What Are the Signs of Possessiveness?


It can be flattering when a spouse or significant other wants to spend all of his time with you. But when he becomes possessive of your every move, it may signal emotional or physical danger. According to the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy, domestic abuse occurs in 20 percent of American families. Beyond physical assaults, domestic abuse can also include emotional abuse, such as possessive or controlling behavior. Learning to recognize the signs of possessiveness can help you to safeguard yourself, seek help or determine whether the relationship is worth continuing.

Feeling Isolated

You may find yourself communicating with friends and family less because your partner demands all of your time. Isolation could be a sign of possessiveness and emotional abuse, according to Melinda Smith, who holds a master's degree in psychology, and Jeanne Segal, a psychologist, in the article, “Domestic Violence and Abuse,” on HelpGuide.org. Limiting your contact with others and consuming your time gives a possessive individual the feeling of control.

Controlling Finances

Although many people in relationships delegate the finances to one individual to avoid confusion, if your significant other or spouse is controlling every penny you spend, it could be a sign of possessiveness. According to Smith and Segal, examples of economic or financial abuse include withholding access to a bank account, credit card or cash, restricting the partner to an allowance and withholding basic necessities, such as clothing, food or medication. If you find yourself in this situation, it is important to seek outside help from a professional counselor, friend or family member to ensure your basic needs are met.

Exhibiting Dominance

When a person feels his or her partner is a possession, a pattern of dominance often ensues. Emotionally abusive and possessive individuals need to feel in charge, according to Smith and Segal. This may lead your partner to treat you as his or her property, making decisions without your input, telling you what to do and even treating you as a child to prompt obedience. Name calling, shaming and public insults are strategies to gain more control over a person. Seek assistance from a professional counselor or contact the police or a domestic abuse resource, such as The National Domestic Abuse Hotline.

Overreacting With Jealousy

If your partner has insecurities, he may masquerade his love for you with jealous outbursts. As a result, he may expect you to give up your freedom – a clear sign of possessiveness, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Federal Occupational Health Department. Extreme jealousy is a sign that may indicate the potential for emotional or physical abuse, according to the department. Low self-esteem, a quick temper, a family history of violence and jealous behavior are common predictors of domestic abuse. Seek help from the police, a domestic abuse support group or a professional counselor.

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About the Author

Shannon Philpott has been a writer since 1999. She has experience as a newspaper reporter, magazine writer and online copywriter. Philpott has published articles in St. Louis metro newspapers, "Woman's World" magazine, "CollegeBound Teen" magazine and on e-commerce websites, and also teaches college journalism and English. She holds a Master of Arts in English from Southern Illinois University.

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