Signs Of Possessiveness In Relationships That Could Lead To Abuse

It is not easy spotting a possessive relationship early on, but there are cues here and there to help identify the red flags that characterizes possessiveness.

However, we don’t go into a relationship having all our antennas up to dictate every red flag.

Even if we do, most signs are cloaked in layers of goodness that we let down our guards too soon.

This is a before-warned-is-to-before-armed post to help you identify the hidden signs as you wade through the usual goodness that characterizes new relationships.

Domineering partners almost always meet brick walls

Meaning of possessiveness in relationships

Possessiveness in a relationship is the consuming desire to perpetually keep the other person all to oneself.

A dominating partner would want the partner’s undivided attention and devotion.

It might get to the extent of not wanting the partner to spend time with anyone else or even pursue interests outside of the relationship.

Also Read: How To Be A Real Man At Home, Workplace, And Social Circles

We all have a measure of controlling in relationships. In fact, without a little dominance and jealousy, relationships might as well be ordinary friendships.

But it can quickly become a serious issue that can culminate into other relationship problems that would be complex to contend with, including jealousy, violence, paranoia, and stalking.

We might not be able to keep a vigil on our relationships but it is in good taste to be attentive enough to know when the familiar, healthy jealousy is snowballing into something dangerous.

What it means to dominate a partner in relationship

What causes possessiveness in a relationship?

At the root of trying to possess a partner lies a fundamental fear of loss. Possessive partners are scared that their one and only could be gone someday.

This gnawing insecurity creates an intense mixed feeling of anger, fear, and sadness and the outward expression is trying to cordon off any perceived threat even before they look like a threat.

Below are the obvious causes of trying to own a partner in a relationship:

  • Insecurity
  • Attachment anxiety
  • Fearing abandonment or betrayal
  • Sense of superiority and entitlement as seen in most alpha humans
  • Having a misguided sense of ownership over a partner
  • Lack of trust
  • Mental health issues


Insecurity in a relationship means you are uncertain and lack confidence in your relationship.

It’s a deeply held conviction that you are not good enough for your partner and battling with self-worth.

It screams you don’t deserve love and other behaviours that show you are apprehensive and feel anxious.

But there are steps that can be taken to ameliorate insecurity. Read on.

Attachment anxiety

Attachment anxiety happens in relationships with loved ones including parents, friends, or partners.

The cause of this anxiety is still under study but it points to failed social development and negative experiences during childhood from faulty parenting.

An all-around healthy childhood needs secure attachment with caregivers for the healthy development of a child into adulthood.

Faulty parenting can overlap into adulthood and wreak havoc in relationships due to a lack of confidence.

Fear of abandonment or betrayal

Just as described above. Many people have this fear that their partner could leave someday. They try to do rather negative things to try to keep them.

Most of the time their behaviours do not make things better but worse.

For instance, a partner caught cheating might become possessive of their partner because he or she feels the partner might also cheat to spite them.

Sense of superiority and entitlement as seen in most alpha humans

Some partners can be so entitled that they want to control and dictate for their partners.

This can be seen especially in men who practice traditional masculinity.

They boss their partners around and question every move they make to perpetually keep them under their control.

A misguided sense of ownership over a partner

Possessiveness in a relationship can be caused by a sense of ownership over a partner.

I have seen such instances in Africa where a man pays huge amounts and other expensive traditional rites of marriage for a wife.

He assumes he bought the woman. This can lead to not allowing the woman to have personal interests away from the relationship.

Lack of trust

Trust is an important trait of a healthy relationship and should be cultivated by both parties.

Any incidence that drills a hole in the trust area of a relationship might bring about trying to own a partner from either party.

Trusting a partner shows that they are reliable and show commitment and can sustain a relationship.

Mental health issues

It can also be caused by a mental health issue like a borderline personality disorder.

People that have this condition seem to experience constant mood swings as they show signs of ownership of their partner out of perceived abandonment.

Possessive relationship signs

Signs that indicate that one is being possessed by a partner

Possessive relationships look normal at the onset as some partners try to hide what could be perceived as negative traits, but as excitement settles and both parties get down to business, a lot of signs begin to show.

Below are the telltale signs of a possessive relationship:

1. Your partner forces you to reciprocate their gestures

A possessive partner will make sure you do not get away with the goodwill they did to you.

If they give you a gift, they expect you to reciprocate. If they say they love you, you are expected to say the same to them.

Failing to reciprocate is an invitation to anarchy. They put you under pressure to do things you are not yet ready to do.

Also Read: How To Not Be The Nice Guy: Problems With Him

This might be exciting initially as you think you have found someone who is committed but soon enough, it becomes choking and policing.

But what your partner is actually doing is to get you hooked quickly so it would be harder for you to leave. But they do this out of insecurity.

2. They keep track of you

You are in a possessive relationship when your partner keeps tracking and stalking you.

He at any given time is apprehensive about where you might be. You will know this when they ask unnecessary questions about where you are in successive intervals.

When you tell them, they could go further to try to verify if you are telling lies. They already have a map of your schedule at any given time.

Any deviation from this schedule would brew trouble for both of you.

They do this to not give you a chance to meet another person who might be better than them.

3. They invade your privacy

Simply being in a relationship does not grant your spouse immediate access to the most private aspects of your life.

Access to your phone, emails and social media accounts may be part of this.

Your partner may even insist on listening in on phone calls if you are in an overly possessive relationship.

If you don’t give your domineering partner access to your passwords, they may argue that you have something to hide.

4. They want you to always project them

Another sign of a entitlement in a partner in a relationship is the way they will pressure you to project them around your acquaintances.

Of course, you should introduce your partner when you meet people, but keeping a tab on it and reminding you in ways that show they are guarding it is suspicious.

They do this for validation and to be sure that you are not meeting your crush or they don’t snatch you away from them … lol.

Here is a brief video on signs to look our for in such partner by TVC.

Signs to look out in a possessive partner – Credit: TVC

5. They see everyone around you as a threat

You are in a possessive relationship if your partner does not always like the faces of people around you.

Of course, they should be concerned about your safety but when they become overly protective beyond what is normal, then they are possessive.

Also Read: Healthy And Positive Masculinity? Traits And How To Practice It?

They suspect the vendor, your salon attendant, and your colleagues and may even be jealous about how your siblings spend time with you.

They put themselves in a competitive position with everyone around you and they don’t hide it.

6. They try to control your looks

Possessiveness in a relationship manifests also when your partner tries to control your looks.

If you wear dresses that make you look too beautiful, they become apprehensive.

They feel they stand a chance to lose you when others who are better than them find you attractive.

So they want you to look as average as possible. When you disagree with them, they accuse you of trying to attract others.

This behaviour could also be extended to your activities on social media. They accuse you of disrespecting them or your relationship when you are active on social media.

How to handle a possessive relationship

It can be challenging to navigate possessiveness in a relationship. However, whether you are in a relationship with someone who is extremely domineering or if you yourself are too dominant in a relationship, there are strategies to tackle the situation.

If your partner is such, you should try to reassure them of your commitment if it has not degenerated to abuse.

Most times reassuring them might help for a moment and the next moment they are at it again. You should understand it’s not your fault.

Also Read: Alpha male in relationship: What Are The Alpha Male Traits In Bed?

The next step can be counselling if reassuring your partner doesn’t help their possessiveness. This might aid them in resolving old problems. Couples therapy might be helpful for both of you.

However, if you are the one who is possessive, here is how to help yourself:

  • Desist from snooping or constant suspicions of your partner. This would be belittle your integrity and could even lead to them feeling you are not worthy to be loved and then finally leaving.
  • Talk to your partner with respect about how you feel. Your tone might make them change the way they do things knowing how they make you feel. Being angry and demanding won’t solve your problem.
  • Have friends other than your partner and see how they handle their own relationships. You can learn from them.
  • If your overly possessive attitude is not getting better, seek a therapist’s help.

Beware of possessive people

When starting a new relationship, you should constantly be aware of the warning signals because possessive relationships may be extremely dangerous.

The unhealthy attitude is from your lover may at first seem romantic. After all, it’s exhilarating to meet someone who desires your exclusive attention.

However, as things go on, you can discover that your freedom is being constrained.

Also Read: Fragile Masculinity Symptoms and Examples

You should be cautious if you ever start to notice that your partner gets upset easily when you bring up other individuals in your life.

You should seek help from a third party as soon as you can if you feel that your time with friends and family is being restricted and you’re afraid to speak up to your partner.

You should not wait for things to degenerate into abuse because it almost always does.

Frequently asked questions about the possessive relationship

Frequently, people are not sure what they are into and want to confirm the signs they see. Here are a few frequently asked questions to guide you.

Does trying to own a partner mean love?

Possessiveness and love might be confusing but they are not the same. Love is not possession but the opposite.

Any relationship the a partner shows signs of unhealthy dominance, if not handled properly degenerates into abuse which might cause injuries or loss of life.

Related: Relationship Anxiety or Gut Feeling? All you need to Know

It’s important to distinguish between love and possession if you want to have a fulfilling love life.

While your partner’s love for you should make you, their clinginess its troubles breaks you.

In contrast to being possessive, which is anything but love, trust, readiness to share, comfort, and respect for each other’s space are all present.

What makes a person possessive?

Insecurities relating to attachment types are frequently the root cause of becoming unbearably dominant.

A person with attachment anxiety typically has a positive image of others but a poor perspective of themselves.

They are concerned that their spouses are not reliable. They consistently worry about being rejected.

What are the signs of possessive behavior?

  • He won’t put up with you complimenting someone else
  • He frequently monitors your call and message log
  • decides what attire is required
  • They have paranoid thoughts about other males being near you
  • keeps you apart from your family and friends

What is a possessive boyfriend?

Only a jealous and possessive partner will prevent you from interacting with anybody outside him.

Your lover wants you to consult him first before taking any action, whether it be placing an order for food or going shopping.

Even when he plays no part in the decision, you will feel pressure to follow his wishes or admire his stuff.

Is possessiveness a mental illness?

The line between being protective and being possessive is quite thin. If your partner’s misplaced protection seems not to be helped by assurance and your innocence, it is a sign of something serious.

This type of situation that seems to lead to abuse has an affiliation with borderline personality disorder.


A possessive relationship might seem exciting at first but will gradually turn into a constricting affair where one partner tries to dominate the other.

Some people might be subdued absolutely to do the bidding of others including depriving themselves of what they love.

But the majority would find it uncomfortable and resist being possessed which usually leads to visible behaviours from the possessing partner.

However, if the signs were not seen earlier on, the steps above could help manage the situation including seeking the services of a therapist.


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A Personal Development Content Creator and an author. I write about life ethics and love to document and share life hacks and experiences of people to help others make good life decisions.

Every content published on The Conducts Of Life is well-reviewed by experienced professionals in the field. Contents are fact-checked for accuracy, relevance, and timeliness and we include links to sources at the bottom of every article for more insights.

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