I'm single and actively dating but I have a problem I'd like your help with. When I have a boyfriend, I come across as possessive and a little controlling, and I don't know how to navigate this. I don't mean to be, but I think I act this way out of fear. Unfortunately, that usually causes the exact thing I'm afraid of, a breakup. Help!
You could go one of two ways with navigating this control issue:
Option A) Lean into it. Jump into the kink scene. Get yourself a consenting, submissive partner, and play with the power dynamics of control until your heart is content.
Option B) Decide to get over this.
If you opt for B, the good news is you have all the control. You just need the tools to make it happen.
Beyond “possessive,” we don’t know exactly what controlling behavior looks like to you, so I’m offering up solutions to the three most common ones:
- Acting out in jealousy
- Not allowing your person to be away from you
- Judging them and then trying to change them through berating, criticizing, guilt-tripping, needling, and/or using manipulative tactics like the silent treatment
Acting Out in Jealousy
We often think of jealousy as something that just happens to us. You have no control over it. It comes at you out of nowhere like a glitter bomb at a nightclub. Or maybe someone else triggered it. He talked to that cute girl at the party — he brought it on. It’s not your fault. Do these scenarios feel familiar?
If so, try shifting your thinking from, “This is something that just happens to me” to “This is something that happens within me. I own everything that makes me “me.” My feelings. My toenails. My thoughts and actions. They are all mine to manage.”
When you make that subtle shift, it changes everything. You gain the power of ownership of your feelings and compulsions, and this not only affords you greater control but greater peace of mind as well. You won’t be at the mercy of other people’s whims — or your own. You don’t have to wait for someone else to make you feel okay again.
If you understand how to make this mindset shift, I recommend you decide to do it right now. If you need some help, you can do a deep dive with me on how to overcome your jealousy in a 20-minute audio recording here.
Not Allowing Your Person to Be Away From You
“You mean you’d rather go out with your friends tonight instead of be with me?”
The sentence that rings around the world daily.
Some of us really, really, really like to be with our person — like, all the time. Others appreciate some alone time or the balance of time with others. Needs in this area vary from person to person.
People in healthy relationships don’t expect to get all of their needs met by one person. It takes a village, and if your partner wants to go out, consider that it’s not “instead” of being with you. You, while very important, can’t be the center of his world all the time, and that’s healthy!
Our outside excursions breathe new life into us. Spending time with other people fills our spirits, gives us energy and replenishes our “patience tank.” Being away from you is when he restores empathy and generosity for you — it lets him be amazing for you. That’s not possible when you’re together 24/7.
Judging And Then Attempting to Change Behaviors Through Criticizing, Etc.
If you haven’t learned this life lesson yet, please learn it right now. We can’t change people. People can change, but only if they want to. All the criticism, needling, cajoling, etc. works in the exact opposite way you probably want it to — by draining his desire and affection for you right out of him.
Sadly, the above controlling behaviors are common and even widely accepted in our society. Anyone reading this knows at least one person who does one of these things, and we don’t say to a close friend, “Hey, I heard the way you just spoke to your spouse. You should knock that shit off.” Nope, it just gets filed under, “That’s just how Terry acts” or “Well, sometimes relationships are hard.” I’m as guilty as the next person when it comes to being complicit by my silence, and it’s not okay.
But here’s the thing: No one — not a bird, not a hamster, not a human being — can love you easily and freely when caged.
I hope I’ve given you what you need. I’ve got a lot more for you when you’re ready to build a strong foundation for a new relationship with someone. When that time comes, get it here. Until then, happy dating, and good luck!
Wendy Newman is the author of 121 First Dates. She’s a dating, sex, and relationship expert who’s led hundreds of workshops and revolutionized the lives of over 70,000+ women internationally.
If you want to design a happy, loving, connected relationship, grab Happy in Love, a downloadable workshop you can do on the go.
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