My 17-year-old daughter has a boyfriend, and I fear she is headed for trouble. The boy is extremely jealous and possessive. She is not her own person any more; she is answerable for every moment. She finds all this very flattering and cute. I don’t know how to tell her that she is mistaken— she is bound to get defiant and accuse me of being negative and unsupportive. What do I do? She will be reading your reply.
We have often heard young women say with a proud smile: “My boyfriend is very possessive.” In the early stages of a relationship, young people seem to believe that jealousy and possessiveness are signs of great love and loyalty, of protectiveness and caring.
Breathe out: Possessiveness indicates that a person is not able to trust.
A few months into the relationship, however, she finds herself facing anger, accusations, insults, taunts from her boyfriend (or by now husband), only because she chats with male colleagues, or goes out for lunch with a mixed group of men and women friends. It slowly extends to all kinds of restrictions and “bans”—“You can’t spend all of Sunday with your parents”, or “Don’t wear make-up”, or “You can’t wear that blouse”…and other such “rules”.
Also, often, from being a complaint, this kind of “possessiveness” turns into sulks, threats, angry outbursts and out and out verbal and physical abuse.
On a daily basis, jealousy and possessiveness become a nuisance, a threat, and a real strain on the relationship. The girl then has little choice but to either drop most of the friends her boyfriend/husband resents, or to break off the relationship with him as she simply cannot take the restrictions, suspicions and threats.
Girls, too, can be extremely possessive, to the point of being cruel, demanding and dictatorial with their boyfriends/ husbands, making it difficult for the man to have healthy, normal, friendly and above-board relationships with women friends/colleagues/relatives.
Jealous, possessive people usually explain their actions by saying they are “only trying to ensure commitment”. The logic is faulty though: Commitment can never be wrested from the other person by limiting interaction with the rest of the world. If you have to commit to someone out of fear of tantrums, threats and sulks, that is no commitment at all.
Let us decode the language of jealousy and possessiveness and see what it really translates into. Perhaps that will help your daughter see things for what they are:
# Love and commitment come naturally when a person trusts and feels trusted. Possessiveness is a sign that a person is not able or willing to trust.
# A jealous and controlling person is often one with low self-worth and self-love. Such persons, at the core, do not fully believe they are worth loving; they believe the only way to “ensure” love is to strictly control it and wield power over the person they are involved with.
# A person who dictates how you should conduct your life, who you should meet, how you should speak, et cetera., is someone who also has little real respect for your social and emotional needs and those of the people connected to you.
Do try and get your daughter to look at some of these core issues, and you may be able to get her to see that she needs to look for a more nurturing, enabling and secure person, rather than Neanderthal Man.
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