A certain amount of possessiveness is normal in an intimate relationship and can indicate an attentive partner. However, there is a difference between a healthy dose of concern and having a partner who is so controlling that it ruins the relationship. If your boyfriend shows signs of being possessive, it is important to pay attention, as unhealthy possessiveness can spiral out of control as time goes by.
When humans were running around in caves, trying desperately to procreate before being eaten by predators, it was vital for the males to jealously guard the females. It was in the interests of ancient man to ensure that his woman remained safe from peril, including other potential suitors. Man's most fundamental biological urge is to pass on his own genes at all costs. Any threat to that, whether from injury or infidelity, was seen as a threat to life itself.
Twinges of jealousy and signs of possessiveness still remain despite evolution, but most civilized men nowadays learn to rein them in to an acceptable level, particularly if a partner is reassuring and loving. While it is perfectly normal for a man to put his arm protectively around you or to inquire about your male friends, some men display an unhealthy level of jealousy that can stifle their partners.
Overly possessive men may appear to be charming and caring early on in a relationship, only to turn into green-eyed monsters as the partnership progresses. Certain acts, such as checking your mobile phone or emails, are signs of mistrust and jealousy and need to be addressed; if this happens on a regular basis, this may be an indication that your partner is verging into possessiveness. Warning signs that your boyfriend is dangerously possessive include: attempts to isolate you from your friends and family; constantly checking where you have been; controlling your money; telling you what you can and cannot do, including what you can and can't wear; and forbidding you from seeing certain people.
Some possessive men try to break down a partner's sense of self-esteem, so that she feels like she cannot leave, trapped by feelings of unworthiness. Such men may belittle and deride a girlfriend, calling her abusive names or accusing her regularly of cheating. Men who exhibit controlling behavior are more likely to go on to become physically abusive to their partners. If your boyfriend ever threatens you or tries to hurt you, the only safe option is to leave.
At the core of many overly possessive men, where the current partner is doing nothing to provoke excessive jealousy, is usually a large amount of insecurity. This can come from childhood experience of abandonment, abuse or neglect. If your boyfriend exhibits signs of being too possessive, counseling or therapy may help. If he is unwilling to change, it is unwise to stay in the relationship, as possessiveness can escalate in an unpleasant and potentially dangerous way.
- Journal of Interpersonal Violence: The Distribution of and Factors Associated With Intimate Terrorism and Situational Couple Violence...
- Psychological Science: Sex Differences in Jealousy -- Evolution, Physiology, and Psychology
- The Abusive Personality: Violence and Control in Intimate Relationships; Donald G. Dutton
- Helpguide.org: Domestic Violence and Abuse
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