Love is supposed to make you feel free. It’s not love when your boyfriend makes you feel caged and monitors your every single movement. The signs of a possessive boyfriend can be subtle during the initial stages of dating. He may act as if he is the only person in the world who cares about you and wants the best for you.
That couldn’t be further from the truth because this ‘protection’ and ‘love’ are ways to disguise his possessive behavior. To find out more about the early signs of a possessive boyfriend and some possessive personality traits, we reached out to psychologist Aakhansha Varghese (M.Sc. Psychology), who specializes in different forms of relationship counseling – from dating to breakups, and premarital to abusive relationships.
She says, “There is toxicity where there is possessiveness. A possessive person will refuse to share the person they love. Not just that, they will hate it and become overly insecure when their partner spends time with people of the opposite gender and shares a few laughs with them. It’s as if they feel entitled to their partner’s time, mind, and attention.”
Why Do Men Become Possessive?
Possessive men psychology isn’t black or white. It’s all shades of gray and it usually stems from insecurities and attachment styles. An overly possessive man will have an anxious attachment style where he looks down upon himself and thinks he is inferior to others. He has low self-esteem which further amplifies his insecurities. He doesn’t feel secure in the relationships he forms and has no idea how to cultivate emotional safety as well. This attachment style is one of the main reasons that a man has possessive personality traits.
Aakhansha says, “Women date possessive guys when they fail to recognize them for who they are because these men are crafty enough to hide their tactics and portray them as love, affection, and protective nature. But let’s make one thing clear. There is no research that proves possessiveness is only seen in men. Women could be equally possessive in relationships where they have insecurities, anger issues, and low self-esteem.”
Now that we’ve got that out of the way, here are some reasons that men become possessive of their partner:
- Fear of abandonment: A man may have been abandoned in his childhood and can’t stand the thought of being abandoned again. This fuels his abandonment issues in relationships he forms in adult life
- Past infidelity: He was at the receiving end of someone’s infidelity and can’t seem to let go of it. Or perhaps you cheated on him and now he is having a hard time trusting you again. These feelings of mistrust can lead to early signs of a possessive man
- Anxious attachment style: His reasons for being a jealous and possessive boyfriend stem from a fear of rejection and a fear of being neglected
- Mistrust of men: The more he loves you, the more he thinks that other men will see what he sees in you, and that they will want to flirt with you
- His insecurities: Even when you’re married to a possessive man, he thinks that you can easily replace him
- Need for control: He feels powerful when he has control over you
18 Early Signs Of A Possessive Boyfriend And What You Can Do
Gone are the days when men dominated and controlled every aspect of a woman’s life. From telling her what to wear to forbidding her to talk to men and ordering her what to cook for dinner. There is a fine line between protecting someone you love while letting them live their life, and telling someone how to chew their food and stop them from meeting their male friend. To make this behavior more transparent, listed below are some major relationship red flags and warning signs of a possessive boyfriend.
1. He hates it when you interact with others
One of the early signs of a possessive boyfriend is when he will show contempt when you talk to others, especially of the opposite gender. It will only get worse if you don’t catch this red flag and nip it in the bud during the initial stages of dating itself. He will interrupt you when you are talking with your male friend and will try to control the conversation as well. Notice the body language of a possessive man too: he might clutch his fists and grit his teeth.
A Reddit user shared an anecdote of when their boyfriend was possessive and wouldn’t let them talk to their male friends. Another user replied: “This is EXTREMELY unhealthy. It is completely 100% unreasonable for either of you to tell the other that they can’t even speak to the opposite sex. It doesn’t matter if he’s been emotionally cheated on and lied to before; he’s in a relationship with you, which means that he should either be past that or working to get past that.”
2. He wants to know everything that happened the minute you stepped out of the house
Aakhansha says, “One of the signs he’s getting possessive is when he demands to find out every single thing that went down when the two of you were away from each other.” An overprotective boyfriend will want to know all the details and ask interrogative questions like:
- Who did you meet?
- What did you do with this person?
- Where did you go with this person?
- What did you both talk about?
- Did you talk to them about me?
- Do they know we’re dating?
When he poses questions in the form of interrogation and prying, it’s one of the signs you are married to a possessive man or in a relationship with one. On the other hand, a boyfriend who is protective of you in a healthy dose will ask questions like:
- Did you have lunch?
- Oh, you met Jack? Did you have a good time?
- Did you tell him we got a new pet?
- What time did you reach home? Did you feel safe while coming back?
3. He will ask you to cover up
How do possessive guys act? They will ask you to cover up. On your first date, he will tell you that you look good in that backless dress but as your relationship progresses, he will tell you to wear a jacket or a shirt that covers your back. He will wrap his possessiveness with fake concern and say things like:
- “Baby, I am saying this because I know the kind of guys that come to this club”
- “I am only asking you to cover up because it will be cold out there”
- “I want to be the only person who gets to see your thighs. If you love me, you’d cover them up”
Things will soon go from pleading to bribing. He will make you obey him. Why? Because he “loves” you. But that’s not love. That’s one of the possessive personality traits that shouldn’t be ignored.
Related Reading: Signs That He Is Possessive In The Relationship
4. He hates it when you praise someone else
Aakhansha says, “A possessive man will not let you talk to other men and will despise it when you compliment or praise a guy. It is because he is super jealous and can’t stand the thought of someone else being better than him. Your boyfriend will even see him as a potential romantic rival and may end up harboring hatred toward him.” This kind of jealous reaction and his anger will initially look cute to you and you will even find this quality attractive. However, it is one of the warning signs of a possessive boyfriend.
5. He checks your phone
This one is a no-brainer. A man who has trust issues and is insecure about himself will check your phone with or without your knowledge. He will check out all the people you have texted and will try to read your chats. Not just the conversations you’ve had with men, but also with your girlfriends. Yes, he will be that curious to know what’s going on in your life. He will also check your call list to see how long your conversations have been with specific people.
6. He will want you to prioritize him
Aakhansha shares, “He wants to be at the top of your priority list. Sometimes even before your parents and siblings. When a man fails to understand that you can prioritize two people equally at the same time, it’s one of the signs he is an emotionally immature person and has a hard time maintaining romantic relationships.”
When you love someone, you obviously want to be a priority for them. However, you will never make them choose you over your parents, career, and very close friends. That’s selfish. So, if you are married to a possessive man who wants you to quit your job because he doesn’t feel loved, that’s your cue to walk away from the marriage.
7. He makes all the decisions
One of the glaring possessiveness signs is when your boyfriend makes all the decisions regarding you and the relationship on his own. He’ll decide things like:
- Where to have dinner
- How you are going to spend the holidays
- How often you are “allowed” to meet your friends
- When to meet your family members
He will want to make all the decisions for you. Furthermore, he will make sure you ask for his approval before you do anything. When you don’t seek his advice before you do something, he will get upset. You will even end up doing the things you don’t have an interest in.
Related Reading: 9 Things That Happen When A Man Is Vulnerable With A Woman
8. You have to prove your love and loyalty to seek his in return
How do possessive guys act? Aakhansha answers, “A possessive boyfriend’s love is conditional. You must earn his love by acting according to his whims and desires. He will constantly make you feel like you don’t deserve his love on the days you go against his wishes. Making you feel guilty is one of the early signs of a possessive man.”
Conditional love is based on “ifs” and “buts” but unconditional love is based on “no matter what.” He will place unrealistic expectations on you but won’t like it when you expect the bare minimum in the relationship from him. When your boyfriend only expresses affection after you’ve proven your love by accepting and following his demands, then it’s one of the possessive personality traits and you need to communicate openly with him regarding this.
9. He will ruin your mood before you go out with your friends
This is one of the common things that happens when you are dating a possessive man. He will make sure your mood is spoiled right before you go out to meet your friends. He will make it a point to fight just before you leave the house. He will scour his brain for topics to fight on and will make sure he messes with your head. Only an immature and manipulative person would do something like this.
10. He wants you to show him off to the world, just like he does with you
One of the obvious signs of a possessive boyfriend is when he asks you to post pictures with him on your social media. He will insist on being tagged and on tagging you, regardless of your social media boundaries. He will comment on all your pictures just to make sure people know you are taken. Some other ways he will monitor your social media include:
- He will check who you’re following or who you’re friends with
- He will ask you to unfollow the men who he thinks are more attractive than him and who could become his romantic rivals
- He will see the pictures you like and might keep a tab on the people you DM
- He will coerce you into changing your relationship status
- He will ask you to change your DP and put up a picture with him
- One of the signs he’s getting possessive is when he asks you to make your account private
11. There is no personal space
Aakhansha says, “When you are married to a possessive man or in a relationship with one, you won’t have any free time or alone time. All your time and effort will be spent on making sure he is happy and loved. You won’t have any privacy either.” He might even listen to your phone calls or try to tag along with you on your outing or trip with friends.
Every person needs their personal space to rejuvenate themselves. It is important for the betterment of your mental health. This doesn’t mean you don’t love the person you are in a relationship with. It just means you have your own life and you cannot make another person the center of your universe.
12. He will isolate you from your loved ones
If you are dating a possessive man he might try to disrupt the relationships you have built over a long time with friends, family, and colleagues. It is one of the scary signs of a possessive boyfriend – he doesn’t want you hanging out with anybody else but him.
By cutting ties with your loved ones, your jealous boyfriend is making sure you don’t have anyone in your life who could be important to you and whom you could possibly prioritize over him. If your boyfriend constantly asks you to spend more time with him by ditching your family, it is one of the signs he is trying to isolate you.
13. He gaslights you
Aakhansha says, “As a possessive person, your boyfriend will do everything he can to try and control you. This includes instances of gaslighting. He will indulge in narcissistic gaslighting statements to distort your reality and make you question your sanity and everything else around you.” Some of the gaslighting statements a jealous and possessive boyfriend will use are:
- I am doing this because I love you and have the best intentions for you
- I asked you to not hang out with Peter because I hate the way he looks at you. I can see it in his eyes that he fancies you/wants to get into your pants
- You are just misconstruing everything that’s coming out of my mouth
- Oh, so you trust your brother more than me? Good going
- Stop blaming me. I won’t tolerate this
- If you truly love me, you would listen to me
14. He gets mad when you don’t give him attention
One of the early signs of a possessive man is when he gets mad at you for not giving him attention. You could be busy with work and he would accuse you of ignoring him. On the other hand, it’s okay for him to ignore you and use his free time to play video games for as long as he likes. But the moment you use your phone when he is free, he will create a ruckus about it and will act like a victim of negligence.
Related Reading: 8 Signs You Have A Controlling And Manipulative Husband
15. He accuses you of cheating on him
One of the biggest red flags that you have a possessive person in your life is when he accuses you of cheating on him. It’s one thing to suspect your loyalty when you were caught betraying him in the past. But to constantly suspect you of cheating on him when you are nothing but loyal, that just screams insecurities. He will also be sexually possessive with you and will compare his sexual performance with those before him. He will ask you embarrassing questions regarding your sex life when he wasn’t even in your life.
Aakhansha adds, “It’s important to spend time with your partner and let them know that you are dating no one else. Make them feel secure and help them raise their self-worth. That’s all you can do initially. But when someone you love accuses you of hurting them constantly, it can take a toll on your mental health. If this behavior continues, rethink the relationship.”
16. He love bombs you
One of the alarming signs of a possessive partner is love bombing. He will buy you extravagant gifts, shower you with praises, and spend a lot of time giving you all the attention in the world. He does this to ensure you stay in love with him and to make you feel guilty when you try to withdraw from him a little.
It might also reach a point where the moment you do something that doesn’t please him or goes against his wishes, he withdraws all the love and attention. He will first put you on a pedestal and then throw you down as if you never mattered. This mistreatment will cause a lot of damage to your self-esteem as well. A few other signs of love bombing from a possessive boyfriend include:
- He will keep calling you when you are out with your friends just to “check in”
- He will convince you that you won’t get anyone else better than him and that he’s the only one who wants the best for you
- He will be overly needy and clingy
- He will keep complimenting you and will expect gratitude or loyalty in return
- He will talk about a future with you constantly
- The relationship will feel one-sided and he will act as the only decision-maker
17. He threatens to end the relationship
A possessive man will give ultimatums and might threaten to leave the relationship. This shows he is a super jealous person and can’t handle a mature relationship. It’s one of the sly tricks to manipulate and control you.
When asked on Reddit about giving ultimatums in a relationship, a user replied, “Basically, he is manipulating you and resorting to emotional blackmail to get his way. Honestly, I’d try telling him this is not ok, and if he tries to emotionally blackmail you again, dump him for real.”
Related Reading: Push Pull Relationship – 9 Ways To Overcome It
18. He threatens to harm himself
One of the signs of a possessive boyfriend you should never ignore is when he threatens to harm himself. This is a cunning way to guilt-trip you and trap you into staying with him. This is emotional blackmail. You are not responsible for the choices he makes in his life.
The moment your boyfriend or husband threatens you with his life, you must seek professional help. If you’re married to a narcissistic or possessive person and you are seeking therapy for mental health-related issues, Bonobology’s panel of experienced therapists would be glad to help you every step of the way.
5 Things To Do If You Have A Possessive Boyfriend
It’s not easy to live with a possessive boyfriend. It will exhaust you from appeasing him all the time and you won’t have any energy left to look after your well-being. Here are some things you can do if you have a possessive partner.
1. Rebuild your self-worth
Your self-confidence and self-worth must have taken a hit while trying to fulfill your possessive boyfriend’s demands. Learn how to love yourself before you tackle the situation you have with your partner. Don’t ever question yourself or your sanity. There’s nothing wrong with you.
2. Be clear about what you want
Aakhansha says, “Communicate openly with your partner and keep your needs on the table clearly. Tell him you want to see changes in his behavior and you won’t tolerate the constant suspicions or the ultimatums anymore.” Don’t get emotional or let anger get the better of you when communicating your needs. Stick to the topic at hand and don’t let him manipulate you again.
3. Convince him to seek therapy
Tell him you need him to get better. Help him get over his attachment style issues and any other insecurities he has been dealing with. If he respects and loves you, but more importantly, if he respects himself and wishes to improve for his own sake, he will start going for therapy.
Related Reading: Here’s How To Stop Constant Arguing In A Relationship
4. Be patient with him
If your boyfriend/husband has agreed to see a therapist, be patient with him. Healing doesn’t happen overnight. Support him on this journey and be understanding of the slow progress. If he is showing some growth, then he is trying his best to become a better man.
5. Consider walking out of the relationship
If he rejects the idea of therapy and likes to be possessive because he feels powerful and enjoys hurting you, it’s safe to say that you are dating a narcissist. In that case, you need to end the relationship.
- Fear of abandonment and trust issues are some reasons that men become possessive of their partners
- Some of the early signs of a possessive man include checking your phone, monitoring your movements, love bombing you, and expecting all your attention
- Convince him to seek therapy
- It’s time to leave when he gives ultimatums in the relationship, threatens to hurt you, or himself
Understand your partner’s behavior and the cause behind it. Be patient and keep your outbursts to yourself when you are trying to talk to him. Let your partner know that this is a safe environment and he can feel secure when he is around you. However, if things turn ugly, walk away and don’t look back.