their dreams, then you need to take a deep breath and be realistic. People change, people grow, people's lives take a different turn, and sometimes people are lucky enough to achieve their goals. If that happens, it doesn't mean they're going to leave their partner behind. It means that things in their life will be different, and you'll be along for the ride.

"A partner who stands in the way of your personal goals is often deeply possessive," clinical psychologist Dr. Carla Marie Manly, told Bustle. "Healthy partners want us to be our best, fullest selves — not limited versions of who we 'could' be. Partners who are possessive tend to be limiting in their mindsets and behaviors."

There's no reason to stand in the way of your partner's growth. Your possessiveness may stem from a fear of losing them, but that doesn't make it right. Holding them back, however, is guaranteed to have them running for the hills. Remind yourself that even if you're growing in different directions, it doesn't mean you're not growing together. Be happy for them, support them, and don't make it all about you and your fears. 

You never make plans without them

Because possessiveness and obsession go together like peanut butter and jelly, not wanting to do anything without your partner just comes with the territory. It's definitely not healthy, but it's part of having that possessive streak in you. If you can't, for the life of you, make plans that are separate from your partner, then that's something to examine. If you can't conceive of sharing your partner with their friends and family, so whenever you make plans it's always just the two of you, that's another thing you need to analyze. You can't pull your partner away from others in their life, nor can you make them your whole world.

As relationship expert Margaret Paul, Ph.D. wrote for MindBodyGreen, possessiveness is the result of insecurity that's been brought on by self-abandonment, and expecting your partner to make you feel valuable, loved, and good enough, when really, that responsibility lies solely with you. Trying to remedy these insecurities isn't easy. It involves self-awareness, self-acceptance, and self-love. It also may include examining your attachment style which, if you're possessive, may mean you have an anxious attachment style that's negatively influencing your relationship.

Possessiveness may not be uncommon, but it's still not healthy. If you can't kick this toxic behavior on your own, then reach out to a professional who will give you the tools to manage your feelings.