You are here: Rediff Home » India » Get Ahead » Living » Relationships
Search: The Web
  Discuss this Article   |      Email this Article   |      Print this Article

Is your partner too possessive? Break off!

Get news updates:What's this?
May 26, 2008

Last week the country was shaken up by the brutal murder of a young man from Mumbai at the hands of a jealous boyfriend. We invited readers to share their experiences, thoughts and advice on dealing with jealousy and over-possessiveness from a partner.

Today we bring you the advice on coping with abusive relationships, where one partner is always trying to control the other's actions and behaviour. Dr Poonam Polani and Dr Sheryl John, both practicing consultant psychiatrists, with MDs in psychiatry, from Mumbai, offer a few advisory tips.

When do you classify a person as overly-possessive?

People who have a borderline or acute personality disorder -- schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, etc -- are all prone to insecurity and possessiveness. They display signs of histrionics and antisocial behaviour and are not in control of their emotions.

In a relationship, healthy insecurity and possessiveness are not uncommon, nor are they a cause for worry. When these traits cross a reasonable boundary, however, they cause stress and put pressure on one or both partners and it is best to avoid such people.

An aggressive individual may become physically or verbally abusive.

How do I know whether my partner is too insecure? Or extra possessive of me?

It is best to do a reality check and look out for the following tell-tale signs. Your partner is overly-possessive if:

~ He/ she calls you incessantly on the phone through the day, asking too many questions -- where you are, who you're with, what you're doing, etc.

~ He/ she is unnecessarily suspicious of your activities whenever the two of you are not together.

~ Your interactions with the opposite sex -- friends, colleagues etc -- always leads to a fight between the two of you and in some cases, violence.

~ He/ she tries to control you and curb your nature and gets angry about trivial issues.

~ He/ she resorts to spying on you and cross-checking what you've been upto behind his/ her back.

~ Discussions about his/ her jealous nature fail to have any effect and he/ she is always clinging to you.

What do I do to cure my partner of his/ her jealousy?

Unfortunately, this isn't always possible. However, you can take the following steps to curb unreasonable behaviour:

~ Try to discover the root of the insecurity. Often, aggression and over-posessiveness in a relationship are a learned reaction. If one's parents or peers have set a bad example, it's likely they could be following it. Psychiatric disorders could also be a reason for someone being too possessive.

~ Communicate your feelings honestly to your loved one. Explain to him/ her that trust is an important aspect of a relationship and that he/ she should fight feelings of insecurity because you love him/ her.

~ If talks between the two of you fail, you may consider seeking out a professional counsellor or psychiatrist who can help with the situation. In cases where your partner is insecure with you, it should not be too difficult to convince him/ her to seek such help, because usually such individuals are game for anything that will help keep you happy and the relationship stable.

I've tried everything and he/ she just isn't improving. What is to be done in such a case?

If the above measures fail, you may consider breaking off the relationship. You may love your partner, but try to look at the bigger picture -- it's not easy to spend your life with someone who tries to track your every move and curbs you from interacting with friends and colleagues.

If you do choose to break off, do so completely. Avoid any form of contact with your ex, because even a phone call to him/ her may get him/ her obsessing over you again.

I want to break off with my possessive ex, but he/ she abuses me verbally/ physically. I fear for my safety. What should I do?

Break off over the phone or in a public place, where anyone can come to your aid. If your partner is truly violent, you may consider having a trusted individual on hand in case the situation gets out of control.

If you find yourself at the receiving end of abuse, try to calm the person down by talking reasonably. Accept any blame he/ she directs at you and don't argue or do anything to aggravate the situation. Also don't come across as overly-indifferent or he/ she may do or say something to get you to react.

Bottom line -- don't ever tolerate abuse in a relationship, whether physical or verbal! If nothing works, break it off.

Photograph: Abdelhak Senna/AFP/Getty Images

 Email this Article      Print this Article

© 2008 India Limited. All Rights Reserved. Disclaimer | Feedback