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Are You or Your Partner Possessive?

By Dr. Margaret Paul
August 08, 2011

Are you and your partner operating in a relationship system that is based on possessiveness?

 "I freak out when my husband even looks at another woman. I trust him not to wander, so I don't know why this upsets me so much."

"My partner spends too much time with her friends and family. What's the point of being together if she's always gone a couple of nights a week?"

"My wife wants to go back to school now that the children are older. She doesn't need to work, so why does she want to do this? It's going to take up way too much of her time."

"My husband has to go out of town for work a lot. I feel so angry about this. What about me?"

"I love to dance and my husband doesn't, so why does he get so upset when I dance with someone else - even with another woman?"

What's going on here? What is behind this possessiveness?

Possessiveness is the result of self-abandonment. Self-abandonment often creates deep feelings of insecurity. When a person is possessive, it is because they want their partner to fill up the emptiness and take away the feelings of insecurity that come from self-abandonment.

If You Are Possessive...

If you are possessive, do you believe it is your partner's responsibility to make you feel loved and secure? This is a huge false belief, and here's why:

Even if your partner spends all his or her time with you, never looks at another person and is very loving to you, you will still feel insecure and empty inside if you:

  • Ignore your feelings
  • Judge yourself
  • Turn to addictions to self-medicate
  • Make others responsible for your feelings

Imagine that you have a child who you ignore, judge, medicate and try to give away to others. Will this child feel secure? When you abandon yourself, you are abandoning your inner child, which always creates insecurity, no matter how loving your partner is to you. While your partner's love makes you feel better for the moment - just as any addiction works to make you feel better for the moment - it cannot heal the insecurity that is being caused by your own self-abandonment.

If You Are at the Other End of Possessiveness...

  • Do you feel responsible for your partner's insecurity, and believe it is your job to make your partner feel secure?
  • Do you give yourself up and not do what you want to do, out of fear of your partner's reaction?
  • Do you do what you want, but lie about it?

If you do any of these things, you are contributing to your partner's insecurity rather than helping him or her learn to become inwardly secure. Care-taking your partner serves to reinforce your partner's false belief that you are responsible for making him or her feel secure. Enabling your partner in this way perpetuates the problem.

Your responsibility is to tune in to how lonely and heartbreaking it feels to you when your partner doesn't support you in doing what brings you joy, or in just being who you are. Your responsibility is to focus on taking loving care of your own inner child, who feels anxious and unloved when you abandon yourself to care-take your partner. By learning to take loving care of yourself in the face of your partner's controlling behavior, you not only heal your own anxiety; you become a role model of personal responsibility, which may help your partner learn to take loving care of himself or herself.

It is important to accept that no matter how loving you are to your partner or how much you give yourself up, your partner will become secure only when he/she learns to be loving to himself/herself.


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