How Do I Stop Being Jealous and Possessive?

Dear Neil: My boyfriend and I are now in our fifth year. Ever since we started our relationship, we have been very attached. We were always together or constantly texting each other. I’m 24 and he’s 26. Two years ago, I cheated on him and he found out. Yet he still accepted me, and he’s made a way for us to be okay and to move on.

Then I started to be possessive: I’d get jealous of his classmates and friends (most of his friends are females). I started to be clingy and possessive, to the point where I began to look like an investigator or a spy. I feel like all of his time should be focused on me, which is how we were in the beginning of our relationship.

I know that the mistake is on me, and that we should both have our own lives. But I’m confused about what I should do in order to prevent him from falling out of love with me.

Clingy Girlfriend

Dear Clingy: You are insecure and clingy because you are making the assumption that you are not worthy of being loved. In essence, you do not feel deserving of love, fidelity and commitment from your boyfriend. As a result, you are assuming your boyfriend is going to fall out of love with you, and eventually dump you for another woman.

So no wonder you are clingy, possessive and insecure. And it certainly doesn’t help that you are 5 years into a relationship, and the chemistry that defined your early relationship has waned a bit, like it does for everyone. You also may be assuming that because you cheated, so could he—which is making you jealous and threatened by his friendships and dealings with other women.

Here’s what you could do in order to give yourself an opportunity to live more in peace—and for your relationship to become more stable and secure.

First, you are needing way more reassurance than you are getting. So ask your boyfriend to reassure you every day, by saying something like: “What I like about you is…” “What I love about you is…” “I respect that you…” “Some of your best qualities are…” “What I like so much about our relationship is….”

You (and he) could add other things that would help you to feel reassured, but be sure to tell him what you like, love and respect about him as well—because he may also need reassurance that you’re not going to step out on him again. You might find being held or cuddled to be reassuring as well.

Now comes the hard part: you’re going to have to improve your feelings of self-worth, and the feelings that you aren’t worthy of love and fidelity. Find a psychotherapist that specializes in self-esteem, and buy some books (and work the exercises) on how people improve self-esteem. Without that, you will forever fear your boyfriend is going to dump you for another woman, and you will be more likely to push him away by clinging too hard.

One other thing. You are focused on him, who he’s with and what he’s doing too much, and not enough on yourself. Find interests, hobbies, classes, hikes or other activities that will occupy your time when you are alone.

One comment on “How Do I Stop Being Jealous and Possessive?

  1. Dear Neil, my boyfriend and I have been together for a year. I’m 26 and he’s 33. We had to start living together around our 2nd month of dating due to unforeseen circumstances (I’d rather not be specific) and have been in each other’s sights non-stop since then. After we started living together I started feeling like he didn’t feel as close as he did when we first started dating and it’s been getting worse. He never likes to cuddle or to touch or to be touched. He doesn’t like kissing or holding hands especially in public. He’ll kiss me if he’s dropping me off at my classes or at work but that’s it. He says it’s because he’s never been a “lovey dovey” person. He rarely let’s me hold him when we’re in bed because it makes him feel constricted and confined and it reminds him of being in shackles and cuffs (he had just been released from a 7 year sentence in prison when we first met) We don’t even have sex anymore, it’s been 3 months. He has problems getting “started” and keeping it (he has an opiate addiction and is trying to find help to get clean). He says his addiction could be causing it but he’s never been into having sex and it’s something that’s never been important to him. But now since he’s been wanting to get clean, go to church, and start living better, he says that having sex before marriage is wrong and we should wait because that’s how he was raised (his mother is a very devoute Christian), which I respect him for. And lastly, he almost never tells me “I love you”. I tell it to him, almost multiple times a day everyday, and 9 times out of 10 he’ll say “I know” or “ok”. He gets worried if he can’t find me or can’t get in touch with me. He starts thinking that someone snatched me up. So I know he loves me. But I don’t know if he’s IN LOVE with me. I’m starting to feel rejected. He doesn’t like me talking to other people about our problems because he feels that it’s nobody else’s business. But I can’t talk to him either because I feel like he won’t see things the way I see them. I don’t want to leave because he’s the best man I’ve been with. My last relationship was a 4 year marriage and my ex was abusive psychologically and I lost my two young boys to him. What should I do?

    Insecure Girlfriend

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