How to Know if My Boyfriend Is Overly Possessive

Dealing with an overly possessive boyfriend can negatively impact your emotional well-being.
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Many women perceive a boyfriend’s possessiveness as a sign of love, reacting to a real or imagined threat of losing their lover. Having a possessive boyfriend is not an uncommon experience. A 2011 study published on found that 31% of a group of female college students had experienced possessive behavior in a relationship with a man, and 50% reported at least one friend who had experienced the same. Though it is not uncommon, it is emotionally unhealthy and potentially dangerous behavior.

1 Suspicious Minds

A man who is insecure in himself is likely to have issues with trust. He will be suspicious of what you tell him, especially as it relates to other males. In response, he may check your cell phone, email and activity on social media. He may also text or call you frequently and have unrealistic expectations related to how quickly you should get back to him, even if you are at work, or how quickly you should return if you go out somewhere.

2 Every Move You Make

An overly possessive boyfriend will also try to control aspects of your life. The control can be limited to one or two aspects, such as how much time you spend with him and how little time you spend interacting with other males. However, it can extend to any or all aspects of your life, including how much time you spend with family and female friends, how you dress, and how you spend money.

3 Out of Line

An even bigger indicator of a boyfriend being overly possessive is how he responds if you try to resist his attempts to control you in some way. He may have outbursts of anger, withdraw from you emotionally, or make physical threats. He may also try to ridicule you. All of these behaviors are forms of emotional abuse, as indicated on the “Break the Cycle” website. Men who are emotionally abusive are at greater risk of becoming physically violent. No matter what life experiences your boyfriend may have had, you do not deserve to be treated in an abusive manner.

4 Next Steps

If you are in a relationship with an overly possessive man, you should know that you are not to blame for his behavior, nor can you control his behavior. He has the potential to change if he seeks counseling. Even if you are thinking of leaving the relationship, you should also see a counselor to help you develop a safety plan. Females are at greatest risk of being physically harmed when leaving an abusive relationship.

Sonya Lott, Ph.D. is a licensed psychologist in Pennsylvania, who offers online and in office counseling to individuals struggling with grief, loss or a life transition. She also facilitates mental health workshops for educational, professional, and community groups and maintains a blog on her website