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Signs of a Possessive Boyfriend

James, a good friend of mine, is always really concerned about smothering someone that he’s with. I always tell him that’s a great goal to keep in mind. Making sure that the two of you have your own lives that you live and that there’s nothing that’s REALLY getting in the way of that. That’s why when he asked me, “Ryan, what are signs of a possessive boyfriend?” I really had to dig in and answer it!

Being a “possessive” person in a relationship doesn’t mean that you don’t care. Or that you’re “crazy.” It could simply mean that you love a person TOO MUCH. Maybe you’re dealing with a trauma that you experienced when you were younger. For example, like the loss of a family member.

These types of situations at home or early in life can translate into your adulthood. Studies have shown that it can be hard to ‘unlearn’ the things that you’ve learned early in life. Whether conscious about them or not.

signs of a possessive boyfriend - guy drinking coffee in the morning

What Does “Possessive” Actually Mean?

The first step in knowing whether or not you’re in a possessive relationship (or an anxious relationship) is to learn what it means. A possessive relationship will have very little boundaries. For example, the person will want to look at your phone. The person will be uncomfortable with space. And they’ll show some signs of generally being uncomfortable with common acts (like you hanging out with your friends).

While that doesn’t exactly define “possessive,” it does give us an idea of what it looks like in a relationship.

5 Signs of a Possessive Boyfriend

Here are sure signs of a possessive boyfriend.

1: He wants you to be with him all the time

While people who are in love should want to be around each other (think, you’ll be around each other a lot if you’re married or living together), there’s also the idea that two people can use personal time and space.

Personal time helps to bring contrast into the relationship. When you’re away from him—you’ll miss him. This is something that a possessive boyfriend doesn’t really understand. He wants to be around you all the time, with very little space away.

See also: Signs a woman is jealous

2: There’s discomfort in common acts and needs—big sign of a possessive boyfriend!

When you need something—like to hang out with friends, do schoolwork, or just generally take care of yourself—he might express that he’s uncomfortable with that. For example, when you say you need to go take care a few of these things—his mood might change.

If a shift in his mood occurs, that could be a really strong sign that he’s generally uncomfortable with the space between you two. He could be showing signs of an anxious attachment (where the space away from you causes him discomfort).

3: He’ll get upset when you’re gone or away

Anytime you’re gone—like on a family vacation or needing to spend time at your house… He might show signs that he’s generally uncomfortable with that, too. For example, does he text you a lot? Does he ask you what you were doing? Is he suspicious of the time that you needed to spend apart?

You shouldn’t have to feel like you need to defend yourself all the time. If that’s becoming the case—this could be a really strong sign that you have a possessive boyfriend. Try to have a conversation with him about how his behavior is making you feel!

4: Any wrong move equals the end of the world

Does he make small things into big things? Does he turn your needing space into a situation where he feels the need to tell you that he doesn’t trust you anymore? If you’re feeling like small things that are somewhat “normal” in life are turning into “not normal situations”—this could be a sure sign that he’s possessive.

Remember—you could have it the other way around… Where a guy simply doesn’t care that you’re gone at all. Some signs of possessive behavior or jealousy are actually a good thing.

Related: Signs a guy is jealous

5: You don’t feel supported

Before you jump to conclusions on this one, make sure that you actually communicate to him what you need and want in life. Or out of the relationship. It’s a common misconception that two people will magically align on what they need out of a relationship.

For example, if you need some personal time, make sure to say—”Hey, I just need some personal time right now or this week… It’s important for me to feel supported and get that, could we make sure that happens?” Or something like, “I would feel better this week if I could have a day to myself.”

The right guy will say, “absolutely!”

guy drinking coffee with his dog on the couch

How to Deal with a Possessive Boyfriend

The best next step in dealing with a possessive boyfriend is to talk to them! I know it sounds obvious. But you need to sit down and explain how certain situations made you feel. But make sure that you use a couple of foundational pieces of information in the conversation to get him to understand.

Use this framework when having a discussion:

  • An example situation that came up.
  • The action he took (be specific, don’t use general terms).
  • How it made you feel when he did that in the situation.
  • And lastly, what you would suggest doing the next time this comes up.

By having all four of these attributes in the conversation you’ll have—there’s a great chance that he’ll want to modify how he’s behaving in certain situations to make you feel better. If he loves you—he doesn’t want to hurt you!

See also: Signs he is falling for you

My Own Experience With Being a Possessive Boyfriend…

Often, I just didn’t realize what it took to provide a woman space. Women DO need space. And space away from you is good. Sometimes—it was really just a situation where I felt like I was trying to BE IN the relationship TOO HARD…

And yes, that’s a thing! I wanted the end result of getting married and having kids. But forcing it wasn’t going to work out either. I needed to realize that time and patience were going to work on my side!

It had nothing to do with my own confidence level. It had everything to do with establishing trust with her and good communication habits with her. That’s why I suggest COMMUNICATING at the top piece of advice here…


Fact checked:
Board reviewed by Marianne Tomlinson, LCSW (Couples and Family Therapy). Content is rigorously reviewed by a team of qualified and experienced fact checkers. Learn more.

About the author

Ryan Sanderson (LCSW) Ryan is a game and relationship enthusiast who enjoys all things quizzes, games, fun, love, relationships, and family. He's a licensed social worker and helps families, couples, and children in need. He's spoken about love and relationships on Salon.com, Forbes, and Mirror, to name a few.

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