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Why Is Possessive Behaviour Bad For Relationships? - By Reshma

Why Is Possessive Behaviour Bad For Relationships? – By Reshma

Possessive Behaviour Is NOT Good For Relationships! – By Reshma

“Let there be spaces in your togetherness, … Fill each other’s cup but drink not from one cup. Give one another of your bread but eat not from the same loaf. Sing and dance together and be joyous, but let each one of you be alone, … And stand together, yet not too near together: For the pillars of the temple stand apart, And the oak tree and the cypress grow not in each other’s shadow.” ― Khalil Gibran, The Prophet

Possessiveness is an act of power.

Think of the time you went through your partner’s phone secretly, or when you guilt-tripped them when they had a day out with friends or gave them hell for not having called you when they were out of town. I mean, there are so many ways that people may want to exert some form of control over their partners just so that they can ease their own emotions. Many couples struggle between wanting a partner and wanting to own them. This struggle is marked by feelings of jealousy and insecurity and couples don’t realise when love crosses over to possessiveness. In such partnerships, couples have absolutely no idea about boundaries and inherently begin to disrespect each other’s independence. But the truth is, being connected to someone is not an excuse to wield power over them or act entitled, because that can only reduce the connection that you feel for them. Moreover, it shrinks their world and makes them feel less of themselves. This is quite different to love, because love only seeks to enhance and fulfil both partners’ experience of life and of each other. Shouldn’t the aim of a relationship be to expand each other’s worlds instead of being restrictive and not to choke the life out of the bond?
But stating the obvious, research has proved that possessive behaviour inevitably leads to destruction and dissatisfaction.

How to stop?

The first step would be to understand why these patterns arise.

Insecurity and fears come from deep rooted issues with trust, loss of intimacy, lack of self-worth, rejection, abandonment etc. These emotions can lead to controlling type behaviours like possessiveness. Many of us land up projecting these feelings onto our partner to feel secure and reduce the pain of these feelings, by exerting power and control.

All these behaviour patterns have roots in our childhood, and have more to do with us than with our significant other. When we were kids we developed certain defence mechanisms to protect ourselves from trauma or difficult events. Yet, we continue to play out these defences in our adult lives. That’s why it is important to explore our childhood patterns of attachment to relationships (with parents, relatives, friends) to understand our feelings as adults.

Maybe these patterns have been conducive during our childhood, but when we act on these insecurities as grown-ups, we drive our relationship to hell.

What to do about this?

Bring your awareness to your Self: Know your worth and try to be more accepting of yourself. You are a confident and capable person. Stop being critical of yourself. Even if your partner lets you down or betrays you, remember, you will be okay on your own and your world will not collapse.

Control your jealousy, urge to punish or dictate: Keeping tabs on your partner and indulging in surveillance behaviour only drives a wedge between the relationship. Also, it doesn’t help in any way other than to make you feel miserable about your actions later. No matter how difficult it may be, you have to try and overcome the urge to sulk or withdraw into silence.

Know that these feelings are from the past: You can never calm your anxiety until and unless you figure out where it is coming from. The way you deal with your partner has a lot to do with your history. Narrating the timeline of your past can help you understand your bygone days better, help you identify your triggers and ease you in the present.

Calm down: Breath exercises and mindfulness practices are a great tool to sit with your feelings without letting them control your behavior.

Inner Negative Voice: Be aware of a small voice within, that could wreak havoc in your relationship. This voice distorts your thinking and compels you to exert power. This is also the voice that takes charge when you experience relationship anxiety. Pay attention to this voice and subdue it.

Invest in yourself: One step towards controlling impulsive thoughts is to focus on yourself. Try to think about things that you like to do. A hobby, a creative project etc. that can shift your attention away from possessive feelings and reinforce your individuality.

Communicate: It pays to be able to voice your struggle about insecure feelings and possessiveness with your partner. You can always pledge to work on yourself, but if you can let your partner know how you feel in a civil manner, the chances are that the relationship will flourish. It is true that inducing guilt, shame and trying to control may irritate your partner or make them resentful, but if you are able to openly communicate without blame about your battle with possessiveness, it will only get your partner to feel closer and understand you better.


letting go in relationships

By Reshma Raju
M.Sc Psychology,
Certified Women’s Health Coach (USA)


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