Social Question

wundayatta's avatar

Are you now or have you ever been possessive of another?

Asked by wundayatta (58638points) March 2nd, 2011

If so, who were you possessive of (i.e., what was/is their relationship to you). Did your possessiveness add to the quality of the relationship, or take away from it? How?

Do you strive to not be possessive? How’s that working for you? Have your thoughts about this changed over the years? Do you want to set your partner free? Do you want to be set free? How does possessiveness really affect the quality of your life?

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19 Answers

KatawaGrey's avatar

When I was a senior in high school, I was very possessive of my boyfriend. I realize now that’s it was because he looked on me as a surrogate mother figure a role I was all too happy to step into so I was especially protective of him. I think it was also for me, though, because my senior year was a very difficult one for me and he was really the only person in my life besides my momma, of course who I thought I could hold on to.

Thankfully, I am not nearly so possessive of my current boyfriend though there are a few times when I feel especially protective of him but I feel like that’s normal in any relationship. I don’t have to worry about him at all as far as other women go. He is quite well liked by the ladies but, first of all, he’s not the cheating type and, second of all, he’s pretty damn oblivious. A girl would have to be giving him a lap dance for him to get if she liked him. Mostly, when a girl hits on him, he either thinks she’s being really friendly or he gets a little scared. There is really no need for me to be possessive of him under those circumstances. :)

WillWorkForChocolate's avatar

I used to be ossessive in my teens, but came to realize I was possessive because I was co-dependent and had to change my behavior.

Soubresaut's avatar

I don’t think I have been, for two main reasons.
– I’m rarely close enough to anyone to be able to feel possessive of them. And when I am that close, I’m generally more cautious than I was before, for fear of them getting sick of me.
– Then, part of that fear comes from, or grew bigger with, this one girl a while back. I didn’t realize that’s what she was doing. I think, or I like to think, she was mostly trying to be sweet, or a good friend, or something. But she wanted to get soclose and know ‘everything,’ while making it well known we were “soclose” and she knew more about me than anyone (which wasn’t actually true anyway…) I started to feel guilty talking to other people when she was around, or looking like I was having too much fun, or even taking too much attention from her, because I wasn’t being ‘loyal’ to her. That is, until I got a break from her kinda because of how schedules worked out. I realized what I was doing and just how suffocating and perverse that was. And since we were separated for some time, I let it drift us slowly apart. Fresh air! is what I felt like, so I’m even more careful now not to do that to someone else…

Bellatrix's avatar

I don’t think so no. I can’t remember ever being possessive. I think I am too lazy to be bothered to be honest! And… I can’t remember not feeling that if someone wants to be with me, they will be with me and if they don’t they won’t and trying to own them or possess them won’t help change that. Also, I hate when people act that way towards me. It freaks me out. I have had people behave possessively or in a controlling way towards me and I really, really don’t like it and our relationship did not last.

augustlan's avatar

Maybe a tiny bit, with my husband. I’m generally not the jealous type, but for whatever reason, I can get that way with him on occasion. It’s weird, really. I wouldn’t care if he wanted to go to a strip club (which he pretty much hates – weirdo) or a bachelor party. I don’t care if he goes out drinking with the guys, or spends all weekend playing a video game. Some of his best friends are women, and it doesn’t bother me a bit. But, let me get a whiff of a woman who is after him and oh lordy. I devolve. There was a woman he used to work with who was super obvious in her adoration, and I didn’t handle that very well. :/

abaraxadac's avatar

I have not, but I would like to inject to the discussion that possessiveness, while on the surface may seem negative, for some it can be a delicious part of a relationship, depending on the partners.
I recently read a section in a book that described a real relationship between a husband and wife, who had a special kind of “torture” interaction that kept both of them happy, that can be seen to be based off of ownership and possessiveness.
The man would come home from work, sit in his chair, read his paper with his coffee, and exactly at 6:30 the woman was to come in and inform him dinner was ready. Any deviation would displease him. He would eat the meal, slowly, while she agonized over whether he was enjoying it, whether the added spice she put in the sauce was too much, looking for any hint that he did or did not approve. If he did not, he would generally not interact with her the rest of the evening, ‘punishing’ her for her lax attentiveness to her duties. He would drag it out, stringing her along, until, (if he really was pleased) he would look up at her, smile, and with that look inform her she did well, and he was pleased. Her whole world would light up, everything was right with the world again, and she became deliriously happy the effort she had made was effective, ‘good enough’.
At night, in the bedroom, the same kind of thing would happen. Only on nights he was pleased with her, he might eventually put his arm around her body, indicating he wanted sex, and she would lie there, waiting for that signal, until he either did it or went to sleep.

Many might say that life is cruel to her, but the times when he made her feel good, he made her feel REALLY good, and so that made the whole process worth it to her. She wasn’t allowed to go anywhere without his permission, and she really was happy and fulfilled in that life, because for her it meant security, and that he wanted her.

buster's avatar

If anybody fucks with Allie in a negative or crude way I will sew their asshole shut and keep feeding them and feeding them. Then I will lay their tongue out on a dresser and hit it with a spiked baseball bat.

12Oaks's avatar

Of course not.

wundayatta's avatar

@abaraxadac Interesting story. Let’s say the woman was insecure about abandonment and wanted to belong to someone so she could feel safe. Let’s say the man had similar issues and wanted to feel safe because the woman was willing to submit to him. Let’s say there were a whole host of psychological issues they had never dealt with.

Would it be preferable to deal to deal with those issues so both could have more well-rounded relationships, or is it enough that this makes them happy?

Summum's avatar

Boy does this bring back memories. I was the ultimate possessive person. I was considered the toughest kid in the High School and when we walked down the halls of the school an isle way would open for us. She was the lead cheerleader and I was a state wrestler and at one of the meets on the bleachers a guy turned around and just looked at my girlfriend. Her parents were sitting with us and before the guy could turn around again I kicked him in the face and it knocked him off the bleachers. We were both co-dependent on each other and we got married. It lasted for 14 years but through those years I learned to never be that way again. I trust my relationship totally now and have no problems at all that way. I was so insecure with life and myself and finally over came that.

abaraxadac's avatar

@wundayatta I believe that it is enough. There becomes a moral ethic quandary when you begin determining conditions for another person’s happiness. Who gets to choose what is right, wrong, or normal? If the individuals involved are comfortable and happy with their arrangement, live and let live.
If one or the other couldn’t stand the arrangement any longer, that of course is grounds for counseling, therapy, or separation. Whatever is in line with their personal pursuit of happiness.

Soubresaut's avatar

Okay, so what about cases where there’s physical possessiveness—in the same sense of possessive as you’ve used? It’s completely consensual, because the beatee knows that however bad the beater can get at times, there are times the beater is wonderful. The beatee is willing to suck up the pain they feel because the good times are worth it, and they’ll do anything to see the other, that they’re devoted to, be happy.

And what about cases very similar to the one you’ve described, but with a key difference—where the one who stays at home and happily serves was taken at a young age. Here, the captive doesn’t feel controlled. They’ve been convinced their captor is saving them from the world. They love the captor. They do whatever the captor wishes.
Soon they’re not staying because they have to, but because they want to.
They usually only dislike their life when the captor brings in another, new, child for the love-part, while expecting them to keep up with the other parts. And then, it’s not unhappiness that’s the root of their dislike, but jealousy.

I know these aren’t exactly the same, and I know I’m one of those people judging the situation you described above. Maybe it’s true that they’re both happy. But it sounds an awful lot like the same psychology that happens in the cases I described. The abusee is being completely controlled by the abuser, whether they admit to it, or even are aware of it.

That the woman isn’t even allowed outside of the house unless he says it’s okay makes me really suspicious. How is she supposed to know if this is truly the only life she wants, if she can’t really see any other? If they’re both really so happy, why can’t she see any other?
That she becomes deliriously happy when he approves of the food. I can’t in any stretch see that as a healthy reaction to someone smiling over food. If she’s that happy over food, what about something larger? She’d have a heart attack for all the excitement. (Oh, well, that’s not a problem here, so never mind.)
Her entire day, every day, has become ‘make him happy make him happy make him happy’. However much she says she likes that, it’s an awful lot of stress to put on, every day. Especially when all she has to go off of is whether or not he smiles at dinner time, and puts his arm around her at night.
And as to the sex, I’d call it a form of rape. She doesn’t honestly get a say; is she really going to tell him she doesn’t want it? I suppose she could curtail it if she’s not in the mood one day, by informing him of dinner at 6:40 or something, but she’s not going to do that, because all she wants is to make him happy.

Yes, I’m judging. I don’t know them and I think their life is awful. Who am I know anything, to say anything.
But, see, I don’t think it’s cruel, what’s going on.

I think it’s sick.

You’re probably right, in that possessiveness doesn’t always have to be bad. And I can actually see many instances where it would be good, where one comes to the protection/rescue of the other.
But manipulation, control, mind games, I don’t think it matters how happy those in that position say they are, they’re mentally chained to that life, they can’t even comprehend another answer.

wundayatta's avatar

I ask myself where possessiveness comes from. I think that one way it is useful is that helps you maintain the team, because you might physically or mentally blackmail the person into staying with you. I think that people are afraid of loss, and if their beloved has another attachment, they are afraid they’ll get left out in the cold.

But it also seems irrational, too. If you don’t even notice a change when your beloved is with someone else, where is the harm?

But we do get jealous. And possessive. Even if, objectively, there is no chance of loss—at least for that reason. So logic seems not to enter into it. It’s instinctive. But is instinct correct?

Saman's avatar

its about the level and extent of possessiveness which matters or bothers one in anyway.. in a relationship when one is highly possessive abt the other and likes to have a full control over the other individual who in any way belongs to him/her.. regardless of what the other would feel or think about it is very destructive towards the relationship.

i like it when i see my loved ones getting possessive abt me at times , i feel secure and loved. it brings a nice feeling. one should realise whether he or she is being possessive or paranoid..

Ladymia69's avatar

@wundayatta where is the harm? The harm is in the dishonesty.

abaraxadac's avatar

@dancingmind and wundayatta, very good points. I would like to expand a bit.
wundayatta, it is certainly helpful when discussing this type of social situation to observe exactly that, where does possessiveness come from? Relationships themselves can be presumed to stem from the needs of security, and mutual sustainment i.e. food for the mother while nursing a newborn. Men in a primitive society are generally the providers, and we(men and women) exhibit characteristics during mate selection that reflect other animals behavior, such as the peacock staking out territory on the mating grounds for the females to choose from-mirroring the bar scene for humans.
Acknowledging that we at the very least have genetic impulses influencing the decisions we make when choosing mates, may give a clue to the way we see, treat, and behave around those mates.
-BTW, I am assuming we are focusing on the possessiveness inherent in a sexual relationship here. The one where my mother-in-law hated me for taking her daughter away from her can be extrapolated from information within this argument, at some later date if necessary.
drawing parallels to the animal kingdom might assist in explaining some behavior. The stallion drives away other males, the rooster attempts to kill competition, the stag defends his territory with vigor. Alpha male types will instinctively behave this way in certain situations.
Where it becomes an internal problem in the relationship is when the possessive individual feels like they OWN the other, and expends serious effort in manipulating and controlling the actions of the other to ensure the relationship continues as close to what the possessor desires as possible.
The very act of signing a legal contract recognized by our government binding each others financial property and credit(financial stability) together puts a definite validity on the concept of actually “owning” at least a part of the person you are married to.
Mix all this together in an individual with a rather primitive ethic and moral philosophy, along with a healthy dose of fear that as you get older, your attractiveness goes down, and you may not be able to find another mate as good as the one you own now, and I think ‘where possessiveness comes from” becomes increasingly evident. That doesn’t even cover the ‘learned it from your parents’ line of thought, or inner insecurity so pervasive it becomes a perversion in and of itself.
@DancingMind, you made some very good points, and I can assure you I agree with your reasoning. Physical abuse already has a line drawn within our society, ‘No Tolerance’ I believe describes it adequately. Also correct in my opinion that becoming ‘deliriously happy’ for a smile about dinner is an indication of unresolved emotional issues. You should gather from those points that I hold the same opinion as you towards the other points you made.
The one thing I stand by is, if nothing illegal is going on such as physical abuse or actual rape, then the woman is actually choosing the situation herself, for herself. And assuming a superior moral, ethical stand in condemning that choice as ignorant, denies the woman her right to choose for herself her path to happiness. When you start down that road, you end up as a moral tyrant, filtering information yourself from the individual you have determined cannot determine right or wrong accurately for herself. You have a problem with her not being able to go outside without his permission, but children live in the same situation. She is obviously in a regressed childhood state, and you obviously feel you know better than she how to deal with that.
The right to pursue happiness does not have a clause in there about “As long as you pursue it according to social norms, and average adult behavior”. If she does not choose to learn how to lead a different life, and you force her out of her comfort zone “for her own good”, you will find yourself in the dubious position that social workers did back in 2008, when they took those 400 women and kids away from the polygamist ranch in Texas.
And where are those women and kids now? Did they prove all the illegal activity they claimed as justification for the raid in the first place? I am not defending that lifestyle, but I would like to point to a parallel in our invasion of Iraq. I believe the Iraqis are far better off now than they would have been without our intervention in their lives and government, I believe the polygamists are not. Both used shaky justification of some supposed illegal activity that didn’t pan out, to accomplish a different goal, the changing of the way another group of people were living. The Iraqis were grateful, and willing to change. How many of the polygamists were?

Soubresaut's avatar


I see your point, too, and I completely agree with not telling others what to do with their lives. I’ve, honestly, got no problem with going against social norms, I’m so very for it. Living by society’s standards can be, I think more often than not is, very limiting.

And I know I sounded, sound, like I am telling them what to do. Because I sort of am… I’m treading a thin line, maybe crossing it; and I do realize, but I don’t mean to. Does that make sense?

I’m fearful that she’s not actually choosing her own life.—I guess I don’t have as much trust as you do in laws making illegal what’s harmful, and only that.—I’m worried she’s caught up in the psychological power her husband, (but I’ll admit this is just my view of the situation,) has over her.

I really do see where you’re coming from, and I’m torn when you remind me where that place is. Because don’t know her. And if I met her and saw she really was choosing this life for herself, then I’d have to accept it. And I would. Or at least I’d bite my tongue on the matter.

I have a strong opinion that everyone should have access to all the information, and I guess that’s coming out here, when I feel like she doesn’t. Of course, I don’t have it all either so I guess I shouldn’t really be talking—hah : P

abaraxadac's avatar

A few platitudes might be in order. “Money is the root of all evil” does not take into account that “Every unintentional harm began as a good intention”. And “The end justifies the means” only works if the individuals affected desire the change in their lives.
Every society and social order creates rules and laws limiting the scope of intentions, good or evil. They limit these intentions because what is positive for one might not be good for another. They agree to a set standard by which all will live with and within their society. I fall back on illegality and laws because that is what our society has determined to be the accepted fair standard. I may not agree with marijuana being illegal, but I accept the consequences for myself if I smoke it and get caught. Immature people will blame the system for complete unfairness when they are punished for breaking a law they do not agree with, but all can accept that if the law was known by the breaker, he or she is culpable(and even if they don’t know it). Our society determines 18 to be the age at which mentally unimpaired individuals may make choices for themselves regarding their own sexual conduct and relationships(I have started a new thread on polygamy and same-sex marriages to follow my opinions on the contradictions with that in our legal system). I am not trying to beat a dead horse here, but defending good intentions with the allowance that maybe our system should make an exception in this specific case will cause a situation like the Texas incident. One 16 year old girl brought up allegations of sexual abuse, and they dislocated 400 women and children. All on the premise of good intentions. The legal system is supposed to prevent abuses like that, and the ones who committed the dislocation crime were the ones charged with upholding the laws.
You cross the line you spoke of when you assume that the girl most likely doesn’t know, that the man is taking advantage of her ignorance and controlling her mind, and that if she possessed the knowledge you do she would make a different decision for herself.
There are women and men living a BDSM 24/7 lifestyle, all over the world, completely consensually. The girl or guy living as the other partners permanent slave. I have even seen stories of cases where the neighbors called the cops, the guy went to jail for enslaving the girl, who slept in a cage in the living room, and it took the girl three days to get him out, all on the basis of public authority’s ‘good intentions’. The case I mentioned originally was from a counseling psychologist, who was involved in the case because it had been referred to him by court, which had gotten involved because neighbors, under the impression abuse was going on, called the cops over something. To my knowledge, although the case didn’t specify, the man and woman went through mandatory counseling, and went right back to living the way they were, because it worked for them.
I think that one day, we will have an acceptable unified theory that actually explains all that stuff, and will be the basis of a legal system that can effectively support the greatest happiness in its individual members. I personally think the sexual repression caused by organized(specifically, christian) religions is at fault for a vast majority of the sexual perversions in our society, as well as the ‘nice guy with no balls’ and ‘nice girl who is only attracted to ass-holes’ syndromes that make so many people so unhappy with their personal relationships. Remember, this country was founded by sexual prudes and religious extremists who got ejected from ‘civilized society’ and condemned to the frontier. Not that I don’t have a vast amount of respect for our founding fathers and what they accomplished, but the sexual viewpoints passed down from them and reinforced by the laws passed by our government are singularly restrictive within 1st world societies on this planet. Australia was founded under similar circumstances, but with the major difference that it was criminals cast from civilization who founded it, not religious outcasts. In Australia today prostitution is legal, and repressed sexuality is at one of the lowest points in the entire global community, with the possible exception of small, indigenous tribal societies. I guess the repressed sexuality comment is an opinion, but I visited there, and the bearing of women, the way they look at men and interact with them, the way males interact with each other, is much more open, with very little of the wariness that I perceive comes from the sexually repressed competition we share in America.

Neizvestnaya's avatar

When a child then I was extemely possessive of my maternal Grandfather. I didn’t want him spending time with anyone else’s family but ours, I didn’t want his girlfriends around and I didn’t want even think there was a chance he rather be anywhere else in the world when he had time off than with me.

I was very spoiled with love by him and he was my best friend too so I think as I matured I expected other men out there to be able to want to give me the same amount of attention and also be my favored companion. It took awhile to accept a partner or spouse didn’t need to be all that in order to still love me enough.

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