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Dealing With a Possessive Partner

Possessive Partners

We have probably all found ourselves in a relationship that doesn't turn out as we had hoped or expected. Sometimes we give too much of ourselves too quickly, only to discover the other person doesn't feel as strongly.

That can be painful, but it's more difficult to deal with a relationship where our partner is asking more from us than we are either willing or able to give. If you are dealing with a possessive partner, then the following pointers might help you to work through the issues.

  1. Consider whether you might be enabling your partner to continue with their controlling behaviour. For example, do you just allow them to make all the decisions? Do you keep quiet, even when you disagree, in order to avoid an argument?
  2. Ask yourself if the price of the relationship is too high. If it is costing you your sense of safety or self-worth, your integrity and dignity, or your dreams and hopes, then the answer may very well be "yes".
  3. Have clear boundaries. If we don't have clear goals, values, or guidelines in the relationship, then we can be pushed to do anything.
  4. Work on spending some time and activities apart. This applies to both partners. It could be an interest group or a leisure activity, but it's important to hold onto an individual sense of self, and not get absorbed by the dominant personality.
  5. Give yourself permission to hold a different opinion to your partner, especially on issues which are important to you. You don't have to agree on everything - in fact some difference is what can add life and interest to a relationship.
  6. Be willing to be honest about your feelings. A possessive partner may justify their actions as being caring or motivated by concern. This is how they need to see it in order to justify their behaviour. But if it feels to you like being crowded, or manipulated or not trusted, then you need to say so.
  7. Be very clear about what behaviour is unacceptable. General statements such as "I need space", probably won't get you what you want. Spell out exactly what they do, and how it impacts you. "I feel sad that you withdraw and choose not to talk when I spend time with my workmates. It doesn't help me to feel that I want to be with you at those times."
  8. Develop a clear idea of what it will take for you to feel like a balanced and whole person. Does it include work, time with family, time alone? We are not designed to have all our needs met in the context of any one relationship. This will apply equally to your partner. Once you have a clear picture, be sure to communicate it to each other, remembering it's not a topic for debate, just a statement of what you need.
  9. Be honest about your level of commitment to the relationship. Don't be drawn/bullied into saying "I love you", or planning a long term future together, if that's not how you feel.
  10. Be realistic about what the relationship offers you. If it's just a social or sexual companion then don't try to convince yourself this is the soul mate you can't live without. Being real about the nature of the relationship will help to determine how much time, effort and emotional energy you should devote to it.

If you need help in dealing with a possessive partner, contact Alli at Point Of Change Counselling and make an appointment.

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The information on this website is intended for general information only. For help, diagnosis, or treatment of specific issues, please see a mental health professional.